By: Ruth Nicolaus
Minot men share gift of song with rodeo crowd at Y’s Men’s Rodeo
Minot, N.D. – Rodeos across the nation nearly always kick off with patriotic openings and the national anthem.
In Minot, it’s more than that.
For the past thirty years, the YMCA Men’s Rodeo, held in October, has featured three Minot men: Jerry Hansen, Darwin Langseth, and Wayne Semrau, singing Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA.
The Singing Y’s Men, as they are known, sing in harmony: Hansen and Langseth alternating the lead tenor voice and Semrau with bass, as the American flag is carried on horseback around the arena by a rodeo queen.
They’ve known each other since childhood, growing up in Minot and spending most of their adult lives there. All three sang in grade school, junior high, and high school choir, and all three are part of the Heritage Singers group in Minot, which begins practice every September after a summer hiatus.
A few days before the rodeo, they get together to practice. After thirty years, there’s no need for a lot of rehearsal, but they “go over a few things,” Semrau said. “It’s not a strenuous schedule,” he joked.
Only one of them studied music, although all three enjoy it. Langseth was a music major at Minot State University in the 1970s. He is now a semi-retired owner of a local real estate management company; Hansen is a retired registered pharmacist, and Semrau is a retired auditor for the state of North Dakota.
The three, lifelong friends, joke around easily. They laugh that choosing who sings bass or tenor depends “on how much bourbon we had the night before,” Langseth laughed, and he jokes that he doesn’t sing anymore, “I just lip sync.”
But there’s no laughing when the song starts. It’s a moving experience, Semrau said. “When the song starts,” he said, “everybody jumps to their feet. It’s an amazing feeling.”
“The audience truly enjoys it,” Hansen said. “The people who know us, they think it’s great, every time. We don’t know who they’re listening to,” he joked.
The Minot Y’s Men’s Rodeo takes place October 9-11 at the State Fair Center in Minot. Performances begin at 7 pm on Oct. 9, at 6 pm on Oct. 10, and at 1:30 pm on Oct. 11. The Sunday matinee is Military Appreciation and First Responders Day, sponsored by EPIC Companies, Spicy Pie, Bud Light, Pepsi and the North Dakota State Fair. Discounted tickets are available at Spicy Pie in Minot.
Tickets are available online at www.MinotYsMensRodeo.com. For more information, visit the website.