Fans of the area band Backwater should mark their calendars for a monumental event planned for Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018, at the Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo, Iowa. On that date, band members Bruce Bryant, Steve Dikkers, Ed Dvorak, Scott Fischer and Chris Sauke will be inducted into the Midwest All Music Association's Hall of Fame.
"Backwater has been our opening band for our annual event for the past five years, and have proved themselves to be worthy of our Hall of Fame," said Al Huntzinger, MAMA president. "Steve Dikkers made a guitar for MAMA two years ago and we auctioned it off for the sum of $3,500, which was given to the Clayton Ridge High School music department." In fact, Backwater has participated in MAMA events raising over $8,000 for the Clayton Ridge music program in recent years - and throughout its history, the band has given back time and time again.
The band's reputation of generosity precedes them wherever they go. By donating their time and talents to numerous benefits and fundraisers, the local band added more than entertainment – they drew a crowd that in turn contributed to these causes.
Over the years, Backwater has played benefit dances for many in need. “When you’re out, you meet so many people, and when people need help, this band has always stepped up to do that,” said front-man Bryant.
"Because the board of directors at MAMA feel that we have furthered music education and the promotion of music, they thought we should be in their hall of fame - based on our whole body of work," explained Dikkers, who recently joined the MAMA board. "It is their mission to promote the appreciation and education of music, particularly in the schools in the Midwest."
The band came together for the first time in the spring of 1983 for Guttenberg High School’s annual end-of-year picnic. Members Bryant, Dikkers and Ed Dvorak, teachers at the school, invited Fischer, then a high school sophomore, to join them. Their combined passion for music and youth betterment also fueled their spirit of generosity. “It’s all about the kids,” said Dikkers.
The 50s and 60s era music Backwater specializes in served as a music history lesson for many area students. Since Backwater often played for pep rallies, homecoming, and other special school events, students from kindergarten through 12th grade experienced rock and roll. Students learned the words to hits from that time, sang along, and even learned some classic rock and roll dance moves. Band members taught courses on songwriting, playing harmonica, and how to serve on a road crew.
Throughout the years, Troy Thein, Barry Shea, Adam Thein and Mick Thein have also played with Backwater. Although the band formally retired in 2008, they joined the Rock the River Road Show in Guttenberg in 2011 and returned for appearances in 2015, 2016 and 2017. They came out of retirement especially for this event because they were asked by the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to do so, and two years ago they were nominated for the hall of fame. "This wouldn't have happened without the support of our families," said Dvorak. Fischer also gave credit to the band's, "very understanding wives for many, many years."
Each musician in the band has a long personal history with music. Front-man Bryant (vocals, bass guitar, tambourine) began singing in a church in Cuba City, Wis. He performed hundreds of wedding ceremonies and funerals, played coffee houses in Platteville, Wis., and even appeared on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Bryant also founded and played in Uncle Sam’s Band, a classic rock and roll group.
Dikkers (lead/rhythm guitar, harmonica, vocals) placed first in the 2001 National Traditional Country Music Association Flattop Guitar competition, and second in the Upright Bass competition. In his spare time, he paints electric guitars in the bass boat sparkle finish and checkerboard purfling popularized in the 1960s and 70s.
Dvorak, the drummer, began his musical career playing the accordion. In 1964, he was hired to play drums for the 2+2s, and later the Backdoormen and Cold Mountain. He still plays the same Ludwig White Pearl drum set he used in 1964.
Fischer (lead/rhythm guitar and vocals) first sang at Lakeside Ballroom at age four and was playing professional guitar by age 12. He has earned many vocal and band awards and has toured the Midwest playing with both an 18-piece jazz ensemble and with the cover band Midnight to Six.
Fans are encouraged to save the date for the Oct. 13, 2018, event to show their support for the band that has given so much to its community.
Photo courtesy of the band.