Barron’s musical legend Lenore Berg will be inducted into the Barron Golden Bears Reaching Their Dreams Wall of Honor during the group / choir concert on Monday, October 25. A reception for Berg will be held at the IMC at 6 p.m. and then she will be honored. at the concert, which starts at 7 p.m.
Berg is no stranger to the pages of this journal. At 92, she has performed in more events with more people than she can remember.
In a 2006 report on Berg, she is quoted: “By the time I’m 90, this old music will come back and I’ll be too old to play it.”
After hearing the quote now, Berg said, “It’s very true, but it hasn’t come back.”
But Berg still plays, mostly the piano, and many people still enjoy his interpretations of old-fashioned standards.
She grew up in a family of musicians, one of eight children of Casper and Emma Greenwold. His father was a violinist and singer, and his grandfather, Ingwald Hanson, played the bass horn in the Barron Municipal Band and also the accordion. Her cousin, Priscilla Greenwold, was also a great source of inspiration.
The family lived on Poor Farm Road in the town of Maple Grove and Berg attended the one-room school in Woodside. She graduated from Barron High School in 1947 and along the way developed her musical skills.
“I think I was born with a musical heart,” Berg said. “A lot of people helped me along the way because they knew I was really interested in music.”
She started playing the pump organ at the age of 5 and the upright piano at the age of 10. At 16, Lenore was using his talents as a pianist in a dance orchestra, when his own teacher, Francis White, asked him to replace him.
Another member of the group was Bob Wells, who had a music store in Rice Lake. He loaned her an accordion, which she was supposed to have for a week. But she kept it longer because she got mumps.
The accordion later became his calling card even more than the piano.
She played in Erik Berg’s group, which also included her brothers Gust and Karl, whom Lenore married. The band played a lot of Scandinavian songs, especially Swedish ones. This is the kind of music that Berg still loves today.
“I love old school Scandinavian music and old standards from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s,” she said.
Soon after, she was leading her own group, the Rhythm Badgers, which also included Wesley Olson on guitar and Horace Hodgson on drums.
Over the years, Berg has performed at the Sons of Norway and Moose Club lodges; Pines Ballroom at Bloomer, Lyle’s Bar at Rice Lake. She played The Coachman in Baldwin every Friday night for 10 years. And there were plenty more, from Spooner to Ladysmith to Eau Claire and Minnesota.
Berg had several concerts a week, which attracted good crowds and a lot of dancers.
Berg once played at the Bel-Rae Ballroom along the highway. 10 in the Twin Cities with Myron Floren, who was accordionist on “The Lawrence Welk Show”.
At the time, Berg didn’t record much music, but performed live on local radio programs like the Jean Jacobson Show and the Sally Ann Amateur Hour at the El Lago Theater in Rice Lake. Berg was also on television, performing on the show “Sheriff Bob” on WEAU.
At a talent show hosted by famed Midwestern broadcaster Cedric Adams for the Barron Centennial in 1960, Berg recalls performing “The 12th Street Rag”.
Berg even performed in Hawaii – on a trip with Larry Jerome from Barron – and in Japan – on a trip to Sister City in Rice Lake, Miharu.
She has also performed in local shows – parties, weddings, even funerals, as well as events like the Barron Electric Co-op annual reunion and the Dallas Oktoberfest. Solo concerts have become mainstream for her thanks to the introduction of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) sound modules that allow Lenore to be a solo act, while still sounding like a full band. MIDI essentially allows a musician to press a button to access different “rolls” of backing music.
Berg was making a good living in music, but also worked at the Barron Farmers Store in the late 1940s and 1950s and later at Munsingwear. She has two children, Ron and Ingrid.
Ingrid helped her record albums, including “Life Begins at 80”.
“But we didn’t finish it until I was 82,” Berg said.
About 10 years ago, Berg gave up the squeezebox.
“It’s too heavy, which breaks my heart,” she said.
But his piano playing continues to move the feet.
She has performed in many retirement homes, usually accompanied by other musicians, such as Chuck Kirkwood, Hank Vogel, Ed Thompson and Norm Yamada.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has cut back its concerts. But she is ready to return to the keys when the situation is more secure. Berg has some friends to catch up with.
“You make a lot of friends in the places you play,” she said.