Photo by Charity Maness
Percussionist Ivan (Ketterer) Rhea of Hot Springs performs recently at the Waterhole in Buffalo Gap.
By Charity Maness
HOT SPRINGS – Percussionist Ivan (Ketterer) Rhea of Hot Springs was inducted into the Legends of Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame Sunday September 4 in Rapid City.
“I feel very, very humble,” said Rhea about his induction, “because there are a lot of pickers out there and to have been chosen to be known is a very, very big honor.”
Rhea was a Bayou baby born in Louisiana and was no stranger to the influences of music, afterall, it was in his blood.
The oldest child of four born to musicians it was only natural young Rhea would eventually succumb to the allure of the melodies.
“My mother played the fiddle and the piano and my father played the piano, lead guitar and the fiddle,” explained Rhea.
But his parents weren’t any average musical parents, they were talented and sought after performers with his father playing for such greats as The Sons of the Pioneers and the Riders of the Purple Sage; legends of country music in the ‘30s and ‘40s.
Watching his parents perform and hearing his father on records was the highlight of young Rhea’s life.
By the age of 7 Rhea was ready to test his wings in his musical family and picked up his first pair of sticks and never looked back, drumming his way through life and loving every minute of it.
“My father inspired me and supported me,” said Rhea of his journey into music, “growing up I was right in the middle of music; the one thing that I’ve always loved.”
As he grew he added piano to his repertoire and excelled at both.
While his father inspired him musician Buddy Rich stirred a desire to in him to push the envelope. “He was very versatile,” said Rhea, “he played with multiple bands all over the world; such a famous drummer.”
Striving to always learn more Rhea traveled with Bob Hope Inc around the world entertaining troops in Germany, Vietnam, Panama and more. He even played with Ray Price for a bit.
All this taught Rhea skills he would use for the rest of his life.
“When working for Bob Hope, the traveling was immense,” said Rhea. “The amount of traveling wore you out, flying here and flying there, and you’re not the only group up there, groups coming in and going out, travel to one place then the next, exhausting. But I was very fortunate, I was gratified to be able to work with those that were very professional in what they did, I always sought after those people and learned a lot from them not just music wise but also to be courteous, kind and generous to those who may not have been on road and long as you have and offer the support to them.”
“It’s not really your talent all the time that makes a musician, its being able to communicate with people and be dedicated to what you’re doing, without that it just doesn’t work out.”
Rhea’s word of advice to young aspiring musicians:
“The main thing is be dedicated to whatever field you’re going into, be it piano, percussion, or stringed instruments, it’s important to fine hone your experience on that instrument, to not to give up. There were times in my life where I thought to myself “for crying out loud what am I doing?” but I kept working on my skills and I sought out mentors to follow; it’s good to have a mentor.”
Rhea can often be seen at the Water Hole in Buffalo Gap, or surprise folks showing up to grace the audience with his skills at various communities functions, no matter what, Rhea lives for and loves music; it is in his blood.