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R.I.P Dave Holland, drummer, ex Trapeze and Judas Priest. Aged 69.

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Articles Home » Interviews » Dakota - 2003 Interview with Jerry Hludzik
Dakota - 2003 Interview with Jerry Hludzik

INTERVIEW: Dakota (Aug 2003)
The 'Deep 6' preview with Jerry Hludzik.
Lee Bradfield is Deep into memorabilia with Dakota's Jerry Hludzik..

Aug 2003: A long time favourite of the HOTR team has been the AOR/West Coast outfit Dakota. These guys go way back into time, and truly represent what we're on about here at GLORY DAZE. We last interviewed Jerry Hludzik back at the start of the new millenium, around about the time of their 'Little Victories' and 'Live' album releases. Well, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Just about the entire back catalogue of Dakota has since become available on CD, there is a new album on the way, and stalwart Bill Kelly is gonna join the remaining members on a few tunes. What an exciting propsect lies ahead. The current band lineup is still stable: Jerry handling vocals and bass, guitarist Jon Lorance, son Eli Hludzik on drums, and Rick Mainwiller on keyboards.

Firstly though, we touch on the wonderful efforts between Jerry and Melody BLVD honco Scott Sosebee in getting those earlier albums out into the digital domain. 'This is something I had hoped would happen for years ever since CD's were in fashion' says Jerry. 'All three of them, 'Jerry/Kelly', 'Dakota' and 'Runaway' were out on vinyl before the CD boom. It was something that Scott and I had talked about for years. We then found the right channels to go thru and bingo! Scott has been a friend and a strong Dakota supporter since we met back in 1998. I've gotten so many complements on the re-mastering that it was well worth the wait. Now the catalog is up to date!'

Jerry mentions that many unreleased tracks are still saved away for a rainy day. Considering there were bonus tracks on the Melody BLVD re-releases, and that a majority of those were not sourced from the 'Mr Lucky/Lost Tracks' era, it seems likely that these will rear their heads someday. 'I was and still am a pack rat' he says. 'I saved everything in my career and oh yes there's still a few of those old jewels left in the bottom of one of my old road cases!'

As mentioned briefly in last months issue of GD, Dakota have a new album due soon. We've got a name to the package now. It's called 'Deep 6' (sounds like a movie title!). Jerry gives us a brief rundown on what we can expect. 'It's exciting for us. We've been all busy the last few years doing other projects, so this past year of writing and recording 'Deep 6' has been enjoyable. Bill Kelly will be making a guest appearance singing back-up on a few tracks just like the old days. It's always an adventure when you get all the boys together, a lot of laughs and memories.' says Jerry.

By all accounts this CD is a little different than both 'The Last Standing Man' and 'Little Victories', but it still unmistakably Dakota. 'A few of my favourites are: 'Brothers In Arms', 'Back To Me', 'Holdin' Your Own', 'Right This Minute', 'What Were You Thinkin' and 'Not Just The Night' - they are just a couple. We know fans out there want the old Dakota sound with new songs and such. If it's not broken as they say, don't try and fix it! I think if you're a Dakota fan you'll really like this one.'

The resurgent second era of Dakota began in 1996 - and Jerry has no doubt that the rock media on the web have played a major role in shining some long overdue spotlight on Dakota's music. 'Absolutely! I take my hats off to all AOR web sites, Magazines, Record labels, record stores and music lovers of this period of music. Without the support of them, of you, the fans, and without the Internet it would not be possible. And if any band out there says any different they're full of shit!'

'All of the positive e-mails, letters, reviews, and requests for interviews via Internet made me believe that if we stay in it for the long haul and keep putting out records (I still call them records), we can keep the music of Dakota alive and keep putting smiles on the faces of fans worldwide when they hear them. That's all I ever wanted. Pay my bills and write songs that touched people I've never met. I will continue to do so, because they're out there.'

Going back to those glory days, Jerry recalls some special memories touring with the band Queen during 1980, on 'The Game' tour. 'There were so many interesting and humorous stories - too many to mention' reflects Jerry, 'but what comes to mind is a show we did at the War Memorial in Syracuse NY. We did our usual set as we did each night on the tour, but in our last song which was 'Changes' from the Jerry/Kelly album, Queen's road crew and production manager, started taking our equipment off the stage before the song was over, while we were still playing! Piece by piece they dismantled the drum kit, unplugged amps, it was like a circus!'

'Everyone, except us and the audience, were in on the caper! All we had left were open microphones and so we just kept singing accapella. I can still remember the look on Tony's face (our drummer) - very funny. Also Roger Taylor's drum roadie /personal valet Crystal who was a very funny guy, was in charge of their fog machine. We would always tell him he should turn it on for our show. Well we hassled him long enough about it, that in Philadelphia at the Spectrum near our home of Scranton Pa, to our surprise we had as we used to say in our best British slang FOG IN PHILLY!'

'And then there were the nights at Madison Square Garden in New York City where Brian May's parents and my parents got to get acquainted while sitting together for the weekend. Brian was a gentleman from the first day. He came into our dressing room before our first show and introduced himself and wished us luck! From day one he was in the wings for at least half our set. There were also times when he would reappear for the last song 'Changes', which he really liked and offered us a suggestion for a big ending. We took his lead and used it ever since. It was the Brian May Changes extravaganza! We kept in touch next for a few years but then - life goes on. We also got a great crowd response on the tour wherever we played. A tour and time to remember. QUEEN/DAKOTA - The Game Tour 1980.'

Queen was only one band to share the stage with Dakota. There were numerous others as Jerry recalls. 'Queen, 38 Special, Judas Priest, Chicago, Molly Hatchet, Pure Prairie League (when Country superstar Vince Gill was one of their guitarists) and Todd Rundgren just to mention a few memorable ones. Bill Kelly and I have, since the early 70's, opened for the likes of Frank Zappa and the Mothers, Flo and Eddie (Turtles), to Humble Pie back when Steve Marriott rocked - and the Grass Roots. Even the likes of Sha Na Na at the other end of the spectrum.'

With the 'Deep 6' album just around the corner, we do the decent thing for all the tech-heads, and get a low-down as to what sort of gear the guys used. Jerry elaborates. 'Well Jon Lorance uses a old Fender Strat and an Ibanez. He used an old vox amp and Marshall cabinets. I used both a custom made Matisko bass guitar and a Matisko acoustic. Also my old trusty Gibson jumbo J-200 acoustic with which I use to write. Eli used a set of Tama Star Classics that were at S.I studios on the new tracks. He flew in from California with his cymbals and his stick bag. He uses Zildjan cymbals and Vic Firth Peter Erskin Ride sticks. Rick uses an Alesis QS-7.1 Keyboard.'

To wrap up this brief interview, we ask Jerry how does it feel to know that 23 years since the first album, Dakota's music continues to brighten people's lives all over the world? And does he have a message for all those Dakota fans out there. 'To me as a player, performer, singer and songwriter, this sort of thing fuels my fire. As I mentioned before, I received so many kind words from fans from all over the world that is my pleasure as well as this boys passion to continue my life's work. You people out there make it all worth it. To be still in music as a profession after all these years is quite special. We have all been blessed with the gift of songs. As I heard Freddie Mercury of Queen shout out night after night on that magical tour in 1980 - 'I THANK YOU ALL!' [LB]


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