Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mixing Rock n Roll, Ballads, Country and Dancing in Bigfork

For the seventh year The Pretenders and Friends will make it tough to sit in your seats at The Edge Center in Bigfork. But that’s OK because you can get up and dance in the orchestra pit. They will mix country, ballads and rock n roll with their special style and talents. The group includes a couple of rock n rollers that date back to the Pretenders Band in 1962 and still love what they are doing. By adding some country and ballad songs they will entertain with music that’s been part of American popular music for over five decades. The date is Sunday, September 9, the time 2PM and the price $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Northern Minnesota’s original Pretenders began in the early sixties when three musicians from the Park Rapids area joined with a fourth from Leornard, MN. They played all the typical places one would expect and went beyond that with a radio program on KWAD Wadena, appeared on local television and made a record called “The Grop” before disbanding in 1965.

It took until 1997 when a national musician’s publication, “Lost and Found” featured an article about the band, that their record was re-issued on an album: “Surfing in the Midwest, Volume 3”. They still wanted to play and returned to the stage in 2000. They appeared at the first annual Rock Country Hall of Fame in St. Joseph, Minnesota in the fall of 2002 and made a CD titled “Ponytail Baby.”

In 2005 the group resurfaced as The Pretenders and Friends with new members and started their current run which includes the seven years at The Edge Center. This versatile group of old rockers with new talent and music has established itself as a very popular fifties/sixties variety music show band in the Edge of the Wilderness region and elsewhere.

Jerry Hagen, a member of the 1960s Pretenders never lost his love for music. After 33 years in education, his retirement to Effie meant he could fulfill his musical dreams. He plays with five different musical groups for everything from town and church events, to senior homes, to class reunions, to fundraisers and more. His rock n roll ways have often been turned to a more smoother sound as bass accompaniment for a number of functions, and he loves it. Visitors to The Edge Center get to hear to Jerry’s sounds on many occasions beside the Pretenders and Friends with visits including this year’s puppet show, The Piano Bar shows and the John Perkins concert.

Darwin Ohman was the second member of the Pretenders band in the 1960s. He studied music at Bemidji State College before the Pretenders and is now retired and living in the Twin Cities area. He is currently the Bass Guitarist with the AGATES band, which also is a popular rock and roll band. Darwin produced the Notables CD in 2009, produced his own CD earlier that year, is currently planning a CD project with the AGATES, and is working on a CD project featuring his daughter Kari. Kari Karels is one of the friends of Pretenders and Friends and will be back-up vocalist and play guitar at this The Edge performance.

Steve Tamasy has a nationally-known musical background including composing the “Top Ten” hit “Smokin in the Boys room”. His career started as a founding member and lead guitarist of the Duluth-based Titans. They made the “Top 100” playing “The no place special” instrumental. He moved to New York City in 1964 and composed the "Top 10" hit " Smokin' In The Boys Room" and signed with Laurie records and United Artists. He was director of a USO band when in the service, and has performed with many famous musicans and bans including Roy Orbison, Beach Boys, Gene Krupa and The Supremes. Steve received a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the "Midwest Rock/Country Hall Of Fame" in 2004 and was inducted into the "Minnesota Rock & Country Hall Of Fame" in 2004. He is currently the Lead Guitarist for the AGATES band.

Kelly Scott was born and raised in Grand Rapids MN and currently lives in Brooklyn Center MN. Kelly has been singing for over 20 years, and has performed in numerous country shows, competed in the Colgate Country Showdown 3 times, sang at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, won various karaoke competitions, as well as being 1st runner up in the Miss Minnesota Country Music Competition in the 90's. Currently is part of southern gospel group called "Sweet Harmony”, and a member of the “AGATES” band.

Terry Thorson was born and raised on a farm near Kiester MN., started playing drums at age 18, now is retired living on the Mississippi river and is still active in music. In 1969-70 he worked as a musician and backup vocalist in Nashville TN, returning to Minnesota for a few years, then went back to Nashville in 1975. He performed with the opening act for Charlie Rich at the Boots Randolph Carousel Club and was a regular there for several years. Terry moved back to Brainerd MN in 1984 and has been active musically in that area ever since. Terry also is the drummer and a vocalist for THE AGATES.

The history of surfing bands do include a number of very popular groups in the Midwest. In fact, there were three “Surfin in the Midwest” albums produced over the years with a variety of bands represented. The one containing the “Bork” was volume three. Above and below are the covers for the three albums.

For a good time listening to a rock and roll band that has survived, changed and adapted over the years, come to Bigfork on the Sunday September 9th at 2PM.  You will hear some wonderful popular music from the decades represented by these very talented musicians.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Americana/Folk Music Coming to Bigfork

John Perkins brings his special blend of Americana/folk music to The Edge Center in Bigfork this month.  August 25th will be his fourth visit. This summer’s concert is for the benefit of The Edge and all proceeds will go to the center. You will hear stories in John’s songs that helped shape our way of life in northern Minnesota.

All his music will be original, dedicated to nature and the environment, and played on a variety of guitars and possibly even a banjo. John Perkins will be on stage with a couple friends at The Edge Center in Bigfork Saturday August 25. The performance is at 7PM. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children.

John started performing when he was 16. Throughout his working life, John Perkins has mixed music with his 9-to-5 job. He began playing the guitar in the 1960s with performances spanning the coffee houses and college campuses of early folk music to today’s revival of acoustic roots music. John started writing his own material in 1999 and now has over 80 original songs and two CDs to his credit.

He wrote his first song, "Cabin In The Woods," while on a business trip wedged between passengers on an airline. He splits his time between his summer cabin in northern Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest and his winter home just south of Asheville North Carolina. John continues to seek out interesting venues for his work and enjoys performing whenever and where ever he can..

That is how he teamed up with The Edge, which is known for bringing talent to its stage for the past eight years. For The Edge Center performance John will be joined for part of the concert by the Effie legend, Jerry Hagen on bass and Marcel's own Terry Price on guitar/percussion.

John Perkins is not satisfied with playing a single guitar. He has a wide selection to choose from and even a 6-string banjo. Here are some of the guitars he plays.

Taylor 916ce 6-string guitar
Taylor 815C 6-string guitar
Taylor 8-string Baritone
CA (carbon fiber) 6-string guitar
Breedlove 12-string guitar
Deering 6-string banjo
National Tricone Reso-Phonic (slide)

The 80 original songs that comes out of all this effort spans a wide range of themes. Here are some brief descriptions of some.

Albert & Ester... John’s friend Elenor ( A n d e r s o n ) Wr i g h t ’ s p a r e n t s homesteaded in 1911 on the western shore of Sand Lake where John lives. This love song is a tribute to those hardy soles that settled this beautiful country.

Spirits In The Wind... John’s great uncle bought the property John lives on in 1920 and his spirit along with grandparents, parents and friends long past live in breezes that blow through the trees.

Voyageurs... This song is all about them and John’s quest to connect with the history of the men who paddled the big birchbark canoes during the height of the fur trade throughout the Minnesota and Canadian wilderness.

Saturday, August 25th promises to be a very enjoyable evening of entertainment with John Perkins. His roots in the area run deep along with his love of music and story telling. Come and see how it all fits together at The Edge Center at 7PM.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sixty Years Playing Makes Good Music Better

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.