After 50 years, they’re like brothers

TC Cats nominated for Minnesota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

“The longevity of a band is really contingent on loving the people that you’re making music with and being able to get along in the long run. It’s just like being married, except you’re married to more than one person!”
The above quote by musician Grace Potter might have been given with the TC Cats in mind. The local rock group, which plays primarily 50s and 60s music, has been together for 52 years.
Midway resident DJ Traudt, band member and historian for the group, said their story began at Bethel University. “A bunch of guys played basketball together, and one of them, John Priestley, was from Philadelphia. He had a younger brother who introduced him to rock and roll. We got together to play a concert for the benefit of student missionaries, and we called ourselves Priest and the Scribes.”
The band played together a couple years, and Priestley went on to other things, so they became “The Scribes.” and later took the name “TC Cats.”
At one of its last college concerts, the group was told by a booking manager that they could make money doing this. “That meant a lot to college guys,” Traudt said.
The band began playing for weddings, birthday parties, conventions, anniversaries and fund-raisers.                                                                                                                                   
Their first performance in 1974 was at the Brooks Ballroom in South Saint Paul. They were invited to become the house band at the Farmers Daughter Supper Club in Litchfield, and performed there for eight years. They played in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. And they kept doing it while they pursued full-time careers, married and raised families.
“Amongst us, we have had 11 daughters, so we have had job security by playing for weddings,” Traudt joked.
The Ducktails And The Mechanics
“We didn’t learn the music, we lived it,” Traudt said. Occasionally the TC Cats will play some early 70s music, but they mainly stick to 50s and 60s rock and roll. Traudt said that when their children were younger, the TC Cats formed an additional band called the Ducktails. “We played parody songs, such as ‘Waking Up is Hard to do’ rather than ‘Breaking Up is Hard to do.’ We played at a lot of children’s festivals all over the Twin Cities, and at the fair. That was a fun time. We did that for about six years until our daughters grew out of it.”
In the late 90s, there was a contest on KOOL 108 for the best a cappella group. “I signed us up for it, then told the other guys,” Traudt said. “We actually won the contest, and did a cappella performances for three or four years. The highlight was when we performed for  3M at the Radisson Hotel.” Traudt said that as part of their performing for 3M for several years, Smokey Robinson and Glen Campbell shared the stage with them. “That was a lot of fun,” he said.
When Traudt and his wife, Sande, bought an old dilapidated gas station and turned it into Andy’s Garage, a restaurant in the Midway area, the TC Cats performed there, too. They also started a trio called the Mechanics who sang at the restaurant. But throughout all the musical innovations, the TC Cats stayed and played together.
Traudt, who plays percussion,  has been with the band for 50 years since the very beginning. Gordie Fransen plays guitar and has been a band member for 49 years. Dave Broza plays keyboards  and has spent 48 years with the group. The newcomers are Brian Eckert, who has played bass, guitar and ukulele for 32 years, and Chauncey Richardson, who has been drummer for 30 years.  
“Four of us do lead vocals, and Chauncey does mostly background,” Traudt added. All the musicians play by ear.
“We’ve traveled hundreds of thousands of miles across the region, and we are almost up to 2,000 shows,” he said. “That’s quite a lot for a part-time band.”
He recalled that when the group first started, they played six nights a week. They would sometimes learn songs as they drove to a performance.
Now they play 15 to 22 times a year. Traudt said it is just as exciting as it was when they began playing together.
“We have talked about stopping, but then we never do. We just enjoy it too much. These guys are like my brothers,” he said.
Besides, they cannot disappoint their followers. One woman told them she had followed them for years and at the end of a performance, showed them her dancing shoes had holes in them. The band created a fan award and has given it to several of their most loyal fans.
Traudt said their uninterrupted playing for more than 50 years is a result of their being good friends before they started. “Also, we all stayed in the Twin Cities area,” he said.
“Recently I was going through some old cassette tapes and found one from a 1978 concert we did for a children’s mission. The cassette came out really clear, and Gordie and I transferred it to CD, so we will shortly come out with a version of that,” Traudt said.
The TC Cats have also been nominated to join the Minnesota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “It was too late for this year, but we’ll see what happens,” he said.
Besides playing for anniversaries, birthdays and weddings, the group plays for a number of fundraisers, especially for youth who have medical needs.
To book the band, call Traudt at 651-246-4259 or email him at
“When we were college kids, the money was a big deal,” Traudt noted. “But now we just like to play; it’s fun for us.”


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here