Saturday, September 27, 2014

Flappers, Miners and Moonshiners at the Edge

“Flappers, Miners and Moonshiners: Minnesota in the 1920s” celebrates a time when a freewheeling popular culture changed people’s daily routine forever. Singer Prudence Johnson and pianist Dan Chouinard present songs, stories, and vintage photographs in this wonderful mix at The Edge Center for the Arts on October 5th. It will be a journey back to the Jazz Age set in cities and rural areas of Minnesota during a simpler time. The audience will be invited to sing along with some of the music that is still known almost a century later. With these artists sharing their interpretations of Jazz Age music mixed with period photos and stories of Minnesotans, the result will be a fun and enjoyable show for the whole family. On stage at The Edge Center in Bigfork Sunday October 5th at 2PM. $10 adults. $5 children.

Musicians Johnson and Chouinard share a passion for history, music and producing shows. Their newest collaboration is an entertaining look at a decade called “roaring” because of the exuberant, footloose culture it introduced.  About this multimedia visit to early Minnesota, Prudence Johnson says, "The 20’s in this state was a special and unique time in our history. We will celebrate this period with our show. Dan and I have done major research to produce archival photos and stories examining life on the farm and reservation, in the nightclubs of St. Paul, and mining towns of the Iron Range. The results provide for a visual connection to the stories and music. Typically our shows include dozens of songs and possibly a hundred or more archival photographs. This will be fun event that everyone in the family can enjoy. We want everyone to leave smiling and entertained.”

Prudence Johnson’s musical roots are in folk and country, but her passion is Jazz. She grew up in a musical family in Moose Lake, MN and went on to a worldwide performing career that includes Carnegie Hall. Prudence has recorded 12 albums and her movie credits include Robert Redford’s “A River Runs Though It” and Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion," in which she played herself.  She is a regular guest on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” and was a 2006 recipient of the McKnight Fellowship award.  With this award she was able to record Moon Country, a collection of Hoagy Carmichael songs. From her web site, with an “…appreciation for the Great American Songbook, she found an ideal collaborator in pianist Dan Chouinard. They released Gershwin in 2004 and have appeared together on concert stages across the country, performing the music of Carmichael, Gershwin and other greats. Their concerts often have them taking side trips to the café music of France and Italy with Dan on accordion. They co-wrote and performed together Another Song About Paris, a loving look at the City of Light through stories and songs.”

Dan Chouinard grew up in a large family in Richfield and Lindstrom, MN learning music in a house full of brothers and sisters. Now a pianist and accordionist living in St. Paul, he regularly creates live programs for Minnesota Public Radio and the Minnesota Historical Society.  Most recently, Dan and Prudence were on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”  The Roaring 20's show coming to The Edge Center is part of their fall and winter tour with this, their latest collaboration.  As a musician, Dan works “for a diverse and distinguished roster of artists in the Twin Cities and beyond, appearing most recently in performances and recordings by Prudence Johnson, Maria Jette, Peter Ostroushko, Kevin Kling, James Sewell Ballet and Vocalessence”.   His productions include:  Bootleg Valentine, Steerage Song, Cafe Europa, and Rondo '56. He has released two CDs and is currently at work with Prudence on a collection of George and Ira Gershwin songs.

When people think of the 1920's, it is often the iconic image of the flapper girl who comes to mind.   Made up of typically northern, urban, single and middle-class women, they were ready for the new jobs available in a dynamic new American economy. They held steady jobs by day and loved the nighttime city life. The “flapper look” was unmistakable. Shoulder length hair, higher hemline, lots of cosmetics, and wild jewelry…and, of all things, high heels! More at:

The cover of Life Magazine, The New Yorker and other publications often featured these care-free spirits and none better than an artist John Held Jr. could visualize them better. His illustrations of the flappers (above) won him fame, publicity, and a place in history.  His later work is not that well known but was good enough to support him through the depression and beyond. More at:,_Jr. and 

Prohibition, new styles of music called Jazz, women’s liberation, along with a new dancing and dress were all part of the culture across the nation. Along with all this “new” came for some the rejection of many traditions and moral standards.  As far as Prohibition was concerned, it was practically ignored by a large segment of the public. After all, it was not against the law to drink, just to make and transport it. What were the politicians thinking? This strange arrangement invited the rise of gangs who transported, distributed, and sold the illegal liquors. Adding to the frenzy was an overly optimistic view of the economy which led to unrealistic spending. 

You may have heard of the reopened alleged Speakeasy tunnel in Bovey, located in Annabella's Antique Mall. Once a hardware store, stories tell that partygoers would escape to the tunnel during raids. Adventures on the Range! More at:  Above images from:

We invite you to a truly entertaining event of song, history, and vintage photos from the bygone era of the 20's with Minnesota musicians, Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard on October 5th at 2p.m. at the Edge Center for the Arts in Bigfork. Price $10 adults, $5 children

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