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Monday, June 19, 2023

Band Canyon 1: The Beginning

By Gary (Dr. J) Johnson


Image Source: Bay City Times, 1964

In late August of 1964, it became apparent to some area businessmen that there was money to be made by catering to the teenage rock and roll scene. The onset of Beatlemania, and the popular British Invasion groups that followed, had inspired the formation of young bands all across the state. The impact of this was clearly shown during the summer months of 1964 at the Battle of the Bands competitions held at the Roll-Air outdoor skating rink on State Park Drive in Bay City.

Roll-Air was owned and operated by four area educators, Bob and Ilene Darbee and Octavian and Christine Gavrila. In early 1964, they had been contacted by WKNX-AM deejays, Bob Dyer and Dick Fabian, about the possibility of running a combination dance/Battle of the Bands on Tuesday nights during the summer.

The idea turned out to be a smashing success. With the help of a good deal of on-air advertisement from Dyer and Fabian on WKNX, the weekly band competitions at the 700 ft. x 206 ft. cement outdoor skating rink quickly became the “in place” for young people every Tuesday evening.

The Darbees and Gavrilas reported to the Bay City Times that 16,000 teens had
attended the eight competitions that had featured twenty different bands competing for the $1,000 in prize money in the finals. The prize breakdown was: 1st place - $600, 2nd place - $250, and 3rd place - $150. Bay City's Del Raes, one of the area's finest bands at this point, won the very first Battle of the Bands at Roll-Air.

It didn't take long for some enterprising individuals to see the possibilities. If Roll-Air could do that much business on just eight dates, it would seem that a year-round facility, targeting the teen music scene and featuring live bands, could turn a healthy profit.

One of the early steps in this direction was taken by Bay City businessman Willard "Bill" Kehoe when he and his partner, Gary Rivet, opened a new business called Delta Promotions. The company's plan was to manage some of the better young bands and book them at the various dances and teen gathering spots in the Tri-Cities area.


Image Source: Gary Johnston, 1967

Kehoe also joined with other businessmen to form an organization called the Euclid Development Corporation. In a February 8, 1965, article in the Bay City Times, spokesman A. J. LaMarre stated that a nightclub for young adults, 16 to 21 years of age, would be built on N. Euclid Avenue near Bay City State Park in the spring.

LaMarre said that the plans were to construct a one-story masonry building with a wood dance floor and an outdoor dancing patio. The opening was scheduled for July 1, 1965, according to LaMarre, and he stated to the Bay City Times that “we feel that this is a need of the community.” He also pointed out that there were 12,000 teenagers in Bay County in 1965, or 7.4% of the total population.

The Euclid Development Corporation pictured a nightclub atmosphere that would be restricted to young adults, and that only soft drinks would be served. LaMarre told the newspaper that floor shows and live music would be furnished, and nationally known entertainers would be brought in periodically. He further stated that the building's inside facilities would accommodate 1,200 people and 2,500 could be handled by using the outdoor dancing patio. He also claimed that the corporation had purchased a parcel of land for the project.

According to the same news article, the building would have a covered entry, game room, snack bar, gossip area, and would be fully air-conditioned. It would also have a paved and lighted parking area for 300 cars. The teen club would be in operation five nights per week during the summer months and three nights a week during the school year.

After the plan to build along N. Euclid Avenue fell through, LaMarre and his partners, Willard Kehoe and William Wesolek, obtained property at 377 S. River Road, located on the southern outskirts of Bay City and moved ahead with a plan that was almost identical to what they had envisioned for N. Euclid.

A contest was held to name their new teen nightclub, and the winning entry was Band Canyon. In addition to its rather unusual name, Bay City's new teen gathering place was unique in another way…

Read the rest of the story at

To learn more about Bay County’s rock and roll history and much more, visit the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame exhibit at the Historical Museum of Bay County located at 321 Washington Avenue in Bay City, Michigan.

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Thursday, June 8, 2023

In the Stacks With Jamie: The Kiwanis Club of Bay City

by Jamie Kramer


Image: 1933 Kiwanis Father and Daughter Banquet on November 23, 1933.  Fathers hosted their daughters, from ages one to a few decades, at the Wenonah Hotel for a luncheon.[iii]


The Kiwanis Club of Bay City, Michigan was organized in November 1916.[i]  The direction of the club was “the exchange of ideas for the betterment of business and for the support of any worthy civic measure which may come up in Bay City.”[ii] 30 local businessmen met for a presentation at the Wenonah Hotel to hear about the organization’s history and its purpose.  By January 31, 1917, there were 100 members that consisted of local businessmen in various industries.  Homer E. Buck became the first president of the local club.  Other officers were L. Fay Tyler, Frank A. Gause, James P. Craves, Jay Thompson, Howard Ford, H.J. Gaffney, Otto Louis, W.O. Clift, and David Miller. 

For years the club held banquets for fathers and their children—separated by fathers and daughters and fathers and sons.  The children accompanied their fathers to a luncheon as the guests of honor and there were presentations given to the youth about the importance of optimism.    


Image: Kiwanis Fathers and Sons Banquet that was held on November 8, 1934.  Sons as young as 11 months up to college age, were hosted.[iv] 

[i] “Kiwanis Club is Organized Here.” Bay City Times. November 23, 1916. (Accessed May 2023).

[ii] “The Kiwanis Club a Local Uninsulated Live Wire Organization!” Bay City Times. January 31, 1917. (Accessed May  2023).

[iii] “Daughters To Be Guests At Kiwanis Club Luncheon.” Bay City Times. November 12, 1933. (Accessed May 2023).

[iv] “Kiwanis Father Piloting Sons to Hotel Thursday.” Bay City Times. November 4, 1934. (Accessed May 2023).

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