Larry and the Up ‘n-Cummings
Loren (Larry) Cummings was born into a musical family in Sioux Falls in 1946. His father, Gene, played steel guitar and had his own band. Larry took accordion lessons in grade school. He was featured at a PTA meeting, experienced a panic attack, and stopped lessons immediately. Larry liked writing jingles for his dad’s sewing machine business – jingles that were recorded and played on the radio.
Larry joined the U.S. Marine Corps two weeks after high school, and his first paying gig was at the NCO club in Okinawa. While serving in Vietnam, he wrote songs for Marine buddies who had received “Dear John” letters. When back in North Carolina at Camp Lejune, Larry recorded many original songs and jingles that got air time. Cummings recorded “Tennessee Wagoner” with the Cape Fear Ramblers, a song that was featured on the soundtrack of the movie “King Kong Lives.” He also performed for Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney at a sailboat event.
Larry moved to Nashville to try to make it in the music business. He regretted turning down an offer to be a staff writer for Tree Publishing. His reason? He wanted to return to Sioux Falls and start a family.
The Up’n-Cummings began about 1970 at the Varsity Club (formerly Shorty’s and later the Rainbow). Duane Kuntz was one of his first drummers until KXRB came on the air and Rat Reno was born. Bill Keller then become the drummer. After traveling surrounding states with Chuck Spawn and Joey Duncan, Larry returned to his Up’n-Cummings.
Earl Britt from Earl’s Pizza owned the only Sunday liquor license in Sioux Falls. Larry started jam sessions there, which were a hit. During the week the band would play from 9-1, tear down equipment, set up at the Night Owl or the Wagon Wheel and play from 2 a.m. until daylight.
Musicians who have played with Larry and the Up’n-Cummings include Witt Taylor, Curtis Powell, Rick Quincy, Greg and Ralph Olsen, Mike Miller, Mark Craney, Ron Neuberger, Bruce Meyers, Doug Lund, Billy Van Gorkem, and Steve Ransom.
The South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association is proud to add Larry and the Up’n-Cummings to its hall of fame.