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Entertainment briefs- Nov. 3

The popular “Deer Camp the Musical” will be on stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the

BHS bands to perform

The Brainerd High School Bands will perform their annual fall concert at 7 p.m. Thursday at Tornstrom Auditorium. The BHS marching band, concert band, percussion ensemble and Symphonic Band will play a wide variety of music. Among the selections by the concert band, is “Elegy” which was written for the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that will be this Dec. 7. Percussion ensemble will showcase some of its work with some highly energetic pieces. Symphonic Band also will be commemorating another difficult anniversary with their performance of “A Hymn for the Lost and the Living.” This piece by Eric Ewazen was written in memorandum of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Cost of the concert is $6 for adults and $4 for students.

‘Deer Camp the Musical’ with original cast coming to Brainerd and Little Falls

The popular “Deer Camp the Musical” will be on stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Franklin Arts Center Auditorium in Brainerd and at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at Little Falls’ High School auditorium.

The lighthearted comedy follows the escapades of four lifelong friends as they trek to their deer shack in the annual fall tradition that so many Minnesotans know so well. This group has the distinction of having never fired a shot in 30 years of hunting, but the wives have laid down an ultimatum: “Bring home a deer, or else!” Songs range from “We’re Mighty Hunters” to “She’s Playing Bingo.”

Written by Gene Jurek of St. Cloud and Doug Spartz of Pine River, the play has surpassed all expectations since opening in 2007. The Brainerd and Little Falls performances are part of a year-long Minnesota tour sponsored by Great North Show Providers and features the original cast with Michael Johnson from Willmar as “Moose;” Randy Soltis as “Doogski;” Brad Busse as “Diesel;” and Mike Harens as “Digger.” John Theis, who originated the role of “Digger,” will be along on the production crew and also as an understudy.

Jurek began to write the play in 2003 while his wife, Edie was struggling with cancer/ She died before the play went into production.

He enlisted the help of Spartz, whose long musical career has ranged from working in Minneapolis as a studio musician to his highly successful 2007 Americana release of “The One Who’s Leavin.’” The two longtime friends had played together with a group called the Embers in 1962, but this was their first writing collaboration.

No one expected the play to have this kind of reaction with audiences, especially songwriter, Spartz. “When Gene approached me to do the music for his play, I thought that it would never go anywhere. When the shows started to sell out, it started to sink in that maybe we had something going.”

The shows continued to sell out, breaking attendance records at many theaters statewide, with more than 10,000 people who’ve seen the play in the St. Cloud area alone. Deer Camp sparked a sequel, “Holy Bells, a Deer Camp Christmas” which played the past two years during December.

Tickets are $23 in advance or $26 at the door. Group rates are available through the ticket line at (218) 536-0589. Advance tickets for the Brainerd show are available at Cub Foods and Pequot Lakes SuperValu, and at Coborn’s for the Little Falls show.

Jurek and Spartz are working on another play for the trilogy.

The Rose Ensemble to perform in Brainerd

The Rose Ensemble is taking Songs of Temperance and Temptation, 100 Years of Restraint and Revelry to Brainerd Friday as part of its Minnesota Statewide Tour, with special guests: Maria Jette, narrator; Dan Chouinard, piano and accordion; David Burk, guitar and banjo; Terry Burns/Greg Hippen, bass; and Ginna Watson, fiddle.

The concert will be at 7 p.m. at the Chalberg Theatre at Central Lakes College. Tickets are $12 or $9 for seniors and students. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling The Rose Ensemble’s box office at (651) 225-4340 or online at

Songs of Temperance and Temptation is The Rose Ensemble’s newest program. Semi-staged and fully costumed, this research-rich yet light-hearted performance features songs and stories of Carrie Nation and 19th Century Temperance Union meetings, balanced by a full cup of good ol’ anti-Prohibition songs. Projections of historical photos and narration from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby complement the show, as our performers skip and prance to Victorian waltzes, croon 1920s jazz, launch into Irish reels, ragtime, and gospel, and belt out Irving Berlin’s best show-stoppers.

The ensemble also will host an educational lecture/demonstration at 11 a.m. Friday at CLC and at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Brainerd Public Library.

The Rose Ensemble of St. Paul was founded in 1996 by artistic director Jordan Sramek. The ensemble tours internationally with repertoire spanning 1,000 years and 25 languages, including new research in Middle Eastern, European and American vocal traditions. The Rose Ensemble was a recipient of the Chorus America Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence in 2005 and first-prize winner at the 2007 Tolosa International Choral Competition in Spain.

Local bookstore to celebrate anniversary with ‘Moonshine and Murder’

LITTLE FALLS — Bookin’ It Bookstore’s will celebrate its 19th anniversary with an open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, with a book signing by guest author Mary Desjarlais from 1-3 p.m.

First-time novelist Desjarlais will appear with her book, “Dorie Lavalle; A Minnesota Story of Moonshine and Murder.” When St. Paul writer Mary Desjarlais needed a character for her first novel, she had to go no further than a photograph of her great aunts. She knew one of them made her living as a bootlegger in rural Minnesota during Prohibition. Mary knew little else about her great-aunt Dorie LaValle, but through research and family stories she wrote a novel based on Dorie’s life as a bootlegger.

Store owner, Laura Hansen, in an email release said “We’ve had such high interest in other Prohibition-era books like ‘Minnesota 13,’ ‘Last Call’ and ‘The Great Experiment’ that we couldn’t let the opportunity pass to have Mary at our store. We expect a great turnout.”

Books will be available for sale and signing at Bookin’ It the day of the event or can be reserved in advance by calling (320) 632-1848.

Three BHS dancers compete in Miss Dance Team Minnesota

Three Brainerd dancers recently competed in Miss Dance Team Minnesota held at Eastview High School.

Brianna Niemeyer of Brainerd took second place in the Best of Minnesota Division. In this division there were 10 dancers in ninth through 11th grade who are members of a Minnesota High School dance team. Dancers were judged on their solo performances.

In the Miss Dance Team, senior division, Brainerd dancers Karyn Pfieffer and Allie Spieker competed against 26 dancers, who had to be either seniors in high school or team captains. Dancers were judged on interview, modeling, where dancers perform a series of skills as in this segment of the competition and their solo.

Spieker and Neimeyer also were selected to Team Minnesota to represent the state and compete at the national competition in California this March.

JFK holds Halloween show

Just For Kix recently held its first Halloween show for young children. Dancers in six classes presented two shows in costumes where they danced to Halloween music.

The instructors were Cindy Clough, Ali Clough, Amanda Clough, Melissa Miller, Kelly Mankowski, Dani Frederickson, Erin LePage and Mackenzie Davidge.

The next show for Just For Kix will be on Dec. 17.

Photography exhibit to open Nov. 12

Art Matters Studio and Gallery at Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd will host an exhibit entitled “Altered States: Abstract and Impressionist Photography” by John Erickson from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 12. The exhibit runs through March 30, or by appointment at (218) 330-1780. The exhibit features a memorial for Berlin Jews, Berlin, Germany.

The Franklin Arts Center also will host its Christmas Open House Nov. 12.

Tim Sparks’ fine guitar at Nisswa Nov. 11

NISSWA – Tim Sparks, award-winning guitar virtuoso, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11 for the next Grassroots concert at the Live Well Nightclub and Coffee Bar in downtown Nisswa.

Sparks has been redefining the acoustic guitar repertoire since he won the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship in 1993 with a groundbreaking arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.

Equally at home with country blues, jazz or world music, Sparks’ extraordinary ability has earned him an international reputation as one of the most innovative guitarists working.

Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., Sparks started picking out tunes by ear on an old Stella flat top during a bout of encephalitis that kept him out of school for a year. He taught himself to play the music he heard around him, traditional country blues and the gospel his grandmother played on piano in a small church in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

At age 14, Sparks was nominated by a musically astute uncle for a scholarship at North Carolina School of the Arts, where he studied the classics with Segovia protégé Jesus Silva. He adapted compositions by Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin and Fats Waller to the guitar, reducing piano arrangements to their essence. Early influences were Doc Watson, Arthur Smith, and most importantly Duck Baker, who opened up a horizon of possibilities for finger style guitar.

After a stint on the road with a Chicago-based rhythm and blues band, Sparks arrived in Minnesota where he soon established himself as a journeyman guitarist and session player. He is equally impressive with all styles and performs across the U.S. and Europe.

Sparks released “Sidewalk Blues” on the Tonewood label in February 2009 and recorded “Little Princess,” his fifth CD for Tzadik, in New York City in 2009.

Doors for the concert open at 6:30 p.m.

Grassroots Concerts, now in its 23rd year, are made possible, in part, by a grant from the Minnesota Legislature through the Five Wings Regional Arts Council. The concert series encourages donations of non-perishable items from those attending. Volunteers will deliver them to the food shelf.

For information go to or e-mail

Butch Thompson to perform in Staples Motley concert series

STAPLES — Ragtime pianist Butch Thompson will perform at 2 p.m. Nov. 13 at Centennial Auditorium in Staples as part of the Staples Motley Area Arts Council’s concert series.

In a career spanning more than 40 years, pianist and clarinetist Thompson has earned a world-wide reputation as a traditional jazz and ragtime master. Widely known for his 12-year stint as house pianist on public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion, where his Trio was the house band, he continues on the show as a frequent guest.

Born and raised in Marine on St. Croix, a small Minnesota river town, Thompson was playing Christmas carols on his mother’s upright piano by age 3, and began formal lessons at 6. He studied clarinet in high school and led his first professional jazz group as a teenager.

After high school, he joined the Hall Brothers New Orleans Jazz Band of Minneapolis, and at 18 made his first visit to New Orleans, where he became one of the few residents not from New Orleans to perform at Preservation Hall during the 60s and 70s.

Thompson tours world-wide and performs as a soloist, at the helm of his several ensembles, and as a guest artist with symphony orchestras from the Minnesota Orchestra to the Cairo (Egypt) Symphony.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students in advance, or $15 and $7 at the door. Tickets are available online at or from the Staples Motley Public Schools Community Education office at (218) 894-5416 or (800) 213-6877. Anyone purchasing six or more advance sale tickets to any event, or series of events, will receive the special season price of only $10 per ticket. Students with proper identification can purchase a Student Rush Ticket one hour before the show for only $1.

Great River Strings to present two concerts

Great River Strings will kick off its 13th season featuring music by various classical composers with a hunting theme with concerts at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at Salem Lutheran Church in Deerwood and at 2 p.m. Nov. 13 at the First Lutheran Church in Aitkin.

Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors up to a maximum of $20 per family.

Vivaldi’s Autumn is a tone poem based on words penned by the composer. In the third movement, Vivaldi writes: “The Hunt. Huntsmen at the break of day depart. With horns, hounds, and guns they go.”

Mozart’s third horn concerto features the instrument used for the hunt – the hunting horn.

“The third movement is a rollicking ride through the countryside with the hunters,” said GRS conductor Rich Aulie. “Beethoven’s 7th Symphony is famous for the hunting horn motif he uses in the third movement, Scherzo.”

“Those selections, along with the beautiful Cavatina from The Deer Hunter and Brian Balmages original piece, Hunting The Wild Beast, comprise the Great River Strings portion of this program,” Aulie said.

Guest French horn soloist will be Patty Diederichs, principal horn player for the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra. The Ripple River Strings will feature original scores written and directed by Arnie Anderson. His Flight of the Drake takes the listener from one end of the lake to the other.