Eye on KELOLAND: Gunderson’s Half-Life


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Sioux Falls guitar instructor, Geoff Gunderson has been into music his entire life.

While some of you may know him as a member of his former band Wakefield or through his time teaching at Augustana, Gunderson is hoping you’ll take a listen to what he’s been up to lately.

Gunderson’s “Half-Life” project is an album, he says, that shares his life story and the grooves he holds dear.

From music he wrote when he first became a father to others that have just been hidden from the world, Geoff Gunderson is ready to be heard.

“Songs that I’ve written for my daughters and my wife and just events that have happened that I’ve more kept to myself. Going back and listening to them, I think these are pretty good,” Gunderson said.

The music dates back to the 70s. They’re creations the celebrated guitar player cherishes. He realized recently he wanted to make sure to capture them in a professional studio.

Does it make you nervous to put them out there?
“A little bit. That’s why I waited so long probably. Now I’m getting old enough. I’m going to be 60 this year. I don’t care quite as much,” Gunderson said.

“Awesome. Geoff is awesome. He’s probably one of the best guitar players in this region, one of the best guitar teachers and all-around good guy,” Dresch said.

Mike Dresch is the owner of Cathouse Studios where Gunderson is recording two albums over several months. One features fifteen personal songs and the other solo guitar pieces.

When you watch him play the guitar, what do you think about?
“Envy. Wish I could be that good. It’s pure appreciation of the art form. He’s just an amazing guitar player. He just knows it in and out. He knows every nuance about it. It’s just really cool to see,” Dresch said.

Gunderson says that comes from experience and playing a lot over the years.

“In Wakefield, my original band, we used to play, a lot of times, seven nights a week we’d be playing,” Gunderson said.

The band’s success led to a South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Former bandmate Evan Jones even makes an appearance on these new works providing what Gunderson calls the ‘frosting’ on some songs.

“For me it’s kind of a legacy thing. Something that I can leave behind. My grandkids have been listening to it and they have some favorite songs. So that makes me really happy. And if that’s all it comes to, that’s really enough. I hope, I think there’s songs that are more universally relatable on there that people dig,” Gunderson said.

“The whole spectrum of acoustic to pop songs to some rock music. It’s all there for you,” Dresch said.

Gunderson says the album tells his life story. It also shows off his musical talents. From singing to playing electric, steel string, nylon string, bass guitar, harmonica and even a sitar.

“It’s been ten years ago actually this year, that I left my full-time insurance underwriting job and left my benefits and everything and decided to start trying to make a living with my guitar. Teaching and playing,” Gunderson said.

It seems to be paying off. Gunderson is sought after for local gigs and now fans will be able to hear more of his music wherever they are.

“I’m very proud of it. I like listening to it and I’m kind of picky. Mike says I’m not the most picky person he has,” Gunderson said.

“I’ve been a guitar player for over 35 years. I know what a good guitar player is because that’s what I aspire to be. Having Geoff here is like, legend status here in Sioux Falls,” Dresch said.

A legend you can hear more of in the near future.

Gunderson says the albums should be released during the first week of August. His website has more information about the release date of his two albums or his guitar classes.

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