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The Harvest Band celebrates 30 years playing together

Published: Friday, June 21, 2013 11:14 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 21, 2013 11:48 a.m. CDT

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In the three decades that the group has been around, The Harvest Band has seen it all. They dressed like cast members of “Miami Vice” in the ’80s, stopped working as a touring band in the mid-’90s grunge heyday, and are recent Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees.

“We’ve got enough ex-wives between us to fill a small bus,” bass player and emcee Mark Bailey said jokingly during set-up.

Bailey has been playing with the band for 27 years, which was founded by drum and harmonica player Jimmy Robinson. Jimmy’s younger brother, Tom, plays guitar and keyboard for the trio.

“I was on the road out west — that was during the cowboy phase — and hooked up with them in Pierre, South Dakota,” Bailey said. “I was out with them for eight years, six nights a week, 50 weeks a year — and twice on Sundays.”

“I enjoyed it and wouldn’t have done anything different,” Bailey said. “I’m real proud of the fact that we have been together this long. We are looking to keep on going as much as we can.”

“We had to fight for them two weeks off,” Tom added. “Jimmy started the band and I came along maybe a couple of years later.”

The Harvest Band recently helped break in the newly-renovated Maytag Bowl as a part of the of Newton Parks Department’s “Evenings at the Bowl” summer concert series.

“I told them to put a fresh coat of paint on the place, it’s a part of the contract,” Jimmy quipped.

Jimmy and the rest of the guys in Harvest appreciate the crowds that receive them in Newton, and have played at Fore Seasons Golf Center, the American Legion and The First Avenue Speakeasy, as well.

“What I like about Newton is the fact that they have cultural awareness,” Jimmy said. “(They) are trying to rise up from the Maytag debacle and the Iowa Telecom disaster and they still have room to be proud of their arts. I like this place.”

“(It’s) awesome that everybody got together and did years worth of planning to fix the Maytag Bowl,” Jimmy continued. “It shows that they keep striving. That’s what I like about playing here — it shows that they want to make something of it.”

Jimmy also said that he enjoys the fact that audiences in Newton are receptive to multiple genres of music, which is what Bailey said they specialize in.

All three members of the band sing, and their live shows can range from classic rock, country, blues and reggae, and they will even play some of their original recordings.

“A cornucopia of popular melodious tunes emanate from The Harvest Band,” Bailey said with a straight face while the other members of the band chuckled.

Harvest enjoys interacting with its audience, and Bailey uses a megaphone to tell stories and unleash his plethora of one-liners to the audience.

While the guys were sweating it out during set-up, Jimmy pointed out the tattered Harvest banner that sits behind his drum set.

“That banner has been in 12 states over the last 27 years,” Jimmy said. “We wanted to get it touched up, but left it alone. It’s rough, but it represents all of us.”

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)-792-3121, ext. 426, or at trushing@newtondailynews.com

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