2040 Linda Lane - Sparta, WI 54656 | 608-269-2065 | 608-343-1317
The early years....
The Brueggen family has a rich history of music, especially family bands. Here's one of my Grandfather's bands - Herman and His Jolly Dutchmen.
The start of the Ridgeland Dutchmen
My grandfather, Herman Brueggen passed away in 1971, hence beginning the start of the name, "The Ridgeland Dutchmen", which still consisted of my dad Willard and uncles Harry and Phillip and family friends. The picture on the left is the early version of the Ridgeland Dutchmen, around 1978. The middle picture is the band under the direction of my cousin Brian, roughly from 1982 - 1985. The picture on the right is a version of the Ridgeland Dutchmen from the 1990's which then consisted of myself, my sister Judy on drums and vocals, our dad Willard, uncle Harry on guitar and vocals. Also at this time, Harry and Marie's 3 daughters- L-R - Donna, Carol and Cathy came along and were part of the Polka Mass Trio. We did Polka Masses all over the U.S. including a number of times out in Mesa, AZ for Polka Fests held out there on a yearly basis.
The Ridgeland Dutchmen today...
We have been blessed over the years with having some of the most talented band members in the business. They come from all backgrounds, learned how to play instruments in a variety of ways, but one thing they all have in common....they play from the heart! Other wonderful musicians that work with our band also include--Gary Hendrickson, Jay Zunker, Tom Schneider, Mark Heinz and many others.
Gary Brueggen - button box, concertina, vocals
"Wisconsin's Concertina Kid"-- I've been performing since the age of 9. April of 1982 was my first gig at a Fireman's Dance in Bangor, WI. I play concertina and button box. When not performing, I'm a Customer Service Rep for Organic Valley, Family of Farms at the Cashton, WI location.
In 2008 I was honored to be inducted into the World Concertina Congress Hall of Fame. I am proud to carry on the family tradition, that started with my late grandfather Herman Brueggen, who ran a dance band here in Western Wisconsin for many years until his death in 1971. I have his 1922 Majestic concertina here that I play once in a while.
I enjoy the Milwaukee Brewers, Green Bay Packers and the Wisconsin Badgers.
Willard Brueggen - tuba
Willard has been performing for well over 60 years! Willard and Gary's mother MaryAnn are retired and live in Sparta, WI. They were dairy farmers in Western Wisconsin just outside of our hometown of Cashton, WI. They raised 6 children - Jim, Curt, Rick, Kristine, Gary and Judy along with running a dairy farm. Willard is self taught on the tuba and cannot read any music, and absolutely 100% plays from the heart.
He enjoys the travels and meeting up with friends and making new ones too! When Willard and MaryAnn are not on the road with the band, they enjoy spending time with the family and grandchildren, watching Milwaukee Brewers baseball, visiting many friends and relation and playing LOTS of cards.
Photos from Tony Asleson - Rochester, MN