Music in Gregory Park set

Performances in the Park presents Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge Choir at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 22, in Gregory Park in Brainerd.

Members of the Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge Choir perform a mix of gospel, Christian contemporary and Americana themed songs, all while sharing their recovery journeys. For more than 25 years, Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge has been restoring hope to teens and adults struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, a news release stated. They are one of the largest programs in the nation with campuses in Minneapolis, Brainerd, Rochester, Buffalo and Duluth.

Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge Choir performs a mix of gospel, Christian contemporary and Americana themed songs and will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 22, in Gregory Park in Brainerd. Submitted Photo
Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge Choir performs a mix of gospel, Christian contemporary and Americana themed songs and will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 22, in Gregory Park in Brainerd. Submitted Photo

Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge offers both a long-term faith based recovery program and shorter-term treatment programs, allowing staff to effectively serve individuals with a broad spectrum of addiction issues — from those seeking treatment for the first time to those who have been struggling with addiction for many years.

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Every Sunday, client choirs visit regional churches, where they share inspirational songs and personal stories of their recovery from addiction.

“The choir provides a unique learning environment and plays an integral part in the recovery process as residents truly benefit from giving vocal expression to the life change that they have experienced,” the release stated.

Performances in the Park are free and open to the public. People who attend may bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy the music. In commemoration of St. Francis’ 150th anniversary, the church is sponsoring the concert. Hot dogs donated by Von Hanson’s,chips and frozen custard donated by Culvers will be served before the concert, free of charge until it runs out. Serving begins at 6 p.m.

Performances are a collaboration between Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department and The Center. Performances are made possible by financial support from the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation, Deerwood Bank and funding to honor Helen K. Mills, who is Stewart C. Mills Jr.’s mother, who used to skate around Gregory Park, and to honor Mills Jr., who loves music.

Country/rock musicians Eric Neznik (left) and Jason Franzen will bring their acoustic sound to the Music in the Park series at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 25, in Staples. Submitted Photo
Country/rock musicians Eric Neznik (left) and Jason Franzen will bring their acoustic sound to the Music in the Park series at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 25, in Staples. Submitted Photo

Country and rock music hits Staples park stage

STAPLES — Country/rock musicians Eric Neznik and Jason Franzen will bring their acoustic sound to the Music in the Park series at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 25, in Staples.

Expect to hear a variety of tunes from the ‘90s, as well as songs Neznik and Franzen sang when they performed together in October Son in the early 2000s. The band played at clubs and festivals throughout Minnesota, gaining a large following and a reputation for performing tight-knit versions of contemporary country and classic rock tunes.

Neznik, who was the lead vocalist and rhythm guitar player for October Son during those years, left the band in 2004, when he moved to Texas to pursue a career in country music.

For the next 20 years, Neznik worked as a full-time musician in the renowned music cities of Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee. During that time he recorded five albums, which include a mix of original and cover songs.

A Staples native, Neznik said he credits his high school music teacher Stan Carlson for being the one to recognize his vocal talent, and to instill in him the confidence he needed to pursue his musical dreams. “He’s a leading mentor in my life,” Neznik said in a news release.

Along the way, Neznik’s style was influenced by artists like Alan Jackson, George Strait and Garth Brooks. To have had the opportunity to record in the same studios as several of his musical heroes during his years down south is something he’ll always treasure. It was a wonderful, rich experience, but Neznik says he’s happy to be back in Minnesota. He and his wife Alissa recently took over ownership of Tower Pizza in Staples and were excited for the opportunity to play music with Franzen once again.

“Jason is the best lead guitarist I’ve played with outside of Nashville,” Neznik said of his former bandmate, a Brainerd native who’s made his mark on the area music scene. In addition to his work with October Son, Franzen is known for being a part of a very musical family.

“His dad, Jack Franzen, plays with Muddy Water; and his half-brother, Chris Dobson, is also a great musician in the Brainerd area,” Neznik said.

Neznik recalled the October Son reunion concert they had in Staples a couple of years ago. “That was a lot of fun,” Neznik said, adding it’s always a privilege to play with his former bandmates. It will be a scaled down version of the band this time, but Neznik’s equally excited about this upcoming show. There’s a “rawness” he said of the resulting sound of their acoustic duo, adding both he and Franzen are looking forward to sharing their music once again in Staples.

The Music in the Park Concerts are hosted in the Northern Pacific Park and run through Aug. 8. In case of rain, the concerts will be moved to the Staples Community Center. The Music in the Park series is funded by the Staples Host Lions Club. The series is organized by the Staples Motley Area Arts Council, with the assistance of the city of Staples.

For more information on the Music in the Park series, check out staplesmotleyarts.org.

The book cover of Jim Mans' book titled "Twiddle Yer Toes." Mans will appear for a meet and greet and to sing books from noon to 2 p.m. July 31 at CatTale’s Books and Gifts in downtown Brainerd. Submitted Photo
The book cover of Jim Mans' book titled "Twiddle Yer Toes." Mans will appear for a meet and greet and to sing books from noon to 2 p.m. July 31 at CatTale’s Books and Gifts in downtown Brainerd. Submitted Photo

CatTale’s Books hosts author of ‘Twiddle Yer Toes’

Author Jim Mans of "Twiddle Yer Toes" will make his debut from noon to 2 p.m. July 31 at CatTale’s Books and Gifts in downtown Brainerd.

“After numerous years of prodding, we finally got Jim Mans to publish his first collection of magazine articles,” a news release stated. "‘Twiddle Yer Toes’ is now available to guarantee the tickling of your funny bones. Jim is one of those writers whose reputation precedes any introduction. Wry, witty, insightful, and kind, Jim succinctly and hilariously gives the reader a glimpse of the fascinating, everyday people he stumbles upon.”

His interviews with Minnesota's quiet characters have staked his claim to be the discoverer of quirky folks who didn't necessarily want to be discovered. This book is a loving compilation of vignettes that are pretty much assured to give you a laugh while making you think, the new release stated.

Mans will appear for a meet and greet to meet his fans and to sign books. Mans also is the man behind the stories people have read for so many years in the Lake Country Journal, Minnesota Monthly and Minnesota Calls magazines.

The logo for the seventh annual Harvest Moon Brew Fest will be from 3-6 p.m. Sept. 11 in  downtown Aitkin. Submitted logo
The logo for the seventh annual Harvest Moon Brew Fest will be from 3-6 p.m. Sept. 11 in downtown Aitkin. Submitted logo

Harvest Moon Brew Fest set

AITKIN — The seventh annual Harvest Moon Brew Fest will be 3-6 p.m. Sept. 11 in downtown Aitkin.

This outdoor event, near Minnesota Avenue North and Third Street Northeast, will feature many of the best breweries in northern and central Minnesota. There will also be locally brewed beers from the Glacial Lakes Brewers, an Aitkin-based brew club and host of the Harvest Moon Brew Fest.

This year’s event will also include tastings from 14 Lakes Brewing in Crosslake; Klockow Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids; Beerclub Brewing in Mora; Lake of the Woods Brewing Co. in Warroad; Big Axe Brewing Co. in Nisswa; Lupulin Brewing in Big Lake; Block North Brew Pub in Aitkin; Moose Lake Brewing Co. in Moose Lake; Cuyuna Brewing Co. in Crosby; Roundhouse Brewery in Nisswa; Duluth Cider in Duluth; Snarky Loon Brewing Co. in Jenkins; Earth Rider Brewery in Superior, Wisconsin; Surly Brewing Co. in Minneapolis; Jack Pine Brewery in Baxter; and Ursa Minor Brewing in Duluth.

New this year, there will be samples and cocktails from Little Round Still and Canción Tequila.

The Blue Ox Brewers Society, a brew club from Brainerd, will also serve their home brews.

“We had to make the difficult decision to cancel last year’s event, but I’m happy to say that we’re back with a bigger and better Brew Fest this year,” Dan Hansen, president of Glacial Lakes Brewers, stated in a news release. “This is a great outdoor event that brings hundreds of people to Aitkin, allowing us to showcase our wonderful community.”

In addition to the unlimited beverages, the event also includes food, live music, games and activities.

Tickets are available online through Eventbrite at tinyurl.com/wdd3vkhm. There are several ticket options:

  • VIP from 2-6 p.m. for $60. Guests get in an hour early to enjoy limited-release beers and uncrowded access to brewers, samples and vendors. Limited to 50 people; available online only.

  • General tickets are from 3-6 p.m. for $30 in advance and $40 at the gate. Taste unlimited samples of 70-plus beers and ciders from 16 breweries and two home brew clubs, plus cocktails from two distilleries.

  • Designated Driver ticket from 2-6 p.m. is $10. Includes non-alcoholic beverages and a food voucher.

Tickets can also be purchased at Block North Brew Pub, Security State Bank and Aitkin Municipal Liquor Store, all in Aitkin.

Proceeds and sponsors proceeds from the Harvest Moon Brew Fest will go to two local organizations that benefit the Aitkin community:

  • Aitkin County Friends of the Arts is a group raising money to offer classes in several art forms for all ages and to provide performing arts in the Butler Building.

  • Aitkin Community Parks and Recreation is raising money to improve the city park, add a field house/community room, purchase new playground equipment and more.

Sponsors for this event are:

  • Platinum/Growler Level: Block North Brew Pub, Security State Bank, Shirts Plus/Adventure North, Kyle Casey State Farm.

  • Gold/Howler Level: The Beanery, Gramma’s Pantry, Beartooth True Value Hardware, Farm Island Repair & Marine, Timber Lakes Septic Service.

  • Silver/Pint Level: Aitkin Flowers & Gifts, Aitkin Municipal Liquor Store.

Posh Hair Parlour is sponsoring the designated driver booth.

For more information email glaciallakesbrewers@gmail.com or visit GlacialLakesBrewers.org or facebook.com/harvestmoonbrewfest.

This is a photograph taken by Brad Anderson of Ottertail and will be among the work to be displayed through July 31 at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center. Submitted Photo
This is a photograph taken by Brad Anderson of Ottertail and will be among the work to be displayed through July 31 at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center. Submitted Photo

Photography and Fish Decoy Art on display

NEW YORK MILLS — The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center will feature wildlife photographs and fish decoy art in its gallery through July 31.

Wildlife photographs will be by Brad Anderson of Ottertail and fish decoys will be by Larry Lange, Brad Lange and John Peeters. A free reception and presentation by Anderson will be 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, July 21, where the photographer will present more photos and discuss his photo adventures.

Anderson’s photographs include breathtaking images of birds, animals and landscapes. In his artist statement, he states: “Driving the back roads of Minnesota provides me with countless opportunities to photograph the native wildlife. Some of my favorite locations include East Leaf Lake, Fergus Falls, North Ottawa Impoundment, Sax-Zim Bog, the North Shore from Duluth to Grand Portage, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park. My camera travels with me everywhere as some of the best opportunities come at the most unexpected times. I am an avid outdoorsman that enjoys waiting quietly in a blind or ghillie suit, wading through shallow water in a floating photography blind, or driving thousands of miles a year on gravel roads looking for wildlife.”

A display of Larry Lange's fish decoys that will be among the work to be displayed through July 31 at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center. Submitted Photo
A display of Larry Lange's fish decoys that will be among the work to be displayed through July 31 at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center. Submitted Photo

The display of fish decoys are handmade by all three artists of rural New York Mills. The beautifully created decoys range from traditional to whimsical that show the artists’ skill and attention to detail. Whether a person is an avid decoy collector, an angler, a painter, or they enjoy woodcarving, they will thoroughly enjoy the skill and craftsmanship of these decoys, a news release stated.

Cultural Center Executive Director Betsy Roder added, “This Gallery exhibit is a great example of our organizational vision to celebrate ... local artists as well as our local fishing and wildlife culture. Otter Tail County is filled with incredible outdoor wildlife and recreation, and fishing is part of New York Mills' DNA as the home of Lund boats. This show celebrates the intersection of local art, wildlife, and fishing culture through the work of this talented photographer and decoy artists."

This activity is made possible, in part, 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.

Gallery and gift shop hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Private viewing and tours can be arranged by contacting Cheryl Bannes at 218-385-3339 or cheryl@kulcher.org.

Youth on Stage Open Mic set

Youth on Stage Open Mic event is set for 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, July 26, at the Brainerd Eagles Club.

Brainerd Elks Lodge 615 sponsors the event through an Elks National Foundation grant and by the Brainerd Eagles Club No. 215. This monthly youth-oriented event is geared for those age 25 and younger who have a family-friendly talent to share on a year-round basis.

Talent may include singing, playing an instrument, storytelling, essay reading, poetry, tap dancing, comedy, magic, a band or ensemble to perform to live audiences. Each performer will be able to sign up for a 15-minute time slot — open on a first-come basis. Those wishing to sign up should go to YouthOnStageMn.org or may do so at the venue, the Eagles Club, on the night of a performance.

Performers will receive a free cheeseburger, fries and water.