For musical duo John Evans and Dan Perry, regardless of the venue, the mission is always the same: “To make sure people feel better when they leave than when they came in,” says longtime White Bear Lake resident Evans, who moved to WBL in 1971, with his wife, Cathy.
For four decades, singer-guitarists Evans and Perry, who lives in St. Paul, have been performing—separately and together—in area nightclubs, restaurants, churches and other settings where music can lift peoples’ spirits; Evans is a church musician and Perry is a church music director. They’ve been at it long enough to be referred to as “legends” in promo material for The Station Pub & Event Center (formerly Manitou Station), where they’ve performed every Wednesday night for the past four years.
Evans, 70, is a Chicago native who came to Minnesota in 1961 to attend St. John’s University. A year later he joined the first of a series of local rock bands, inspired by early rockers like Buddy Holly and Ricky Nelson. Along the way, he met Cathy, a White Bear native. They raised seven children in a house on the lake.
Evans continued playing in rock bands and doing solo guitar-voice performances. When Bobbie’s nightclub opened on Highway 61 in 1978, he performed at the grand opening, and was part of “the quasi house band there,” says Evans, who founded Evans Music, which provides music lessons and sells and rents music and sound gear (he sold the company 15 years ago). Around that time he met Perry, with whom he performed as a duo through most of the 1980s. “Dan is a first-class singer, guitarist and composer,” says Evans, who also leads the Spaceheater Band, another longstanding local group.
Perry, 64, grew up in St. Paul’s Como Park area, has been playing guitar and singing since the age of 8, and, like Evans, played in a series of rock bands and as a solo performer in a number of local venues. He’s also played with Evans in bands at several venues, including Bobbie’s, until the club closed in 1988. Perry also serves as music director at St. Odilia Catholic Church and School in Shoreview.
Perry says he appreciates Evans’ proficiency as a guitarist and vocalist skilled at harmonizing, which makes for “seamless” duo performances. “He’s a really good guitar player; he knows all the jazz ‘stuff.’ I’m more of a rocker.”
Their current performing repertoire at The Station includes plenty of durable rock, pop and folk tunes from the ’60s and ’70s. They also cater to younger fans with covers of current pop artists like Bruno Mars, Train and others. “It’s a pretty good mix,” Perry notes.
Evans hadn’t performed in clubs for about 15 years. Then, four years ago, one of The Station’s owners, Jake McKeague, called to find out if Evans and Perry would be interested in performing there; they haven’t missed a Wednesday night since.
White Bear resident Rose Kubiatowicz has been a Wednesday-night regular since the weekly gigs started. She’s known Evans for many years, through St. Mary’s parish, and has played mandolin at St. Odilia with Perry. “I’ve been following their careers for a while; it’s always a treat when they get together and play music.”
It’s been a rewarding experience for the musicians, too, Evans notes. “We’ve seen a lot of friendships made there,” he says. “As I get older, I become more and more aware of what an important communicator and community-builder music can be.”
Wednesday nights, 7 to 10 p.m., The Station Pub & Event Center.