Friday, October 28, 2016

“The Lost Forty” Celebrates Life in Early Northern Minnesota at Bigfork Edge Concert

It all started with Brian Miller researching an obscure saloon-keeper and singer from Virginia Minnesota. It ended up being the discovery of a treasure trove of early audio recordings of folksongs from the Great Lake region. The discovery is of the 47 songs were recorded in 1924 from singers who lived and worked in the woods. With the help of financing from the Minnesota Arts board and over 100 private donors, Brian created “The Minnesota Folksong Collection" web site that you can visit and listen to the original recordings. Brian teamed up with Randy Gosa to form “The Lost Forty” duo and will bring some of that early history to life in Bigfork on Sunday, October 30th, at 2pm. A show for the whole family to enjoy, the Prices are $10 Adults and $5 children.

“The Lost 40” name is borrowed from Itasca County’s Scientific and Nature Area (below). "This is a place where some of Minnesota's largest trees tower over some of the state's most fragile plants, a virgin forest, that legend has it, was spared the ax because surveyors mapped it mistakenly as a wetland. Lost 40's geology includes an 11,000-year-old ice age relic known as an esker... which described as a "glacial, gravelly deposit....It also holds colonies of delicate Indian Pipe. The plant isn't especially rare but it looks unnatural — ghost white surrounded by green plants and the brown forest floor. The plant has no chlorophyll and is fragile.If you were to touch it, it's very wet and would almost dissolve in your hands..." 

"The tract, a Minnesota scientific and natural area, preserves a remnant of the state's forest primeval. A walk-through finds trees about 130 feet tall, perhaps 300 years old. The biggest have trunks that need two or even three people holding hands to surround them. They include valuable white pine cherished by wood workers and the state's largest red pine." Below Photo by Vicki Olsen for MPR News.  Read more at:

Like the preserved forest left intact, “The Lost 40 Project” brings brings back music history intact in the form of the old recordings to the web for everyone to enjoy. To read and hear more about visit  “The Minnesota Folksong Collection”  Brian Miller’s research of the saloon-keeper led to a 90 year-old newspaper then to the collection of some of the earliest audio recordings of folksongs from the Great Lakes Region. That is a great story in itself. And this concert is a chance to hear the results.

They are regionally-composed logging songs, railroading songs, deer hunting songs, Great Lakes shipwreck songs, old Irish ballads and even older English ballads dating as far back as the 1680s. The Miller Gosa  performance will feature stories and historical photos mixed with The Lost Forty’s new arrangements of the old music. Miller hopes that the Bigfork concert will inspire others to learn songs from the collection.

Brian Miller and Randy Gosa, “The Lost Forty”, have each toured across the US and Canada with the country’s top Irish traditional music groups. Both perform on guitar and bouzouki (a relative of the mandolin that has been adapted into traditional Irish music in recent decades). For his work with North Woods music, Miller earned a Folk and Traditional Arts Grant and two Artist Initiative Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Miller was also a recipient of the 2014 Parsons Fund Award from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

The “Lost Forty Project” earned a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the support of over 120 donors who gave money to a recent fundraising campaign.

So, for a good time with some of the earliest North Woods music come and spend part of Sunday afternoon reliving the history in this part of the country. It promises to be a special kind of concert for the whole family that relives history and lets you see into how early settlers of the area lived and worked.  Sunday, October 30th, at 2pm. The Prices are $10 Adults and $5 children. 

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