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Local bandsman going into Hall of Fame

November 5, 2010
Meg Alexander — Staff Writer

FAIRMONT - Fairmont resident Doug Kodet can be seen and heard playing with the Sammy Jensen Orchestra, Doming Gomez Big Band and about five to six other bands in the area.

His love of music began as a boy, watching his older brother Roger perform. Doug would later join him on stage.

"My older brother was instrumental," Doug said, laughing at his own pun.

Article Photos

“Roger Kodet and The Cards” Orchestra (circa 1970s) at the KEYC-TV studio in Mankato during a performance of the “Bandwagon” show. Roger and Doug, on the far left, holding trumpets; Doug holding the camera.

Tonight the two brothers are being inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.

"I had never anticipated it!" Doug said. "I enjoyed working in music ... but I was surprised. It's quite an honor."

Growing up in Redwood Falls, Doug began by playing in the school band, encouraged by his brother to take up trumpet. By junior high, he was playing with the high school jazz band and tagging along occasionally to perform with his big brother. Still in junior high, he was playing at wedding dances and ballrooms with professional bands.

Then, in 1959, Doug's junior year of high school, the brothers and other musicians formed "Roger Kodet and the Cards." The band performed modern and old-time music and recorded an album, "A Stacked Deck," frequently heard by WCCO Radio listeners.

"That band soon became quite popular," Doug said. "We played a three-state area."

Again guided by his brother, Doug didn't boast about his music accomplishments to his classmates, and many probably didn't even know, he said.

Doug's music endeavors didn't end with high school. He had planned to enlist in the Navy to attend the Naval School of Music, but a visit with an instructor in the Mankato State University music department changed his mind.

Throughout college, he continued to perform routinely with different bands from Mankato, New Ulm and Twin Cities, including Ernie Coopman and the Jolly Brewers, Elmer Scheid, Clem Brau and the Jolly Lumberjacks, The Guy DeLeo Orchestra, The Jules Herman Orchestra and more.

"We would play 15 to 17 nights in a row, then take a night off and then play again," Doug said. "I was always careful about not taking 7 a.m. classes."

The commute from Redwood Falls to Mankato limited how often Doug played with "The Cards," but it didn't end the musical relationship altogether. On weekends, they did remote radio broadcasts from different ballrooms in the Twin Cities and outstate and then, in 1961, they delved into television, playing for "Bandwagon" on KEYC-TV in Mankato.

Still working toward his undergraduate degree in music, Doug began working the 9-5, so to speak, as a band director for Truman schools. He went on to teach and then went into administration, still performing music all the while. His last two years in education brought him back to the Fairmont area. Before retiring, Doug was superintendent at Granada-Huntley-East Chain, until 1999.

"Both careers have been so rewarding ... seeing what music does for the soul in people, what it brings into their lives." he said.

Doug and his wife, Rosemary, continue to live in Fairmont. The past nine winters, Doug toured with the Sammy Jensen Orchestra in Texas and Arizona. His brother Roger still plays with groups in the lakes region of Willmar, New London and Spicer.



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