Artistry with drums

Published 2:21 pm Friday, February 26, 2010

Merle Krause does more than just play drums with various area musical groups. He gives percussion lessons at Tone Music, 114 S. Broadway Ave., where he’s the store’s manager. Krause and his wife, Celeste, also own the Lighthouse Event Center, a former church at the corner of Marshall and Johnson streets.

“This place,” he said, “provides another venue” for local entertainment, dramatic productions, receptions and other occurrences.

However, there’s still another facet in the life of this Albert Lea percussionist. He collects and restores drums of all sizes from snares to the big bass types.

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“I’ve restored drums galore,” he explained. Proof of this can be seen in a side room at the Lighthouse.

Another part of his musical activities is based on drum heads. Several of these circular heads serve as both decorations and as reminders of some of the musicians he has played with during the years. This last part is emphasized with autographs done with marking pens by those musicians.

“I’ve played drums since I was 10 or 11 and went through the (Albert Lea) school bands,” he said.

At the age of 13, Krause was asked to play with a local combo in another town. To do this he had to have his parents’ permission.

“Since then I’ve filled in whenever needed,” he added.

Some of the musical groups and combos Krause has furnished rhythmic tempos for include West Wind, Wild Card, Music City News, Country Boys, L.D. Cruiser and the Tones, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Singers, Albert Lea Symphony Orchestra and especially with Neil and Barb Lang on many occasions.

On Sundays, he serves as the drummer for the First Lutheran Contemporary Group during worship services.

In 2005, he was the drummer with a combo participating in a Pete Best Beatles Contest. (Best was the original drummer with the Beatles and replaced by Ringo Starr.) The group won second place and the prize was an all-expense-paid trip to and from Iceland.

This last part is confirmed in part with a jacket he wears which has an Iceland logo.

Albert Lea’s Tone Music is owned by his cousin, Jerry Besser. Krause has been affiliated with this store since 1998 and it’s where he gives drum lessons to 10 students.

“I want to pass along the legacy of music to them,” he emphasized.

The Krause family lived in Austin for 30 years. They moved back to Albert Lea in 2004 where Merle and his wife, Celeste (Guildner) grew up.

“Albert Lea is just a part of our life,” he said.

This drummer is a Beatles fan and a strong promoter of the Ludwig line of percussion equipment.

“Ludwig is American made,” he pointed out.

One group of local musicians he specifically cites is L.D. Cruiser and the Tones. The L is for Larry Weberg, D is for Darrell Amundson, and Cruiser is a slang term from the 1950s. Also playing with this group are Jim Pilgrim, Al Knudson and Krause, who said, “I’m the tones.”

He added that a future appearance by L.D. Cruiser and the Tones will be at the Eddie Cochran street dance in June.

“We love playing music together and it rekindles old friendships,” he said.

Krause also owns Legacy Studios, where he does freelance recordings.