Star News » Arts & Entertainment http://erstarnews.com The Star News covers community news, sports, current events and provides advertising and information for Elk River, Otsego, Rogers and Zimmerman, Minnesota and their surrounding areas. Wed, 02 Sep 2015 19:30:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sorenson ready with jazzed-up set list http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/28/sorenson-ready-with-jazzed-up-set-list/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/28/sorenson-ready-with-jazzed-up-set-list/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 22:22:42 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=793984 by Britt Aamodt

Contributing Writer

If you were around in the 1970s, then you probably remember the rock horn bands. Groups like Chicago popularized a jazz-rock fusion sound that mixed brass with the staple lineup of guitar, bass and drums.

Sorenson was inspired to write the opening track for the album after giving a workshop in the Ozarks. Holed up in his hotel room, he jotted the melody in a notebook. He crossed out the sketch after he got home and transferred the composition to computer.
Sorenson was inspired to write the opening track for the album after giving a workshop in the Ozarks. Holed up in his hotel room, he jotted the melody in a notebook. He crossed out the sketch after he got home and transferred the composition to computer.

Dean Sorenson loved the horn music. He was a kid in Anoka with a piano-instructor mom. In other words, he had an in-home music guru. Cool, huh?

“Frankly, I wanted to do anything besides play piano,” Sorenson said. “I was a young guy. I wanted to play sports, even though I wasn’t very good at them.”

Uninterested in piano, Sorenson loved music. He’d hear a song and try to figure out the melody.

“Believe it or not, one of the first songs I figured out was ‘Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo’ by Rick Derringer,” Sorenson said.

It’s perhaps hard to believe because Sorenson is director of Jazz Studies at the University of Minnesota. He has played in the Orpheum pit band for touring shows. Recently, he backed Idina Menzel, the voice of Queen Elsa in Disney’s “Frozen,” when she came to town.

Author of a number of jazz textbooks, Sorenson has added another star to his stellar resume. He is bandleader of the Dean Sorenson Sextet, which just released an album, “Colors of the Soul.”

Sorenson and band will be bringing down the house at St. Paul’s Black Dog Café, Saturday, Aug. 29. The free performance begins at 7 p.m. with the Ryan Christianson Quartet.

Sorenson, who lives in Elk River, won’t be cranking out “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” Saturday. His set list is jazzed up — and mostly self-authored.

He composed 11 songs for the album. The songs built up over the years as Sorenson taught and performed.

And when he gigs, what instrument does he play? Not the piano. That goes back to his growing-up years and a deal he made with Mom.

“The deal was if I quit piano, I could take up trombone,” Sorenson said.

He quit piano. He took up trombone.

That trombone led him to the music program at the University of Minnesota. He pursued a master’s at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. That was where he found a mentor in Fred Strum.

“He was a very influential teacher,” Sorenson said. “He embodied a work/life balance. He had writing, teaching and family chops.”

Later, Sorenson had an opportunity to teach with Sturm at a music camp in Wisconsin. Sturm had worked with the cream of the jazz scene. He’d toured with Bobby McFerrin.

“But he loved to teach the very beginning student. He was an inspiration,” said the trombonist.

The opening song on Sorenson’s album is “Ozark Moon.” That came to him after teaching a workshop in the Ozarks. He sat down in his air-conditioned hotel room and jotted the song in a notebook.

“I had the melody but I needed to wait till I got to a piano to work out some of the harmony,” admitted the once reluctant piano player.

Another song, “M. Bistro,” has a funkier beat. Sorenson wrote that to celebrate his Elk River neighbor’s fabulous cooking skills.

“Colors of the Soul” is dedicated to Frank Sturm. In a quiet nod to the teacher who meant so much, Sorenson asked Sturm’s daughter, professional artist Madeline Sturm, to design the cover.

Sorenson tried to keep the album as live as possible.

“There’s very little editing. We left in subtle imperfections to make it real,” he said.

But for him, that’s jazz: live and improvised with some brassy horns.

Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog presents:

The Dean Sorenson Sextet

Premiering work from their album “Colors of the Soul”

When: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29

Where: Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, 308 E. Prince St., St. Paul

Cost of concert: Free

Who: Dean Sorenson,  trombone; Steve Kenny, flumpet; David Milne, tenor sax; Chris Lomheim, piano; Tom Lewis, Bass; Phil Hey,  drums.

For more information: Call (651) 228-9274 or visit deansorensonmusic.com. ]]> http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/28/sorenson-ready-with-jazzed-up-set-list/feed/ 0 Video: Hometown Sound Episode 6 with The Rum River Brass http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/26/video-hometown-sound-episode-6-with-the-rum-river-brass/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/26/video-hometown-sound-episode-6-with-the-rum-river-brass/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:08:01 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=793821

The Rum River Brass

The Rum River Brass plays “Amazing Grace,” and while they hope the audience thinks it is a sweet sound, they say the best part is having fun performing together as a band. They plays a wide variety of music such as jazz, electric repertoire, pop, ragtime, classical transcriptions, and pop. This quintet has players from the northern part of the Twin Cities and was formed in 2006.  The band has played over 60 performances for events including weddings, concerts out in the park and in local cities and corporate functions. The Rum River Brass became a band when five members from the North Suburban Concert Band were asked to perform brass quintet music for the band’s “Pops”concert.

Scott McCullough plays the trumpet, cornet, and piccolo trumpet. He has been playing the trumpet since elementary school. He was also a member of the University of Michigan Marching Band. McCullough has written many of the quintet’s arrangements and says he doesn’t want to be done playing his instrument anytime soon.

“I said once up a time I don’t want to ever say I used to play the trumpet,” said McCullough.

Ron Chamberlain plays the trumpet and the flugelhorn and comes from a musical family. He began playing with his dad’s band, “Big Stoop,” when he was 13 years old. Now, he is the leader of that band. He also writes many of the arrangements for the Rum River Brass.

  While they are performing they hope the audience knows they are having a good time.

“One of the most appreciated comments we’ve gotten and we get it fairly often is you guys are having a great time up there, you’re having fun, and that’s what this is really all about,” said McCullough.

To find more information on the band visit their website at http://www.rumriverbrass.com/. ]]> http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/26/video-hometown-sound-episode-6-with-the-rum-river-brass/feed/ 0 Video: Hometown Sound Episode 5 with The Morning Kings http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/19/video-hometown-sound-episode-5-with-the-morning-kings/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/19/video-hometown-sound-episode-5-with-the-morning-kings/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 19:44:51 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=793567

 

The Morning Kings

As The Morning Kings sing their original song “The Groove,” they hope to make listeners move with their music. In 2012, they released their first EP called “Sunrise,” which was a collection of songs they say they felt fit them at the time. Now, they hope to mix up the style of music more on their future EP they are working on.

“For the next album, the idea is to kind of push the envelope a little bit more, have it be a bit more dancy, add some funk, electronic sounds in there and just see what can come of it,” said lead singer and guitarist Andrew Barbes.

The Morning Kings’ story began in 2010 in Rochester, Minnesota, when some original members started playing as a band in high school and others met later in  college. Members of The Morning Kings say their ultimate goal is for performing to become a full-time job where they can create the best music possible. When audience members show up to their shows, they say they hope people can forget their worries.

“It’s our job, that time and that moment, to capture them and, like, encompass them into our music,” Barbes said. 

To hear more of their music or find more information, visit their website at http://www.themorningkings.com or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheMorningkings. ]]> http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/19/video-hometown-sound-episode-5-with-the-morning-kings/feed/ 0 Threshing show ready to thrill http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/18/threshing-show-ready-to-thrill/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/18/threshing-show-ready-to-thrill/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 18:27:42 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=793535 The Nowthen Threshing Show takes place this weekend, Aug. 21-23.

Guests will be treated to a trip back in time by watching corn chopping, blacksmithing, grain threshing, sawmill demonstrations and wandering through an old restored church, one-room schoolhouse, log buildings, a train depot and gas station.

On Friday, Aug. 21, and Saturday, Aug. 22, the show hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., with Sunday, Aug. 23, hours being 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Three-day passes are sold for $20. A one-day pass costs $10. Children 12 and under get in free but must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets are not sold in advance.

The Nowthen Threshing Show is located at 7415 Old Viking Blvd.

One of the show highlights is always the Parade on Power on Main Street in which tractors and engines from many different generations putter down a dirt road snaking through the fairgrounds while onlookers admire the sights and sounds of these powerful machines.

This year’s theme is the Oliver Family of Tractors and Equipment, so organizers are asking anyone with an Oliver brand to come to the show.

The Parade on Power happens at 2 p.m. each day and some of the demonstrations happen at the same time each day. Oxen plowing in the west field behind the church is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rock crushing and threshing demonstrations on the northwest corner of the grounds is 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

There is music in the pavilion each day. The Now & Then Band performs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 21-22, and square dancing is Aug. 23 from noon to 2 p.m. Alex Parenteau and the Silver Wings is performing Friday night, Aug. 21, from 5-9 p.m. Alan Godage & Sundown performs Saturday evening also from 5-9 p.m.

An antique and classic tractor pull Aug. 21 is at 6 p.m. and a tractor pull for classic models is 5 p.m. Aug. 22.

Other activities that only occur once during the Nowthen Threshing Show include Gordon Fredrickson’s presentation at the schoolhouse at 5 p.m. Aug. 22 and a kiddie pedal pull and corn chopping at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 23.

For a full list of activities, visit www.nowthenthreshing.com/schedule. ]]> http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/18/threshing-show-ready-to-thrill/feed/ 0 Windmill art will be unveiled Aug. 27 at Elk River Library http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/13/windmill-art-will-be-unveiled-aug-27-at-elk-river-library/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/13/windmill-art-will-be-unveiled-aug-27-at-elk-river-library/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 19:00:35 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=793367 by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

A piece of windmill art will be unveiled this month outside the Elk River Library.

The event is set from 3-4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27, at the library, located at 13020 Orono Parkway.

A windmill sculpture is coming to the library.
A windmill sculpture is coming to the library.

Carl Zachmann, the Fergus Falls artist who created the piece, will be there. Refreshments will be served.

Will Hollerich, who manages the Elk River Library, said they chose that date and time to coincide with Elk River Municipal Utilities celebrating its 100th anniversary. That community event is from 4-8 p.m. at the Sherburne County Fairgrounds in Elk River.

Meanwhile, the colorful “whimsical windmill” is the grand finale in Elk River’s Powered by Nature branding effort. Zachmann’s windmill sculpture was chosen earlier this year in a contest sponsored by the city.

The sculpture will have colored gears and a tail that has “Elk River” written on it.

Hollerich said the windmill will be installed between a prairie and a butterfly garden, not far from the entrance to the library parking lot. The Elk River Library Board considered several sites near the library for the sculpture.

The windmill art will be placed outside the library, located at 13020 Orono Parkway.
The windmill art will be placed outside the library, located at 13020 Orono Parkway.

Hollerich is pleased the artist thought of the library as a place for his art.

“I think artwork and the library are a natural fit,” Hollerich said.

“I hope it will draw more people to the library and, more than that, I think it will fit with the original construction of the library as a LEED-certified building and Elk River’s Powered by Nature campaign,” he added. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

About the ‘whimsical windmill’

Here’s more about the Powered by Nature sculpture, according to Zachmann’s Public Art Installation Proposal.

•The overall look and movement of the piece is reminiscent of the windmills used on farms to pump water.

•The gears will be painted with a durable automotive-type paint and then distressed to give them a vintage appearance.

•The colors of the gears are important. Dark blue gears represent the Mississippi, with a train of lighter blue gears representing the Elk River as it flows into the Mississippi. The red gear is representative of the city of Elk River on the banks at the confluence of both rivers. A green cog symbolizes the forest and lumber that helped build Elk River. A yellow gear serves as a reminder of the prairie that helped the area’s agriculture to flourish.

•The governor with its steel balls, used by water mills and steam engines to govern and regulate their speed, gets a new life as artistic accent in the piece. The spherical weights will rise and fall, interacting with the wind as its speeds change.

•The shape of the curved pole that the piece sits atop is taken from the city’s logo. It is representative of the water power that built Elk River and gave it its name.

•The galvanized tail and wind vanes will give the piece a vintage appearance, resist corrosion and contrast with the other colors, textures and metals in the sculpture. The frame and base will be made from self-weathering steel and take on a rusty vintage appearance, but not deteriorate as normal steel would. ]]> http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/13/windmill-art-will-be-unveiled-aug-27-at-elk-river-library/feed/ 0 Video: Hometown Sound Episode 4 with Betty Rydell http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/12/video-hometown-sound-episode-4-with-betty-rydell/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/12/video-hometown-sound-episode-4-with-betty-rydell/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 13:38:26 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=793331

As Betty Rydell steps on stage and yodels, sings country music and gospel, she is all about entertaining and including the audience. Rydell grew up on a small farm in a Czech community near Alexandria, Minnesota. She says she knew she wanted to perform at a young age, as she was yodeling by age 8. While she enjoys singing, she also plays the guitar, trumpet, fiddle, mandolin, ukulele, keyboard, melodica and banjo. In 2011 and 2012, she was named the Best Female Entertainer of the Year in a survey by the Winter Texan Times. She and her husband, Edward Bearse, perform together and recorded the CD called “We Could.” They were honored when it was named “Country Duet of the Year” by the National Traditional Country Music Association in August 2014.

Rydell also sings with her granddaughter Randi Rae, who has appeared with her at Mel Tillis Theatre, Midwest Country and several other places. While Rae does still sing with her grandma, her main musical work is performing in her own band called Midwest Mayhem.

Rydell says being able to perform for people and entertain them is what makes her passionate about her work. ]]> http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/12/video-hometown-sound-episode-4-with-betty-rydell/feed/ 0 Fabulous Armadillos concert draws 2,350 http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/12/fabulous-armadillos-concert-draws-2350/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/12/fabulous-armadillos-concert-draws-2350/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 08:53:48 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=793262 Attendance at the July 30th Fabulous Armadillos concert in downtown Elk River was estimated at approximately 2,350, according to Steve Benoit of Elk River Parks and Recreation.

The group played classic rock from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s during a July 30 concert as part of the Riverfront Concert Series.

There are two concerts left in the 2015 series. The Rockin’ Hollywoods with Dawn L. McArthur will play Aug. 13 followed by Martin Zellar and The Hardways on Aug. 20. Concerts start at 7 p.m. and are free. ]]> http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/12/fabulous-armadillos-concert-draws-2350/feed/ 0 Video: Hometown Sound Episode 3 with Craig Ebel and DyVersaCo http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/05/video-hometown-sound-episode-3-with-craig-ebel-and-dyversaco/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/05/video-hometown-sound-episode-3-with-craig-ebel-and-dyversaco/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 15:56:13 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=793103

He is used to saying “It’s Polka Time” on his radio show, but now we are saying “It’s Craig Ebel Time.” On this week’s episode, we meet with Craig Ebel, who plays the concertina and hosts his own radio show that plays on the Internet and is heard across the United States. The 51-year-old who lives in Andover has been inducted into the International Polka Association’s Polka Hall of Fame, The World Concertina Congress Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. Ebel says the Craig Ebel and DyVersaCo band has been playing for roughly 11 years now. The polka variety band formed after a good friend wanted them to play for their wedding. They were ready to put a name to their work, go out and play. They have now released five CDs.

He plays alongside his wife, Lori Ebel, who plays the fiddle and the trumpet. Lori isn’t the only family member in the band. His 10-year-old son, Christoper Ebel, hits the stage performing on the drums. In 2011, he was called the “amazing 6-year-old polka drummer” after being featured on WCCO TV. There was even a push to get him on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

Mounds View native says that Craig Ebel and DyVersaCo band hopes to keep playing for a long time.

“As long as the phone keeps ringing, we’ll play,” Ebel says. ]]> http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/05/video-hometown-sound-episode-3-with-craig-ebel-and-dyversaco/feed/ 0 North Star Boys’ Choir hosting German boys choir http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/04/north-star-boys-choir-hosting-german-boys-choir/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/08/04/north-star-boys-choir-hosting-german-boys-choir/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 11:00:01 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=792967 Submitted photo

Submitted photo

The North Star Boys’ Choir will present the Suhler Knabenchor (Boys Choir) of Germany on Saturday, Aug. 8, at St. Andrew’s Church in Elk River.

The international award-winning choir will assist at Mass and will present an hourlong concert of sacred and secular works afterward. Donations will be accepted to offset travel costs.

This is the third European boys choir the North Star Boys’ Choir has hosted, according to Francis Stockwell, the artistic director of the North Star Boys’ Choir.

The group will warm up their voices during a 7 p.m. performance on Friday, Aug. 7, at Life in Christ Lutheran Church in Albertville.

 
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Mainstreams: Shy kid climbs her way to theater production http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/31/mainstreams-shy-kid-climbs-her-way-to-stepping-stone-theatres-production-of-jack-and-the-giant-bean-stalk/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/31/mainstreams-shy-kid-climbs-her-way-to-stepping-stone-theatres-production-of-jack-and-the-giant-bean-stalk/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 19:36:01 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=793021 by Sue Austreng

ECM Publishers

A shy kid and not one to make a scene, Shelby Swenson never imagined taking center stage. She preferred to blend in with the crowd, content to be a wall flower observing others’ antics and happily taking it all in.

Photo by Linda Swenson Shelby Swenson, a 15-year-old resident of Ramsey, plays the role of the Harp Lady in Stepping Stone Theatre’s production of “Jack and the Giant Bean Stalk.”
Photo by Linda Swenson
Shelby Swenson, a 15-year-old resident of Ramsey, plays the role of the Harp Lady in Stepping Stone Theatre’s production of “Jack and the Giant Bean Stalk.”

And then, her mom talked her in to singing with a performance choir, which led to auditions for family and community theater productions, which led to rehearsals and performance and a life at center stage.

Most recently, the 15-year-old Ramsey resident has been cast as the Harp Lady in Stepping Stone Theatre’s summer production of “Jack and the Giant Bean Stalk.”

“I just never thought I would ever do anything like this, but I love it and want to do more,” Shelby said.

Her mother, Linda Swenson, has taken a keen interest in her daughter’s evolution as an actress.

“She’s always been quiet and still is, but when she got her first starring role and got compliments and applause, her confidence really grew. She’s definitely come out of her shell,” Swenson said.

As Shakespeare said so long ago, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.”

Photos courtesy of Shelby Swenson Appearing on stage for her debut performance, Shelby Swenson played Danni Who, Cindy Loo Who’s little sister in North Star Family Theatre’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Photos courtesy of Shelby Swenson
Appearing on stage for her debut performance, Shelby Swenson played Danni Who, Cindy Loo Who’s little sister in North Star Family Theatre’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Now Shelby has reimagined her role on that stage.

“It’s been life-changing for me,” she said. “It’s something I always want to do now and I plan to go to college for musical theater,” said the straight-A sophomore who will attend Elk River High School in the fall.

For now, she’s inhabiting the role of Harp Lady in Stepping Stone’s “Jack and the Giant Bean Stalk,” a reimagination of the beloved fairy tale.

In the play, written by Linda Daugherty and with original music and song composed by Stephen Houtz, the audience sees what happens after Jack climbs that giant bean stalk into the sky.

Playing the part of Annie meant Shelby Swenson got in the act with a furry four-legged member of the troupe when Elk River Community Theatre did “Little Orphan Annie.”
Playing the part of Annie meant Shelby Swenson got in the act with a furry four-legged member of the troupe when Elk River Community Theatre did “Little Orphan Annie.”

The musical production tells the tale of a giant who has a wife (who really is tired of her husband’s fe-fi-fo-fumming), the chicken that lays golden eggs and has anxiety issues and the guitar in the corner that’s singing for its life.

And what about Jack’s father – the blue-eyed man who was lost at sea? Rumor has it there’s a captive in the giant’s dungeon. Could that be him?

As for her part in the play, Shelby called the Harp Lady a “sassy drama queen diva” who soothes the giant by singing and playing the harp as Jack comes to rescue her from the giant’s control.

Shelby Swenson played the role of Alice in North Star Family Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.”
Shelby Swenson played the role of Alice in North Star Family Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

“It’s fun to play her. I worked with it, played with it until I found something I thought would work the best for the character. And it seems to be working. I’m having a great time with it,” Shelby said.

Shelby counts Ordway’s production of “Wicked” and the “Lion King” as among her favorite musicals but said her favorite one of all time is “Chicago.”

“I just loved all the dance, the story line, the songs. That’s my absolute favorite,” she said.

Her mother agrees that taking the giant theatrical step to perform with Stepping Stone Theatre has been a histrionic step for Shelby, to be sure.

As Dorothy in Elk River Community Theatre’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” Shelby Swenson took the stage in the first big role of her fledgling acting career.
As Dorothy in Elk River Community Theatre’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” Shelby Swenson took the stage in the first big role of her fledgling acting career.

“I am just so proud of her. This has been really so much fun to watch and she’s having so much fun. She just loves it,” Swenson said.

Shelby’s greatest dream is to perform on Broadway, she said, but for now she’s happy to make her mark on local stages.

“Jack and the Giant Bean Stalk” opened July 11 and runs through Aug. 2. For dates, times and tickets, visit SteppingStoneTheatre.org or call 651-225-9265.

The theatre is located at 55 Victoria St. N, St. Paul.

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