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Johnny Holm Band to hit Charity Ball stage again

Johnny Holm has come home. Holm, who grew up in a small house on the north side of Brainerd, has traveled throughout the Midwest for the past 40-plus years performing in front of hundreds of thousands of people. The Brainerd native recently moved...

Johnny Holm of the Johnny Holm band smiles as he talks about his Brainerd roots. The band will perform at the Brainerd Family YMCA’s Charity Ball on April 10 at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa. Steve Kohls
Johnny Holm of the Johnny Holm band smiles as he talks about his Brainerd roots. The band will perform at the Brainerd Family YMCA’s Charity Ball on April 10 at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa. Steve Kohls

Johnny Holm has come home.

Holm, who grew up in a small house on the north side of Brainerd, has traveled throughout the Midwest for the past 40-plus years performing in front of hundreds of thousands of people. The Brainerd native recently moved back to the Brainerd lakes area, living in Breezy Point.

Holm left Brainerd when he graduated from Brainerd High School in 1968 to enroll in college and a year later he got his first job playing at a bar in Moorhead.

"They paid me $20 a night," Holm said. "I was 19. After the audition the guy said 'You are too loud, but you're hired.'

"My music career took off after that and the next thing I knew I was playing in Coon Rapids six nights a week."

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Holm and his Johnny Holm Band have made quite a name for themselves over the past four decades, touring across the Midwest playing at different venues including clubs, bars, ballrooms and festivals.

For the past 10 years, Holm has performed for the Brainerd Family YMCA's Charity Ball and he will again this year. This year will be the YMCA's 19th annual Charity Ball scheduled April 10 at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa. Jason DeRusha will emcee the event. The Charity Ball is one of the YMCA's largest fundraising event with all proceeds supporting youth programs.

Randy Klinger, Brainerd Family YMCA CEO, said the YMCA has elected to designate a portion of the Charity Ball proceeds for outdoor play yard equipment and enhancements inside their fenced in area, along with other youth program needs.

"The mission of the Charity Ball is two-fold," said Klinger. "It's to provide a fun social event for the community and secondly, to raise awareness of the Y's mission on what we do for families and to raise money for our youth programs."

Klinger said since 1996, the YMCA has raised $270,000 that has gone directly to after school care, day camps and youth programs. Money also has gone to equipment and additional staffing. Klinger said the YMCA also provides day camp opportunities to youth who can't afford it.

On average about 210 people attend the event each year, with the highest attendance of more than 350 people about eight years ago.

Klinger said the YMCA tries to add new games each year to the Charity Ball. This year the YMCA will sell bucket and card raffles for participants to win a variety of prizes including a Fitbit Surge, Bourbon Electric Guitar, kids kayak, a propane portable fire pit and wheelbarrow of beer and wine.

There also will be a silent auction where people could win four bottles of wine and a soft paddleboard. There will be a heads and tails game where E.L. Menk Jewelers donated a 14 karat white gold diamond pendant.

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There have been a variety of performers over the years at the Charity Ball and Johnny Holm has been a big draw, said Klinger.

"He has never disappointed us and he puts on a great show," Klinger said.

The Johnny Holm Band is widely known in the Midwest and plays a variety of music, all while interacting with the audience. Johnny Holm started solo and then built up his band. Band members include his daughter Jordan Holm, Scott Pearson, Jeff Downs, Jeremiah Witucki and Jake Jackson.

Johnny Holm said he has always been into music. In eighth grade, he got his first guitar and played on the porch on Third Street North in Brainerd.

"My dad had a clothing store and sports was my life," Holm said. "Sports is what I really liked doing as a kid. Basketball was my passion and music soon too became important to me.

"I liked music so much that in eighth grade, I wanted a record by the Shirelles, 'Dedicated to The One I Love.' I wanted it so bad that I asked my mom if she would buy it for me and she said yes if I would throw away all my baseball cards and I said yes. ... Can you believe that?"

Holm said he and his father listened to music all the time.

Holm said after high school he went to University of Minnesota Moorhead to study special education and physical education. Holm said he played sports and he would play his guitar on the way to basketball games and the players would tell him that he should "go play somewhere." So he did and he got his first job and began traveling playing at different venues.

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"I can't believe I did what I did," Holm said in the early years of playing at different venues. "I did it solo for the first three years by myself and I remember hitchhiking to Lemmon, S.D. to play at a bowling alley bar and I got there and they said I had to play for six hours a night and they wanted me to play country and I didn't know much country then. I was like 'how will I do that?'"

Holm said he always dreamed about having a band, so in 1973 he started the band. He began adding people along the way. He said his first guitar player was with him for 28 years and the current drummer has been with him for 23 years.

Holm said the band travels most every weekend and summer is even more busy where the band will do about 19 shows a month. He said it's hard to say which venue he enjoys playing at the most, but said one of his favorite places is playing at St. Mary's College. He said the students are respectful there.

He also enjoys playing in his hometown.

"The first band I saw live was at the YMCA," he said. "It's nice to see so many familiar faces."

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl .

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IF YOU GO:

What: Brainerd Family YMCA's 19th annual Charity Ball.

When: April 10.

Where: Grand View Lodge in Nisswa.

Cost: $75 per person or $750 for reserved table of 10; includes dinner and entertainment. Dinner ticket deadline is Wednesday and $35 of the ticket price is tax-deductible. Entertainment only tickets are $25 in advance at the YMCA or $35 at the door. Entertainment tickets allow admission after 8:30 p.m.

The Johnny Holm Band will perform April 10 at the Brainerd Family YMCA’s 19th annual Charity Ball at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa.
The Johnny Holm Band will perform April 10 at the Brainerd Family YMCA’s 19th annual Charity Ball at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa.

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