KRIS and the RIVERBEND DUTCHMEN - BIOGRAPHY
The Riverbend Dutchmen band from Mankato, Minnesota was formed in 2009 by bandleader Kris Keltgen. The band blends an up-tempo beat with the traditional dutchmen style made famous by so many of the great dutchmen bands from Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Kris Keltgen has been performing old-time music since the age of four years old when he made regular appearances with his uncle's band "Inside Straight" singing "Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie" at local service clubs. Encouraged by his family, Kris began playing the drums and later took up the piano. Once out of high school, Kris began playing with "Double Shot", and later the "Plum Krazy" band. At the age of 29, Kris began playing the concertina, an instrument Kris always appreciated and enjoyed. Starting out, Kris received a handful of concertina lessons from Larry Novotny of Montgomery, Minnesota. Practicing several hours a day, Kris became proficient at the concertina and formed the Riverbend Dutchmen after playing the concertina for only 2 years. Kris now plays the concertina exclusively in addition to singing with his own band. Recently, Kris has worked closely with personal friend and fellow concertina player Karl Hartwich of Trempealeau, Wisconsin to refine his technique and subtle nuances in playing the concertina.
The Riverbend Dutchmen typically perform as a 6 piece band, but often perform as a 7 or 8 piece band for larger venues. This at a time when many of the larger bands are disappearing in favor of three or four piece bands. "I've always appreciated the versatility of a robust horn section", says Kris. Other band members include Crystal Malek on drums, Bill Bardon on tuba, Rick Keane, John Henle, and Steve Moran rounding out the horn section. Jerry Minar and Karl Hartwich also regularly perform with the band playing second concertina as needed for larger shows. The late Dick Ginn, former host of the Bandwagon program also played with the band until succumbing to cancer in April of 2013. "I've always been fortunate to have been surrounded by such talented musicians and mentors", said Kris in a recent newspaper interview.
The bands schedule continues to get busier every year as the band becomes more popular. "Old time music is certainly not dead. It is good music and people continue to enjoy themselves", says Kris while explaining the bands success and growing popularity. The band had a busy year in 2013 with performances that included numerous festivals across Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The band made multiple appearances at the Minnesota State Fair in addition to many community celebrations and festivals. The band has had numerous nation-wide television appearances on the popular Mollie B Polka Party program on the RFD-TV network, appearances on KEYC-TV's Bandwagon program, and numerous local broadcasts in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The band released its first album in 2012 entitled: "Smile", and has just released their second album in January entitled: "Partners, Brothers, and Friends". In addition to Kris on the concertina, the newest album also features Karl Hartwich and Mollie Busta who performed with Kris on the album. Both albums are regularly featured on radio stations with old-time programming across the United States and Canada.
2014 also looks to be a busy year for the band as bookings continue to increase. In addition to numerous ballroom and festival bookings, the Riverbend Dutchmen will be performing for 3 days at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa this year. For band schedule and booking information, or to inquire about album purchases, readers are encouraged to visit the bands website: www.RiverbendDutchmen.com, or call Kris at 507-385-8130. The band also maintains a Facebook page and regularly posts bookings, information, and pictures there for people to enjoy.