Man and Band Keep on Playing

Jesse Christen

Jesse Christen

Bands come and go. Most people might mess around with a guitar or write a few songs in their late teens or early twenties. Some even form bands that quickly dissolve when success doesn’t materialize, or when the cold reality that one can’t make much money playing music sinks in.

In our home of South Dakota, musical figures don’t last long. A lack of people who attend gigs and pay attention to regional musical artists is nothing new to anyone who’s played in an original band in the region.

But for Rich Show, who’s been writing songs for 26 years, and his band Violet, the dream of brighter musical pastures doesn’t seem to concern him too much. He still lives in Sioux Falls and still plays live music, either with Violet or as an acoustic act.

Show has seen it all: he was a member of the first punk rock band in South Dakota, No Direction; and Violet has recorded at Prince’s Paisley Park Studio.

“We started out as really bad song writers, but the more we wrote the better we got,” Show says about his early career with No Direction. “It was the punk rock thing, three chords and a lot of energy.”

This recollection may be somewhat modest. Dead Kennedy’s frontman Jello Biafra is rumored to have ordered a copy of No Direction’s Reganomics EP.

After No Direction fizzled out, Show formed a new group with more of a roots rock sound: Flag With Hank.

Flag With Hank played regular Monday night gigs at the old Crow Bar in Sioux Falls.

After an unfruitful move to Austin, Texas, Flag With Hank was history. But aided by two Flag With Hank members, drummer Lance Beier and bassist Heath Henjum, Show added guitarists Mark Bombera and Mark Romanowski and Violet was born.

Violet has recorded three CDs. One of which, Soundtrack of a Man Who Will Never Amount to Anything, is a 42-song-three-CD collection.

The album is illtitled being that Violet recorded a demo for Warner Brother’s records. The label paid for the group to record at Prince’s Paisley Park studio. A luxury that few recieve.

Show says the opportunity to record in a major studio was “fun,” but it was also a lesson on how things should not be done.

“There’s too much waste recording in a place like Paisley Park,” he says. “There’s a lot of money spent … it’s just stupid.”

Drummer Lance Beier says he learned the cold business end of music from the experience.

“It doesn’t matter if you are good or not,” he says. “You sign a production contract, and if you ever get picked up by a label the producer makes $20,000 whether you sell albums or not.”

Once again Show and Violet are on the verge of an exciting project; two professors from the University of Oklahoma are planning to do a documentary film on Show and Violet.

“I don’t know what they will do with it,” Show says. “We’re working on recording right now. They [movie producers] gave us $400 to upgrade a computer 8-track to a 24-track. If it doesn’t happen, we still get this stuff for free.”

Violet is currently in its third line-up. The members include Show: vocals and guitar, Beier: drums, Dave Scarbrough: bass, Mark Romanowski: guitar and John Haig: keyboards.

For more on Show’s three- band, 11-album and 200-song career go to