Catch special show at Legion

The Waconia American Legion reminds everyone that the Red Johnson Country Music Show, honoring former Sgt. Major Walter Schmakel, will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20.

This is a benefit show supporting the Legion’s many civic projects in Waconia. The Legion is located at 233 S. Olive St. in Waconia.


“I’m really excited about this event, as we have never had one here at the Legion to equal this one,” said Gerry Volkenent, Commander of the Waconia American Legion, after talking with show producer Rich Bellert. “There will be surprises the community will be talking about for weeks!”

Opening the show the Legion Color Guard will post the Colors, while Waconia High School student Miss Morgan McCurry will sing the National Anthem. Waconia Mayor Jim Nash will deliver a keynote address honoring Walter Schmakel, and Rosemary Niesen will be presenting a special “Token of Tribute” to Dee Schmakel, honoring both she and Walter.

The evening’s entertainment will feature the Red Johnson Country Music Show. Johnson is an entertainer who knows how to make people laugh and enjoy themselves. He’s an accomplished singer and songwriter.

It’s been said “Red Johnson’s songs have a way or getting into your heart, mind and soul,” often being described as “Country Music with a Heart.” Johnson has been performing for over 55 years. Following his discharge in 1955 from the Air Force following the Korean Conflict, Red put together a local band known as “The Counts,” which included well-known accordion artist, Joe Tishmack playing at venues around the Twin Cities and Central Minnesota, including Jerry’s Old West Bar in Chanhassen, and the “The Flame” in Minneapolis, where many Nashville Stars such as Kitty Wells, Hank Thompson, Little Jimmy Dickens and George Hamilton IV appeared regularly.

In 1964 Johnson worked in Nashville as a songwriter for Tree Publishing, now Sony Publishing, writing country music songs. It was there Red wrote “There’s A Grand Old Opry Show Playing Somewhere” following the tragic deaths of Patsy Kline, Cowboy Copas and Jack Anglin, who was killed in a traffic accident on the way to Patsy Kline’s funeral. As a tribute song to these stars the song took off nationally, and was picked up by Capitol Records who included the song in their “20 Best Country Songs of The Year” Album in 1964.

Following this surge of national attention, Red formed a new band known as “The Country Counts” and travelled nationally including appearances in Canada, and a weekly radio show at St. Francis, Canada. The band included Chuck Peterson from Hancock, Minn., playing lead guitar, Mel Becker, bass guitar from Minneapolis, and the former Danny Lee, on steel. Both Chuck Peterson and Mel Becker are still with Red’s Band and will be at the Legion show this Saturday. Also appearing as a guest musician will be Virgil Logelin from St. Boni who is a Button Accordion artist.

Rich Bellert an award winning Cowboy Poetry Reciter, and the show’s producer will also be performing. Bellert has won numerous awards for his reciting skills.

Tickets for this benefit show are available for $10 at the Legion, beginning each day at noon, and evening, and at the door the night of the event. Seating will begin at 6 p.m. For more information, and to reserve tickets, contact (952) 442-5340.