Entertainment Briefs - Sept. 15

Pulitzer Prize winning poet to speak Central Lakes College's Verse Like Water series will kick off its fifth year with Pulitzer Prize winning poet Vijay Seshadri. The event starts with a reading at noon Sept. 30 in the Chalberg Theatre on the Bra...

Robin Rozanski
Robin Rozanski

Pulitzer Prize winning poet to speak

Central Lakes College's Verse Like Water series will kick off its fifth year with Pulitzer Prize winning poet Vijay Seshadri. The event starts with a reading at noon Sept. 30 in the Chalberg Theatre on the Brainerd campus. After the reading at 1:30 p.m., he will sign books and host an informal craft talk on creativity and the imagination. The event is free and open to the public.

Born in Bangalore, India, Seshadri has risen to the top of America's literary scene as a poet, critic and essayist. He is also a professor of genius at Sarah Lawrence.

"Vijay Seshadri's poetry is an intense exploration of what is possible with language. Like all great poets, he has a sense of humor, but he seems most interested in putting in collision everyday experience with the epic, with the surreal," Jeff Johnson, proprietor of Verse Like Water, stated in a news release. "One moment you are reading about possible versions of the apocalypse, and then you observe him taking a package for his neighbor Gus from the mail deliverer a few lines later.

"He likely will offer an account of his long journey from Bangalore, India, to a life in literature in Brooklyn, New York. No doubt, this will be another first rate literary event for the Brainerd lakes region."


This literary event is sponsored by the CLC English department, Five Wings Arts Council and Minnesota Public Radio.

For more information, contact Jeff Johnson at or 218-855-8102.

Tickets on sale for Real Men Sing festival

STAPLES-Tickets for the 15th annual Real Men Sing festival scheduled 7 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Staples Motley High School Gymnasium are available. Attendees will be junior high and high school students together with area men's choral groups who will participate in a full day workshop beginning at noon on the day of the concert. The concert is open to the public with doors opening at 6 p.m.

The host chorus is the Staples Area Men's Chorus who began the tradition in hopes of keeping men singing throughout high school and into adulthood.

SAMC Director Rob Freelove looks forward to his first year as SAMC director and participating as host at this annual event.

"I'm excited to get the men together where they can be guys and sing, and not worry about the normal high school things like peer pressure and other things that may interfere with their enjoying singing," Freelove stated in a news release.

Area schools who have not yet registered are welcome to register junior high and high school aged choirs by visiting the website. There is no charge to students to attend the event and it has been made possible by the generous donations of SAMC audience members and other community donations.


In 2015 there were 329 singers participating in this annual event, and the SAMC hopes to encourage more student participation. Participating schools have included Bertha-Hewitt, Brainerd, Browerville, Little Falls, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Marshall, New York Mills, Park Rapids, Pequot Lakes, Pillager, Pine River, Sebeka, Staples-Motley, North Dakota State University, and St. Cloud State University. This year Bemidji State University is anticipated to join these ranks.

Participants will be broken down into two groups based on their ages, adult and high school students participating in Real Men Sing and the junior high group participating in RMSjr!

RMS will be conducted by Bret Amundson, director of choral activities and director of general education at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. Amundson directs the Concert Choir, Bella Voce, and Women's Choir, teaches courses in music education and conducting and is the director of the college's dignitas program. He also is the artistic director of the Lake Superior Youth Chorus and the Twin Ports Choral Project, and the choir director at Pilgrim Congregational Church.

RMSjr! will be conducted by Sarah Cohen also of the College of St. Scholastica where she serves as the assistant director of choral activities and vocal music education. Cohen directs the Women's Choir, Men's Choir and Concert Choir, as well as teaches courses in vocal music education and conducting, supervises vocal music education student teachers and teaches a freshman Dignitas course. In the Duluth community, she is the assistant Chorus Master of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra Choir, assistant artistic director of the Lake Superior Youth Chorus, director of the LSYC Prelude Program and sings with the Twin Ports Choral Project.

Attendees participate in workshops throughout the day and then will have an opportunity to participate and enjoy a talent show performed for the participants only prior to final rehearsals for the night concert which is open to the public.

SAMC mass chorus pieces will be varied to provide the audience with different genres of music. Among the selections, they will be singing a 16th century piece and a piece from a musical, the song called "Coffee in a Cardboard Cup," with words that makes a person stop and reflect.

This project is made possible by a grant provided by the Five Wings Arts Council with funds from the McKnight Foundation supplemented with Legacy funds and with support from the Staples Lions Club, Staples Motley Area Community Foundation, National Joint Powers Alliance, 3M and Popplers Music.

Tickets for the concert can be purchased at , from any chorus member, or at Nelson Insurance Agency in Staples.


Loft's literary lecturer lends letter lessons

NEW YORK MILLS-Current Artist-in-Residence Robin Rozanski, of Loft Literary Center fame, will present a letter-writing workshop from 5:30-7 p.m. tonight, Sept. 15, in the gallery at the Cultural Center in New York Mills.

Rozanski is a Minneapolis-based writer and instructor.

Rozanski stated in a news release, "Whether passing along advice to children or connecting with an old friend, real letters are satisfying in a way that emails aren't. This isn't about calligraphy, it's about sharing life and thoughts, combining small moments with big ideas. We practice with writing prompts, and start your own letters, even if you don't know who you want to write to yet."

As part of the Center's Arts Retreat artist residency program, Rozanski is interested in fiction of all lengths, from flash fiction to novels, usually literary in genre. Exploring themes of mortality and humanity through characterizations of illness or physical deformity, occasionally her work tends toward fantastic or speculative elements. Rozanski earned a master of arts in English from the University of Central Florida. She is currently working on her second novel.

For more information, visit the Center's website at or call the center at 218-385-3339.

Grand opening set at Restoration Books and Gifts

CROSBY-Restoration Books and Gifts in Crosby will host a grand opening and author signing Oct. 1 with author Sarah Beth Lindberg.

There will be a prayer and blessing at 9 a.m. and then Lindberg will speak at 10 a.m. In a news release, it states "Sarah desires to be fully surrendered to God and his purpose and has a great passion for his word. She will share what it means to live victoriously in Christ."

Restoration Books and Gifts' mission is to share hope and restoration through Christian and Inspirational books and gifts that touch the heart, mind and soul.

For more information call 218-545-4673.

Cider and Candlelight Tour set

CROSSLAKE-The annual Cider and Candlelight Tour will be 7-9 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Crosslake Historic Log Village. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience the 1900 Village by night, lit by lanterns and candles as in a century ago. Buildings will be heated with wood fires if it is cool. There will be horse drawn wagon rides offered by Doug Taylor of Action Entertainment. Strolling musicians, Kai and Bridgett Allen will be on guitar and violin. Costumed volunteers will provide tours of the historic buildings. Hot cider and fall treats will be served in the Livery. Peanuts and candy corn along with Sarsaparilla will be available in Duffy's Tavern. There is no admission charged for this event. Donations will be accepted.

Jerusalem: Treasures from the Holy Land tour coming to Brainerd

As part of the 11th annual Greater Minnesota tour, The Rose Ensemble, will present "Jerusalem: Treasures from the Holy Land," at 7 p.m. Monday at Central Lakes College's Chalberg Theater in Brainerd.

The program of music will be about the holy city of Jerusalem, featuring Sufi mystical songs, Latin and Yemenite chant, Hebrew cantillation and spiritual music from across the Arab world.

Joining the ensemble are guest musicians Yair Dalal, an Iraqi-born, Israeli violinist and oud player; Dror Sinai, Israeli-born, Middle Eastern percussionist; and Zafer Tawil, Jerusalem-born, Palestinian multi-instrumentalist.

After the performance, there will be a post-concert discussion with artistic director Jordan Sramek, the guest musicians and a few of the Ensemble musicians.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors age 65 and older or students with identification.

Before the Sept. 19 concert there will be an interactive, educational event at noon at the Brainerd Public Library. Participants will learn about the research behind the program, see demonstrations of ancient ethnic instruments and hear plenty of music and stories about Jerusalem, the region that encompasses 3,000 years of human history.

This program is free, no registration is required.

Tickets for Harvest Dinner available

AITKIN-Tickets for the annual Jaques Harvest Dinner are now on sale.

The annual fundraising event is planned Oct. 1 at the historic Butler Building upstairs in the Opera Hall in Aitkin. The event calls for a 5 p.m. social hour with a cash bar and a harvest meal at 6 p.m. Foot tapping entertainment will be provided by area bluegrass band, Hans Blix and the Weapons Inspectors. There will be a silent auction, a mini garage sale and a live Janzen "Chair-ity Auction," featuring artfully decorated chairs to benefit the Jaques Art Center.

Tickets may be purchased between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday or by calling 218-927-2363 to reserve a place at the table.

Dates for Geritol Frolics set

The dates are set for the 2016 production of the Geritol Frolics at the Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd. The Geritol Frolics is a musical variety show performed by talented seniors age 55 and older. This year's show will feature a selection of music from the days of "Your Hit Parade."

Performance dates are 7 p.m. Oct. 20 and 29 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 21-23, 27, 28 and 30.

Tickets are $18 and $20. All seats are reserved. Tickets are currently available online at and will be available at the box office at Franklin Arts Center starting Sept. 19. Tickets may be purchased at the box office from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or by calling 218-825-4993.

Bluegrass band coming to Staples

STAPLES-The High 48s Bluegrass Band will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Centennial Auditorium in Staples, to kick off the Staples Motley Area Arts Council's new season.

Since forming in 2006, The High 48s have been making music that combines "the soulful sound of classic bluegrass with a modern attitude, original songs and a wide range of influences far beyond Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers; and Flatt and Scruggs," it stated in a news release.

In a genre created and dominated by artists from the south, The High 48s were born and raised in the upper Midwest; in a music scene where playing standards was the norm., The High 48s are a band of songwriters who perform their own material in addition to the "festival favorites."

The band takes their name from railroad slang for the boxcars originally used to transport troops on the front lines in World War I that could carry 40 soldiers or eight horses; and were later used in the United States on fast-moving "hot shot" freight trains by train-hoppers looking for work during the Great Depression.

In 2014, The High 48s honored their namesake by recording an album of train songs in Nashville with Grammy-winning engineer and producer Randy Kohrs. The album is the band's sixth release.

According to, "Since arriving on the Minnesota bluegrass scene in 2006, The High 48s have achieved national recognition, taking first place in the prestigious RockyGrass Bluegrass Band Competition in Lyons, Colo., touring the national bluegrass festival circuit, and earning the respect of bluegrass musicians and audiences in both the north and south."

Individually, the band members have made their mark in the bluegrass world, playing with notable musicians along the way, including Grammy-nominees Special Consensus and traditional bluegrass legend James King.

Still to come on this year's season are The Koopmann Family, with their New Year's Eve concert; Dawn Timbs, Ted Feyder and Gary Timbs, performing folk, country and gospel music; and Mikko and Friends, a traditional Irish Pub Band.

Go to for more information on the concert series.

Tickets for The High 48s are $12 for adult and $6 for student in advance; or $15 and $7 at the door. Go to the council's website or to the Staples World to purchase tickets.

This concert is underwritten by Unity Bank.

3 artists work on display

LITTLE FALLS-Great River Arts is featuring the art of three women artists in its Little Falls galleries during the month of September and October.

Tiffany Besonen's exhibition "Space in Between" will be on display in the front gallery through Sept. 30; and Barbara Riegel Bend and Sandy Bot-Miller's exhibition "Taking Shape: a process" will be in the main gallery through Oct. 28. There will be an artists' reception from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Besonen is a painter, mixed media artist and arts educator from Menahga. "Space in Between" is a collection of 11 works that discuss themes of connectivity. The base structure of each painting is composed from a photograph of Besonen and her husband looking out over a lake her daughter took. Stylistically she moves through paint application as she addresses each new canvas and the space that takes place between the abstracted silhouettes of husband and wife.

Bend of the St. Croix Valley Watershed and Bot-Miller of St. Cloud present the collaborative exhibition "Taking Shape: a process" which features pastel drawings, fiber weavings and mixed media fiber sculptures. Their art shows an endless uncovering of how various materials and techniques lend themselves to capturing a story and unearthing hidden aspects of oneself.

These exhibitions, in addition to the Satellite Gallery September/October exhibition "Pieces Along the Way" by Kathy Umbarger, highlight the inspiring work being created by female artists in central Minnesota.

Twin Cities band to perform outdoor concert

The Heart of the City Band from the Twin Cities will perform a free outdoor concert from 8-10:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at the corner of Ninth and Laurel Street in downtown Brainerd.

Heart of the City is a large, multi-ethnic band who has been performing since 1996 with a major focus on racial reconciliation. Their band members represent 11 different ethnicities including, African American, Native American, Trinidadian, Puerto Rican, Venezuelan, Chinese, Caucasian, Mexican and others. Their eclectic musical styles reflect the diversity of their band members including salsa, reggae, gospel, jazz, rock, Native American and east Indian styles with spiritual themes permeating their songs.

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