Thursday, May 28, 2015

Monroe Crossing, Bluegrass Music, Bigfork, Great Combination

On June 12th a return visit of "Monroe Crossing" brings their special blend of classic bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, and great originals to Bigfork. Mixing styles, range of talent, and wide selection of music, the group shows the quality gained by years of experience and hard work. Named for legendary Bill Monroe, called the “Father of BlueGrass”, Monroe Crossing is a Minnesota-based group that performs throughout the United States and Canada with many professional awards and achievements to their credit. Whether it is a first time bluegrass introduction or an experienced bluegrass fan, the show will entertain and not disappoint. They will be on The Edge Center stage Friday, June 12th at 7PM.  Prices $10 adults and $5 children.

Monroe Crossing is the only full-time professional bluegrass band in the state. They earn their great reputation with well over 100 performances each year.  Even a Bluegrass “cruise” is planned for next year (below). The five band members include: Lisa Fuglie plays fiddle, mandolin, guitar plus lead and harmony vocals, David Robinson joined the band in 2012 at 18 years old and plays banjo, Derek Johnson, with the band since 2011 plays guitar and is lead and harmony vocals, Mark Anderson plays bass, is on vocals, and came to bluegrass after 20 years of bass and drums in “alternative” groups, plus Matt Thompson who plays mandolin, fiddle and sings baritone vocal. He came to love bluegrass from the master after a chance encounter with band’s namesake Bill Monroe.

There have been many honors for the band including a chance to showcase their talents at the 2007 International Bluegrass Association Convention. They were inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of fame in 2007, the only Bluegrass band ever nominated as “artist of the Year” by the Minnesota Music Academy, and took home awards for Female Vocalist, Guitar, Mandolin and Banjo at the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association’s 25th Anniversary Awards Banquet.

The group has 14 disks out in their years together. The latest is “Because You Asked”, is a collection of popular requests recorded live throughout their years of constant touring with well over 1500 concert appearances to their credit..  Their success is not by accident, but by according to lead singer Lisa Fuglie, “It’s just plain hard work and dedication. We all share a love for bluegrass music and for performing on stage. We appreciate every audience, large or small, and understand that we’re there for them, not the other way around,” quoted from recent news release.

Eighteen year old David Robinson joined Monroe Crossing in 2012.  From a musical family, he developed an interest in folk music early.  Inspired by musician and storyteller David Holt, he taught himself how to play many different instruments, including harmonica, mandolin and guitar. David took up the banjo at the age of 14 and has stuck with it ever since.

Singer/guitarist Derek Johnson joined Monroe Crossing at the beginning of 2011. From Moorhead, Minnesota, he moved to Minneapolis in 1993 and, for many years, he performed in a variety of rock and roll bands. Around the "turn of the century" Derek discovered bluegrass music and there’s been no turning back.

Originally from Nigeria, Lisa Fuglie learned mandolin from an old Bill Monroe 78rpm record. Excelling on many stringed instruments, she plays fiddle, mandolin and guitar with Monroe Crossing.  She is an accomplished vocalist, prolific songwriter, solo performer, studio musician, and educator.  She received the 2000 Female Vocalist of the Year Award (in the Related Music category) from the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association.

Mark Anderson came to Bluegrass after twenty years of playing bass and drums in a series of "alternative" groups.  Nominated by the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Association as 2000 Bassist of the Year in both the Bluegrass and the Related Music categories, he is one of the best Bluegrass bass players in the Midwest. Mark wrote "He Did Rise" on the band's second gospel project, "Into The Fire", and several other songs for Monroe Crossing. .

Matt Thompson is the band’s MC and arranger, is a superb singer, plus plays Mandolin and twin fiddle with the band.  He received the Minnesota Bluegrass & and Old-Time Music Association's Bluegrass Mandolin Player of the Year Award in 2000.

The band demonstrates the sound and versatility of all five instruments, how each contributes to the ensemble sound, “brother duet” and 3-part harmony as they relate to a simple chord.  Monroe Crossing’s paths crossed through the music of Bluegrass founder Bill Monroe so they like to say they had a “Monroe Crossing.”

From their Website here are some review comments of previous shows.

“Monroe Crossing strikes again. Each and every song keeps you wanting more. I can foresee many of your original songs becoming classics somewhere down the line.” — “Backroads Bluegrass,” KCBL Radio, Sacramento CA

“Everyone in the band is an absolute professional, and I’ve pointed other groups to you to say ‘this is how you do it right in the world of bluegrass.’ ” — Marty Scarbrough, KASU FM Program Director

“Everyone who came had the time of their life that evening. Your show was just of the freshest and original groups I have experienced....I was just blown away.” — Bill Adams, Habitat For Humanity, Waldorf MD

“....This band understands and respects the musical principles laid down by Bill Monroe.... ‘Heartache & Stone’ represents their best effort to date....Arrangements are fresh and creative....All in all, it is an enjoyable project loaded with satisfaction.” — Louisville Music News

So, for an entertaining and surprising experience come and enjoy Monroe Crossing at the Edge Center in Bigfork MN. They will be on The Edge Center stage Friday, June 12th at 7PM.  Prices $10 adults and $5 children. And while you are in the building you can see an art exhibit in the Edge Center Gallery. It presents a wide variety of media with the current show titled “With a View: Landscape Artists.” It presents work of nine artists in glass, photography, drawing, and painting that shows selected works about how each view the outside world. So come early and enjoy it.

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