Band bringing more fun to town

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Montana group offering a variety of dancehall music to Gooding Pro Rodeo

Montana-based Exit 53 will perform after each of the final three performances of the Gooding Pro Rodeo in August.

GOODING, Idaho – For most of its existence, the Exit 53 band stayed pretty close to its home in Hardin, Montana.

The four-person group is expanding its reach a little more and will be playing after the final three performances of the Gooding Pro Rodeo, set for Thursday, Aug. 17-Saturday, Aug. 19, with a special “Beauty and the Beast” performance set for Wednesday, Aug. 16. All performances take place at 8 p.m. at Andy James Arena.

“We’ve been all over Montana, Wyoming, into North Dakota, but the Gooding trip will be the farthest trip yet,” said Landa Uffelman, the lead vocalist and guitar player, who will share stage with her bandmates, lead guitarist Gary Lehman, who also handles vocals; bass guitar player Gale Link; and drummer Tyson Bouwens

“We’ve been branching out more this year. We’ve been getting away from the wedding scene and more into the shows. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve been able to travel a little bit more and hit some of the fairs. It’s worth going to Gooding to us being that it’s a three-day trip, and we’re excited about it.”

Exit 53 considers itself a “high energy country and classic rock band that appeals to a wide audience by playing an extensive range of music,” and its focus is on music that allows patrons the opportunity to dance. It was established about 14 years ago, with Lehman part of the original group. Uffelman joined forces two years later; the foursome finds itself busy most weekends.

“Our bass player has been with us about seven or eight years, and our drummer just retired a little bit ago, so Tyson has been with us for a year and a half,” she said. “We’ve been able to work well together. The music side of it is just a portion of being in a band; being able to get along is also a big part of it.”

While country music is the group’s niche, the bandmates have no trouble getting into some solid classic rock. Whether its “Kerosene” by Miranda Lambert or “What’s Going On” by Four None Blondes, Exit 53 plays covers that keep audiences enthralled.

“We all just love playing music,” Uffelman said. “We’ll have as much fun playing in the garage as we do on stage. As long as we’re making music, we’re having fun. The best part of playing in front of a crowd is the response. You play off the crowd. You can change the entire show if they’re having fun and dancing along.”

It’s a good fit for rodeo organizers and the fans that come to be entertained.

“We pride ourselves on having a great overall experience,” said Don Gill, the fair and rodeo’s manager. “Having Exit 53 will definitely enhance the experience our fans are going to have.”


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