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Entertainment Briefs - July 3

Battle of the Bands to amplify audience tonight

The 2014 Battle of the Bands: Amplified will begin at 4 p.m. today in the north senior parking lot at Brainerd High School.

Battle of the Bands is presented by Brainerd Youth As Resources (YAR), United Way and Brainerd Community Action. The event, geared toward teens in the area, is a fundraiser for YAR. Profits support grants to be distributed to youth led organizations in the Brainerd lakes area.

Eight groups will perform for a panel of judges, battling for the grand prize of $1,000 gift card to Bridge of Harmony, studio recording time donated by Wayne Renn and opening for the Brainerd Fourth of July Celebration. Second and third place winners will also be awarded.

Admission is $8 and children 5 and under are free. Battle of the Bands is a family friendly event.

Poet is next Brown Bag series speaker

Poet Doris Stengel is the sixth author in the Brainerd Public Library Brown Bag Summer Author Series. She will appear from noon 1 p.m. Monday.

Stengel said that one of her goals of her book, "Arrival and Departure" was for "readers to discover some their own arrivals and departures in their lives."

Stengel grew up on the North Dakota prairies and then moved to the woods and lakes of Minnesota. She has been a high school teacher and mentored students in poetry from elementary school through college. She belongs to the Heartland Poets in Brainerd, the League of Minnesota Poets,and the National Federation of State Poetry Societies and has served as president of each of them. Her other books are "Horizons Measured" and "Small Town Lines."

This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library. All are welcome and there is no charge.

Norm's Bait & Tackle Choir to take bandstand stage

Back by popular demand, Norm's Bait & Tackle Choir will make their second appearance at 7 p.m. today in the bandstand at Gregory Park in Brainerd.

The multi-talented, Brainerd area group plays a wide variety of music and has delighted audiences throughout central Minnesota. The choir has a unique style, zany antics and humorous song parodies. They play hunting and fishing tunes, old cowboy songs and classic rock 'n' roll and country favorites.

All the members of the group have played in other bands for many years and have entertained audiences at convention centers, community centers, fairs and festivals throughout the Midwest.

The concert is free and open to the public. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Rain out site is The Center, 803 Kingwood St., Brainerd. If the concerts are moved indoors, signs will be posted on the bandstand and it will be announced on WJJY radio.

Concerts in the park is a collaboration between Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department and The Center. Funding for concerts has been provided by community donations and the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council.

Aitkin Farmers' Market combine food and talent

AITKIN - The 2014 Aitkin Farmers' Market, located at the historic Butler Building, will present a lineup of artists to showcase their live musical talent for those shopping fresh produce from local farmers.

Since Memorial Day Weekend, the Aitkin Farmers' Market has offered farm products and other items, including everything from eggs to baked goods to jams and jellies to fresh garden produce and handmade crafts and soaps. Some of the vendors include Wellspring Farms; TR Farms and Ranch; the Chengwatana Farm; Lakeland Soap; Gun Lake Potato Farm; and Country Bumpkin Crafts.

The Farmers' Market is open from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday through October.

St. Cloud singer-songwriter Nicole Mykkanen will perform Saturday; and popular acoustic rock artist Astronaut Jones will perform Aug. 30.

Mykkanen, known for putting her heartfelt stories into song form, was influenced heavily by folk and acoustic-based artists such as Over The Rhine, Gillian Welch, Kim Taylor, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.

"Music has played a huge role in my life since childhood," she said. "I can remember dancing and singing in the front row of tent meetings we helped with in the sticky Minnesota summers. My mother has always been involved with music at our church. And it just seemed natural for me to fit into that vein."

Mykkanen said, "I love farmers' markets. They are a wonderful way to support the hardworking people in our communities and to find some of the most delicious produce on God's green earth. I am very excited to be adding a little flavor of my own with my offering of homegrown music."

Described as having an atypical Jersey Shore sound, Astronaut Jones' acoustic rock has influences ranging from Led Zeppelin to The Misfits. Performing originals and select covers since 2004, he was nominated in 2007 by the Asbury Music Awards as the Top Male Acoustic Act,and his music has been added to rotation on such radio shows as The Howard Stern Show, Rock On Radio, and the Jersey Shore Podcast.

Lakes Area Artists work on display

The Lakes Area Artists are exhibiting their artwork at their July show and sale scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 10-12 at the "Live Well" at Journey Church in Nisswa.

Local artists exhibiting their work include: Bill Grange, Laurel LaBorde, Madonna Maves, David Rickert, Cyrus Swann, Sharon Peterson, Diane Runberg, Kathy Braud, Greg Souther, Steven Weagel and guest artist, Erika Hagberg.

Admission is free and art demos will take place each day.

Aitkin kicks off Plein Air Competition and Exhibit

AITKIN - The eighth annual Plein Air competition will kick off Wednesday at Aitkin's Jaques Art Center.

French for "open air," Plein Air will feature regionally and nationally known artists who come together to create images outside in the open air with a chance to win $1,000. Paintings will be judged by a professional judge and a Plein Air painter. This year's judge will be Mary Pettis from Taylors Falls.

Residents can watch for artists painting outdoors within two blocks of the stoplights, in all directions, until 2 p.m. Wednesday.

A Quick Paint will be held 8:30-10:30 a.m. July 10 at the Fairgrounds. According to the rules, artists must complete their paintings within two hours. Then on July 10-11, artists will paint anywhere in Aitkin County.

There will be a public reception and awards ceremony from 1 to 3 p.m. July 12 at the Jaques Art Center. An exhibition and art sales will be held Wednesday through the competition's finale on July 26 in the Carnegie Gallery at the center.

Many of the Plein Air artists have studied with master Plein Air instructors from all around the world. Winners in recent years have included Mary Macarthur's "Path in the Woods" and Duane Barnhart's "Between Showers."

For more information on the 8th Annual Plein Air Competition and Exhibit, visit the Jaques Art Center's official website,, or call 218-927-2363.

Free art class in Little Falls

LITTLE FALLS - Great River Arts is hosting a free art class offered the second Saturday of the month during the summer for students in grades one through five. Each class focuses on a different media from painting to sculpture.

The first free art class of the summer, dot painting, was held June 28 and was well attended. Students learned how to create artwork inspired by American Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein. Under the guidance instructor Sam Bruno and her assistant Isaac Jackson, the students created a wonderful collection of self portraits.

Upcoming sessions include Cardboard Cities on July 12, Paper Swirls on Aug. 9 and Double Vision Drawing on Sept. 13. Classes are limited to 20 students. Call Great River Arts and register in advance.

Great River Arts is happy to provide classes for the community to partake in. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.