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The Spirit of Jesse Brady rises to rock again

One day during high school in 1968, students Jeff Christensen and Jeff Hauschildt were in study hall brainstorming names for the band they were in with John Wellvang and John McKenzie.

It was Hauschildt who came up with The Spirit of Jesse Brady; a name that was soon to be big in the local classic rock scene.

"I don't know where he came up with that," Christensen recalled, "Maybe from a book he was reading or something, but we liked the sound of it."

The young musicians were serious about their craft and practiced frequently in the second story of an insurance office in downtown Red Wing.

"We had the windows open and the whole town would hear us," Christensen said.

After high school graduation in 1970, the band continued to grow in size and popularity.

With the addition of frontman Michael Holm, the five-piece toured across the region playing both original and cover songs from groups like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.

"We were influenced a lot by the British bands," said Christensen, and they aimed to reach the skill level of these major rock icons.

"We always raised the bar for ourselves and it made us practice."

Christensen was with the band for about 10 years before he split off to do other work, but the band continued to be successful for nearly another decade. Even after the group dispersed, the members busied themselves with other projects to continue sharing their love of music.

"We all kept playing," said Christensen, who started a piano tuning business that worked with big venues including Paisley Park in Chanhassen.

However, The Spirit of Jesse Brady was not gone for good.

Hauschildt, Christensen and new recruit Pat Wagnor—otherwise known as "Hausch," "Boday," and "Wags"—are touring again, bringing back original songs as well as favorites from the early '70s and '80s.

"There was so much behind this name and so much that we've done," said Christensen, "I never thought I'd be back playing for Brady again."

The tour will take the group to stages of all sizes in Minnesota and surrounding areas.

These stops include Hastings Art Center on June 29, with an opening performance by local Indie Rock group The Montes, and Moondance Jam, a music festival July 18-19 in Walker with big names Kid Rock and Joan Jett.

If you go ...

What: Rock the Church with The Spirit of Jesse Brady with special guest The Montes

When: 7 p.m. Friday, June 29

Where: Hastings Art Center

Tickets: $15 at the door

More info: www.hastingsartscenter.org

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