December 13, 2022 at 7:22 p.m.
The Son Dogs perform original Minnesota-inspired songs in Melrose
Chances are Grandma Rose Beckermann was smiling down from heaven Nov. 19.
Her grandson, Paul Beckermann, and fellow musician Scott Lempka, known as The Sun Dogs, performed the original song, “Where the Rose Forever Blooms” at the West Village Townhomes community room in Melrose, where Beckermann’s parents, Joe and Joyce Beckermann, and a few of Paul’s siblings were present and could relate to many of the words in this original song he wrote.
Beckermann sang, “Grandma Rose, I loved hanging at your house, playing cards, telling stories and eating too much. Your skinny arms could hold me strong. Your words were right when things went wrong. … Dear, Grandma Rose, with your gentle touch, I love you so much. I thought I’d always be there sitting on your couch, eating day old popcorn, watching ‘Family Feud.’ You’ll never know how much I learned from you. This is where the rose forever blooms.
Ten healthy boys born in that house. I can only imagine that it got real loud. Each one grew up and they settled down. Sons and daughters and mothers that came along. They made you proud. … This is where the rose forever blooms.
Flowers still bloom upon your grave. Unbelievable beauty like the life you made. From just one vine so much can grow… This is where the rose forever blooms.”
It was one of four original songs sung by Beckermann and Lempka during their one-hour performance attended by West Village and East Village townhome tenants, including Paul’s parents.
Beckermann and Lempka have been performing original and classic music together since 2017 and have recorded three CDs, with original songs each has written.
“A lot of our songs are Minnesota inspired. You know the freezing cold and the sun dogs in the winter time and there we were, the two of us,” Lempka said, explaining how they came up with their name.
They met when Beckermann was the digital learning specialist at Parker Elementary School in Elk River where Lempka was principal.
Beckermann was raised in Melrose, and his musical roots go back to his childhood.
“My parents instilled in us the love of music from an early age. They had us signed up for piano lessons and all that good stuff,” Beckermann said. “My great-aunt, Vi Berns, taught us piano for years.”
A 1984 Melrose High School graduate, Beckermann took an advanced music class from teacher Al Hanson, which included song composition.
“I bought my first guitar with some of my graduation money,” said Beckermann, who currently lives in Elk River with wife Pam (Wolbeck from Sauk Centre), the inspiration for his song “My Girl from Minnesota.”
Lempka, a 1994 graduate of Alexandria High School, credits his musical experience to playing and singing in bands in junior high and high school. His wife, Kari, is also originally from Alexandria. He played in bands in college but hung it up when their children were grown. Lempka started performing on a regular basis five years ago when he and Beckermann formed their duo.
They both love composing songs. On this afternoon, they also performed Lempka-composed songs “Romeo,” about his late grandfather, Roman Lempka; and “The Lady,” about a close friend’s family dog who used to take boat rides around the lake with a retired gentleman who needed the company.
Since Lempka lives in Alexandria, he and Beckermann have come up with a long-distance system for song compositions, sending information digitally.
“I record my harmonies onto Paul’s work and send it back,” Lempka said. “With the CDs, if I had a song, I’d send it to Paul and we’d go back and forth and the next thing we knew we had done three albums together with original songs.”
They enjoy performing at venues, like the community room, and have had bookings at area breweries and wineries, with hope of more on the horizon. Plus, the community room was a half-way point for Beckermann, a retired Elk River teacher who does remote work for Avid Center of San Diego, and Lempka, a principal at Minnewaska Elementary School in Glenwood.
Before their hour-long Melrose gig Nov. 19, they practiced in the community room, adding new songs to their repertoire.
Their laid-back style made for easy listening for their audience, who enjoyed classic and original songs.
Joe Beckermann listened, arms folded and a smile on his face, as his son sang about Joe’s mother, Rose.
Chances are Grandma Rose was smiling from above.