For those Quad Citians who experienced the late '60s as young adults (my friends and I were still in our early teens, but no less loving rock 'n roll as the great catharsis of strong emotion), The Night People sustained us in an era of incredible creativity and music that will never fade away. A reunion of sorts for The Night People will happen this Saturday night as part of the MidCoast Film & Arts Festival. Original members Mike Stroehle and Rob Dahms will be joined by Mary Stroehle (vocals) and Jim Stroehle (drums) for a performance inside the Great River Hall at the River Center. The theme is decidedly nostalgic as the River Valley Car Club will be displaying up to fifty classic autos in the same hall, while the 30th Annviersary screening of American Grafitti will happen inside the historic Adler Theatre at 7pm and 10pm.

The Night People consisted of four talented, good-looking musicians: originally Kenny White on bass, but after an injury Gary Pearson replaced him; Mike Stroehle on rhythm guitar; Rob Dahms (who is flying back from California for the gig) on lead guitar (Mike and Rob are first cousins); and Dick Collignon on drums.

The group started playing for fun, but quickly evolved to a professional level playing for small lawn parties, the YMCA and St. John's dances, and finally as the house band for the renowned Draught House in downtown Davenport (now The Dock restaurant).

The Draught House opened in June 1965, after the '65 flood wiped out the Prongers Restaurant. Gene Walters and his son Jeff, along with other investors, joined forces with the Night People and cleaned the venue up to make ready a nightclub for Quad Citians who wanted to rock. The Draught House became the place to go for young adults and teens in the late '60s, where the Night People performed, personifying the English movement (the Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc.) in rock 'n roll prevalent in the '60s with heart and exceptional talent. Each musician brought his unique personality to the music they performed and made it better for it. In fact, in 1968 the Night People opened for Jimi Hendrix, who played at the Col Ballroom. It doesn't get any better than that.

It's a shame the Quad Cities no longer provides a venue like the Draught House for teens and young adults. The Night People played on Wednesday and Friday nights for college-aged patrons, and on Saturday nights for teenagers. Patrons were issued Draught House ID cards for entrance to keep them separate. Bob Balzaar managed the Draught House from October 1965 until 1968, when the venue had as many as 1,800 kids a night. The Night People also played on Sunday nights for the Col Ballroom's teen night.

The Draught House and Night People together provided a place for young Quad Citians to go, and created a sort of unifying force of young people that reflected the nation's love affair with rock 'n roll, especially during a time of tremendous conflict for young Americans such as the Vietnam War. People don't forget such influences, and the Night People are no exception for us. They were our heroes, keeping us vital and relevant for the brief time they shared with us.

The band will be performing a "warm-up gig" at the Bier Stube in the Village of East Davenport on Thursday night at 8pm. Saturday night the band starts at 8:30 p.m. for three sets of live rock and roll. Admission is free with an American Grafitti ticket or stub ($7 at the Adler) or $3 cover for just the concert and auto show. It's no doubt many a Quad Citian has vivid memories of a coming of age at the Draught House with bands such as the Night People and the Loved Ones, but that's another story. Enjoy.

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