Dance in the Big Room at Johnny’s Roadhouse to benefit Custer Sculpture Fund

November 6, 2018

Johnny’s Roadhouse in Custer will hold a dance from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11 to kick-off the fundraising effort for the sculpture that’s to be installed in a park developed adjacent to the Mason County Eastern School property on Main Street.

Plans include a “personalized” brick walk way by donors, picnic tables and benches.

The park will be a spot for locals and visitors to gather, enjoy a picnic and use the MCE playground, track, running trail and basketball courts. In the future, the Custer Sculpture Park will become a stop on the Mason & Lake County Music Heritage Trail by including an audio message that can be accessed with a smart phone.

The sculpture will depict three musicians playing piano, drums and guitar, inscribed with “Johnny’s Bandstand.” It is a tribute to the influx of various musicians and artists that played at Johnny’s and brought people to Custer for music. The base features dancers, as a reminder of the hundreds of people who came from all over.

Local bands The Shotman Band and Cats & Jammers will perform during the dance. Rich Young from Synergy Broadcasting will be the MC and DJ. There will also be a silent auction featuring a handmade quilt of pictures of artists who have played at Johnny’s Bandstand throughout the years.

Suggested admission is a $10 donation. Food can be purchased in the Sports Bar and beverages can be purchased in the Big Room.

Johnny’s has long been a part of Custer history, starting in 1948 with roller skating and followed by teen dances. Johnny’s Bandstand soon began bringing legendary artists to town, with Johnny Urban as the DJ.

As the only venue in West Michigan to seat more than 500 people, Johnny’s became a stop on the circuit for many famous performers, thanks to Johnny Urban making connections with Dick Clark, Las Vegas promoters and the entertainers who played in Idlewild. Performers included Bill Haley and the Comets, Chubby Checker and Crystal Gayle.

Johnny had a strong partner in his wife, Maisie. In addition, they opened an ice cream soda shop and a restaurant.

They were married for 60 years and worked together to make the business a success. They passed away in 2012, just three days apart.

Johnny’s Roadhouse, 2278 E. U.S. 10 in Custer, is now owned and operated by Jeff Dietz and Jeri Honeycutt. They are former Custer residents who have moved back. Jeff and Jeri said they are excited to include the name “Johnny’s” as a tribute to the past businesses operated by Johnny and Maise Urban.

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