Saturday, July 16, 2016

Return of Sam Miltich and Charmin Michelle to the Edge Center

There will be a return to the Edge Center in Bigfork by Sam Miltich on guitar and Charmin Michelle’s vocal talents with their versions of the roaring 20s Hot Club and Jazz music. This performance will also include Evan Price on violin, Matthew Miltich on upright bass, and Jay Epstein on drums. This all-star cast of musicians will celebrate the music of Duke Ellington and Adelaide Hall. This will be something new for the Edge with the performance being on Thursday July 28 at 7PM. Prices $10 adults and $5 children.

The last time Sam and Charmin were at the Edge it was with Mathew Miltich on bass (above). This will be a wonderful return with these three plus the talents of Evan and Jay added.

Duke Ellington and Adelaide Hall were major figures in the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920's, embarking on a decades-long professional collaboration and headlining together at New York's famed Cotton Club.  It was during her tenure with Ellington that Hall pioneered the vocal technique of emulating instrumental improvisation, a style that became known as "scat."  

Vocalist Charmin Michelle (above) who summons the spirit of Hall, blends the power and soul of the legendary Adelaide Hall with her own modern-day sense of swing and sophistication. Bandleader Sam Miltich continues his rise as a star of the Minnesota jazz community, originally appearing on the scene as a musical prodigy in the "hot club" style of famed guitarist, Django Reinhardt.  Miltich's virtuoso guitar sensibility is perfectly complimented by violinist, Evan Price, a longtime member of the San Francisco Hot Club and Turtle Island Quartet.  The group is supported by a masterful rhythm section of Jay Epstein on drums and Matthew Miltich on bass.

When asked about the inspiration for this particular show, Miltich states that "I grew up with Ellington's music.  It was played in my home as a child, and Duke in our house wasn't just The Duke, he was 'The King' as far as my father was concerned. This the music I grew up with. Playing it is like coming home for me."

Grand RapidsMinnesota native, Miltich prides himself on cultivating a thriving jazz scene in northern Minnesota. His devotion to jazz runs deep.  "I want people from all walks of life to appreciate jazz, our great American music," notes Miltich.  " It doesn't get as much exposure in rural America, yet it is quintessentially our music.  All people in our nation should know about it, and I feel proud to present this great art to audiences all across the country."  When asked what audiences can expect from this particular ensemble, Miltich enthusiastically responds that, "we are all on the same page in terms of feel. Simply put, everyone in this group swings like mad."
In addition to fronting his own band, the Clearwater Hot Club, Sam records and performs extensively with Minneapolis-based jazz singers, Connie Evingson and Charmin Michelle; legendary Twin Cities saxophonist Dave Karr; and Dutch swing violin maestro, Tim Kliphuis.  In addition to a busy touring schedule, Sam also hosts a weekly Jazz at the VFW night in his home town of Grand Rapids, MN.

"Taste and understatement. Swing and savoir-faire. Grace and grooves. Intimacy and panache. Singer Charmin Michelle delivers all of the above and more. This is what the Minneapolis Star/Tribune had to say about this charismatic chanteuse whose conversational style recalls the late Billie Holiday and other legendary ladies of jazz. And, yet, her music is free of tiresome camp and easy nostalgia. She's a savvy songstress and, while putting her own imprint on a melody, is always respectful of those who first inhabited it.  Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Charmin moved to Minnesota while still a child and has called it home ever since. Though based in Minneapolis, she is no stranger to life on the road and began touring internationally in 1986. She has performed at jazz festivals throughout Europe with pianists Mulgrew Miller and Kirk Lightsey, and saxophonists Harry Allen and Grant Stewart, among others.    

Evan Price is one of the world's most confident voices in extra-classical string playing. A native of Detroit, MI, his musical background includes a variety of genres.  Evan's college career included stints at both Cleveland Institute of Music and at Berkley College of Music, and he has served as a member of the music faculty at Wellesley College, The California Jazz Conservatory, and the university of California, Berkley.   Evan is a ten-year veteran of the world-renowned, paradigm-shifting jazz ensemble, the Turtle Island Quartet. Since 1998, Evan has been a member of The Hot Club of San Fransico. An accomplished composer, Evan has contributed compositions and arrangements to the repertoires of HCSF, Turtle Island Quartet, Quartet San Fransico, Irish fiddler Lizz Caroll, San Francisco Girls' Chorus, River Oaks String Quartet, the The New Century Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of  Nadia Salerno-Sommberg Chanticleer, and the International Space Orchestra, for which he also serves as musical director. He lives in Mill Valley, CA, with his wife and daughter.  

Jay Epstein is one of the Twin Cities' most in-demand drummers boasting a professional music career that spans over five decades. A native of Winona, MN and Bridger, MT, Jay is currently a member of the Tall Tales Quartet and the Andrew Wallace Plus Nine ensemble.  Epstein was inducted into the Mid-America Hall of Fame upon the release of "Easy Company" with pianist, Bill Carrothers and bassist, Anthony Cox.

Bassist Matthew Miltich is one of ten children and comes from musical parents, both of whom were musical graduates from the University of Minnesota. After his military service, he began performing with his brothers Anthony and Paul and others, but had limited opportunities to play jazz.  His career as a jazz bassist began in earnest when his son Sam began to perform professionally and asked his father to accompany him.

Matthew has played jazz in a variety of venues, as far away as Japan, and as close as his hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  He’s performed in jazz clubs and toured with vocalists in Canada and from as far east in the U.S. as Eastport Maine, west as Puget Sound, in pubs and coffee houses and concert halls.  He holds four college degrees (two Bachelors degrees, two Masters degrees) in language, literature, and writing, but as a bassist is essentially self-taught.

Sam Miltich and the Clearwater Hot Club featuring Charmin Michelle and Evan Price perform on Thursday, July 28 at 7:00 PM at the Edge Center located next to the Bigfork School. Prices $10 adults, $5 children.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

“Annie Jr.” in Bigfork Musical Live on Stage at the Edge Center

Once again the Stages Theater Company from Hopkins MN brings a special treat to Bigfork for the young and young at heart to enjoy.  “Annie Jr.” will be on the Edge stage with lots of music, singing, great sets and a wonderful cast of 20 young people and two adults to entertain the audience.  “Annie Jr.” is one of the many adaptations evolved from the 1977 Tony Award winning Broadway musical "Annie".  “Annie Jr.” features many of the same songs and based on the same beloved story of an orphaned girl, her dog, mean-hearted orphanage head, Miss Hannigan,  and “larger than life” rich grown-up, Oliver Warbucks, who helps her through the trials of her tough life. The story will melt the hearts of audiences of all ages. ‘Annie Jr.” will be on stage at the Edge center in Bigfork this July for a treat aimed at the hearts of audiences of all ages.  “Annie Jr.” will be in Bigfork Friday through Sunday July 15 through 17 at The Edge Center in Bigfork. Performances are on Friday and Saturday 7PM and Sunday 2PM. Prices $10 for adults and $5 for children. 

This is a Stage Theatre Company’s production and is this year’s special treat for our community.  The Broadway Tony Award winning hit “Annie” and all of its adaptations are based on the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip by Harold Gray. The Broadway musical opened in 1977 and ran for six years. That set a record, at that time, for the Broadway Alvin Theater. The musical resulted in many productions in numerous countries. The play’s two most popular songs “Tomorrow” and “it’s and Hard Knock Life” are just two of the songs that helped it to the top. 

The version Stages will present is one designed for young actors while keeping all of the appeal of the complete show still in tact. (See photos in this blog) 

About “Annie Jr.” artistic Director and CEO of stages, Sandy Boren-Barrett (above) says “Annie is a family favorite, and is one of the highest selling summer productions in our history.  The songs are so memorable, that families will leave the theatre singing them. The show has also had a revival on Broadway, as well as an updated movie in the past couple years." (more photos below)

"I think there are so many times in our kids lives when they look to the negative.  The message of this show, is still so valuable for kids, and that is to try to remain positive, to realize that sometimes your outlook on a situation can make a big impact on your journey.  Sometimes at the end of the day, just realizing that things are bound to be better ‘Tomorrow’ CAN make you feel better, as corny as that sounds.”
“Annie Jr.” is the Music Theatre International (MTI) shorter version of the full Broadway musical that has been adapted for a younger cast and made appropriate for an audience of all ages. From the MTI web site, Annie Jr. is described as being with an “With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone's hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. Annie is determined to find the parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of an orphanage run by the cruel Miss Hannigan. (above) Annie eventually foils Miss Hannigan's evil machinations, finding a new home and family in billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary, Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy.

This production of Annie Jr. in Bigfork is produced by the Stages Theatre Company (STC) which was founded in 1984 and since then has grown to become one of the largest professional theatres for young audiences in the country. STC engages young artists with themes relevant to their lives and produces work, which features young people in significant and meaningful roles. It annually serves more than 130,000 young people and their families. STC has been producing these young people’s productions in Bigfork for a number of years and the productions have become part of a summer entertainment traditions at the Edge Theatre.

Sandy says that, “ The cast is made up of 20 youth and 2 adult actors.  Both of the adults, Marilee Mahler (Miss Hannigan) and Bruce Rowan (Daddy Warbucks) have been to The Edge Center with previous Stages Theatre Company summer shows.   The youth in the cast are a diverse group of talented actors ages 10-17, about half the youth in the cast will be making their first trip to Bigfork to perform. This is the third time I have directed this show, and frankly I am as excited about it this time, as I was the last time.  This is a timeless tale that still has relevance today.  The real separation or difference between those that are wealthy, and those that are not, lie is how much ‘stuff’ they have, not in how they feel, they all want to be loved, and to love.  You see that in the orphans, and you see that in Warbucks, and even in Miss Hannigan.  Daddy Warbucks says it himself, when he says without someone to share it with it simply doesn’t matter.  This is so valuable and so true.”

Find out what happens when Annie is invited to stay a week with billionaire Oliver Warbucks. We can tell you that after winning her way into his heart, Warbucks offers to adopt her. Annie wants to find her real parents, so Warbucks begins a nationwide search, offering a large reward. We can also tell you that the orphanage's Hannigan hatches a plan to kidnap Annie and steal the money. Come and see how this all ends at the Edge Center in Bigfork on stage Friday through Sunday July 15 through 17 at The Edge Center in Bigfork. Performances are on Friday and Saturday 7PM and Sunday 2PM. Prices $10 for adults and $5 for children. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Twelfth Annual Juried Exhibit at the Edge Center Gallery in Bigfork

This will be the twelfth time the Edge Center Art Gallery in Bigfork, will invite artists to submit their work for judging by a juror. Butch Holden is the juror for this show. The juror is responsible for selecting the participating artists and judging which of the works will receive awards. The unknown in juried art shows is what the juror believes makes award winning art verses exceptional art. Some of the exhibitors in this year’s juried show are new for this gallery event or any juried art exhibit. For the visitor, a juried show presents a wider variety talents and media, than an exhibition by a single artist. There will be twelve artists’ work on display in this Twelfth Annual Juried Exhibit which is on display from June 30th to July 30th.  The opening day reception is on July 1st from 5 to 7PM. There is also a special “People’s Choice Award” selected by viewers. That award will be part of the reception and can be voted on June 30th and up until 6PM July 1st. There is no charge for the gallery and reception. Edge Center Gallery is next to the Bigfork School and is open from 10:00 to 4:00 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

As juror this year, Butch Holden is responsible for choosing the recipients of the Awards this year. Mr. Holden received his BA degree in art from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN and his M.F.A. degree in ceramics from Indiana University, Bloomington IN.  He has taught drawing and ceramics at Mount Senario College in Ladysmith, WI and has recently retired as a Professor at Bemidji State University, Bemidji, MN, where he taught since 1983.  He has exhibited in local, regional and national competitions, and also has had many solo exhibitions.  In addition to having juried many shows, he has served on numerous art grant panels.

Those artists exhibiting are painters Nikki Besser, Harold Dzuik, Sara Fredrickson, Ralph Hanggi, Jr., Pegg O’Laughlin Julson, Tanya MacRostie, Gene Madsen, Chholing Taha and Christine Tierney. John McCoy’s prints and Joy Anderson’s drawings were also chosen for the show.  Among the accepted artists are photographers Audrey Johnson, Tim Lamey, and David Swanson. Denise Martin’s felted figure, Susan Gilbert’s aluminum sculptures, James Lutgen’s carved bird, and Cathryn Peters’ basket are the three-dimensional works that are part of the exhibit.

A special thanks to the sponsors of the awards.  This year they are: Best of Show Award by Kocian’s Family Market and two Awards of Excellence sponsored by Arvig Communications and First State Bank of Bigfork.  For the audience, the People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Bigfork Valley Hospital, is always a special. It gives visitors a chance to see how their opinions compare to the juror.

The Gallery invites you to come and see this Twelfth Juried show during the exhibit's opening day reception and pick your favorite while enjoying a snack and seeing a variety of exceptional art, or during its normal open hours from 10:00 to 4:00 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from from June 30th to July 30th. There is no charge to visit the gallery or attend the opening reception. For more information go to  The Edge Center gallery is located next to the Bigfork School.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fiber Happenings at the Edge Center Gallery

During June the Edge Center Art Gallery will host an exhibit featuring “Fiber Art” that ties together past traditions and current ideas.  The term "Fiber Art" refers tofine art whose material consists of natural or synthetic fiber and other components, such as fabric or yarn. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labor on the part of the artist as part of the works' significance, and prioritizes aesthetic value over utility”. Fabrics were made by hand using knitting needles, crochet hooks or simple looms for centuries, and then, during the industrial age, those processes were taken over, in large part, by factory production.  Workers still continued to create “needle work” to make clothing or to decorate their homes, keeping alive the traditions. The term “Fiber Art” came about after WWII to describe works in the art world, using traditional fibers to make not only clothing, but to make artistic statements. Ref: 

Artistic expressions in fiber from a number of different artists will be on display in Fiber Happenings, an exhibit in the Edge Center Gallery Bigfork MN (above). The fiber work of 8 artists may be seen from June 2 until June 25.  The Opening Reception is Friday, June 3 from 5:00 to 7:00.

As you might expect the art shown at the Bigfork Gallery is but a slice of the “Fiber Art” world. And other examples include everything one might expect from such a large potential resource. Note the Yarn Bombing in Montreal in 2009 above or sculpture below.  They will not be at the Edge Exhibit, but you can learn more about “Fiber Art” at  

Many traditions inspire the Edge exhibit artists.  Oklahoma artist Michele Lasker (below) credits her travel experiences as sources of visual information.  Especially useful to her are “walking The Great Wall, studying the hand-chiseled designs on the doors of La Sagrada Familia, or climbing The Acropolis to see the statuesque columns of the Parthenon.  My travels throughout the world have shown me the synchronicity between different countries and cultures with similar approaches to fiber, miles apart and separated by centuries. I am most intrigued by that historical and contemporary context.”  In her own work, freeform knitting and crochet are enhanced with batik, hand embroidery, and beading.

Keila McCracken’s work comes from a specific tradition.  In order to achieve the type of weaving she preferred to do, Keila brought a 2000 lb. Industrial Age loom from Scotland to Bemidji, where she create traditional fabric.  Keila is a member of the Northern Minnesota Fibershed which is a group of farmers and fiber artists in the Northern Minnesota region that use local fiber, local dyes, and local labor to meet local fiber needs.

Mary Therese, from Fern Lake near Bemidji, paints and dyes fabrics (above and blow).  She uses batik and other dying methods to create reflections of the natural world, abstracting design elements and using rich vibrant colors.  She uses her fabric in wearable art, window treatments and church paraments, flags and banners.  Her work has grown out of her background in painting and printmaking.  

Two of the fabric artists featured in Fiber Happenings draw from their Native American heritages. Ccholing Taha is a Cree First Nation artist who has recently moved to the Twin Cities. Very complex textured shawls are one of her specialties (below).  “Shawls and wearing blankets are important garments even for modern times.  The shawl honors the drum, expresses modesty, given as a acknowledgment of dedication to the People, and much more.”

Maggie Thompson, Minneapolis based fiber artist, is a member of the Fond du Lac Ojibwe tribe as well as a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design.  Thompson knits and weaves with unique designs, rooted in her experiences as a modern Native American woman (below)

Edna Trunt displays her mosaic fabric quilted piece based on a photograph of one of her grandchildren (below). She owns Your Quilting Room in Grand Rapids.

 LeeAnn Geshick’s accomplished weaving (below)

and Bigfork’s Kristen Anderson’s large 2-D felted pieces (below) are also part of Fiber Happenings.

View the wide variety of ways textiles are part of the current art world at Fiber Happenings from June 2 to June 25.

The Opening Reception on Friday, June 3 from 5:00 to 7:00 is a great time to join others in seeing and discussing the work, while enjoying a snack.  And while you are there, consider attending a concert on the Edge Center Stage by “The Divas.”  There is a charge for the concert, but the gallery opening and exhibit is at no charge. The Edge Center is next to the Bigfork School. The Gallery is open from 10:00 to 4:00 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

“The Divas” Summer Show in Bigfork at the Edge Close Harmony and Lots of Excitement

This will be the fourth time “The Divas” are on stage at the Edge Center in Bigfork. Their performances are noted for music sung in close harmony with fun and excitement. This time they will be celebrating summer and all the fun that it brings to the North Woods.  They mix nostalgia, and the sounds of more recent music all combined with laughs and joy. With a wide variety of music, instruments, and styles, these ladies aim to please the variety of tastes of everyone in the audience. Their mix will not only include the music and songs but the assortment of instruments they play.  The place is the Edge Center in Bigfork on Friday, June 3rd and the time 7PM.  Price $10 adults. Children $5.

The Stars

Having varied backgrounds, The Divas bring an assortment of many musical tastes, and particularly enjoy playing “their” arrangements of music. Rosie Gams, singing lead, is originally from Embarrass, where she began singing in grade school and sang with several groups before “The Divas”. Sharon Rowbottom, a native of Virginia, started singing at the age of 10 and received a vocal scholarship at Mesabi Community College. She has a varied background from performing with other local bands. Shannon Lee Gunderson is from RawlinsWyo. who sings lead vocal and harmony. Starting with piano lessons starting at age four and going to college on a musical scholarship, she also played with several groups including a show band for eight years. Shannon also toured for the USO in the Mediterranean.

“The Divas” are based in Virginia Minnesota, but range as far as their music talents and time will carry them, which include Northern Minnesota and neighboring states. After more than 15 years together, they know what audiences in the Midwest like and meld those “likes” into a repertoire they call “The Spectrum”. Audiences love their close harmony of 30’s and 40’s style music of the days gone by, and their 50’s and 60’s rock and roll which always provides an audience hit.  By adding some country, western, pop folk, and, don’t forget jazz,, the music really earns the title of being a spectrum of good sounds.

The Music

Shannon says of their upcoming visit to the Edge, “We are very excited to return to Bigfork for this fourth performance. We have been very busy with lots of fun gigs in and out of Minnesota, and, of course, getting ready for this upcoming performance. The first half of the program is a combination of three decades of music. We will keep you on the edge of your seat as to which decades they are from, and which is the best!  We will be having lots of banter and fun with all the harmony filled tunes.” The second half of the program will be dedicated to our veterans from all branches of military service throughout the years music,  but the music…will definitely be the 40’s.  CIRCLING THROUGHOUT THE 40’s to the 60”s”.


With the second set honoring service men and women of all services and all ages, the Divas picked music is from WWII. This will pull lots of memories up and give you a lasting impression. Here is a sample of the second half music: GOODY GOODY, BOOGIE WOOGIE BUGLE BOY, MR. SANDMAN, STRIP POLKA, and an all time favorite LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH.

Add to Your calendar

So, for a another good time with “The Divas” special musical talents and a great time to bring in the summer, come and see them at the Edge Center in Bigfork on June 3rd at 7PM. This show is for the whole family with adult tickets $10 and students $5. See you then and bring your dancing shoes for a swing around the orchestra pit in front of the stage.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Color, Color, and More Color in the 2016 Student Art Exhibit

This year's group of young artists from the Bigfork School in Minnesota will display their talents at the Edge Center Art Gallery from May 5th through the 21st. The art is both creative and colorful. As with each yearly exhibit, this group of new artists will give you a chance to see creations often best made with a young person's early encounters with the creative process. These artists manage to come through with a surprising outlook at the basics of color, texture, and shape, mixed with light and darkness. They are stretching their creativity in ways that may surprise you.  The art show is open through May 24th with a reception in the gallery on May 11th at 4:30PM to 5:30PM. Normal gallery hours are Thursdays, Friday and Saturdays 10AM to 4PM.

As in the past, the art is from Roberta Steinhart’s art classes. This traditional first of the season's exhibits in the gallery will not disappoint you and will show you a wide range of color and uses. Student artwork often reflects aspects of the artist's lives as emerging adults.  The following examples will give you a little taste of the color and creativity.  If you wish, contact the school for more details.