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Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Back in the Day: Fish Soup Band

Back in the day…well, not too far back, a local band called Fish Soup played music along the North Shore.

You may not think an accordion and a fiddle make for a good pair, but for Jane Immerfall and Betty Evjen, those instruments made their performing duo a success at celebrations, holidays, and special music for the United Protestant Church, of which Immerfall was a member.

In 2008, Immerfall began to develop some health problems, and she invited accordionist David Moore to play with her. Soon after, guitarist Dave Gustafson joined the band, along with Dick Thorngren, who played six different harmonicas, each one with a different sound.

The group was joined by singers Brenda Larson (soprano), Mary Carroll (alto), and Maggie King (tenor alto). As the band grew, Peter Melnotte joined with his guitar. Melnotte customized his own guitars, tweaking them to obtain the sound he wanted.

Dave Gustafson’s wife, Gail, dubbed the band “Fish Soup” due to the group’s eclectic variety of instruments. Considering that a number of band members were also members of the United Protestant Church, Fish Soup would provide special music for multiple services at the church.

Fish Soup played a variety of styles, including old time, folk, classic country, and gospel. A regular venue was on the dance floor in the basement of the Green Door in Beaver Bay. There at the Green Door, the band would stand on a wooden dais and couples would dance the night away. One couple was known for their dancing, and when they began to dance, the other couples would move to the side to watch them. Sometimes if a Green Door patron knew the song the band was playing, they would go up on the dais and join them in singing.

An annual gig for Fish Soup was Pikkujoulu, a Finnish Christmas celebration. At Pikkujoulu, Fish Soup would sing a number with the children in attendance.

Fish Soup would keep their performances lighthearted, according to Maggie King, and David Moore would play an accordion interlude between pieces.

In 2018, Fish Soup Band disbanded, leaving a legacy of music along the North Shore. To band members that are still with us, and for those who have gone on, thank you for the joy you sprinkled in our lives through Fish Soup Band…and helping us remember what happened not so far away “back in the day”.

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