January Newsletter 2024

“Remember – Relive – Relate”

The Story of the Mix Masters

By Dale Dauten

If you ask enough people how they came to live at The Resort, you start to see a pattern: they knew someone who had a place at the park, visited, couldn’t wait to come back, rented, couldn’t wait to come back, bought. The most common variation on that pattern is skipping the renting and going straight to buying.


That magnetic pull, one I came to call “that old Resort magic,” is the energy of new interests and new friends. And today we get to add a special chapter to The Resort magic – a surprising new park friendship that created a band called The Mix Masters and doing so, brought a career back to life.


We recently got a chance to sit down with Don Daugherty, a retired professional musician from Iowa. While attending one of the park’s Iowa parties, another guest said something like, “There’s someone here you should meet – you two have a lot in common, like you’re both in the Iowa Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame.” That second Hall of Fame resident turned out to be Mike Berkland, who happened to live a block away from Don. The two reminisced and made a date to get together and play some music. Don says of that first visit, “The chemistry was… bang… we started kicking some tunes around and Mike’s wife, Feryle, said, ‘It’s like you two have played together for years.’”

(Photots: That’s Don, above. Below, The Iowa Hall of Fame is part of Iowa’s Rock ‘N Roll Music Association in Arnold’s Park. Don was a charter member, back in 2000, and Mike was inducted back in 2011.)

Mike plays acoustic guitar and keyboards and handles lead vocals. Don jokes about his own range of instruments: “I play two things – bass and radio.” But he adds that he does some vocals, saying of himself, “I’m a hog caller from Iowa who barks out rock.” So, as the two played together, they decided they needed to expand the range of options, and Don invited Larry Lenhart to join in, bringing an ability to play steel guitar and electric, as well as the banjo, mandolin, and ukulele. (Larry, by the way, rounds out the group’s credentials by also being a member of a Hall of Fame; but his Hall is Country Music and in Oklahoma, not Iowa.)


The three started playing together informally, and when one park resident heard them, he asked, “Would you consider playing for a party?” They did, and it went so well that they soon found themselves booked for several events at The Resort and other venues.

The group appointed Don to handle bookings and he put together a Mix Masters flier (shown in the photo) and later a motto: REMEMBER – RELIVE – RELATE. That’s fitting because their goal is to take their audiences back in time, back to the music of their youths, and that means bringing back a diversity of styles and eras — vintage rock, country, R&B, easy listening, island music, waltzes, and polkas.


They have over a dozen gigs lined up and it could be more, but the group decided that they should a draw a line; after all, they are meant to be retired.

Speaking of retirement, Don can’t quite believe that his career has suddenly been reborn. He told us, “People felt that the music we were doing back in the Midwest was getting stale. And then Covid came along and that was a good time to call it quits. I thought I’d retired. And no one my age is playing – they were a lot of hard partyers and they’ve all left. And here I am, still playing. I never thought I’d be playing waltzes or polkas, but I discovered that I love it.”


And two last things…

One, Don has been at The Resort long enough to admire and respect its musical history. He put together a list for us of “Resort Entertainers,” including current residents, Gordy & Debbie, and says, “the people who came before should be honored and remembered.” Here’s his list:


The Moon Brothers

Hugh Jenner, The Canadian Troubadour

The Odell & Marj Braaten Band

The Montana Guys, and

Gordy & Debbie

Finally, let’s end where we started, with coming to The Resort. We asked Don about his experience, and he said, “My brother, Jerry and his wife, Donelle, had a place here for years. I was a fulltime musician and when we had some downtime, I would come visit. I loved it from the get-go. I stretched my visits from five days to ten days and then two weeks. My brother finally said to me, ‘You need to get your own place.’ And one just fell into my lap. That was 11 years ago.” The old Resort magic.


You can join in on January 12th, when The Mix Masters will play at a Burger Bash.


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