A cowboy music ministryDickinson’s Harold Sundgren and Marvin Entze, who call themselves the “Old-Timers,” sing cowboy tunes of the 1940s and ’50s when they entertain residents in nearby nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The men have entertained at no charge for six or seven years as a ministry to the elderly.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Dickinson’s Harold Sundgren and Marvin Entze, who call themselves the “Old-Timers,” sing cowboy tunes of the 1940s and ’50s when they entertain residents in nearby nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The men have entertained at no charge for six or seven years as a ministry to the elderly.
“It’s to bring a little smile to their faces, a little remembrances of another time,” Sundgren said. ‘They really like to hear the old-time songs they don’t hear anymore.”
Sundgren and Entze grew up with Hank Williams’ “Hey! Good Lookin’” and Arlo Guthrie’s “Red River Valley.”
“We don’t do the rock-a-billy stuff, and then the last 15 or 20 minutes we sing gospel,” Sundgren said. “One song that really brings the house down is ‘You Are My Sunshine.’”
Sundgren studied the fiddle as a child, and by the time he was 8, was playing with an aunt and uncle at dances.
He inherited his great-grandfather’s fiddle, which is 100 years old. He still plays the instrument, as well as a guitar. He also sings solo, as Entze prefers to play the guitar.
Harold Sundgren grew up north of Great Falls, Mont., but his wife, Marge, said he’s a Dickinsonite as they’ve lived here since 1978. They are retired, having co-pastored the Heights of Glory Church for several years.
Entze describes himself as semi-retired, having worked at various jobs during his career, from a motor carrier inspector at Bowman, to working at a briquetting plant and with maintenance.
“I started playing since I was 12 or 13 years old,” Entze said. “We’d listen to country western bands — we had no TV. My mother’s side of the family is pretty musically inclined.”
He learned to play a Dobro, a brand of guitar, while growing up in the Dodge, Golden Valley area.
“I wish I’d have it today because it’s become valuable, but it’s disappeared,” he said.
Entze plays a mandolin and a six-string banjo, in addition to a guitar. He plays by ear, unable to read notes.
“I play in church once in a while — they tell me what key to play in and I figure it out,” he said.
Entze considers their music a ministry. Instead of playing for a church congregation, they have contact with hundreds of people, he said.
“Maybe that’s what we’re meant to do — we’re reaching more people that way,” Entze said.
“We see residents tapping their toes who probably otherwise would just be sitting in their own little world,” CountryHouse program coordinator Joyce Brown said. “They reach them with their music. We are so grateful to them.”
Sundgren also leads an all-faiths communion service for the residents.
“I commented that the residents have his full attention, and he said, ‘That’s the Spirit working,’” Brown added.
“They draw a very, very big crowd,” Evergreen program services director Linda Hanel said. “They sing the songs that are dear to their hearts — they shake the roof.”
Upcoming performances include April 18 at St. Luke’s Home and April 22 at St. Benedict’s Health Center.