The Piano Bar performance in Bigfork brings a large, enthusiastic and appreciative audience to The Edge Center stage every year. This will be the fourth time for The Edge, but it’s only a small part of the 60 years for two of its players that have been making music together. For this occasion, the Northern Lights Trio creates a relaxing mood filled with old standards that, according to one listener, “you just don’t hear music like this anymore”. The stage will be turned into a piano bar without the bar, and the orchestra pit will be available for dancing. The date is Saturday, August 11th, the time 7PM, and the price $10 for adults and $5 for children.
The Northen Lights Trio includes Ron Olsen playing The Edge Center’s Yamaha grand piano (and maybe an accordion), Jerry Hagen on base (and maybe a washboard) and Don Olsen on drums (and maybe a washtub). Brothers Ron and Don have played together as far back 60 years ago in the Olsen Family Orchestra. Jerry, converted from his rock and roll style for this event, adds a beautiful and smooth touch.
This all started four years ago when Ron Olsen, a retiree who now lives on a lake in the Bigfork area, received a phone call from Marian Leimbach, a local dance instructor who lives in Marcell. She had heard that he “could play the piano” and she wanted to involve Ron to re-create a “piano bar” on the stage of the Edge Center for the Arts utilizing the Yamaha grand Piano that had been recently acquired. Besides theater seating for the event, Marian suggested tables to be set on the stage.
Ron said yes if he could talk his brother Don Olsen into playing with him and, if a friend Jerry Hagen, an Effie resident, would agree to play bass guitar, he thought that it would be possible to make the “piano bar” happen in Bigfork.
Ron’s professional life includes performing in piano bars and supper clubs in the mid-west while going through school and then in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. He also performed internationally while working his "daytime job" in Munich Germany. Playing the very special Yamaha grand piano makes his music fill the theater with special and grand music.
Jerry Hagen is the group’s base player. He is an Effie resident, and is a well-known rock and roll musician in the area. His smooth conversion to old standards for this event is enjoyable for both Jerry and the audience. A popular northern Minnesota sixties rock and roll band, the Original Pretenders is only one of the many bands Jerry has performed in over the years. And, a few years ago, the Original Pretenders resurfaced to become Pretenders and Friends, currently a very popular show band in the area.
Don Olsen, who is Ron’s brother, adds drums to the trio, and his musical background performing with Ron goes back sixty years ago in the "Olsen family Orchestra" when Don was 5 and Ron was 10 years old. That is a picture of them playing below. That is a long musical family history to say the least. And they enjoy playing together to this day.
If you want a relaxing and pleasant evening listing to music you might not hear much anymore played by an amazingly talented group, consider attending this event. For the older audience it will transport you to a different time and place and for the younger, it will certainly show you a different sound. Arrive early and you might get a chance to sit on stage with the group in the “Bar” section.