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Celebrating over 40 YEARS in the music business.


Cathy Erickson (accordion/vocals)
Mary Jo Sturman (also sax/vocals)
Pat Callahan (Drums)


The “Alley Cats” Band of Middle River, Minnesota was formed in 1975 with the following members:

  • Jack Rybakowski (accordion)
  • George Hill (guitar and banjo)
  • Cathy Erickson (piano and vocals)
  • Sue Maijala (on the drums)
    All musicians were from the Middle River area  

IT ALL BEGAN when Cathy and Jack were asked to entertain for a Christmas party at St. Joseph’s Church, and right after that they played for a New Year’s Eve Dance at the Wagon Wheel, Middle River, MN which at that time was owned and operated by Don Blazek, a fan of old time music.  George and Sue joined the group when they entertained a pancake dinner at the Legion in Middle River, MN in March of 1975.

THE FIRST REAL PAYING JOB was at the American Legion in Argyle, MN. From then to the present the music has kept coming.  Regular dances were played at the El Cerito’s in St. Hilaire on Sunday afternoon, Hanson’s Bar in Plummer on Sunday night, and Saturday evenings at the American Legions in Middle River, Argyle, Greenbush and Lake Bronson. From there wedding dances, shed parties, polka fests, Octoberfests, anniversaries, annual meetings were on the books.

Vocalists who have joined Cathy for the Polka Mass throughout the years have included Mary Jadeke of Warren, Tressa Tulibaski of Argyle and Don Molksness of Thief River Falls, in addition to the regular band members. Polka Masses have been done for indoor and outdoor church celebrations, funerals, a baptism, and Cathy’s Music Ministry has been heard in both Catholic and a variety of Protestant congregations all over the state of Minnesota and several in North Dakota and Canada. Cathy always includes in the Polka Mass promo sent to churches:  “We are there to enhance the religious service, not to entertain. We can entertain after the service.”

Regular trips to the nursing homes have been rewarding both to Cathy and the residents. Annual Halloween and Christmas parties for the developmentally challenged have made Cathy a “star” in their eyes.



  1. “Uncle” Jack  Rybakowski, Middle River, MN
  2. Cathy Erickson, Middle River, MN
  3. Pat Kembitskey, Bemidji, MN
  4. Jake Bastyr, Williams/Naytawash, MN


  1. Cathy Erickson, Middle River, MN
  2. Bob Skoglund, Holt, MN
  3. Val Bruhn, Tabor, MN
  4. Glen Carlson, Middle River, MN
  5. Bill Pikarski, International Falls, MN
  6. Mary Jo (Erickson) Sturman, Middle River, MN/Grand Forks, ND
  7. Pat Kembitskey, Bemidji, MN
  8. Jim Matson, Thief River Falls, MN
  9. Jake Bastyr, Williams/Naytawash, MN

Alto Sax:

  1. Sheila Erickson, Middle River, MN
  2. Don Jonson, Thief River Falls, MN
  3. Melissa Johnson, Middle River, MN
  4. Shawn Langlie, Newfolden/Thief River Falls, MN
  5. Sue Bolstad, Winger, MN
  6. Carol Black, Winger, MN
  7. Mary Jo (Erickson) Sturman, Middle River, MN/Grand Forks, ND
  8. Evan Hanson, Hallock, MN
  9. Laddie Pecka, Lawton, ND
  10. Frank Olson, Roseau, MN


  1. Laddie Pecka (two at one time), Lawton, ND
  2. Jerry Kochmann, Mahnomen, MN


  1. Kevin Olsen, Viking, MN


  1. Laddie Pecka, Lawton, ND


  1. Johnnie Phillip, Thief River Falls, MN


  1. Cathy Erickson, Middle River, MN
  2. Rosie Pecka, Lawton, ND


  1. George Hill (also banjo), Middle River, MN
  2. Val Bruhn, Tabor, MN
  3. Glen Carlson, Middle River, MN
  4. Bill Pikarski, International Falls, MN
  5. Bob Skoglund, Holt, MN
  6. Harry Scramstad, Middle River, MN


  1. Sue Maijala, Middle River, MN
  2. Scott Peters, Viking, MN
  3. Cathy Panek, Thief River Falls, MN
  4. Pat Callahan, Alvarado, MN
  5. Ron Shereck, Tabor, MN
  6. Kevin Olsen, Viking, MN
  7. Jeff Nichols, Fargo, ND
  8. Don Papreck, Bemidji, MN
  9. Andy Erickson, Middle River/Garfield, MN
  10. Sandy Sundby, Karlstad, MN
  11. Jim Matson, Thief River Falls, MN
  12. Dan Vigness, Viking, MN
  13. Dave Jeffrey, Grand Forks, ND



  1. Cathy Erickson and the Alley Cats (1981) (CD, Cassette, LP)
  2. The Polka Mass (1986) (CD, Cassette, LP)
  3. Melodies of the Heart (1986) (CD, Cassette, LP)
  4. A Taste for Old Time (1989) (CD, Cassette)
  5. I Wanna Dance (2003) (CD, Cassette)
  6. In The Mood For Dancing (2012) (CD)
  7. Me and My Mom (2012) (CD)

Members over the years have changed, but the style of music has not. Old time polkas, waltzes, schottisches, swing tunes, classic country, 50’s, mixed in with a few newer selections have proved to the band that there are folks that like to dance to this style of music, and they can be found everywhere.

Today the band books under the name “Cathy Erickson Band” (although they have been asked to go back to “The Alley Cats”.

BOOKINGS have taken the band to Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Canada, and the Caribbean.  Musicians have traveled in a pickup, and also blue, brown, blue and white Ford vans. Over the years the band has chalked up over a million miles for music.

POLKA SPOTLIGHT - The band has been asked to be on the TV Show "Polka Spotlight" in Brooklyn Park, MN, in which we have performed in March, 2010, September 2011, September 2012, July 2013, August 2014, April 2016, and August 2017. Watch us on youtube.

PRAIRE MUSICIANS program on Prairie Public Broadcasting TV show in Fargo, ND featuring the Cathy Erickson Band on September 6, 2013. Watch us on youtube.

MOLLIE B. POLKA PARTY, Medina Ballroom, Medina, MN. Taping was held on August 10, 2013.

BIG JOE POLKA SHOW taping for TV was a wonderful experience.  We have performed on the show in Medina, MN in July of 2006 and July 2008. 



We have been very fortunate to have been performing steadily over the years without deviating from our style. In 2008 I purchased a "Diamond" accordion which I play and love.

In February 2008, Mary Jo and I performed for several dances in the Mesa, Arizona area. What a wonderful experience. I am so lucky to have a daughter join me on stage and appreciate her talent on alto sax and vocals.

Whenever we can snag him, my son Andy on drums is a real crowd pleaser. He joined us for our taping at Medina, MN for the Big Joe Polka Show.

Jerry Kochmann, trumpet player from Mahnomen, MN joins us for the polka masses and other events as needed.

Another former musician who is back keeping the tempo is Ron Shereck of Tabor, MN. A bouncing drummer is a real asset to the band and every once in awhile we let him take five to dance the polka with Mary Jo.

We continue to provide music for the polka masses and have increased our performances at county fairs. Our gigs in Canada have been rewarding and we have gained many northern friends across the border.


Country Church - featuring gospel music every Suday evening from 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. on Pioneer 90.1 FM or Hosted by Cathy Erickson and recorded live from the farm.


I also enjoy hosting my own radio show on Monday evenings LIVE from the farm from 6 p.m. - Midnight 12:00 a.m. You can listen on Pioneer 90.1 FM or My “Cathy Erickson Monday Night Variety Show” began in March 2007 after I took a broadcasting class at the Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, MN.

Dance in your kitchen, living room, or garage! You can listen in your car, tractor or on the computer to music which includes polkas, waltzes, country, swing, oldies from local artist.



Thank you for your continuing love and support.



Copyright © 2019 Cathy Erickson Band
webmaster: MaryJo Sturman