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Cultural Center hosting musical fête on winter solstice

Michael Dagen, executive director of Nemeth Art Center, performed at last year's Longest Night Music Festival. He's returning to New York Mills on Dec. 21 with his newest band, Day Gun. (Submitted photo)

In celebration of winter solstice, the New York Mills Cultural Center presents its annual Longest Night Musical Festival at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

Featuring music by several local and regional musicians, the festival promises to appeal to a wide array of music lovers. Included this year are Day Gun, a small group from the Fargo-Moorhead Gay Men's Chorus, Eddie Lee Kidd, Ben Ranson, Dave Virnala and more.

The Longest Night concert is free to attend and open to all. Drinks and refreshments will be available.

Gun is the latest musical incarnation by Michael Dagen, who has performed in a number of groups over the years, including Dorthy Fix, Shastatown, Stene Racing and the Handsome Terrorists. Comprised of a rotating band of friends and family, Gun plans to record an album titled "Loves," over the winter, with hopes of releasing the songs to the public by spring 2017. Links to demos of Gun's latest songs, along with his "sappy poems and contentious writing" are posted at abandonedscoutcamp.com.

Raised in the mountains of Montana, Kidd's songwriting creates colors of music that is constantly changing. A pro stage drummer and vocalist at the age of 12, he realized a vision of art drawn by rhythms and vocal melody. These talents developed into songwriting in 1993 and Kidd has since written songs in almost every genre of music.

A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Ranson is a singer-songwriter who infuses humor into much of his work. Playing the guitar, bass and other string instruments, Ranson's repertoire draws from many genres including jazz, folk, country, and rock 'n' roll. Working with Blind Joe, the duo performed as the opening act for Leon Russell.

Virnala is a frequent performer at the Center's monthly Open Mic nights. He began playing guitar at the age of eight and has performed with Amanda Standalone and Spider John Koerner. Virnala's influences include John Prine and Guy Clark.

The FMGMC sings a wide variety of classical and popular music with excellence and builds bridges to all people by providing a positive, affirming image of the gay and lesbian community. Their purpose is to use music to change the general public's image and attitudes toward the gay community, to provide high quality choral performances, and to make the world a better place.

For more information, call the Cultural Center at (218) 385-3339 or visit the Center's website at www.kulcher.org.

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