BENTON -- Tom Herman’s mission might not have come from God, but like Jake and Elwood before him, the Benton man has set out the get the band back together.
And while he won’t be joining with his “Blues Brothers,” he’ll be reuniting with a group of friends close enough to call family. The story of these six families and the music that united them dates back 25 years.
The group, comprised mostly of musicians and music teachers, didn’t set out for stardom; they simply wanted something to do.
“We got together for fun to play, and we decided to make something of it,” Herman said.
Adopting the name Donny and the Doo Wops, they played parties in Benton, entertaining small crowds. Before long, people started taking notice, and the group was invited to play at Rend Lake’s Fourth of July celebration.
From there, the schedule got a little busier, as the pack entertained crowds at car shows and shopping malls. The original members even started incorporating their children into the act in various ways, adding to the family element.
Fame was never even in their sites – and neither was money, as the band was never paid for a performance.
“It was more just for fun,” Herman said.
And have fun they did for several years. But, in the 1990s when federal legislation changed the Southern Illinois coal mining industry operated, many of the group’s members were pulled in different directors and relocated outside of the region.
Donny and the Doo Wops hadn’t hung up their instruments for good, but the regular jam sessions were over.
“Maybe once a year or so we’d be able to get away and do a car show or something,” Herman said.
In 2003, the group played what many believed would be their final concert. A videographer captured the performance and interviews with the band members, who reflected on a longer-than-anticipated run.
Last year, the group reunited – a decade after their final performance – at a 40th-anniversary celebration for one of the couples involved. As they got to talking, they realized this year is the 25th anniversary of the formation of Donny and the Doo Wops, and preparations for a special reunion concert began almost immediately.
On Saturday, individuals returned to Southern Illinois from Alabama, Arizona, Indiana and Ohio to rehearse for the big return, set for Saturday, Aug. 9, at Benton Civic Center.
“It seemed like forever since we did it, but at the same time, it felt like we picked up right where we left off,” Herman said.
All of the original members will participate in two concerts, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. They will be joined by a third generation of Doo Wops, as their grandchildren will also join in the fun. Tickets are $9 for the afternoon show and $12 in the evening. Proceeds will benefit Pyramid Players, a theater group with which Herman is affiliated.
This performance allows Donny and the Doo Wops to return to its roots. The members plan on putting on a good show appropriate for audiences of all ages. The whole journey has been about family, and on Aug. 9, the band is inviting everyone to join a larger family of fans and supporters that have kept the dream alive for 25 years.