Local financial advisor moonlights as rock band guitarist
Editor’s note: The following is the second article in a three-part series on movers and shakers in the local music scene. The final article will run next week.
On any day of the week, you’ll find Dave Purdy working in his third-floor Town Square office. He’s prim and proper, wearing a suit, neat tie, a crisp white dress shirt and shoes that shine. As a financial planner, the office has been his daytime destination for 25 years.
By night it’s sometimes a different story. On some nights you’ll find Purdy, guitar in hand, playing rock and blues music well into the night at bars and restaurants. The spiffy business suit is long gone, tucked away in a closet, replaced by a muscle T-shirt, jeans and boots.
Such is the life of a local business owner who spends his days studying numbers and his nights reading music notes and playing chords on the guitar as men and women spin on the dance floor.
It’s been that way for much of Dave Purdy’s life. He fell in love with guitars in his late teens and today uses music as an outlet for the day-to-day stress of the financial world and a way to express creativity.
Today he’s the front man and lead guitar player for the local rock band Bullseye and president of Wealth Management Midwest, LLC, 20 N. Lake St. in downtown Forest Lake. It’s a contrasting picture to be sure but one that Purdy has found makes sense for him.
How it started
Making music wasn’t always a big part of his life. Growing up in western Wisconsin, Purdy spent much of his time working on the family farm while studying at Unity High School near Balsam Lake, Wis. He was 17 in 1976 when he was hired at the Country Dam in Amery, where he washed dishes and later learned to tend bar during summers back home from college.
Music had never been part of the Purdy household, but it was at the Country Dam where Purdy grew fascinated by the talents of the guitar players in a country band that played the bar.
“I got to know the guys really well,” Purdy said. They recognized his interest and spent time helping Purdy learn how to manipulate the guitar strings. He was a good student, practiced hard and quickly became hooked from those late-night lessons. It wasn’t long until he saved $150 to buy a Yamaha acoustic electric guitar.
It was a friendly way to show a streak of rebellion, too, he said.
“My dad hated music and he hated guitars,” Purdy said.
When he left home to start college at the University of Minnesota Duluth in the fall of 1977, the guitar was near his side. And as fate would have it, his roommate, Mike Klitzke, also played guitar.
“All of his friends were musicians,” Purdy said. “He had a band. The band just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
Before long Purdy stepped on stage, too.
“I just loved it,” he recalled.
The gigs the band played filled recreation time, improved his guitar skills and added valuable cash to his pockets. During his Duluth years, Purdy played with Diamond Destiny. The band stayed busy playing at clubs, high school dances and private parties. The simple, up-tempo rock-and-roll cover songs performed by the band fit audiences perfectly, Purdy said.
But all good things about college life end, and in 1981 Purdy was ready to move to the working world. He graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.
With his degree in hand and that old Yamaha guitar and a beat-up Fender amplifier in his car, he drove east to Chicago. A career in business was still far in his future, but music was close at hand.
The Chicago years were important formative years for Purdy. He was hired by a large printing plant and learned all facets of the business. After several years of floor work, he moved to sales, handling accounts throughout metro Chicago.
Again fate pushed Purdy’s music career to a new point. Two of his co-workers also played and the trio soon began jamming.
“It was a tough area,” Purdy said of the South Side Chicago neighborhood where he lived and the musicians played.
It was a rough go for a young college graduate in the big city.
“I was so broke,” he said. “I couldn’t afford anything.”
The guitar was his recreation. Soon, Purdy and three friends formed the 3357 Band, named for the address on Morgan Street where the group jammed.
“We played a lot,” Purdy said. “We were trying to play our own music.”
There were few jobs, and the band would land perhaps one gig per month.
It was a start, and Purdy soon turned another corner in his life. During his employment at the Country Dam, he had met Lori Niemann of Amery who would come to the bar and restaurant with friends. After attending college in Eau Claire, Wis., Niemann moved to Chicago to attend Elmhurst College and called on Purdy to help make the transition to big-city life.
They became a couple and married in 1985.
After seven years in Chicago, Purdy elected to return closer to his roots. In 1988 he moved to Forest Lake and joined his father, Charles, in the R.J. Steichen investment firm that the elder Purdy had started in the Town Square Building.
It was tough sledding in the early days, Purdy said. After making the move, Purdy decided to put away the guitars and devote his time to the office job.
“I’ve got to work,” he said. “I put everything away.”
It lasted for a little more than a year. He knew deep inside that he missed music and needed the outlet to release tension. But it took a visit to the Forest Lake Times to re-open his eyes.
During a trip to the newspaper office to place an ad for R.J. Steichen, he met Rudy Bachelor, a sales rep who just happened to be a professional keyboard player on the side. That was 1988.
“He was absolutely shocked,” Purdy said of Bachelor’s reaction when he learned that Purdy played guitar. Bachelor led The Bachelors, a band that featured saxophone player Steve Anderson, a reporter for the newspaper.
“They didn’t have a guitar player,” he said. Purdy did not commit to joining the group but he felt the itch. He was welcomed with open arms during an appearance by The Bachelors at the Forest Lake American Legion. He would play with the local band on a steady basis through 1996 when the band broke up.
Over the next eight years, Purdy would continue to play, joining other local bands. He would work on his guitar skills at home on a daily basis. It was in 2004 when a brother and a professional associate urged him to dig deeper into music. By 2005 Purdy had formed the first edition of Bullseye.
“We were playing all over the Twin Cities,” Purdy said of the cover band in its run from 2005 until the fall of 2012. The band was playing about 50 nights a year before members decided they needed a break.
By this summer, however, three of the original members reunited. Purdy is on lead guitar with Jeff “Animal” Greene lead vocalist, Bruce Matajka on bass guitar and Buddy “Spider” Soldo on drums. Bass player Wade Heimendinger is no longer with Bullseye on an active basis but helped shape the reformation of the band, Purdy said.
It sounds right
Purdy is convinced the combination of music and work is the perfect fit. His wife, Lori, agrees and supports her husband’s interests beyond his day job.
“It’s like any hobby,” she said. “It’s a good way for him to relax.”
“I see a lot of similarities,” she said of his love of financial planning and music. “He knows what he is doing. It takes a lot of dedication and determination to do them both. This is something he absolutely enjoys. It’s wonderful.”
She believes the transition was easy for the couple. “He was playing guitar before we were married. We’ve always supported each other.”
For Purdy, the time he poured into music after arriving in Forest Lake in 1988 kept him grounded and gave him the energy and drive to make his business successful, he said. The couple eked by in the early days.
“It (music) was the one thing I had,” he said.
Today, Purdy owns six securities licenses that place him in a top class of financial advisors. He is one of two financial advisors and two support personnel in the office.
“I’m not doing it for the money,” he said of his music.
He believes music is good for his health, and the sound he helps produce is a way to make people feel good and have a good time. Be it in business or on stage, the ability to connect with people is invaluable, he said.
“It helps me be a better-rounded person and helps me deal with people,” Purdy said.
Any time he picks up the guitar and steps on stage, Purdy understands that he has moved into a different world than his day job.
“People don’t ask me about the markets when I’m playing with Spider and Animal.”