The Janeys rock out during RAGBRAI

The Janeys perform July 23 in Hiawatha at 2:30 pm
The Janeys perform July 23 in Hiawatha at 2:30 pm

One of the Hiawatha RAGBRAI performers won’t have far to travel July 23. Bryce Janey, a resident of Marion, will be performing with his father Billylee Janey as “The Janeys.” The duo has performed all around the Midwest, and even at various locations further around the country. The Janeys have performed for past RAGBRAIs as well, beginning with the first Marion RAGBRAI stop in 1994.

Father and son have been playing and performing together since Bryce was 13 years old, when Billylee, Bryce, and Bryce’s mother formed a trio called “The Janeys” that played the blues. Bryce mentioned that humorously many audience members didn’t even believe that they were actually a family, and thought that the family act was all a gimmick. Billylee and Bryce still enjoy performing and producing music together, but Bryce is a standalone talent in his own right as well.

“Obviously my dad inspired me a lot growing up,” Bryce said. “But I’ve also found a lot of inspiration in classic ’60s blues, and guys like Jimi Hendrix, Mike Bloomfield, Otis Rush, Robert Johnson, and Eric Clapton.”

Bryce has produced numerous albums as part of the trio and duo, but has released eight CDs as a solo artist as well. His next album will come out at the end of July, and will be titled Delta Road, comprised of a majority of original songs along with a few covers. Bryce records his music in his own home, but is signed by Grooveyard Records out of Rochester, New York.

Besides the new album and performing at the Hiawatha RAGBRAI overnight stop with his dad, Bryce has a few other upcoming gigs as well. He will be performing in Marion at QDog’s BBQ Company on August 22. Locals can enjoy Bryce’s music along with blues tunes from several other performers as well as part of a blues festival at the restaurant during the weekend of August 22. He also performs at various times through the year at different festivals, wineries, and restaurants with live music throughout the Midwest.

“It doesn’t really matter where the gig is, or if it’s 25 or 100 people that are there, as long as they appreciate the music,” Bryce said.

Performing and making music has always been a huge part of Bryce’s life. Playing guitar, bass, and singing are some of his favorite activities, along with producing a lot of the music himself. In the future, he hopes to take his music overseas as well, to countries like Ireland, Italy, France and Spain.

Catch the Janeys on July 23 as part of the RAGBRAI festivities in the Guthridge Park band shell in Hiawatha from 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm to enjoy their blues rock tunes.


RAGBRAI, Hiawatha-style

Bicyclists will start arriving tomorrow afternoon in Hiawatha during the Register’s Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. The following is an excerpt of the run-through that one RAGBRAI bicyclist conducted in June.

(Taken from the official RAGBRAI website)

“Hiawatha is a community of 7,200 residents located on NW Cedar Rapids metro area. We are looking forward to returning for the second time since 2004! It has been 11 years since the last time RAGBRAI has come through town and a lot has changed since then. Hiawatha is the youngest town along the route, established in 1950, making it very unique since they do not have a lot of history many other communities have. That means each change made to the community makes a big impact. They are extremely proud of how far they have come over the last 65 years, and they hope RAGBRAI riders will see how beautiful and welcoming they are.

Hiawatha has blossomed since 2004 which has been a great challenge to overcome when it comes to planning for this year’s overnight stop. They have welcomed many new businesses into town, added new development, built a new City Hall in 2008, and continue to improve the town by the day! As riders enter town the route will bring them in along the same route as 2004 so riders will be able to see the changes Hiawatha has made since the last time they rode through.

Riders will enter into a blast from the past into the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s where they can Throwback the day in the main event area located in Guthridge Park. They will be offering a campground, two stages where the Bryce Janey Band, Pop Rocks (you remember this awesome band from the Route Announcement Party last January), Dennis DeYoung: The Music of Styx and the Pork Tornados will showcase the night! Food vendors, bike shops and the main Throwback Thursday beverage garden will all take place during our Hiawatha’s fun-filled day of activities. Doug Wagner, from WMT will be the main MC for the day and continue to engage our RAGBRAI fans with comedy as he has been the main face for our social media Thursday videos since the start of planning back in February. If you haven’t already, follow his weekly videos on the Hiawatha RAGBRAI Facebook page.

Entertainment will begin at 2 p.m. with the Janey Band located at the Guthridge Park band shell from 2-4pm. Then the music acts will transfer to the main stage at the other end of the beverage area in Guthridge Park at 4:30pm with Pop Rocks opening for Dennis DeYoung: The Music of Styx who will start at 8:30pm. To finish off the night we will transition back to the band shell for Pork Tornados from 10-12pm.

The beer garden will open at 1 p.m. with several favorite craft beers provided by 7G Distributors. 20-25 food vendors will provide delicious offerings such as pie, lasagna, Mediterranean cuisine and perennial favorites such as pizza and burgers and church style dinners. There are also many local restaurants throughout Hiawatha along Center Point and Boyson Road (including Dairy QueenBrick’s Pizza, Oscar’s, Culver’s, Tomaso’s Pizza, Pita’z and Farmer’s Daughter’s Market).

Two shuttles will be staffed with volunteer community guides circling Hiawatha, providing easy access to all the campgrounds and activities for the day. All of thier camping areas will be located about a mile away from the main event making it easy for all riders and guests to get to get where they need to.

If guests feel like more riding, we have the Cedar Valley Trail, located off of Boyson Road where you can enjoy more scenic views of Iowa.

So, if you are looking to take a journey through the decades and Throw it back on Thursday, July 23rd Hiawatha residents will be ready to welcome you in to the great City of Hiawatha where they live, work and PLAY! They hope you enjoy all of the fun and exciting entertainment they have to offer and hope to welcome you back in the coming years!”


Hiawatha crochet club is a “tight-knit” community

The Friendship Crochet Club shares more than just yarn; they also share stories,  knowledge, and company. The group meets on Wednesday evenings year-round from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Glenn Schminke Community Room at the Hiawatha Public Library, and anyone is welcome to join.

Members of the Friendship Crochet Club keep busy with various projects. (Hiawatha Today Photo File)
Members of the Friendship Crochet Club keep busy with various projects. (Hiawatha Today file photo)

The club was formed about six years ago after a free knitting class was offered at the Hiawatha Library. The class was held for six weeks When it was over, a few members decided to continue on the idea of meeting weekly to create and chat, while sharing their own skills and abilities.

Members bring their own projects and are free to work on whatever they wish. Projects members are currently working on include a dishcloth, afghan, blanket, and bookmarks.  Between 15 to 20 people attend the weekly club meeting and there is always a wide variety of work to admire and learn from.

A selection of the current projects will be donated to the homeless, neonatal care at local hospitals, or even the humane society.

Members of the club range in ages, backgrounds, and hometowns and are from Hiawatha, Cedar Rapids, Center Point, and Independence. The friendships among the group are strong enough to keep them coming out each week though, no matter the weather.

“We come for the companionship, and we come for the learning of new crochet techniques. We help teach each other, and have fun in the process,” said Mary Ann Parker, an artist based in Cedar Rapids and regular member of the club.

Word of mouth and advertisements within the library are the main draws for new members, so it’s no wonder that the feeling of community is so inherent in the room on these Wednesday nights.

New membership is always encouraged. All that’s needed is a crochet hook and a ball of yarn. And if you would rather knit, that’s okay, too.

For questions about the group or how to join, visit the Hiawatha Library, 150 W. Willman, or call them at 319-393-1414.

FBI summer camp teaches Hiawatha 10th grader more than leadership

Kids’ summers are most often associated with beaches, vacations, and summer camp.

Molly Hembera, shown here with her mom and dad, displays the brick she received from summer camp. (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)
Molly Hembera, shown here with her mom and dad, displays the brick she received from summer camp. (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)

But while most kids attend camps geared at activities such as sports, crafts, or computers, one 15-year-old Hiawatha resident had the opportunity to attend a camp that teaches leadership, safety, and camaraderie.

Molly Hembera, daughter of Jeff and Joann Hembera and a 10th grader at Cedar Valley Christian School, attended the FBI Youth Leadership Training camp June 13-20 in Quantico, Virginia.

Her dad, Jeff, a police officer with the Cedar Rapids Police Department, explained that every year the FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA) hosts a weeklong training event for high school students at the FBI Academy. Qualified candidates must be 14, 15, or 16 years old at the start date of the program.

Jeff went through training at the academy in 2013 and is a member of the local chapter. He said the program is designed to help local police officers and FBI agents work together more effectively.

Candidates who attend the camp are nominated by a graduate of the program. According to Jeff, 60 kids participated in the camp this year, some from different parts of the world such as Austria, Australia, Puerto Rico, and Canada.

“There is usually only one student nominated from each state each year, but the program is now reaching other parts of the world,” said Jeff.

Molly said she has always been interested in law enforcement and definitely sees a future doing something pertaining to the field.

“I think enjoyed learning about how to become a better leader, but I would much rather focus on another aspect, such as forensics,” she said.

Molly, who participates in sports and sings in her school choir, is also active in her church’s youth group. She said she thinks that being an athlete helped her get through the physical training they endured.

“We had to get up at 5:30 and do physical training and then attend classes all day,” she said.

She added that classes included how to be a more effective leader and safety.

“We learned a lot about how work together, how to be a better leader, and also how to stay safe, especially on the internet.”

To be selected for the camp, a student must have demonstrated high academic standards and good citizenship. Those nominated then go through an interview process. Jeff said six students were nominated from Iowa this year.

Molly said she enjoyed the experience, especially meeting different people.

“Most of us were a little shy at first, but once we spent time together, we all became good friends,” she said.

One example, she said, was the obstacle course the team had to go through to complete their training.

“The obstacle course had a ‘Wizard of Oz’ theme,” said Jeff.  “At the end of the course they were given a gold brick that had the name of their unit stenciled on it.”

“We had an hour and a half to finish it, but everyone finished in under 50 minutes,” said Molly. “Those of us who finished first went back to encourage the others. We had a lot of fun.”

Molly said she enjoyed the experience and is happy she was given the opportunity to participate.

“I think the most important thing I learned from the experience is that being a leader doesn’t just mean you lead a group of people. You have to listen to other people’s opinions, to what they have to say and work together to come up with a solution.”