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RAGBRAI Day 4: A teen band, and a tornado fundraiser

RAGBRAI heads to Sigourney on Thursday, Iowa City on Friday

Illustration by Bob Patton
Illustration by Bob Patton
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COLO — Downtown Colo was rocking to what has to be one of the youngest bands RAGBRAI has seen.

It calls itself The Spacemen — four barely teenagers from Mason City who love rock ’n’ roll. The crowd danced and cheered to tunes such as Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

“You know it’s a party when we start chugging water,” lead singer and guitarist Jack Siglin, 14, said to the delight of a chuckling crowd shortly before he came off stage for a break.

Day 4 of RAGBRAI checked in with 59.1 miles of riding and 1,777 feet of climb. Towns after leaving Ames included Nevada, Colo, State Center, which was the meeting town, Melbourne and Baxter, before ending in Newton. Thursday night’s stop is Sigourney in Keokuk County before the thousands of cyclists roll into Iowa City on Friday.

Riders — including Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell — were treated to clear skies and warm but not overpowering temperatures.

The Spacemen performed during RAGBRAI last year and started calling around to see if they could get a gig this year, said Tina Johnson, the mother of bassist Reid Johnson, 14.

Colo, population 870, invited the band to the downtown stage. The band didn’t ask for a booking fee, playing instead for tips.

Last year, they cleared $2,000, they said.

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“Last year helped us pay for all of our equipment,” said Danny Grant, 14, the lead guitarist.

The Spacemen, who include drummer Spencer Hill, 13, love the crowds, who equally seemed infatuated with the young rockers. Riders would come up and plaster team stickers on the teens’ shirts as they played.

The band reveled in the attention.

“A bunch of people work and then come on RAGBRAI and get a little crazy,” Siglin said.

“Older people” seem to like them a bit more than younger people and they like to have fun, which is perfect for them, they said.

They don’t get to play a lot. They can’t really play in bars, so they mainly stick to campgrounds and parties. And RAGBRAI.

Also Wednesday, I stopped at a farm pond outside of Melbourne where opulent food trucks were serving and cold beer was flowing. Riders lounged in a 15-foot-deep, man-made pond with rubber tubes and a massive inflatable pink flamingo.

The party was a fundraiser for Bob Jacobson, owner of Jake’s Gameroom in Marshalltown. Jake’s was leveled by the tornado last week, and Jacobson still is figuring out his next move.

He may rebuild but not on the site because it was condemned by the city, said Michele Gauthier, who was helping run the event.

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Without a bar to serve it, Jacobson donated all the beer, and the organizers hoped they could make some money to help him get back on his feet.

Marshalltown is about 12 miles from the farm, and many people had personal connections to the tornado destruction. Riders embraced the cause, Gauthier said at 5 p.m.

“They’ve been great,” she said. “People have been putting money in the jar. They got here at 9 a.m., and it’s been busy ever since.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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