Luther Alumni Magazine

You tell us!

The black-and-white photos at top are from the Luther Pioneer yearbook. Hall took the color photos at bottom at a Ramsey Lewis concert (left) and a Spyro Gyra concert (right) 33 years after she saw them at Luther!
The black-and-white photos at top are from the Luther Pioneer yearbook. Hall took the color photos at bottom at a Ramsey Lewis concert (left) and a Spyro Gyra concert (right) 33 years after she saw them at Luther!

Last issue, we asked about your favorite concert at Luther. Here’s what you had to say:

Robert Schneider ’70

I remember the Friends of Distinction in 1969 or so in the field house. It was a great concert with their great—and very popular—music.

Judy Hetager Litsey ’72

Even before coming to Luther College in 1968, I felt drawn to the West. And then, during my freshman year, John Denver performed in concert at Luther and sang those iconic words: “I guess I’d rather be in Colorado, where the sky is like a pearl after a rain.” His songs resonated with me. I spent the next three summers in Yellowstone, but after graduation in 1972, I headed to Colorado, and I have been here ever since!

Jeff Howard ’74

The headline act for the 1971 fall concert at the Luther College field house was a band called the Happenings, who had a couple of top-10 hits in the ’60s. But it was the backup act, a solo troubadour by the name of John Denver, who stole the show. With a country-boy charm and a sunshine-tenor voice, he soon won over the Luther College crowd that night with his music and tales.

Denver’s first hit, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” had just reached the top 10 on the music charts nationwide. Denver told the crowd he didn’t let the success go to his head, but grinned and added, “However, I do pull over to the side of the road just to listen whenever the song comes on the car radio,” before launching into his performance of the number.

Roger Wetlaufer ’79

I saw a lot of good concerts at Luther between 1975 and 1979, but I think the most impactful was when Harry Chapin came to Luther. It was a magical evening of song storytelling. We had anticipated this concert for a while because it was one of the very first to be held in the recently completed Center for Faith and Life.

Harry seemed genuinely glad to be there even though he was at the pinnacle of his career. He played all his hits, such as “Taxi” and “Cats in the Cradle.” We all marveled at the sound and the beautiful acoustics of this new building on our campus.

Kip Nordstrom ’81

My favorite concert was Pure Prairie League. They had recently taken on a new lead singer who took the stage in a thick, bushy beard and bib overalls, but boy could he pick that guitar. Come to find out shortly after the concert that the young performer was none other than Vince Gill!

Julie Hall ’82

Ramsey Lewis on my 20th birthday in ’81 and Spyro Gyra in ’82. Ramsey Lewis and his band were about as tight as you can get, and Spyro Gyra brought the energy of the fusion/smooth jazz of the time. I saw both bands again 33 years later in ’14 and ’15. Spyro Gyra saxophonist Jay Beckenstein said he appreciated my Luther memories. Drummer Lee Pearson hadn’t even been born yet! Watching Lewis at the age of 79 sounding just as sharp as he did in ’81 was incredible. Fantastic then and now!

Todd Mithelman ’90

In the late ’80s we welcomed a fiery young band from Wales—the Alarm—onto the Luther campus. I had joined the concert committee with the hope I could meet some semi-famous people and be close to the action. . . .

I will never forget their opening band. Two guys showed up in a van, and I helped unload their equipment. I thought there would be more members, but it turned out to be a duo—but they rocked the house. The band was House of Freaks, and some friends and I ended up following them to Madison for their next gig with Midnight Oil. I still listen to all these bands today and fondly recall when I helped bring their talent to Luther College.


This time we’d like to know:

Which Luther course had the biggest impact on you and why?

Email your story in 100 words or less to [email protected].