Belgium Review
6 Stars - 6 English
French Review
In French
French Review
In English....
93 out of 100
French Interview
In French
French Interview
In English
Spain Interview
In English
Spain Review
In Spanish
The Netherlands Interview
Swedish AOR Website
8 out of 10
Japan Review
3.5 out of 5
"Deep 6 is a clear winner for all AOR lovers without a weak track in sight and highlighted by such gems as Brothers In Arms, Right This Minute and Eye Of The Storm just to name a few out of a full bunch of excellent tunes  a truly superb AOR CD."
Dakota returns With 'Deep 6'

Editor's Note: Looking for a review or want to plug on an up and coming show? Local bands can contact Mark Uricheck via e-mail at . Mark Uricheck Music Contributor NORTHEASTERN, Pa. - Dakota's back, and if you're familiar with the band you won't be disappointed. If you've never had their music cranked up on your car stereo on a sunny summer day, then you just may want to consider doing so. Dakota are local legends in NEPA. They honed their chops over a history that spans more than three decades. And yes, they do indeed rock. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area born band's current lineup features founding member Jerry Hludzik on bass/acoustic guitar/vocals, Rick Manwiller on keyboards/guitar/vocals, Jon Lorance on lead and rhythm guitars/vocals, and Eli Hludzik on drums/vocals. Together they've recently released a sonic masterpiece of an album called Deep 6 - a blend of their trademark tight, soaring vocal harmonies with melodic rocking foundations a la Night Ranger/Journey. The CD includes appearances from former band member Bill Kelly and longtime associate Bill Champlin of the band Chicago. Infectious, with well-crafted memorable songs Deep 6 is the sixth studio album from the guys which already has created quite a buzz. More on that later. Dakota can trace it's roots back to the late 60's/early 70's when Jerry Hludzik was in a band called The Buoys, who scored a national hit with the song Timothy in 1970. From the ashes of The Buoys, The Jerry-Kelly Band was formed. The band's label Columbia Records suggested a name change for the band after the first Jerry-Kelly record, leading to the outfit being christened as Dakota. Dakota released its self-titled debut in 1980 on Columbia, that same year bringing about a coveted opening slot on Queen's successful U.S. tour. The local boys were the pride of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area at the time; Rock 107 had even sent busloads of local fans to shows on that tour at Madison Square Garden and The Spectrum. Jerry Hludzik says of that era: "We were just bubbling under, we never broke through to where we were the household word. We had albums in the Billboard charts in the 80's, but we just didn't get the promotion." The political nature of the music business may have kept Dakota from achieving superstardom, but the band's musical integrity was never compromised. Dakota recorded and toured until playing a "farewell" show in 1987 at Montage Mountain. The band's future though, was far from over. Jerry Hludzik received word in the mid 90's that there was a grass-roots interest in Dakota'a music in Europe and Japan. The renewed interest began with a record label in England licensing some older demos from the band and releasing them to a positive response. From there Jerry says "that started the ball rolling on an album called 'Last Standing Man', the next one was 'Little Victories'- those two were also released in Japan on different labels". That brings us up to the current CD Deep 6, an album that sees Dakota taking full advantage of the global power of the internet. Streaming radio has allowed the band greater access to its overseas fans, and already Deep 6 seems to be catching on. "'Holding Your Own' from 'Deep 6' I must have heard about 7 times in rotation during a 24 hour period" says Jerry. "Hopefully when other stations like this hear it, they'll follow suit and play it." Locally, radio station 102.3FM The Mountain has begun to play cuts off of Deep 6. At this point in their career, Dakota finds themselves with a solid fan base, both local and internationally as well. Jerry says that Dakota titles are available locally at Gallery of Sound stores, and availability is growing internationally. "I was in a record shop in Stockholm called Missing Pieces that stocked all of our titles" he said. "It's great to know that I can also click on a web site like and have one of our records shipped to my door." It's the positive e-mails from every corner of the globe that get him really excited. "I just had a kid e-mail me from Japan saying how much he loved 'Dakota.' I couldn't believe it when I scrolled down and saw where he was from- he was from Hiroshima, he had relatives in the blast" says Jerry. Enduring years of changes in the musical climate, Dakota's course remains steady and true. They make no apologies for their "melodic, album oriented rock" as Jerry Hludzik puts it. "I don't think I could write any other kind of songs" he maintains. Dakota proves that the music that put them on the map never died out. It went underground, found its niche, and flourishes among those who find a connection with it. Music's a beautiful thing. If it's good enough, it will effect you. The really good stuff, it will stay with you. File Dakota under the good stuff. The new Deep 6 CD is available at all local Gallery of Sound stores. Preview most of the tracks and keep up with the band at: .

Jerry-Kelly Somebody Else's Dream
Sweet, authentic reminder of AOR's classic past Score: 79 Before forming the classic AOR band Dakota, singers/songwriters/guitarists Jerry Hludzik and Bill Kelly had lengthy histories as pop craftsmen. (Part of their story includes links to "The Pina Colada Song" and a cannibalism scandal -- see Hludzik's website for details!) From their remarkable chemistry came a sweet, intimate style, a tapestry of glorious harmonies and plainspoken, engaging compositions. And by the inexplicable currents that carry demo tapes from station to station in The Music Biz, Danny Seraphine (Chicago) heard the duo and signed on to produce their album. The resulting record from Jerry-Kelly, called "Somebody Else's Dream," featured a carefully selected constellation of studio stars, such as Earl Slick (guitar), Peter Cetera (bass/vocals), and Don Gruisin (keyboards). Nonetheless, the album was distinctively Jerry-Kelly, beautifully underselling the drama in their inviting, sporadically intense melodic pop style. Their roots-grown sound coherently incorporated influences of everyone from Cali-Rock (America, Eagles, etc.) to Chicago, Little River Band, and even the soft, Rik Emmett-voiced sides of Triumph -- which, as Triumph fans know, is significant praise for the soaring vocals of Jerry-Kelly. Upon cursory listen, "Somebody Else's Dream" compositions may seem somewhat uninspiring by 21st century standards; they are straightforward constructions that nod to instrumental ambition without committing to it. These songs emerged from a different tradition, however, from days when listeners actually *listened* to music instead of passively experiencing it as so much sonic wallpaper. From that classic perspective, the songs are clear winners that amply reward attentive listeners. Highlights include smart tales and tunes like the proto-pomped Midwestern AOR of "Settle Down," the outwardly breezy "Dear Love," the smooth, moody "Motel Lovers" and "Be My Love," and the atypically intense, gripping rock of "Changes." Ultimately, "Somebody Else's Dream" is not for everybody. It does not have exceptionally gripping energy, and it is not essential listening for younger ears that have become accustomed to arena-sized AOR drama; it may not even appeal to casual Dakota fans who enjoy that band's more full, rockin' soundscapes. For fans of the classic, true AOR sound of the '70s, however, the album is a richly authentic slice of a sweeter past life, and it should not be overlooked. --

: Authentic, soulful, genre-stretching AOR Score: 81 Dakota's self-titled debut was a strong first step in a different direction for mainmen Jerry Hludzik and Bill Kelly. It preserves the smart, gently inviting Dakota soul of their previous outing, Jerry-Kelly's "Somebody Else's Dream," but it also extends "Somebody Else's" hints of rock-edged intensity into a more complete, full-spectrum AOR feel. Combining elements of Eagles and Little River Band (especially their harder edges), Midwestern grit (e.g., Prism, Michael Stanley, Survivor, early Shooting Star), and Dakota's unique rootsy foundation and soaring harmonies, the album is an instantly appealing set of pop-sweet melodic rock, with a classic, genre-stretching AOR energy that defies the simple stylistic conventions that preceded it. Highlight cuts include the energized, pomp-touched Midwestern rock of "If It Takes All Night," the breezy yet incisive "Possession," the lilting '70s balladry of "You Can't Live Without It," and the streamlined, propulsive pop/rock of "Restless." "Dakota" is a just a first step in the band's development, and neither its sound nor its songs were as compelling or fully developed as their later work would be. Nonetheless, its smooth, smartly instrumented AOR is undeniably authentic and energetic --massively melodic without commercial soullessness-- and for fans of the genre's early days, it is a rewarding collection that's well worth repeated listens. The two bonus tracks on this reissue are also substantial additions to the album, with rock-leaning energy that impressively maintains and extends the momentum of the original set. ---------------------

Dakota Runaway

Massively underappreciated, cult-classic AOR, reissued Score: 88 Dakota territory expanded substantially with their second album, 1984's "Runaway." Although the record retained the unique Dakota soul and the heart of plainspoken immediacy and intimacy that graced previous albums from band mainmen Jerry Hludzik and Bill Kelly, it was a major instrumental leap forward, a smartly executed move into rockier arenas. The band added keyboardist Rick Manwiller to its lineup, and their sound correspondingly blossomed with new fullness, edge, and depth. "Runaway" is a remarkable fusion of Dakota's rootsy drive and soaring vocals with the most appealing elements of groups like Survivor, Little River Band, ('80s-era) Chicago, Prism, Michael Stanley Band, and even touches of 38 Special or Triumph. The results will bring a smile to the ears of any fan of authentic AOR; highlight tracks include the propulsive title tune, the pomp-touched, uptempo pop of "When The Rebel Comes Home," and *absolutely everything* on side two of the album. (A note for younger fans: Do NOT put this CD into your player upside-down. If you are confused by the meaning of the words "side two," please ask someone who listened to LPs and cassettes.) "Runaway" was cut loose in 1984, and for better or worse, it sounds like it. From its synth-washed overtones to its dry drum sounds and a few post-New-Wave guitar leanings, some of the set may sound dated by 21st century standards. Furthermore, in its fusion of classic and forward-looking directions, the album occupies a kind of stylistic middle ground that may not satisfy everybody. But much of the power of "Runaway" is the crackling energy of its transitional sound, the sound of two eras colliding to form the Next Big Thing. Indeed, in a profound way, the album feels like the artistic expression of a band on the cusp of Something Big. Unfortunately for all AOR fans, that Big thing was not stardom, it was dissolution, and the Hludzik/Kelly team split up before another Dakota release. The promise of "Runaway" was recaptured by Dakota's excellent "The Last Standing Man," released nearly 15 years later, but the moment of "Runaway" --the '80s excitement, the discovery, the chemistry-- is unique. For fans of early-'80s AOR, it is an amazingly underrated collection that ranks with the best cult-fave AOR from The Glory Days. Overlook it at your own risk. ----------------

Dakota Lost Tracks /
The Last Standing Man

Soulful melodic hard rock from the past Score: 89 Dakota's "Lost Tracks / The Last Standing Man" is a two-disc collection of energetic, otherwise unavailable AOR that richly deserves an audience. Although both albums have the unique soul of (last standing) mainman Jerry Hludzik and Dakota, and they form a coherent set, each disc tells its own story. "Lost Tracks" is a revision of the now-obsolete "Mr. Lucky" album, a from-the-vaults set that exposes cuts from the mid-'80s through the mid/late-'90s. Given the sizable transitions that Dakota experienced in that span --prominently including the departure of co-founder/singer Bill Kelly and the emergence of keyboardist Rick Manwiller and guitarist Jon Lorance-- the album is understandably a bit of a mixed bag. Nonetheless, it's an impressive bag, grounded in both the intimate AOR-pop of Dakota's early albums and the harder pomped professionalism of their late-'90s material. Although Kelly's soaring vocals only occasionally appear, and some tunes have a dated or demo-ish feel, the songs reflect the craft and power at Dakota's core. Highlights range from sweet, intimate tones (the uptempo drive of "Believin'," the Nashville-tinted ballad "All Through The Night" and midtempo pop of "These Eyes") to driving hard rock (the bouncy, '80s-soundtrack-ready hard pop of "Mr. Lucky," the pomped intensity of "Heaven Or Hell"). Throughout, the songs resonate with Dakota soul, the unifying force behind every Dakota disc, and despite its motley origins, "Lost Tracks" is a worthy listen and a solid bridge to the excellence that would follow. The first shot of ensuing excellence was the superb "The Last Standing Man." Released nearly 15 years after Dakota's previous proper album, the energized and criminally overlooked "Runaway" outing, "Last Standing Man" shows Hludzik and his cohorts embracing the more pomp-touched, harder-edged sound hinted at on "Lost Tracks." The result was a tight set of catchy, dramatic melodic rock that immediately re-established Dakota at the genre's forefront. "Last Standing" incorporated elements of harder-edged Survivor, mid-'80s Little River Band, .38 Special's refined southern rock, and a whisper of new country twang into the unique Dakota soul. Sporting smart solos, beautiful harmonic construction, and top-flight musicianship, the band's keyboards and power chords rock hard yet sweet on highlights like the visceral, pulsing "Hot Nights," the southern flavored "Mama Teach", the dark, Michael Stanley-ish "Only Game In Town," the gripping ballad "Struggles With The Heart," and many other gems. For classic rock and AOR fans alike, it is a magnificent discovery, and for Dakota fans, it is a sensational return. Each of the two discs in "Lost / Last" comes with bonus cuts unavailable on their previous European releases. The bonuses on "Last Standing Man" are solid but not quite compelling enough to require casual fans who own the old version to upgrade to the new release. The bonuses on "Lost Tracks," however, are absolutely wonderful (if demo-feeling) discoveries in the proto-pomp feel of Prism, early Shooting Star, etc. For fans of the genre, this is a truly outstanding twin-disc collection, and its fan-friendly pricing makes it an outstanding value as well. Do not miss out. --------------------

Dakota Deep 6

Authentic, classic AOR energy Score: 86 Four years after their strong "Little Victories" set, Jerry Hludzik and his bandmates return with the memorable melodic glory and unique Dakota soul of "Deep 6." Although it feels very similar to "Victories" in its organic core melodicism --it fuses Dakota's classic, rootsy foundation with polished westcoast smoothness, midwestern grit, Nashville-tinted AOR, and smartly understated pomp ambition-- it is more consistently energized and compelling than its predecessor. Its title must be ironic, too, because there are no throwaways on "Deep 6"; highlights include the streamlined hard AOR of "Brothers In Arms," the moody, vulnerable "Back To Me," the unleashed, full-spectrum rock energy of "Eye Of The Storm," the hard-drivin' cool of "The Ride," the bristling intensity of "Not So Much In Love" and "Luck, Time & Mind," and the ultimately hooky summation of the title track. Despite its instantly appealing tunes and graceful emotional power, "Deep 6" is not as striking or groundbreaking a melodic rock statement as the best of Dakota's past, 1984's criminally underappreciated cult classic, "Runaway," and 1998's long-awaited, outstanding return, "The Last Standing Man." In a genre crowded with faux-arena ambition and soulless modern rehash, however, "Deep 6" is a profoundly welcome return to the melodicism that made AOR great in the first place. It is about songcraft, not bluster or contrivance, and for fans who appreciate pomp-touched pop/rock authenticity, "Deep 6" merits a number of deep listens.

Thank you very much for sharing your music with me! It was great to hear both the evolution of the Dakota sound and the consistency of what I wound up calling the "unique Dakota Soul" at the roots of all your work. As the reviews indicate, I enjoyed all the albums very much, although in fairness, I personally like "Last Standing Man" ;"Runaway" and "Deep6". :-) I hope you find the reviews worthy, and please be in touch any time. Thank you!

A Brief History of Dakota
by: Rick Manwiller, Dakota Keyboardist and Unofficial Historian
The strange saga of Dakota begins WAY back in the early 70's in Northeast Pa., with a band called The Buoys and a million-selling single called Timothy. The song, written by Rupert Holmes (The Pina Colada Song), was supposedly about the local Sheppton mine disaster, during which cannibalism was rumored to have occurred. Years later, another Holmes song, Give Up Your Guns, became a European hit and is still played on Euro-radio to this day. The band was spearheaded by lead singer/guitarist Bill Kelly, and also featured Jerry Hludzik on guitar and vocals. The two eventually broke off from the group to form The Jerry-Kelly Band , using members from popular local bands. Thanks to the efforts of long-time friend Michael "Dad" Stahl , (who was working for Claire Brothers Audio, doing house mix for the band Chicago) drummer Danny Seraphine and Rufus keyboardist Hawk Wolinski got a hold of a demo tape from the guys, and signed them to Columbia Records to record Somebody Else's Dream , the first and only Jerry-Kelly album. When it was time for the next Columbia release, the label felt it was time for a name change (I believe one comment was that the name 'Jerry-Kelly' sounded too much like the Irish Rovers). Drummer Gary Driscoll had left the band (and sadly, a few years later was murdered in an apparent case of mistaken identity) and producers Seraphine and Wolinksi had chosen John Robinson (also of Rufus, and quickly becoming one of the top studio session drummers in the world) to play drums for the now-drummer-less band. Rumor has it that John actually was the one who suggested the name Dakota, which Columbia thought was a great name. Therefore, it stuck... ...and Dakota was born. The first release yielded a regional hit across the country called If It Takes All Night (regional hit means that some radio stations played it, and most didn't). Michael Stahl was now working with a band called Queen, who were touring to support their album The Game. Michael worked his 'schmooze magic' once again, and Dakota wound up getting the nod to be the opening act, and a 35-date tour ensued. The band now consisted of Jerry Hludzik and Bill Kelly on guitars, Bill McHale on bass, Jeff Mitchell on keyboards, Lou Cossa on keys and guitar and new drummer Tony Romano. All sang but Tony, and the overall vocal sound was quite superb. ( Jerry and Brian May became fast friends.) At the time of the Queen tour , Columbia was feuding with Chicago, and the association with Danny Seraphine led to Dakota basically getting NO tour support. When it was over, it was "back to the bars" to start over. The crew at the time was Tom Cush /road manager/drum tech, Mike Keating /house mix and Dave "Waddy" Skaff /monitor mix/guitar & keyboard tech. Tom is now a big-time stock broker, Dave is out on tour with various name artists (U2, Steve Miller, etc.) and Mike (who does the main mix for Sting) took 1996 honors as Performance Magazine's "Live Soundman of the Year." Around the same time, in nearby Reading, Pa., Rick Manwiller was in a progressive rock band with guitarist Eric Rudy and drummer Spyro Sbilis, called Steph. Steph broke up in late 1981, and Rick heard through the grapevine that Northeast Pa. recording band Dakota was auditioning. He joined in early 1982. Less than a year later, he was off to Hollywood with Dakota to record Runaway (MCA-5502) , on the MCA/Full Moon label, engineered by Humberto Gatica, and produced by 'Hummy' and Danny Seraphine. Band drummer Tony Romano had left the group prior to the sessions, and Danny gladly pitched in and played drums on the album (also appearing on the album as players were guitarists Richie Zito and Paul Jackson, bassist Neal Steubenhouse, Rolling Stones sax-man Ernie Watts, Chicago singer Bill Champlin and Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro). The bar scene had become quite taxing to the band members, and everyone decided to get away for a while: Jerry and Bill were doing their acoustic duo around NE Pa.; and Rick Manwiller and Bill McHale had skipped town to Bermuda to do their duo routine. Around the same time, another local band, Synch, was starting to write original music. Band leader Jimmy Harnen had, along with a friend, written a pop balled called Where Are You Now? . Jimmy was a big fan of Dakota, and wanted Bill and Jerry to get involved with the recording of a Synch EP. When Bill McHale officially left Dakota, Jerry convinced Jimmy to also hire Rick to help out with the Synch project. Rick actually wound-up co-producing and arranging Where Are You Now?, recorded at The Warehouse in Philadelphia. The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 Chart at 77, and eventually climbed into the Top Ten (more on that later.) When Runaway was set for release in July, 1984, Jerry, Bill and Rick started assembling a band to tour with. Syracuse drummer Robbie Spagnoletti was chosen, along with Tom Navagh on bass. Tom was later replaced with Robbie's friend, bassist Jim Fricano. This was the official 1984-5 lineup, but through the usual bad luck/bad politics syndrome that followed (it has since been re-dubbed "The Dakota Curse"), the Runaway album never got the proper promotion, and it 'withered on the vine'. As did the live tour... Jerry, Bill, and Rick decided they could only afford to maintain the nucleus of the band as a trio, and Rick's drum machine (affectionately dubbed "Dexter") was incorporated into the pseudo-4-piece band. (Dexter went on to become the most used drummer in NE Pa, playing on literally hundreds of studio sessions, by dozens of artists. He is currently in retirement at Rick's house, where he is used to "stud" small rhythm boxes). During this time, Jerry and Rick built Closet Studios in Rick's house, a small but high-quality 16-track facility, actually inside a walk-in closet. They also began to establish themselves as quality songwriting partners, as Bill became involved in non-musical things on his own. 1987 brought about the inevitable, as Dakota played what the band thought would be it's final performance at Scranton's Montage Amphitheatre , in front of roughly 17,000 loyal fans. Despite 3 acts on the bill, it's safe to say that most of those people were there to see Dakota- a fact Tommy Conwell unfortunately found out too late (but he WAS a good sport about it). As a final tribute, the three remaining members created a local release, Lost Tracks , several tracks from which got large amounts of airplay on local radio, particularly the pop ballad All Through the Night , which spent 7 solid weeks on the Top 5 request list. Almost the entire album was done at (or perhaps in) Closet Studios. Bill Kelly eventually moved to Nashville, and is currently playing as guitar player/singer with Canadian artist Charlie Major. Jerry and Rick decided to try something new, and Rick's old friend, guitarist Eric Rudy (from Steph) was brought in to play and sing, forming the new band, Secret City . Meanwhile, Jerry and Rick also experimented with writing country music, and once again Michael Stahl was instrumental with connections, and they wound up getting the Oak Ridge Boys to record two of the songs. This led to them eventually landing a deal as staff writers at MCA Nashville. In 1989, Jimmy Harnen's song Where Are You Now? experienced a major resurgence, and wound up rocketing up the Billboard charts, landing at #10 on the Top 100 , and #3 on the Adult Contemporary Chart (now Jerry, Bill and Rick were the producers of a Top 10 U.S. single.) Jerry, Rick and Eric from Secret City joined guitarist Jon Lorance (from Synch II) and drummer Joe Bennish to form Jimmy's backup band, doing a small tour that played Sarasota, Fla. and Springfield, Mass., amongst other venues. Secret City's need for a "real" drummer soon became evident, and Robbie Spagnoletti was once again added to the line-up. Eric Rudy eventually left, and was replaced by Jon Lorance, or "JL" (from Synch & Jimmy Harnen). Within a few months, Robbie had decided to get out of bands for a while, and Dexter manned the drum seat again. Secret City lasted till around 1992, when Rick Manwiller decided to "go solo", and headed to ST. Thomas, USVI for the summer, then a 4-month European tour over the winter (sounds backwards, doesn't it? Well, it was...) Rick also recorded a solo album, another fine Mesozoic (which got several rave reviews in print.) Jerry and JL put together a country band called Pony Express (with ex-Dakota member Lou Cossa), as well as an acoustic duo. Later, a rock band was formed called Little Big , with rock singer Josette Miles (Josette later recorded an album for Escape Music, LTD, produced by Jerry and engineered by Rick.) In March of 1994, Jerry started to get feedback from across Europe that Dakota, despite spotty support in the states over the years, was a well-known and well-respected band there, and he eventually singed a deal with Escape Music to re-release a slightly modified Lost Tracks as Mr. Lucky (ESM-005) . The resulting success of the new release led to Jerry contacting Rick Manwiller to start writing together again, and put together today's version of the band. Jerry sings and plays bass, Rick handles keyboards, Jon Lorance plays guitar, and Jerry's son Eli plays drums. The Mr. Lucky album paved the way for The Last Standing Man (a reference to Jerry, the only remaining original member of Dakota), and the CD was released across Europe in September '97 and in Japan in February '98. Encouraged by the success of The Last Standing Man in Europe and Japan, Dakota went to work on their next studio project, Little Victories . Released in 2000, Dakota again found success overseas. Dakota is currently in the studio, working on their sixth album. The as-yet-untitled album will feature founding member Bill Kelly on several tracks. Editor's Note: The above-mentioned sixth album has been finished. Entitled, Deep 6 , the album was released in December, 2003.

Dakota Interview May-2004

Let me tell you at once - I'm VERY found of nearly everything Dakota has done in the past! Their 2000 release "Little Victories" is among my all time favorites. Again here in 2004 and their brand new record "Deep 6" is an elegant mixture of AOR and West Coast music will appeal to every music lover from fans of Chicago i.e. on tracks like "Right this minute" to hard rock fans of REO Speedwagon and others on tracks like "Eye of the Storm" and "Shut up and drive". Since 1971 when vocalist/bassist/guitarist Jerry G. Hludzik (nowadays only original member) and co-founder Bill Kelly teamed up first under the name The Buoys they have made this intelligent cocktail - but it was in 1978 they made the foundation to Dakota as Jerry/Kelly with their selftitled debut. Since then one of their highlights was their 1984 released "Runaway" and I caught them first with their "Lost tracks" which became "Mr. Lucky" on Escape Music i 1997. This was a triumphant return after 10 years abcense with Hludzik as only remaining member - he teamed up with the current line up of Rick Manwiller (who actually has been in the band since 1981) on guitar, keyboards and vocals, Jon Lorace on guitars and vocals and Eli Hludzik on drums. I have talked to Jerry G. Hludzik - but Rick Manwiller has also a few words to say: The Interview: Q: You have just released a new CD under the Dakota moniker called "Deep 6 and it got pretty good reviews all over the Internet Community - What is the story about the CD this time? A: Jerry: Well 1st of all we are very happy the way Deep 6 is being received world-wide but this one took us on a very crazy journey! Rick had called me to find out if I was ready to give it a go again, which was strange to begin with cause I m the one who is always bending his ear phoning him up saying come on let s do this. Once we started to assemble the tunes we both thought it would go smoothly wrong. We had equipment go bad in the studio due to the summer heat and I had to drive 3 hours 1 way to get there -It was not fun. Needless to say the summer of 2002, we sort of walked backwards. We resumed in the fall and things were going well until end of December. I was in a car accident and out of commission for 8months then it was back to working on the record however along comes Jon - our guitar player, he too was in a bad accident...and He still had 3 more gtr traxs to finish. Are you sort of getting a feel for this comedy of errors?? Luckily Jon mended after a few months and we were once again back to work on DEEP 6. We finally finished tracking, but in the middle of mixing, Rick got a travel sound- mixing job with a new country music star Jimmy Wayne. It would have been good, if the timing was compatible but it wasn t. Rick was gone for weeks at a time, and production was once again on hold. Eli who lives 10 hours away,had also been touring extensively with his jazz funk fusion band Ray s Music Exchange. Finally in April of 2003, we found a window to schedule him and the studio to do his drum traxs. IT WAS THE ALBUM FROM HELL!!!! It didn t want to be finished! Total time from start to finish 18 months----We recorded and mixed the DAKOTA self titled for CBS in Canada/ 1980 in 4 weeks! But all kidding aside- it was a labor of love. I learned a lot about myself on this one, especially patience. When it was time to walk away from it, I felt good - we did our best. Q: The album "Deep 6" has been several years in the making - I remember your last release Little Victories very well and have expected this album very anxiously. How do you see the newest album compared to your last one? A: Jerry: Yes now that I listen back to Little Victories, Deep 6 is more Classic Melodic AOR Rock/with big hooks that hopefully you ll walk away from and remember...this is just the way they came out. We ve always listened to vocal bands with good harmony melodic structure and chourses that can be remembered longer than 3 minutes after the song is over. I hope "Deep 6" is to the ear as I described it. Q: Can you describe the work process doing this new album? How did it start? In my opinion Deep 6 has a more sharper edge than some of your previous work...? A: Rick: We are pretty happy with Deep 6 , particularly since we did this one pretty much "in-house" at Closet Studios, our own facility. Everything on the record was tracked there, except that we did the drums at Sound Investments, where we usually do the entire Dakota records. We had some experimenting to do on this one that we couldn't do at someone else's facility, we've have gone broke. So we pretty much took the budget and upgraded our own studio. As I said, we recorded the drums at S.I.R., and we used 2" analog tape for the sound, then we dumped it into the Closet Studios digital system (we use Nuendo) and started overdubbing. To be honest, it wasn t that easy - Jerry and I had outlined the songs in demo form, using sampled drums. But a lot of the keys and guitars we did for the demos were useable for the final mixes, because I always track at 48K/24bit, even for rough ideas. So, once we had the rhythm tracks pretty tight, Eli came into the picture, and he actually played his drums to the tracks - not an easy trick, as any drummer out there will attest to. But we knew he could do it, because he had done well with that approach years before, as far back as Mr. Lucky, where we had him track a live kit for an alternate European version of the title track. Mixing was done all-digital, using no outboard gear at all - only using great plugins. Not that I have anything against hardware processing - some of it is the best stuff there is. But the studio isn t set up for a lot of outboard processing, and (b) I was forced to do some pre-mixing and mix experimentation on airplanes and such, and I needed to keep it as digital-domain as possible. Yes, we wanted it to rock. But I don t think it s in the arrangements as much as the writing, because we also wanted the keyboards more dominant than on Little Victories. So, I guess we managed to get more rocked out, yet still bring out the keys as well. JL always rocks, no matter what's around him And Eli- well lets just say we all know whose driven the bus! Q: How do you see the CD's chance on a very complex market of today? To me "Deep 6" is a scholar example of how to do an album right in the middle of the west-coast genre and half way to the more edgier AOR genre. You can do the very complex vocal work as well as the more straightforward guitar-slinger-job... A: Jerry: Although it s been getting good press so to speak, with a style of music that is for the taste of only a cross-section of world-wide listeners (and you all know who you are) it s a constant up-hill battle. The industry that we once knew when we were on the artist roster @ CBS and MCA has vaporized! It s up to the bands that make the music, fans of the music, the Web-sites and magazines like yours, that keeps the machine oiled and running. We re all not winning the race, but at least were all still in the race thru sheer love of what we all do for this it s worth it don t you agree? Rick: Yes I agree this time we by accident, might of just found the right nitch I d like to say it was sheer genious but it wasn t. This is just the way the songs took shape this time. We sort of have a plan but we let the songs themselves dictate to us where they want to go. After that we just put the icing on the cake so to speak. Q: What are your main influences in music? I'm as mentioned not a hard-core connoisseur of westcoast rock, but I can see and hear influences from Steely Dan to Mr. Mister is that a useful observation? A: Jerry: Your pretty much on the money with that. We all loved and listened to Mr. Mister and Steely Dan and still do it was part of our landscape. We were making records for major US labels but that didn t stop us from rooting for other groups that we admired. My admiration goes farther back than that to my roots of Beatles Hollies CSN Eagles. And as much as you try to or say that your are original You know the old saying you are what you eat, but it s good eating!!! Q: The westcoast genre as well the more melodic genres - as AOR, has suffered from less attention the last 5 years, but I think I can sense a certain optimism nowadays with new record companies, lots of websites, and lots of discussion groups on the Internet - how do you see the genre? A: Jerry: I feel also lately there s been a swing towards a forward motion and a much needed push for this genre of music. The world needs it back. I think a lot of people can t stand what the music scene has become, at least in the USA. If everyone can hold on- just do what there doing to preserve it, we can win small battles enough to make everyone happy. Do I think it will be as strong as it once was? I d like to say yes but, I think it will never happen in our life-time! Q:You have chosen to take care of the distribution an releasing yourself as an independent band how come? A:We were very close to a deal with FRONTIERS in Italy. We liked what direction the label was headed and thought Dakota would be a great fit .however in the final tweaking of the terms, we respectfully declined. We look forward to down the road, having an oppourtunity to work with them on a Dakota project in the future. We are also now in talks with a few Japaneese labels about a "Deep 6" licensing deal for an early fall release Q:How about Dakota - the band? What are you up to these days? And how about a tour in the future for Dakota? Have you ever been to Europe? Do have plans for that in the future? A:Jerry: Plans for new studio album spring summer of 2005 and Dakota best of Volume 1 Rick and I also talked about each wanting to do solo projects. Very very busy! At the moment we are working the telephones and the internet, with radio play, magazines etc to promote DEEP 6 . We ve also discussed possible touring again for the 1st time in years..this would be fun. Right now we are all off doing other things but always close enough that if something breaks, were ready to go. Yes I really believe that touring europe is right around the corner - always have. We ve now built up a catalog of songs and enough of a following in Europe, that I think it s definitely do-able. Promoters of Europe did you hear that? Anyone who likes our style of music should know we were always a better live band than a studio band (and I think we ve made some pretty good records). And I think that we re not too shabby of singers either. With all the material to pick from - and trust me - we re very good live can you imagine? The band is very powerful live it always was. We ve always takin pride in that. We toured with a lot of bands back then but ONLY in the states. There was talk of Dakota also doing the European leg of the tour but we just did the USA . BUT since I m on the subject of Queen.... Now this was big time rock and roll. I could tell you stories that would curl up your toes but I ll be tight lipped for now. All in all Queen s entire organization was top notch- they treated us like part of the show not just the opening act. One little flash ... I remember in Detroit after doing their video of Another one bites the Dust They all (including Freddy.. it was only a cymbal on a stand but) helped us and our crew carry some equipment From the back of the stage to the front so we could do a sound check. This was definetly a moment!!! However about being in Europe... in 1997 Bill Kelly and I were in Holland a weeks worth of radio and television promo. One of the shows was called Top Pop. I still have the video footage. One of the gems that is in consideration of DVD released stuff. We stayed in Hilvershum and spent time in Amsterdam @ EMI records-and yes I was also informed by Hans Beljjard of AORDreamzones that "Give Up Your Guns" is on the top 100 of all times charts in the Netherlands @ 50! Thanks to Radio Veronica all those years ago. It s pretty amazing. Plans are ..... if the band doesnt go the touring route, lately I've been missing the live thing I just may pack my bags, acoustic guitar and head for Europe for a few weeks. I think by now i can find some audiences. What do you think? Q: I have already reserved a ticket - just give me a date and a place... Thank you very much for your time. I hope that Dakota will find a special spot on the music map of today - good luck to you and your band! Steen Peitersen Thank you Steen Peitersen and for all the support you've given Dakota over the years we really appreciate it! Jerry G. Hludzik/Dakota April, 2004