A man from Chapman who has played all over the world with Wayne Newton and has opened for U2 and Huey Lewis and the News had no idea his own family had a background in music.
Steve Fansler, owner of Fansler Family Music, said his musical heritage is an interesting story.
“Growing up, I had a huge passion for (music) ever since birth and I always thought, ‘Where does this come from?’” Fansler said. “Although my parents were musical, they didn’t participate in music that much so I often wondered, ‘Where is this coming from? What side of the family? Is it genetic or did I have some kind of brain aneurism?’”
It was until Fansler was in his 30s, living in Branson and working with Wayne Newton, that he discovered the background he never knew. His grandmother’s cousin from Lindsborg gave him a call from out of the blue.
“They were going to be in Branson and they wanted to see a Wayne Newton show and I said, ‘Sure, that’d be great,’” Fansler said. “I had never really had a conversation with cousin Lois but when we ended the conversation she said, ‘Well, I just want you to know that I’m so happy that someone in the family is carrying on the family tradition.”
Fansler had no idea what Lois was talking about.
“Didn’t Grandma tell you?” Lois asked.
Fansler responded with: “Tell me what?”
His cousin Lois then began to tell the story he had sought all his life. Fansler recounts the story:
“When my grandmother and her cousin we little kids, their parents – their fathers were brothers – all had a family band,” Fansler said. “They used to travel around the Midwest playing at fairs and barn dances. My grandmother was the oldest sibling, so she was put in charge of watching all the kids while the parents performed.
“I said, ‘Well, I’ll see you in Branson,’ and I immediately called my grandmother, who was a live at the time, and I said, ‘Grandma, you have some explaining to do,’” Fansler said.
He shared with his grandmother what Lois had told him about their family band and its travels.
“I said, ‘Well, so you know exactly what this is like, all the traveling,’” Fansler said. “She goes, ‘Oh yeah.’ When they were kids, they would pack up the entire family and they would travel in the old, big farm trucks to shows and perform at fairs and the barn dances.”
Fansler asked his grandmother if she ever got to come out from her backstage babysitting to sing in the spotlight. His grandmother said she never got the chance to take the stage because one of her uncles suddenly died, “and that ended all of the music in the family,” Fansler said.
Fortunately for Fansler, his family and his fans, he resurrected the tradition without even knowing it.
As though he were watching a mystery movie where everything comes together at the end, Fansler began to trace back his musical roots.
“My grandmother was the one that actually kind of got me into music, from a baby,” Fansler said. “I remember Grandma singing to me and dancing and holding.”
His grandmother even taught him his first instrument: the back screen door.
“I remember her teaching me how to put a rubber band, hold it with my teeth and stretch it out with my hand and do different pitches with it, play songs,” Fansler said. “She also taught me how to play the spring on the screen door on the back porch by tightening it and loosening it and getting different pitches on it.
“At the time, I had no knowledge of the rest of the family, so I didn’t put all those element together,” Fansler said. “After I heard that story and the conversation with my grandmother, then it all came back, and thought, ‘Well, that makes sense now.’”