Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Minnesota 13 was the Key to Moonshine in Minnesota

With John Perkins’ ninth benefit concert for the Edge Center in August, we will learn a lot about some little known facts concerning this “neck-of-the-woods”.  One of the more colorful facts is that there was a lot more “moonshine” being produced here than one might expect. In fact, the state of Minnesota was one of the centers of making illegal liquor during those years. It had its own preferred “brand” of the product taking “Minnesota 13” moonshine way beyond the region. John Perkins brings his “brand” of music to his annual Edge benefit concert this month. All the music he sings and plays is his own. John is a very talented musician, singer, and songwriter from the Sand Lake area of our state. You can sit back and enjoy his songs about the history, people, and way of life here in the Chippewa forest plus something about his other “home” in the “smoky mountains” where he spends half of the year enjoying life a little south of Asheville North Carolina. John will be joined by his “better-half” Sandy with her, spoons, Cajon and wonderful energy.  The show will be on stage at the Edge Center in Bigfork Saturday August 26 at 7PM. Prices $10 adults and $5 children.

Above, is a picture of John with his "Moonshine" prop that he made for this performance.

First a little bit about “Minnesota 13” moonshine.  Back in the 1800's it was thought that corn would not grow as far north as Minnesota until some University of Minnesota researchers developed a corn strain they called Minnesota 13. Sterns County was a production center for lots of Minnesota 13 during prohibition. But, there were more than just a few moonshine stills back in the woods this far north too. Here, other ingredients were used such as wheat and potatoes because there was so much of those available.

But that is getting a little ahead of the story. With Minnesota 13 corn being growing well down state, production rose and WWI provided ample market opportunities. The war ended, depression hit and so did Prohibition. All that did not stop the corn from growing, and with the silos filling, jobs disappearing and people needing money, the moonshine industry was born in Minnesota with Minnesota 13 being a preferred brand well beyond it boarders.

The production of  illegal booze including Minnesota 13 flourished until prohibition was repealed.

But let us go back to Northern Minnesota Moonshine for a bit. Back then in the early part of the 20th century and still today there is no federal law exemption distilling spirits for family or personal use and every state has its own set of laws regarding same.  You just couldn’t and still can’t do it legally. Now, there is a growing “craft distilleries” industry happening that is following up the “Craft Breweries” industry, but back in the 1920's and 30's no such thing existed, so everyone who made alcohol for drinking purposes was doing it to make illegal moonshine. Also back then the roads in northern Minnesota were not the best in the country, so getting around on them was not always easy, and then there was the winter with which to deal. So why not wait for a good snow storm to make sure you’d have no “visitors” on those snowy roads and fire up the still to make some spirits?  And if you needed more volume you could always hide it in some ingenious place like under a chicken coop.  That is enough about moonshine, and it is enough to just says it will be one of the topics in the John Perkins concert.  

You will be amazed at the amount of music John creates. Some of the songs you may have heard in his past concerts, but there is always so much more that will be new. He keeps finding new ways to be amazed by our world and passes that onto his audiences with his songs. There will be songs about homesteading at Max, the Zen of fishing, making maple syrup, a talking shed (that is a new one), and a “Box of Time” with a hole in the bottom. There will also be some of his other favorites that tell stories like “A Plow and a Friend” and “Whitewater Slim”, a 1928 logger who tried to ride the logs through Dead Man’s rapids on the Little Fork river. And don’t forget Chief Busticogan’s buried gold.

Audiences learn about both places John lives, laugh a little, and maybe shed a tear. But anyway it is strummed, it will be entertaining. To see an example of John's singing and song writing abilities, you can go to the following link: 

John plays a large variety of instruments including six, eight and 12 string guitars, a Resonator Steel Slide, and even a six-string banjo. Don’t forget there might also be a tambourine, jug, washboard, and Cajone on stage. For more information about John Perkins go to: And for some great Perkin’s music come to the concert on stage at the Edge Center in Bigfork Saturday August 26 at 7PM. Prices $10 adults and $5 children.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

“Shrek, The Musical” Comes to Bigfork

Every July in Bigfork it is time for an annual visit from our friends at the Stages Theatre Company from Hopkins.  Each year they bring a whole cast and stage set for one of their special productions. This year it is “Shrek The Musical,” a fairy tale about an unlikely hero in the form of a Ogre who solves the problems in his world with an adventure that will give you a very enjoyable experience no matter what your age. The play is on the Edge Center stage Friday through Sunday July 14 to 16. Performances are at 7PM on Friday and Saturday and at 2PM on Sunday. Prices are $12 Adults, $5 children.

It includes a wise-cracking donkey, a fairy princess, a mean villain, a cookie with an attitude and a bunch more fairy-tale misfits that somehow save the day with mayhem, great music and lots of fun. The play is for the whole family and will leave you happy and in a good mood.   

This is 32 seasons for the Stages company doing young peoples productions. It has grown “to become the third largest nonprofit threatre in Minnesota and one of the largest professional threatres for young audiences and those young at heart in the country.

From their website, “ when you see Shrek the green ogre find out that his “Swamp” is “…swamped with all sort of  fairy-tale creatures by the screaming Lord Farquaad, Shrek sets out with a very loud Donkey by his side to ‘persuade’ Farquaad to give Shrek back his swamp.” That is not too big of a job for an Ogre and Donkey, but something always gets in the way called “love” but all ends as it should… come and see for yourself.

Sandy Boren-Barrett (below) is the Artistic Director of Stages and the Director of this play. She says, “this spring I was in Bigfork School doing a musical threatre residency with the students in grades 3-6 and the all student finale number for the residency was ‘This is our Story’ the finale number from Shrek, the musical. To have the voices of 75 Bigfork students singing a song that they will later hear the actors in Stages Theatre Company  summer production touring of Shrek singing, was so inspiring.  I told the students that when they come to see the show in July, I hope to hear them singing along with the cast!”

This “Shrek The Musical” is one of the adaptations evolved from the 2008 Tony Award Winning Broadway musical. It is the young people’s version of the production.  It is based on the same story and features many of the same songs. It is all based on a Tony Award-winning musical that is, in turn, based on the Oscar-winning Dreamworks Animation film. Shrek book and lyrics by David Lidsay-Abaire. Music by Jeanie Tesori. Originally produced on Broadway by DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street Productions. Presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre Internationl (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI Shows.  And, all photos shown here are by Steve Fischer for Stages Theatre Company 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Thirteenth Annual Juried Exhibit at the Edge Center Gallery in Bigfork

This will be the thirteenth time the Edge Center Art Gallery in Bigfork invited artists to submit their work for judging by a juror. Sarah Brooke, MFA Assistant Professor and Director of the Art Department at the College of St. Scholastica is this year’s juror. The results will be 17 artists’ work on display in this annual Juried Exhibit which is on display from June 29 to July 29.  The opening day reception is on June 30th from 5 to 7PM. There is also a special “People’s Choice Award” selected by viewers. That award will be part of the reception and can be voted on June 29th and up until 6PM June 30th. There is no charge for the gallery and reception. The Edge Center Gallery is next to the Bigfork School and is open from 10AM to 4PM on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  

Sarah Brooke, this year’s juror and Assistant Professor of Art at the College of St. Scholastica, selected a wide range of entries that should be enjoyable to all who see the exhibit.  She received her BFA from the University of Minnesota and her MFA through a joint program between Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy and Bowling Green State in Ohio. She has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally and recently published a book of her paintings called “Portrait of and Artist.”  

Of the seventeen artists selected for this year’s exhibit four are new to the event. They are painters James Bzura and Tyler Evin, fiber artist Patricia Lovegreen, and sculptor Sherry Hoffman. The remaining artists chosen by Professor Brooke have previously exhibited in past shows. Among these are painters Sandra Thompson, Nikki Besser, and Jan Stenson; photographers Donna Rae Anderson, Audrey Johnson, Jill Johnson, Tim Lamey, and David Swanson; mixed media artist Sandra Boreen; print-maker David Nyssen; quilter Pamela Burns; basket weaver Cathryn Peters; and blown glass artist Jon Offutt. Altogether, 23 works of art by the 17 artists make up this year's 13th Annual Juried Exhibit.

The awards ceremony starts the evening of the opening reception at 6:15. A special thanks to the sponsors of the awards. This year they are: Best of Award by Kocian’s Family Market and two Awards of Excellence sponsored by Arvig Communications and First State Bank of Bigfork.  For the audience, the People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Bigfork Valley Hospital, is always special. It gives visitors a chance to see how their opinions compare to the juror. 

The Yellow Float photo (above) by Donna Rae Anderson from Deer River is an example of her work which she started at the age of ten using a Kodak Brownie. Her “…goal is to capture those moments when I am struck by the ‘WOW-ness’ of a scene…My greatest compliment is when told that my photograph looks like a painting…”

Northern Minnesota Artist Nikki S. Besser “…uses oil and mixed media as a means of capturing and recreating life’s most captivating moments on canvas…” (above)

From Crosby Minnesota, artist James Bzura shows his “…intent to birth art objects that declaim their existence as subjects experiencing history…” (above)

Fargo’s Jon Offutt “…continues to represent the prairie landscape in glass...” (above)

Sandra Thompson from Bigfork says “I am an abstract artist…I’m very excited to find different mediums to explore. Encaustics attracted me for its glossy wax texture…” (above).

The Gallery invites you to come and see this Thirteenth Juried show and pick your favorite while enjoying a snack and seeing a variety of exceptional art. For more information go to  Or come and visit Edge Center gallery which is next to the Bigfork School. The Gallery is open from 10:00 to 4:00 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Man In Black Johnny Cash Tribute Band in Bigfork

Jay Ernest is the lead singer in the Johnny Cash Tribute band and his voice is amazingly similar to the real thing. Jay has a natural, calm, deep bass-baritone quality that can only be truly appreciated when it is heard. The band is “The Church Of Cash - Johnny Cash Tribute Band” and it will be on stage this June 24th at The Edge Center” in Bigfork.  Singer and guitarist Jay Ernest is joined by Jonathon TeBeest on Drums, Albert Perez playing Electric Guitar, and Eric Struve playing Upright Bass, in a performance suitable for all ages. This Minneapolis-based band’s family friendly performance is for everyone to enjoy: Saturday June 24 at 7PM: $15 adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

Jay Earnest (above from his Facebook page) learned to love Johnny Cash music from his father who loved and listened to Johnny Cash when Jay was growing up.  The music stuck with Jay.  When he was performing various kinds of music at open mics, and he played Johnny Cash, people put down their drinks, quit talking and listened.  When this tribute band became a reality, it was easy for him to learn Johnny Cash music because so much of it was still in his memory from his early years. He says that the band plays like Johnny Cash but does not try to imitate him. Along with his fellow band members, they bring the Cash feel to the music with a little mix of other country legends. The sound of the group speaks more about their music than any news article or blog can put in print. Enter the following URL and hear The Church Of Cash

Jay says, “Johnny Cash has been a very important figure in my life.  My father sang many of his songs to me as a child and unwittingly, I remember everyone that he sang to me to this day.  It made it very easy to get a set list together for the show! Johnny influences me even off the stage.  His love for his wife was legendary.  I keep that sentiment in my relationship with my wife, Christa, whom I love completely. His dedication to the American story is what excites me. His music has something for everyone to relate to and hold dear.  Johnny is one of America’s greatest artistic treasures.”

Jay Ernest was born in New Ulm Minnesota in 1973. He has toured throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Jay started “The Church of Cash” in Homolulu in 2009 and brought it back to Minnesota in 2010. He has been performing 200 shows a year throughout, the upper Midwest, Beligum and The Netherlands. As said earlier, his love of Johnny Cash music started as a young farm boy when his father sang Cash songs while working the land. It wasn’t till much later, when Jay started to play Johnny Cash music that his memories of Cash music became so important.  

Johnathon TeBeest on drums toured extensively since 1988.  His touring landed him in such countries a Belgium, Denmark, Germany, England and even Canada. He lived in Brooklyn for some years and was asked by Sony records to be a studio musician. He now resides in the North Metro of the Twin Cities with the Church Of Cash and is also producing records.

Albert Perez on Electric Guitar is originally from Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  He studied music at McNally Smith College in St. Paul. He has done national touring with a variety of bands. H joined Church Of Cash in 2016 and has been the main guitar player for the band.

Eric Struve plays Upright Bass and was born and raised in Rochester Minnesota. He has been playing bass professionally since 2002.  His wide range of influences have been witnessed as he has played in country bands, rock bands, reggae bands and also a group that plays music for silent movies at special showings in theatres across the Midwest.

The music that will be played by the band for this Bigfork performance will also show the wide range of Johnny Cash’s performances.  We don't have a complete song list for this blog, but we can give readers a sample of what might be included.

Gospel music that includes “Daddy Sang Bass”, “I saw the Light”, “I’ll fly Away and “Sweet By and By”. 

There will also be some of the Cash train songs such as “Folsom Prison”, “Hay Porter”, “Orange Special”, “”Wreck of Old ‘97” and “Rock Island line.”

There has to be a selection of love songs which will include “Jackson”, “Walk the Line”, and “Ring of Fire”.

The song list will also include, “One Piece at a Time”, “Boy Named Sue”, “Long Black Veil” and “25 Minutes to Go”.
This list is, of course, tentative and may change, so come to the show and expect a little of the unexpected.

Johnny Cash (above) was born in 1935 and died in 2003, four months after his second wife June Carter-Cash died. His final live performance was on July 7 2003.  He served in the U.S. Air Force for four years and was honorably discharged. He never was in prison, but was in jail on occasion for misdemeanors, sometimes related to his problems with amphetamine and barbiturate addition. He once said, “I was taking the pills for awhile then the pills started taking me.” In his career, from 1954 to 2003, he made 96 albums and 153 singles with several companies. Add to this, Cash’s collaboration with many notable musicians, plus numerous awards and honors that all combined represent a substantial career.  As the years went on, his demeanor became more somber, and his humility grew.

He performed free prison concerts, was an advocate for Native Americans, loved his family deeply, believed in his faith strongly, fought his addictions fiercely for his whole life, and did the best that he could.

You can’t fully describe this man’s life in a paragraph or two, but it might help you understand him. Go to for more about his life and music. 

During this concert you will get a chance to hear a wide range of Johnny Cash music, and we hope you will enjoy it. This band will let you experience a great performer's music, and hear how well it covers so many topics. The performance of "The Church Of Cash Johnny Cash Tribute Band" (shown below during an outdoor concert) will be on stage at The Edge Center in Bigfork on Saturday June 24 at 7PM: $15 adults and $5 for children 12 and under. It will certainly be and entertaining evening that you will not soon forget. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Every Painting Tells a Story

There is an exhibit in the gallery this June that brings back an artist we saw at last year’s Juried Art show. She is Christine Tierney who won an Award of Excellence at the Show. According to her web site, she has been creating art ever since she discovered that she could make marks with a pencil and drew constantly as a child on every available surface. That passion to “decorate” did not always keep her out of trouble. See how time and lots of practice has brought her art to a very high and enjoyable level. Her art can be described as traditional representation with an impressionistic influence. Her show, “Every Painting Tells a Story” will be at the Edge Art Gallery during normal open hours this June 1st  to the 24th with the exhibit’s opening reception on Friday, June 2 from 5 to 7 p.m. Tierney will be present to talk to viewers and answer questions.

Tierney is a classical painter who works primarily with oil and pastels. She enjoys creating art in a variety of surroundings—from working on a commissioned portrait in her studio to scaling river rocks in search of the best vantage point for an outdoor painting. Christine Tierney’s art is accompanied by a short story about each painting.  See her entry in last year's Juried Show entry (below) titled Sunrise on the road). Also shown (below) is Tierney receiving her award.

Also from her web site, “After a career as an advertising artist-designer she (above) followed her heart's desire and returned to the fine arts. She studied classical painting in the traditions of the old masters. Some of her favorites are Sargent, Sorolla, Bouguereau, Degas, Cassatt, Vermeer and Zorn (not necessarily in that order!)”

Christine finds inspiration in nature's endless beauty, particularly the way the light dances and plays on any given subject. You can find her in studio painting a still life, portrait, or studio landscape. When plein air painting (outdoors, in the open air), she searches carefully for the right scene that just stops her in her tracks, and has painted in rain, bugs, sleet, and snow, and even scaled some perilous rocks in the rapids of a wild river to get the best vantage point.”

Christine is currently Vice President of the Lake Country Pastel Society, and has served as President of the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota. She teaches art classes and workshops in the Twin Cities metro area. Christine has won numerous awards, and her paintings are in many private collections.Residing in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, Christine and her husband have a rustic little cabin in the Chippewa National Forest, providing endless painting inspiration.” For more about Christine see:

Tierney teaches painting and drawing in the Twin Cities area and served as head of the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota from 2014–2015.

The Edge Center Gallery is open during Edge events and on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Again, Please join us for the exhibit’s opening reception on Friday, June 2 from 5 to 7 p.m. Tierney will be present to talk to viewers and answer questions.

Friday, May 5, 2017

What Do Wet Chalk Dragons, South American Masks, and Gyotaku Fish Prints Have in Common?

Every year brings a new group of student artists presenting their work at the Edge Center Art Gallery in Bigfork. The shows are always full of color with plenty of variety. This year, however, there is something special about the art.  It is the last of the art done under the direction of retiring art teacher Roberta Steinhart. She is retiring after 22 years of art teaching at the Bigfork school and another 10 years at the Clinton-Grace school. So what DO wet chalk dragons, South American masks, and gyotaku fish prints have in common?  It is in the art...come and see for yourself. To see this exhibition, visit the Bigfork Art Gallery that is attached to the Bigfork School through May 20th during the regular hours of the gallery which are Thursdays through Saturdays 10AM to 4PM each day.  There is no charge to see the exhibits. 

With this group of student artists, the Edge Center Gallery again exhibits the innovation best made possible with youngster's early encounters creating art. The young student artists learn the basics of color, texture, shape, line, plus dark and light as used in compositions as they are stretching their creativity.

The exhibit will evolve throughout the month to showcase newly completed work by elementary, middle, and high school students.

Students’ skills are on display throughout the exhibit: a study of contour lines in a sketch of a bee’s wing, an exploration of positive/negative space in a drawing of birch trees, a playful use of color and texture in a wall mount of a Seussian creature.

The show also highlights the role of art in classroom learning. This year, Steinhart worked with teachers Aimee Rahier and Michelle Carnahan to integrate art projects into the curriculum. As third graders read Charlotte’s Web and learned about the role of spiders in nature, for example, they also created web paintings using a watercolor wash with salt. “We work as a team,” says Steinhart. “It's a very unique way to teach art [and] we are very fortunate!”

The Student Art Show will remain open to the public through May 20. Says Steinhart, “The students take so much pride in their work. It’s a thrill to have their art [displayed] in a real gallery.” 

Thank you Roberta for your years of introducing Spring to the Bigfork area in such a colorful way with wonderful student art. Your first-of-the-season color in the gallery has always been a favorite for many. Enjoy the lake and the next part of your journey.

Admission to the exhibit is free, and the gallery is open during Edge events and on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..