Eddie and Leona Praus' band brings joy to area dancersDancers recently twirled around the floor at St. Anthony Club to the music of Eddie and Leona Praus. They were playing for the Dickinson Singles Club, whose members love the old-time music.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Dancers recently twirled around the floor at St. Anthony Club to the music of Eddie and Leona Praus. They were playing for the Dickinson Singles Club, whose members love the old-time music.
As members of the Queen City Band, Eddie plays accordion while Leona plays keyboard and sings.
“We play because we love it,” Eddie said.
“People enjoy themselves — if they’re happy, that makes us happy,” Leona added. “The hardest part is usually getting there and getting back home.”
Sometimes, their two sons or daughter, Delvin, Kevin and Janel, join with the band. Other times, especially for out-of-town jobs, they’re joined by Palmer Schmidt from Turtle Lake and Brad Zuern from Hazen.
“We never practice,” Eddie said.
“It’s not like years ago when the whole band lived in the same town,” Leona added.
Music is an important hobby for them. Their business is Big D & E Auction and Praus Trucking of Dickinson.
Eddie has entertained with bands for 45 years. He describes his skill as a gift from God.
He tells the story of how his Uncle Jerome was overseas in the military and brought back half a dozen accordions. He gave two accordions to Eddie’s father, who farmed 10 miles southwest of Dickinson.
Eddie and his brother, Ervin started practicing on the accordion whenever his parents went to town. Then during a house party, they surprised them with music.
Leona took organ lessons back in the 1960s, but can’t read music anymore.
“I say if you picked up music by ear, that’s better than notes,” Eddie said.
Eddie has played with various bands over the years, first as the drummer. They have played with Melvin Simpfenderfer, Mark Herauf, Frankie Praus, Gab Kinzel, Joe Kralicek and Leo Roller.
The Queen City Band’s name has stuck since the 1990s. It’s style of music is old-time — waltzes and polkas and some country.
“I like to do the new stuff too,” Leona said. “Our guitarist keeps pushing it.”
The band has played in multiple states, including Oregon, Washington and South Dakota. They’ve played some 20 years for the German crowds in Napoleon. They’ve played for wedding dances in Quonsets and barns and once for a wagon train ride. Their next big event is Bismarck’s polka fest March 17.
The band will slow down their music for their Dickinson audiences, but Leona quipped, “In Bismarck, you crank it up and watch the people.”
Singles club member Keith Anton said everybody likes Praus’ music.
“They do a wonderful job and it’s a pleasure to have them playing for us,” he said.
“I think Eddie’s great — all of our musicians are great,” added member Irene Rohde. “I’m a polka dancer, so I like them fast.”
The Prauses are watching a decline in dancing crowds, saying dances are in competition with casinos, night clubs and even grandkids’ sporting events.
“There’s so many things going on,” Eddie said.
The couple intends to keep playing as long as their health allows. They have CDs for sale from five different bands, which are available at their dances and Rosie’s Food and Gas.