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WLS National Barn Dance

About the Group

About The Group

Back then (1944), if you worked for WLS, it was said that you might just find yourself scheduled to be at the studio at 5am every day of the week and bubbling over with enthusiasm, even though you had just rushed throught the dark and silent streets of Chicago to get there.

Around 1944 or so, Rusty Gill was a part of the group that was maybe a bit unusual considering the backgrounds of the band. For instance, Dave Bohme, was born in Warsaw, Poland and had studied extensively in Cuba, Mexico and other Latin-America countries. Frank Messina was playing the accordion as early as the age of four and was a soloist with Spitalny's orchestra when he was 14. Lester Schein, got himself a master's degree in music from Northwestern University and also served as musical director at the Schubert Theatre in Chicago for a time. Rusty Gill became a solo artist and was married to Carolyn DeZurik of the DeZurik Sisters fame.

The group underwent some change in personnel in 1945 or so, with members being James Palecek, Dave Bohme, Max Stelter and "Smokey" Lohman. James, Dave and Max also performed together as the "Diamondeers" on the D-X Melody Revue that was heard every Saturday night from the studios of WLS.

Timeline and Trivia Notes

Group Members included:

  • Dave Bohme, fiddle
  • Frank Messina, keyboards, accordion
  • James Palecek, bass
  • Rusty Gill, guitar, vocals
  • Max Stelter, accordion, 1945
  • "Smokey" Dale Lohman, guitar, 1945