Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Duke's Last Movie as “The Shootist” Helps Youngster

John Books, is dying of cancer and just wants to spend his last days with a minimum of pain and some dignity. A old friend and doctor he knows confirms an earlier doctor’s diagnosis and tells Jon he has one or two months to live. He takes a room in a boarding house, but the owner, finding out who he is when her young son Gillom (Ron Howard) tells her, wants Jon out. She relents when he tells her of his condition and things gets complicated when the young son wants shooting lessons. The rest of the story you need to see. Shown by Jack Nachbar at The Edge Center in Bigfork on September 10th at 6:30PM free of charge. The movie will be accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the film at the time period of the picture.

This is a role John Wayne could not play as a younger man. His character, J.B. Books (first photo above), needs to show what a long tough life can do to a man, and try to keep that young man from taking the same path. Second photo above shows Wayne as Books at the start of the last movie scene the Duke ever made. It is a 1976 Western and was received very well with several awards. Viewers also got to see Ron Howard as a developing actor in the role of the young man Books tries his best to keep from following his past. There is no shortage of stars with Lauren Bacall as the kid’s widowed mother, James Stewart as Book’s friend the doctor and Harry Morgan as a nervous sheriff.

Often regarded as Wayne’s last movie due to his having cancer during its production is not exactly accurate. He had a lung and several ribs removed due to the disease long before the movie and was declared cancer free by the time of the film. But it turned out to be his last film anyway, because three years after its production, and before the Duke could make another film, cancer came back and took his life. Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times ranked The Shootist #10 on his list of the 10 best films of 1976. The film was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA film award, and a Writers Guild of America award.

John Wayne is an American icon of the tough talking and softhearted film hero. Born Marion Mitchell Morrison in Iowa (1907-1979), John Wayne’s family relocated to Los Angeles when he was nine. This movie gave him his last chance to work in the career that he loved. Through his career he won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, but his most endearing legacy to his fans was the character the Duke played on and off the screen. This persona has been the basis of many stars screen personality and it has served them well. He was among the top box office draws for three decades which made him very special to studios. “An enduring American icon, he epitomized rugged masculinity and is famous for his demeanor, including his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height,” from Wiki at

John Wayne liked working with Lauren Bacall so much from their experience in “Blood Ally” (1955) he personally picked her for her role in “The Shootist,”first photo above. Born Betty Joan Perske (1924 -2014) she was an American actress known for her distinctive voice and sultry looks. It was the “look” that everyone loved...and only Lauren could deliver with such emotion, intensity and charisma, second photo above. She was named the 20th greatest actress of the 20th century by the American Film Institute, and received an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1996, "in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.". Her performance in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination. A month before her 90th birthday, Bacall died in New York City after a stroke. Read more at:

An interviewer once asked Ron Howard if John Wayne had given him any tips on acting during “The Shootist.” Turns out that during the filming of the final shootout, Wayne took him aside and said he had some advice for him. Eagerly awaiting some profound advice, Wayne said "Ron, if you want to look menacing - close your mouth." ...first photo above. Books did finally teach young Gillum to shoot in the movie (second photo above). William "Ron" Howard was born March 1, 1954 and is an American film director, producer and actor. Opie Taylor in “The Andy Griffith Show Series” introduced Ron to American TV viewers for an for eight year run.  Later as Richie Cunningham in the “ Happy Days Series” he again made TV fans happy. He was in the Music Man in 1962, and the coming of age film "American Graffiti" 1973. Those along with this movie are his early acting successes. But Ron Howard, the director, made him a movie legend. Go to . to see his directing credits since there are so many. Howard was awarded the National Medal of Arts and  inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2013.

And then there is Jimmy Stewart, who had a small role in the above. He only agreed to play the role in the film because John Wayne had specifically requested him. He was retired with very bad hearing and his time on this production proved to be to be trying for James and the director, plus maybe even the Duke. His hearing was bad enough so he couldn’t hear his cues so it looked like he and Jon were just not prepared for shooting some scenes. That made everyone mad. It is said, “He and Wayne muffed their lines so often in the main scene between them that director Don Siegel accused them of not trying hard enough. Wayne's reply was a variation on an old John Ford line, advising the director, ‘If you'd like the scene done better, you'd better get a couple of better actors’…”. More at:

Above photo of the Duke was one of his last "shots" ever within a movie. This movie is presented free of charge and some appropriate snacks will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist Lynn. Place: The Edge Center for the Arts, Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday September 10th at 6:30PM.

Friday, August 21, 2015

John Perkins’ “On the Move” but Still On-stage in Bigfork for His Seventh Concert

Song writer, singer, and musician, John Perkins is “one of our own,” and will be on stage at The Edge Center in Bigfork for his seventh Edge benefit concert this month.  John always keeps his shows fresh, with this one revolving around “The Passage of time”.  He will include a story about where and when some of his songs originated along life’s journey. There will be stops to enjoy nature and life in the north woods of Minnesota. Since he spends part of his time in North Carolina look for some insight into that part of the country too. The show will be on stage, possibly with a dock and sailboat this year, at The Edge Center in Bigfork Saturday August 29 7PM. $10 adults. $5 children.
John again will be joined for part of the concert by Jerry Hagen on bass (Jerry left and John right above), along with other friends. John plays a large variety of instruments including six, eight and twelve string guitars, a Resonator Steel Slide and even a six-string banjo. There might also tambourine, jug, washboard and cajone. John’s wife, Sandy, will play the spoons and may perhaps do a bit of clogging. There will be a lot different sounds for the audience to enjoy. His music is “Americana/folk” that is an easy to listen style and all of it original work by John.

A fishing dock is always important to water adventures. Some folks use a log laying in the water and some huge cement piers that reach far out for better fishing. Whatever you use, it can be the start of stories and wonderful things to see and do. John’s dock, in better shape than the one above, will be recreated on the stage of The Edge Center and from the end of that dock John will being us into the wonderful lakes and woods of northern Minnesota.

He will pay tribute to the lake his grandfather introduced him to more than 55 years ago. The audience will hear about “The Voyageurs” important to this part of our great continent that was just opening to a new world of people and commerce.

There will be new songs including “Going Fishing,” a humorous and introspective take on one of our favorite pastimes.  If you ask most Minnesotans what they do for fun, fishing will probably be somewhere on the list. And everyone can tell you his or her fishing stories and funny adventures. Come and hear some of John’s

Everyone around here loves trees, and they can tell you a story too. As we know, each year a tree’s rings mark another season. One song, “My old Friend” marks the passage of time and connects rings of a big old Oak to important times in our history.

Ice out is always an special event for everyone who spends winter in Nothern Minnesota. On rivers ice out is often a little louder than on lakes which usually makes it more interesting. Many of us have watched and waited for the ice and snow to leave the our cabins and fishing dock, we will revisit that Minnesota event in song. Keep in mind that "ice out" can be very dramatic even on lakes, as the above picture of highway 169 during a recent spring ice out on lake Mille Lacs shows.

Since John spends winters in the Blue Ridge Mountains, he will flavor his north-woods repertoire with a couple of songs that transport us to beautiful Western North Carolina. You can think of that part of the world as Minnesota with less water and more “bumps”….big huge bumps as we can see in above photo.

John will remind all of us of the joy there is this world as he remembers some dear friends that have been lost to us this past year. John’s songs and stories speak to all of us.

There will be lots to see, hear and learn at this year’s John Perkins concert for the Edge Center for the Arts. And it turns out that the attached art gallery is showing another completely different kind of wilderness…bogs, with an exhibit of art titled "Bog Tapestries: Elizabeth Blair Photography." Now there is a wilderness with lots of water and no “bumps”. Also in the gallery, the ten years plus of volunteer work for the arts in this community done by hundreds of you earned the Edge a special "Sally" award from The Ordwary in St. Paul. The award is on display (above photo) and you'll be able to read the details. Come early before John's performance and and see what's happening in the gallery. Remember the John Perkins concert on stage at The Edge Center in Bigfork Saturday August 29 7PM. $10 adults. $5 children.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Dynamic Duo Pat and Donna Surface...Remember When?

The sights and sounds of the sixties...If you grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, this show will hit your musical sweet spot.  If you are too old for those decades, it’ll let you find out why the music made such a fuss.  And if you were too young, you can find out what you missed by hearing it live. “The Remember When” concert by Pat and Donna Surface is their most popular show and it will be at the Edge Center in Bigfork Sunday August 16th. It is a musical tour though the decades that were very import to everyone. Besides Pat and his wife Donna Surface the show includes 2-time Grammy winner John Ely, Butch Schmidt on bass, Marina Whight on harmonies, and MN State Fiddle Champion, Mary LaPlant. Donna Surface will be signing music enhancing the musical experience. This concert will be on Sunday August 16th, at 2PM. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children.

Donna Surface says, “This is our most popular show. We have been developing it for 5 years, with variations, and people love it. They really enjoy revisiting songs they couldn't wait to hear on the radio or from their beloved vinyl LPs back in the day. There are so many 'Oh wow, I LOVED that song!' moments throughout the show. The late 60’s into the 70’s was a pivotal era in so many ways, and woven through the music in this show are reminders of what it was like to be multi-media, interpretive signing, and Pat's vocal styling recall the events and pop culture that shaped that time”.

Pat Surface was born in St. Paul and placed in foster care.  At two years old he was adopted into a musical family, the LaPlants, who shaped his life and life’s work.  At 6 foot 8 inches, Pat grew up to be an all-star basketball player before music became his future. Pat is a singer/songwriter and leader of the Boundary Water Boys band. Pat owns a record label based in Ely, MN - Spiritwood Music of The Boundary Waters. Pat sings and plays his hand-built LaPlant guitar. The LaPlants are award-winning musicians themselves plus are instrument builders and family builders.  Pat has two adopted siblings: one Hispanic and one Native American.   Pat says, “My family is my inspiration for much of my music.  For family has taught me devotion and cohesiveness and how we are all the same.”

Donna began dancing at three years old and years later as an actress in New York, she appreciated using the body as an instrument to communicate. Her desire to learn American Sign Language is about accessing another culture, not just another language. American Sign Language is the second largest language used in our country. It is the language of the American Deaf community (ASL is common only in the U.S. and some provinces of Canada). Compelling and moving to watch, an Interpretive Sign Performance is a combination of American Sign Language, dance, acting, and mime. It is a way for the Deaf community to appreciate the music, but it "amplifies" the words for the hearing world as well.

John Ely is a master at the steel guitar, 115 years after its invention, it still is “new” to much of the music world. John can make it not only familiar to audiences, but appreciated. His addition to the Pat Surface group adds the different and charm of its special sounds.

Darrol (Butch) Schmidt picked up the guitar at the age of 16, and has had a musical instrument of one kind or another in his hands ever since. A winner of “Best Group” in the MN State Music Championship, he also plays upright bass in the Itasca Symphony Orchestra. His instruments include guitar, bass, fiddle,and mandolin.

Marina Whight: A native of the Grand Rapids area, Marina Whight has been involved  with many local theater and musical groups, including Reif Center Dance, and  Showboat.  One of her musical highlights was winning Overall Grand  Champion at the Minnesota Country Music Championships.

Mary LaPlant: Mary has an exceptional musical gift. She composes beautiful compositions, plays the piano, and, oh yes - there is that violin/fiddle that has won her much acclaim. With a classical foundation, Mary’s style is lyrical and sure, even when she is playing run-away fiddle tunes. At this time, she is a 4-time Minnesota State Fiddle Champion (be sure it is not stopping there). 

With the “Remember When Concert, return to a time when the lyrics and melody were the essence of a song is in this entertaining and nostalgic musical journey with Pat and Donna and their guests. In 1987, Pat began performing and touring full time. Singing and playing his hand-built LaPlant guitars, Pat has performed at churches, schools, colleges and festivals from “sea to shining sea.” He has reached over 20 million people and has recorded 71 CDs on is record label, Spiritwood Music Of The Boundary Waters. Edge Center in Biigfork, Sunday August 16th, 2PM, $10 adults, $5 children.