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Celebrate the reopening Park Rapids' Main Avenue

Bluegrass group Monroe Crossing will perform at the Main Avenue reopening celebration Aug. 18. From left are Benji Flaming, banjo, Matt Thompson, mandolin, Lisa Fuglie, fiddle, Derek Johnson, guitar, and Mark Anderson, bass. (Submitted photo)

World-class bluegrass entertainers Monroe Crossing will appear in a free concert in Park Rapids at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18 as part of a Main street grand reopening celebration.

The concert will cap an afternoon of free music, entertainment and kids' activities from noon to 6 p.m. on Main Street. ACS is sponsoring the afternoon's stage entertainment.

A ribbon cutting is planned at 6 p.m. before the main event. Bring your own chairs. (In case of inclement weather, the evening concert will be held at the Park Rapids Area High School auditorium.)

During the day, the Hubbard County Historical Society will have a tent on Main featuring old photographs of Main street so people can see the transformation. There will also be old games of hopscotch and marbles for the kids.

The all-day celebration schedule includes:

Two of a Kind, noon

Join the Ellingson twins from Menahga as they take you through a medley of 50s, 60s and 70s hits that will have you dancing in the streets.

The Turner Boys, 1 p.m.

It's a family affair for The Turner Boys. This group from Bemidji features the music stylings of grandpa Doyle, son Doyle and grandson Tony playing folk and country.

Tim Cochran, 2 p.m.

Tim Cochran is a singer/songwriter from Alexandria. He plays folk, rhythm, blues and rock covers from the 60s to the present. His CD of original songs was released in 2010.

Ronald McDonald, 3 p.m.

Enjoy magic and comedy for the whole family from Ronald McDonald.

Smoky Hill Singers and Drummers, 3:30 p.m.

This group will perform Native American chants and drums.

Troy Anderson, 4 p.m.

Blues musician Troy Anderson was born in Duluth and grew up in Bertha. His songs resonate with the history of this area and tell stories of the floods, the farms and the gritty blue-collar life of processing sugar beets.

Troy recently recorded his fourth CD of original material, "Since I Found the Blues." He will be joined by singer/guitarist Cristy Emerson from Fergus Falls.

Thankful Dirt, 5 p.m.

Darren and Molly Matthews, the Indie/Americana Des Moines-based duo, Thankful Dirt, developed their musical artistry steeped in Iowa's music scene, a scene as fertile as Iowa soil.

Though their musical backgrounds differ, electricity sparks when they write and perform songs. Molly's voice is ethereal, complex and evocative and complements Darren's masterful guitar playing. Together, they ignite a sound both unique and universally appealing.

County 20, 6:30 p.m.

County 20 hails from Park Rapids. This band is well known in the area for the wonderfully blended voices and style of music that speaks to the heart. They are a wonderful homespun, harmonious group.

Monroe Crossing

Named in honor of Bill Monroe, Monroe Crossing dazzles audiences with an electrifying blend of classic bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, and heartfelt originals. Their airtight harmonies, razor sharp arrangements, and on-stage rapport make them audience favorites across the United States and Canada.

The guest group is touring in support of their new DVD, "Monroe Crossing Live," which features audience favorites and original compositions from "Heartache & Stone," their latest CD. "Heartache & Stone" boasts seven band originals and songs from four other Minnesota songwriters, including pop rocker Prince.

Since 2000, Monroe Crossing has released 10 CDs and made more than 1,000 concert appearances throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. The secret to the band's longevity and success? According to fiddler and lead singer Lisa Fuglie, "It's just plain hard work and dedication. We all share a love for bluegrass music and for performing on stage. We appreciate every audience, large or small, and understand that we're there for them, not the other way around."

Mandolin player Matt Thompson adds, "We have learned the importance of entertaining audiences and not just playing top-quality music. We regularly hear people say that they didn't think they liked bluegrass music until they saw us play!"

Monroe Crossing has been showered with awards, including Best Female Vocalist, Guitar, Mandolin and Banjo at the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Association's 25th Anniversary Awards Banquet. Monroe Crossing is the only Bluegrass band ever nominated as the Minnesota Music Academy "Artist of the Year," which also recognized the band with an award for "Bluegrass Album of the Year."

In 2007, they were selected as an Official Showcase Band at the International Bluegrass Music Association's World of Bluegrass Convention in Nashville, and later that year, they were inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.

See Monroe Crossing's recordings and schedule on the band's website:

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561