Maycomb: A Suite for Wind Ensemble and Folk Band April 18 at Ted Mann Concert Hall

The Paper Days, a Minneapolis folk-rock band, have composed a work based on “To Kill a Mockingbird” to be performed with The Northstar Campus Band called – Maycomb. The performance is free. Student musicians from around the state will be attending. It is open to the public!

It is an opportunity for high schools around the state to take on a challenge of a new work that mashes up old and new – both in music and story. The music keeps a foot in classical and and in contemporary camps. The story of To Kill a Mockingbird opens the door to discussion of social issues relevant today and in 1960 when the book was first published.

Maycomb: A Suite for Wind Ensemble and Folk Band 
The Paper Days are premiering an original composition performed in collaboration with The Northstar Campus Band called “Maycomb”

  • On April 18th
  • Ted Mann Concert Hall
  • Time/Duration: 7:30-8:30 Approximately 1 hr, meet and greet to follow in lobby
  • FREE, All Ages, Family Friendly.


Gambler’s Daughter at Can Can Wonderland

You know what a real gambler does? Plays a place as crazy as Can Can Wonderland! I’ve got to set the stage. Can Can Wonderland opened about six weeks ago in St Paul just off University Avenue, West of Midway. It’s a renovated canning company, turned indoor miniature golf and stage and dozens of old school pinball machines and fun drinks for kids and adults.

It’s crazy – but it’s actually crazy good. I wasn’t sure what to expect especially for a show. I brought my favorite 12 year old just in case. We ordered a Fruit Loop malt and set in for a few songs before hitting the machines.

Gambler’s Daughter played before an audience of all ages – a full house. Luckily Jessa Roquet’s voice is robust enough to fill the space. Somehow either due to the band or some excellent sound engineering, the setting feels pretty cozy and the band really becomes the center of attention – a little bit like being in the eye of the storm.

The music straddle s pop and folk. Roquet’s voice is clear and she can hit the high notes. Harmonies with her sister Emily Carlson deepen the music. And watching the two on stage in such a crazy place is worth the price of admission – sort of a good natured how-in-the-heck did we get here wonderment.

She plays with a full band, including a lot of strings and there’s an echo of guitar in a few songs that’s really nice. She played a few somber songs. The inspiration for The Woods was Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. She makes it her own with new imagery but uses many of the famous line (“miles to go before I sleep”) and especially seeing the band with a kid, I appreciate an artist building from past art and giving that art to a new audience.

There was a song that isn’t on her new album. It was perfect for the location with a circus theme about a carousel and watching the world from above it. It gives me something to look forward to on the next album!

The Lowest Pair brings the front porch to the Dakota Jazz Club

Photo credit: Tom Garneau

Photo credit: Tom Garneau

The Lowest Pair brought their front porch sound to the jazzy darkness of the Dakota on Thursday night. The room was full of admirers making the downtown urbane club more down home and cozy.

The Lowest Pair is the duo of singing, banjo playing, guitar playing and at least one harmonica playing song writers. Palmer T. Lee is from Minnesota. Kendl Winter is from Arkansas but has transplanted herself to Olympia, Washington. Their last album was Fern Girl & Ice Man. It seems an apt description of them.

They have an earnest sound. Both have aspirated voices that feel like storytelling. Winter’s voice can bring on a trill – like a more mountain version of early Dolly Pardon. Lee’s voice can become almost aggressive like traditional Irish singer talking about the Brits. And the voices blend well together.

Each has a turn at center stage. Each supports the other. They sing in harmony and at times with a countermelody. They do the same with the instruments. There are times when they play together and times when they play around each other like smoke swirling – either way it works.

They opened with The Sky is Green from Uncertain as it is Uneven – the gullible song! She’s on the banjo, he’s on guitar. She’s singing. It sounds like a summer day. They played new songs too – such as Take What You Can Get, which seems more country, less blue grass to me and Bent Out of Shape, which Palmer introduced as a gospel.

The second set opened with Dock My Boat, which is upbeat. And then one of my favorites – Headed to the River. Tough to beat two banjos played fast. I think that was when I had to quit sitting, which is one of the rare downsides of the Dakota.

They made the whole house happy when they ended the second set (pre-encore) with Rosie – an imploring song that showcases their voices.