Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Twist in the Show From the “Northern Lights Trio” in Bigfork

This is the sixth year for the Piano Bar concert at the Edge Center in Bigfork. And each year there is something new coming from the “Northern Lights Trio”.  This year will be no exception. The first half of the show will be filled with the smooth sounds of old standards you don’t get to hear as often anymore.  It will be the same format that brings in great audiences every year.  The second half of the show will bring you a different sound designed to maybe get you a little more excited to even do some dancing in the pit. It will be a surprise, so you have to show up to find out what going to happen. Whatever it is you can be sure it will please and entertain you. Saturday August 9 at 7PM. Price $10 adults, $5 children.

With Ron Olsen playing keyboard including the Edge Yamaha and possibly more, Jerry Hagen on bass, and Ron’s brother, Don Olsen, on percussion instruments, the group keeps busy. You also may hear a washtub bass, washboard and accordion.  Ron is a retired bar and supper club entertainer, Jerry’s musical background goes back to the 1960s as a rock-n-roller, and Don’s first music was playing in the Olsen Family band at six years old. With those musical backgrounds, they have an amazing amount of experience totally over 150 years to share with you.

According to Ron, “With my time playing in venues where you have to provide a reason for an otherwise busy audience to listen, I learned that keeping a show ‘fresh’ is really important. That is why each year at the Edge we try to provide a new sound and ideas in our show.  We have been successful, and sincerely appreciate the turnouts we get.  And we plan on doing our best to keep it that way. This year’s ‘surprise’ second half will definitely be different for those who know our music. For those who have not seen our show before, we invite you to try it and let us do our best to entertain you.”

For three retired guys they keep very busy with music. “The Northern Lights Trio” entertains at a number of venues around the area including the Grand Rapids Showboat event last year and again this year. Ron, after decades of professional playing, is the most "retired" of the group and plays music on a more limited basis.

 Jerry’s start in the 1960’s included playing in the original “Pretenders” band and he never got enough music after retiring.  Jerry is heard around the area anywhere and anytime that he gets a chance to play.

Don spends part of his year out of state; he escapes for the winter to Arizona and plays with the Jan Garber Orchestra, which specializes in original charts from "The Idol of the Airways" back in the 30's and 40s.

For these three performers, playing with the trio is a great chance to reunite and enjoy audiences, have fun and play some music together.

The date and time for the Edge concert is Saturday August 9 at 7PM.  The prices are $10 adults and $5 children.  If you have heard them before we invite you to come for another excellent evening of music, laughs and something different.  If you have never been to one of these concerts, please come and find out why they keep packing the house year after year. They claim to be retired, but they play like they have over a century of experience. And that’s hard to match.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

“The Wiz” Musical in Bigfork at the Edge Center

“The Wiz” musical will be at the Edge Center in Bigfork July 18th through 20th. This modern take of  The Wizard of Oz story brings 1970s music alive and bright. Produced by The Stages Company from Hopkins, it is one of the annual young people musicals they bring to Bigfork. It opened in Hopkins last Friday for a 42 performance run. So why not “Ease on Down the Road” to Bigfork and see why it won seven Tony Awards back in the 70s? Pictures being worth a 1000 words, read the rest of this to see a bunch from the performance. Maybe even tempt you enough to visit the Edge in Bigfork? Friday and Saturday 7PM. Sunday 2PM. $10 adults $5 for children.

Artistic Director Sandy Boren-Barrett says, “We at Stages have been wanting to do a production of The Wiz for awhile…It is all of the things that you love about the original Dorothy story, but it’s in a more urban and modern setting…I think that the tornado is really beautifully done in this in that it's a ballet.”

Some of the actors comments. Andrew Moy of Plymouth who plays the Cowardly Lion says, “It's a very fun journey that they all go through, there's a lot of obstacles in the way, but its overall a fun journey for them,” Isabella Huerta who plays Dorothy says, “The songs are great and the dances are great, the acting is great…In the end she really learns about how important her family is to her and how she wants to be back home so badly.” Quotes from: http://twelve.tv/news/newsitem.aspx?newsid=324&newsitemid=24767

All photos by Bruce Challgren.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tenth Annual Juried Art Show at The Edge Gallery in Bigfork

The Art Gallery in Bigfork has its annual juried art show July 10th through August 16th this year. As in the past, every show has a different look and feel for the visitor.  That is because a different juror selects the exhibited art each year. This year is no exception, and you will find The Edge Center Gallery in Bigfork packed with the wonderful work of a wide variety of artists. This year’s juror, Lori Forshee-Donnay, chose seven artists whose work is new to juried exhibit in Bigfork. You will find paintings, photographs, blown glass, sculptures, and more. A total of 24 artists are part of the juried show. The Artists’ reception is on Friday, July 11 from 5:00 to 7:00. You can come and see the exhibit during normal gallery hours and during performances in the Edge Theatre. The Gallery is open from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  Admission is no charge.

Juror Lori Forshee-Donnay is Executive Director of the Watermark Art Center (former Bemidji Community Art Center) in Bemidji, MN, where she is responsible for viewing artwork and evaluating artists in preparation for jury into the art center gallery and shop, the annual art fair, Art in the Park, and national juried ceramics competition and exhibit It’s Only Clay.

The new artists to the Edge Gallery are painters Jane Latimer, Paula Lichke, David Nyssen and Jan Stenson, photographer Jeff Poenix, carver Jim Lutgen and printmaker John McCoy.  Other artists that been in Art on the Edge before include photographers Elizabeth Blair, Randal Caton, Catherine Hanson, Audrey Johnson, Jill Johnson, Tim Lamey, and David Swanson.  Returning painters are Gene Madsen, Scott Rollenhagen, Nyle La Grange, and Sandra Thompson.  Jon Offutt’s blown glass, Denise Martin’s felted figure and Susan Gilbert’s aluminum sculpture are in the three-dimensional category.  Drawing examples extend from Aaron Squadroni’s grey tones in graphite pencil to David Richter’s intense colors done in colored and watercolor pencils to Robert Biaggio’s wood burned and oil color enhanced drawings.  Altogether 40 works of art from the 24 artists are part of the Tenth Annual Juried Exhibit.

Kocian’s Family Market is sponsoring the Best of Show Award, and Northland Dental and First State Bank of Bigfork are the funders for the two Awards of Excellence.  Bigfork Valley Hospital sponsors the People’s Choice Award. The People’s choice award is always a favorite at the show because it is the guests chance to voice an opinion as to what is the best art.  In many ways that makes it special. You can vote on your people’s choice winner all day on July 10th and up until 6PM July 11th at the reception.  Come to the reception for a chance to meet some of the artists, share in the snacks and see the exhibit. Friday, July 11th from 5PM to 7PM.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Dorothy Coming to Bigfork

 “The Wiz” is a new, more soulful musical visit to the timeless classic in which the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion help Dorothy return home.  It is all at the Edge Center in Bigfork in July. “The Wiz” will be turning the Edge stage into a magical musical land when the Hopkins-based Stages Theatre Company and their young performers bring its lively 1970s music north. Come and see if Dorothy safely returns home in this new sound and modern look at her adventures.  “The Wiz” will be on stage Friday through Sunday July 18 through 20. Performances are on Friday and Saturday 7PM and Sunday 2PM. Prices $10 for adults and $5 for children.

“The Wiz” is based on the original Tony award-winning Broadway musical of the same name.  It is the familiar story of Dorothy's tornado-driven adventure in Oz and the wonderful characters who befriend and protect her. This is a Theatre for Young Audiences Version of the 7 Tony award-winning Broadway musical. The Tonys include Best Musical, and include the songs “Ease on Down the Road,” and “Everybody Rejoice.” If you would like to get a “behind the scenes” look at the show in rehearsals check out this clip:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgLZ0tv2CcU

Sandy Boren-Barrett (above), the Artistic Director for Stages Theatre Company, explained the production by saying, “One of the things I love most about ‘The Wiz’ is the fact that it carries with it, some of the storytelling MAGIC of the Wizard of Oz, but deviates just enough to make it more relevant in some ways for young audiences.  The show follows the adventures of Dorothy as she travels through a more modern time and space to seek an audience with the mysterious Wiz…sounds familiar right?  But The Wiz tells this through an urbanized musical version of the L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of OZ.”

The magical slippers are still in the story, but they are silver as they are in Baum’s book. In fact, “The Wiz” is a closer adaptation to the book than is the movie. The red slippers were an addition to help the impact in the movie version to take full advantage of the new color sensation in movies back then. And, the tornado is still how Dorothy gets to Oz.  Sandy adds “The messages are pretty much the same …Value your connection to TRUTH. Trust what you know. Be brave. Having brains is no more or less important than have HEART and home is a really important part of who we are, and who we become.” Bigfork audiences can have its own “adventure” comparing the two approaches of the movie and this musical. Then maybe people can read Baum’s book to see for themselves how they BOTH compare to it.

The Bigfork Stage will turn into this new “Oz”.  The Stages Company is bringing a BIG truck full of Oz magic for the show.  To set the magic, it will a full day to unload and set up the show. This will take from 8AM to after dark. I wonder what they are bringing?

There are 17 youth performers, all are teens, and 2 adult actors. Several of the cast were in last year’s “Aladdin.”  The Genie from “Aladdin” is the Scarecrow. The actor that played Aladdin last summer is playing the Cowardly Lion. The Stages Company will perform “The Wiz” 42 times including the Bigfork performances. They will also do excerpts from the show at The Minnesota Children’s Museum and the Mall of America.

Why do they like coming to Bigfork?  Sandy says, “Every year the actors ask ‘Is the summer show going to Bigfork?’  It is a chance for them to experience performing in a different venue, and have a fun, rural experience as a community of actors. They grow as actors, as people, and as an ensemble.  Much is learned from it, and a lot of fun is had by all. I am so proud of THIS theatre company, and this cast, crew, and design team. They have been brave and innovative and smart and full of heart…and more. Thank you for trusting us to make this story come to life for you and your young people.  It is a great way to end our 30th Anniversary Season. And thank you Greater Bigfork for having us, and for all the volunteer hours that go into such a project.”

Artistic Director, Sandy Boren-Barrett, has been with Stages Theatre Company (STC) since 1990, allowing her to pursue a dual passion for theatre production and arts education. For 15 years, she led a team of artists and educators in an award-winning education and outreach department at STC. She has directed more than 30 productions at (STC).  She has served on an advisory panel with the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Design Team for the Minneapolis Public Schools initiative Arts for Academic Achievement. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA).

Stages Theatre Company (STC) 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 involves them in creating magical works featuring young people in meaningful roles. It annually serves more than 130,000 young people and their families.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation and an appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.

So what are you doing that weekend?  Maybe you can make “The Wiz” part of your fun.  The whole family is sure to enjoy it. Come to Bigfork and enjoy the show.  “The Wiz” will be on stage Friday through Sunday July 18 through 20. Performances are on Friday and Saturday 7PM and Sunday 2PM. Prices $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Another High Energy Visit by “The Divas” to the Edge in Bigfork

If you made it to “The Divas” concert last year, calling it high energy is a good description. Their signature is Close Harmony with Lots of Fun. "The Divas" will do it again this month with a “Summer Fun” show. New songs, lots of laughs and fun will be included. The Divas’ music is sung in close harmony by three talented women using an amazing array of instruments that will make audiences appreciate every song and the talent needed to play them. By mixing the sounds of several decades, their shows keep audiences appreciating and amazed at what is happening on stage. The instruments are varied, but the fun is constant.  “Fun” is the key to this show brings. The Edge Center in Bigfork, Wednesday June 25th at 7PM.  Price $10 adults. Children $5.

The instruments at a Divias concert could include keyboard, ukulele, guitar, and lots of rhythm instruments including congas, “rain stick,” “egg,” tambourine, and Cabasa (made from and African gourd).  You will be surprised what they play and the music that comes from center stage.

“The Divas” are made up of Rosie Gams, Sharon Rowbottom and Shannon Lee Gunderson. Rosie and Sharon are from Minnesota, and Shannon Lee is from Wyoming. They bring a versatile assortment musical tastes, particularly enjoy playing "their” arrangements.

“The spectrum” of music played by the Virginia, MN based Divas, comes from 15 years of experience playing together.  Their specialty is the close harmonies from past music.  This nostalgic style has been adapted to the large variety of music in their program. This show will have a summer theme designed to fit the fun and relaxed mood of the season, “The Divas” laughter and high energy will be a special experience. Their venues are mostly in Northern Minnesota and neighboring states.  Summer finds them on the beautiful lakes in Northern Minnesota, nightspots on the Iron Range, and now on stage at the Edge Center in Bigfork.

After a quiet winter, to which the weather certainly contributed, things are getting busy again. They have been asked back for a repeat performance for the SAMBOREE-Sam's Good Will Organization, and will be traveling to Hastings Nebraska in early June. Shannon Lee, the pianist will be traveling to Estes Park, Colorado the 2nd weekend of June, as a guest soloist at an outdoor jazz festival. Percussionist and guitarist; Sharon plays every Tuesday up on Lake Vermilion, for a very popular jam session.  The Divas also perform at Olcott Park in Virginia, Minnesota for the Land of the Loon, which is the 37th year for this arts and crafts ethnic festival.  Other venues include Fortune Bay Casino, on Lake Vermilion, The Voyagaire on Crane Lake, and, of course, Bigfork this month.

With the years of singing together, “The Divas” blend popular, country, western, pop, folk, blues and jazz, which pretty much covered the bases in familiar music. About the Bigfork “Summer Fun” show, Shannon Gunderson says, “A lot of our music will be totally different from our last show. We LOVE our audiences to enjoy the warmth of our close knit harmonies, and to see how music can bring so many people together.  We love to laugh, enjoy what we are doing and SHARE it with our awesome audiences! Besides our vocal work, and musicality...we like to include some great old fashioned humor!  We know our audiences will love what we are bringing!”.

Shannon Lee Gunderson, above, was born and raised in Rawlins, Wyoming.  She began piano lessons at age four, and was performing in talent shows and other venues throughout grade school.  Musical theatre was a great love, and she was active all through high school and college.  She received a scholarship and attended Hastings College, in Nebraska.  As well as performing as a soloist and with other groups (WHATT, Seattle, Shannon and Friends), Shannon played with a show band, The Bijou Revue, from Lincoln, Nebraska, for over 8 years.  That group toured all over the United States and on a USO tour in the Mediterranean. She has lived in Virginia for almost 32 years.

Rosie Gams, above, is originally from Embarrass, Minnesota where she began singing in grade school and entertaining at local PTA meetings.  In high school, she was active in the local musicals. In 1975, she started singing with Nostalgia, a 50's and 60's rock and roll band and later with Rendezvous, Cornerstone, and currently with The Divas.Rosie sings lead in the group, plays ukulele, and rhythm instruments, among the more unusual ones are the "rain stick", the "egg”, and the cabasa (made from an African gourd). She is always keeping the sound interesting and alive!

Sharon Rowbottom, above, is a native of Virginia, Minnesota. As the youngest of four children, her three teenage siblings exposed her at an early age to different musical styles, among which were the Beatles and Latin dance music.  She sang from age 10 in various choirs and received a vocal scholarship to attend Mesabi Community College in Virginia.  A trio, LIVE BAIT, formed through friendships there still performs.   Some of her bands include: The Schwartz Brothers Band, Slim Pickens, The Electric Loons, and The Dog Soldiers. Along with The Divas she performs as a duo with her husband, Dan. Sharon sings lead vocal and harmony.  She plays the congas, guitar, and ukulele.

Make sure to put "The Divas" on your calendar for a mix of several decades of lively music dedicated to the nice weather this time of year. Come and hear "The Divas" perform their "Summer Fun" show. It is tailored to lift your spirits and make the Edge Center full of wild and beautiful sounds. It is going to be great to have them back, and find our what new material they bring with them. The Edge Center in Bigfork, Wednesday June 25th at 7PM.  Price $10 adults. Children $5.