‘The Gems’ to shine with sounds of late ’50s, early ’60s

Originally from Walla Walla, The Gems are shown performing Oct 9, 2011, at 88 Keys in Seattle. From the left are:  Duane Gusse, Ron Overman, Paul Wheeler and Jim Reid. Gusse died earlier this year. This tour is a tribute to him.

Originally from Walla Walla, The Gems are shown performing Oct 9, 2011, at 88 Keys in Seattle. From the left are: Duane Gusse, Ron Overman, Paul Wheeler and Jim Reid. Gusse died earlier this year. This tour is a tribute to him.

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WALLA WALLA — “The Gems” are bringing their early rock ’n’ roll music back to the Walla Walla Valley this week and next week with four original members, Paul Wheeler, Ron Overman, Jim Reid and Larry Loney.

Originally a Walla Walla band, in the summer of 1960, The Gems started taking music seriously.

After playing local dances in Walla Walla and around Eastern Washington from 1960-1962, The Gems were booking with popular singers and musicians during their Northwest tours by the summer of 1962, Reid wrote in an email.

They played on bills with The Ventures, Jan and Dean, Johnny Burnette, Dorsey Burnette, Donnie Brooks, Johnny Tillitson, Bobby Bare and opened for Jerry Lee Lewis.

In 1964, The Gems moved to Portland, Ore., and played at the Nagle’s Big Apple until 1965, when the band broke up.

The fifth member, vocals and keyboardist Duane Gusse, died this year.

The reunited band’s “Gems tour” will be a tribute to him, Reid said.

The Gems get together for tours around Walla Walla and the Northwest about twice a year.

All four band members are picking up where they left off in 1965, playing the same music the same way that they did back then.

The Gems maintain a repertoire that includes the rock ’n’ roll hits of the late ’50s through the early ’60s.

They will be in the Walla Walla area this month to play these dates:

Friday, 9 p.m. — The Dayton Eagles, as part of “All Wheels Weekend.” No charge.

Saturday, 6-9 p.m. — Tuxedo Club in Prescott. No charge.

June 20, 4: 30-6:30 p.m. ­— Harvest Foods in Walla Walla. No charge.

June 21, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. — Three River Winery in Walla Walla. $5 admission.

June 22, 7 p.m. — The Elks Lodge in Walla Walla. $8 nonmember admission.

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