Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

BHSU Students’ band starts to gain traction in Black Hills

Bridget Schneller
The Iron Owls practice for upcoming performances.


A Black Hills State University band is rising to prominence in the Black Hills community by showcasing their music for concert openings and performances at local businesses.

“We met through a mutual friend, and this mutual friend posted a video of me playing the drums in this room at like two in the morning,” said Ethan Garrido the drummer for Iron Owls. “Kody saw that and thought ‘this drummer seems like a lot of fun…do you think he would be interested in jamming?’”

This led to the two collaborating and creating music.

“[After] we got in touch, he sent me some of his original music and we kind of just felt out each other’s vibes out,” Garrido said. “We played a lot together before we started deciding where we wanted to go.”

To complete the trio, Blake Jones, the bass player for Iron Owls, completed the group by being well-known for his musical talents at BHSU.

As this band started working together, they capitalized on how each person was unique.

“We all kind of have our own styles,” Koistinen said. “So, kind of a mesh all of our creative styles together that makes our sound.”

The band’s way of conforming with each other allows them to produce distinctive music.

“It’s kind of like an infusion of funk and 60s, 70s, rock and roll,” Koistinen said.

The Iron Owls use their creativity to be unique in how they showcase their music.

“We do about 50/50 [of writing music and doing covers]” Jones said.

After discovering what type of music genre the band would play, they started to perform music in Spearfish.

“The end of February, we performed open mic at the Spearfish Public House,” Garrido said.

This public appearance gave the recognition for the band to start playing more live performances.

“The gigs keep coming,” Koistinen said. “We’ve been slowly climbing up the ladder.”

Even though the band started small, they have been able to perform for bigger and higher profile live performances which started leading to success.

“The trajectory that we have been on has been exponential,” Garrido said. “We started on that open mic and then the week after that we got called and asked to play for $100 to split between the whole band.”

This soon led to higher-paying opportunities.

“The next gig after that we got a $100 each,” Garrido said. “It then skyrocketed and got paid $1000 for the night to play for a campground in Sturgis.”

In addition to the financial reward of their musical talents, the Iron Owls started to get their name known by other SD bands and musicians.

“Our bass player was out watching the bands in Spearfish and said, ‘There’s this band here and they’re killing it, and these guys are awesome,’” said Brandon Jones from the Brandon Jones Band. “We should have them open for us when we play at the Lot of America.”

The Iron Owls impressed the Brandon Jones Band with how they conducted their music.

“They bring something to the table that is freshness or something to the art, or whatever you want to call it,” Brandon Jones said.

The Iron Owls have also had other breaks to open for additional bands.

“Last month we opened for Judd Hoos, we played for Back Porch, we’ve played a lot for the bigger bands,” Koistinen and Garrido said.

The Iron Owls additionally have personal success in collaboration with other music groups.

“Tyler Bills from Judd Hoos had me and Blake acoustically with him at the Pub House,” Koistinen said.

“Kody, the guitar player, we’ve had him actually come and play with us in our band,” Brandon Jones said. “He’s such a phenomenal guitar player.”

As the Iron Owls continue to create music and collaborate with bands, they are also still playing at local businesses in Spearfish. This band will be providing local music entertainment and will be performing at Killian’s Nov. 15 for their local winter shows.