It takes a village

The 2024 MMHF inductees credit a community for their success

Minnesota Music Hall of Fame Inductee, Brian Wicklund plays “The Redwing Polka” on his fiddle for the audience after receiving his award. Wicklund was one of the many inductees that said “It takes a village to raise a musician” in his acceptance speech.

NEW ULM – Friday night, six new inductees joined the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame (MMHF)

following the 35th annual induction ceremony held at the Best Western Conference Center.

The new inductees included Johnny Mons, Dan Witucki, Crow, Pamela McNeill, Brian Wicklund and Fritz Otto Reuter.

Johnny Mons is a long-time band leader and bass player for both country and rock bands including Midnite Special and Prairie Rose. He has also been a factor behind the scenes organizing music festivals like Winstock, directing KDUZ Radio in Hutchinson, and coordinating at the Minnesota State Fair.

“I never expected this to happen,” Mons said in accepting his award. He said the musical talent began with dad and his brother. He only got started in music because his brother’s band needed a bass player.

Six new members were inducted into the MMHF Friday night. This year’s inductees included Johnny Mons, Dan Witucki, Crow, Pamela McNeill, Brian Wicklund and Fritz Otto Reuter. Most of the inductees were able to attended, except for Fritz Otto Reuter who died in 1924. His granddaughter Margo Reuter Martens accepted in his honor. (L to R): Larry Wiegand of “Crow,” Dan Witucki, Pamela McNeill, Johnny Mons, Brian Wicklund and Margo Reuter Martens.

He thanked his family for his success including his wife of 50 years, two children and nine grandchildren, most of whom have followed in his footsteps and play instruments.

Dan Witucki is this year’s polka and concertina-focused inductee. He performed at Bavarian Blast in 2021 and will be returning in 2024 with his band Mein Heimatland Musikanten. In addition to a long career in Minnesota, Witucki has performed for millions of people thanks to his residency at Disney World in Florida.

“It takes a village,” Witucki said in accepting his award “Without the opportunities of others, I wouldn’t be here. Thank you very much it has been a great ride.”

Crow is a hard rock band from Minneapolis who began performing in 1967. The band was signed to Amaret Records, a label owned by major record label MGM Records. They also had a Top 40 Billboard hit in “Evil Woman (Don’t Play Your Games With Me)”, which peaked at No. 19 and was covered by Black Sabbath and Ike & Tina Turner. The band continues to tour.

Larry Wiegand accepted the award on behalf of Crow. He thanked the MMHF for accepting them.

“We never thought we would make it,” Wiegand said. He thanked all the members of Crow who “kept the bird flying all this year.”

Pamela McNeill, a producer, singer, and composer based in Minneapolis who has had both a solo career and been the front woman for The Fabulous Armadillos. After releasing seven solo studio albums, McNeill is now a music industry operator with Farm to Label Records and continues to tour with The Fabulous Armadillos.

In accepting her award, McNeill said she was fortunate to be born in Winona, Mn a community that valued and celebrated music in school. She said music was free and everyone could participate.

“Music saves lives, it instills hope and creates a mental and an emotional pathway for those looking for a safer environment,” she said.

She thanked all the music teachers who helped to teach her along the way.

Brian Wicklund is an award-winning fiddle and mandolin player. He performs individually and with the band Barley Jacks. Wicklund has been a major influence on folk musicians worldwide with his book, “The American Fiddle Method.” He also offers courses and camps through American Fiddle Method, collaborating with artists such as 2023 inductee Becky Buller.

Wicklund was able to accept his award in-person, though he had been in London, England only 12 hours earlier.

He said it was a big honor to be inducted into the MMHF and said the theme of this year’s show should be “You need a village to raise a musician.” Nearly all the inductees credited a village worth of family and friends for their success.

“I was so blessed to grow up in this state and I always happy to be back in the state when I travel,” he said. “The community that helped raise me is amazing.”

Wicklund said one of the secrets to his success was learning from everyone who could, but it was the teachers would were willing to pass on knowledge that made all the difference.

Wicklund closed his speech by performing “The Redwing Polka” on his fiddle.

The last inductee Fritz Otto Reuter. Reuter emigrated from Germany and settled in New Ulm in the late 19th century. As an educator, choir director, organist, and composer, Reuter would find his calling as a professor of music at Dr. Martin Luther College, laying the groundwork for decades of musicians and teachers. Reuter died in 1924. His granddaughter Margo Reuter Martens accepted the award in his honor. Martens said because her grandfather died 100 years ago, she never had a chance to known him but from the stories she heard he had a legacy of precision.

There is a story that on his death bead, 126 N. Washington, Reuter could hear his students practicing at St. Paul’s. From his sick bed, he yelled out corrections when he heard mistakes.

“On behalf of our family, we desperately wish we had known our grandpa, but we are so thankful for all the ways he carried it forward,” Reuter said.

To close the induction ceremony, MLC Professor of Music Chair Adrian Smith led a choir in singing two of Reuter’s songs.

The MMHF began inducting members since 1989 and includes musical acts from a wide range of genre including “Whoopee” John Wilfahrt, Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, Mollie B and Prince. With this latest induction, over 200 Minnesota acts have joined the MMHF.

The MMHF will be open free of admission from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to recognize past and present inductees.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper?

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today