John McNeill John McNeill was born in Oklahoma, grew up in Indiana and Connecticut,
and first came to South Dakota to attend Yankton College in 1962. He began playing
harmonica and guitar a couple years later while earning a degree from the University
of South Dakota. While a Vista volunteer in Alabama and later doing graduate study
there, McNeill performed in soul bands. After three-and-a-half decades back in South
Dakota, he most enjoys playing country music. Prior to his recent retirement, he
taught more than
30 years at USD-Springfield and its successor, the state prison. He has been the
master of ceremonies and a regular performer at Gayville Hall with his wife Susan
from its beginning in 2001. McNeill has written music for documentaries and many
songs. He suggested and created Gayville Hall's successful Hank Williams and Johnny
Cash tributes. He is pastor of the Springfield Bible Church.
Susan McNeill Susan McNeill is a native of Clark, S.D. She met John at Yankton
College, and they married in 1966. The McNeills lived in Alabama for four years before
returning to South Dakota in 1972 and eventually settling in Springfield. Susan learned
bass and started performing with John after
their three children -- Annie, Matthew, and Jane -- were old enough to tolerate the
part-time musician's life. For several years they performed with their children in
a family band.
Nick Schwebach Nick Schwebach was born and raised in Dell Rapids and graduated
with a degree in English and history from the University of South Dakota in 1972.
He played with the "honky tonk" band Bitsko from 1976 to 1979 and then started the
Public Domain Tune Band with Owen DeJong in 1979. He co-founded the Poker Alice Band
mid-1980s. Schwebach and DeJong have toured with the Comfort Theater Company's production
of "Always, Patsy Cline," as well as with Gayville Hall's Hank Williams and Johnny
Cash tribute shows. They have appeared at Gayville Hall more times than any other
musicians except the McNeills. He and DeJong both live near Wakonda.
Owen DeJong Owen DeJong is director of programming and classical music at South
Dakota Public Radio and has played fiddle with a variety of bands, including the
acclaimed Poker Alice Band, since first performing professionally in 1968. He was
born in Pipestone, Minn., graduated from Denison High School in Denison, Iowa, and
holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature and a
master's degree in violin performance from the University of South Dakota. He performed
extensively in Nashville with The Travelin' Band during the 1980s and has taught
high school art and English. He has enjoyed his longest musical association with
Nick Schwebach in the Public Domain Tune Band for going on 33 years.
Dan Kilbride Dan Kilbride, of Sioux Falls, has been a Gayville Hall fixture since
2006, when he first appeared here with Clay County Breakdown. Dan grew up one of
12 kids on a farm near Wakonda. After graduating from high school, he worked at Kolbergs
and Load King in Yankton until 1978, when he was hired on the Spirit Mound Sub Station
construction project. He heard bluegrass music for the first time when fellow construction
workers from the south brought out instruments at a social gathering. Two weeks later,
he bought his first banjo. Moving to Stillwater, Oklahoma, on an iron-working job
the next year, he took daily lessons from a two-time Tennessee state banjo champion.
A year later, working in Arkansas, he studied with an accomplished player in the
Bela Fleck style. Returning to Oklahoma, he played in a bluegrass group, the Meehan
Valley Boys, for five years. He moved back to South Dakota in the early 1990s.
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