Winter Dance Party at The Mousetrap Explores E.C.’s Musical History
1950s and ’60s throwback show with performances by Riggs Calvero, the Over Unders, and Nathan Brelsford, coming to local tavern
For those of a certain vintage, Eau Claire’s Fournier’s Ballroom is more than a solitary historical landmark in front of a parking lot at 658 First Ave.; it was a tangible space. And throughout the 1950s and ’60s, that space was rockin’. Most notably was the Winter Dance Party, 65 years ago on Jan. 26, 1959. On that night, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper, and Dion and the Belmonts captivated an audience of youthful, starstruck Eau Clairians. A week later, Holly, Valens, and the Big Bopper died in a tragic plane crash.
Much has been written about that event, including Don McLean’s radio staple “American Pie.” However, a group of local musicians felt it time to dial the clock back and shift the spotlight to a wondrous night before the tragedy, when rock ruled and, as Riggs Calvero frontman Keith Killoren puts it, “The world seemed a little smaller and Eau Claire felt a little bigger.”
On Friday night, Jan. 26, The Mousetrap Tavern (311 S. Barstow St., Eau Claire) will host the Buddy Holly Winter Dance Party featuring Riggs Calvero as Dino and the Belmonts, The Over Unders as Buddy Holly & The Crickets, and the Drunk Drivers’ Nathan Brelsford as the Big Bopper. Additional highlights include a ’50s costume contest, a recreation of the famous coin flip at 11pm, and “historic banter” about Eau Claire’s Fournier’s Ballroom and the ill-fated tour.
The show is free to attend and starts at 9pm, and bands will play a mix of covers to celebrate the occasion along with some originals.