Category Archives: Music

A reunion of old friends in the north woods

Over a long weekend in September we had a reunion of old friends at our family cabin in Akeley, Minnesota. The idea came about when our friend John wanted to attend his high school reunion in Duluth. So, the Akeley reunion was arranged around John’s reunion. In a few short months we all put together ideas and plans to enjoy the north woods of Minnesota and play a few tunes too.

In his younger years my husband was involved in bands in Bemidji and many of these people have remained friends. Some bandmates were high school friends in Bemidji and others he met in his various bands. It was a combination of Bemidji high school friends and bandmates from the early 70s as well as two valley girl friends from the same time period. John’s wife Sue and I have also known each other since the early 70s. She was in my sister’s grade, and they were both in band together. That is how we met, and we’ve been friends ever since. John and Sue’s daughter Paris came along too.

Below is a photo of one of those bands, Open Flow. Three from this group were at the reunion:

The weekend was labeled Bemidji Boyz Music Camp since everyone involved are musicians and this was mainly a group of Bemidji friends. Magnets were made with everyone’s names and phone numbers and apparently John got a deal if he ordered a bunch of these magnets. This became a joke by the end of the weekend with nearly everyone saying “Hey, do you need a magnet?” We left a couple on the fridges at the cabin. I have a photo of one of the magnets but I’m not posting it here for the world to see all our phone numbers. And I don’t know how to block all of the information out of the photo.

John, Sue and Paris arrived in Minneapolis Wednesday evening and had plans to dine with other friends that night and then headed north Thursday. I texted them from the highway on Thursday and they were about 15 minutes behind us en route to Akeley. We had planned to stop at Morey’s (which just became Rich’s) in Motley to get some fish, so we just waited a few minutes until they arrived and Paris took this selfie:

The list of invitees got to about 15 and the actual count was 10, but not everyone was there for the entire time. Most of us arrived at the cabin on Thursday and then departed on Sunday. One was only able to be there on Thursday. One missed his flight, so he arrived Friday, and another wasn’t able to arrive until Friday. The rest weren’t able to come for various reasons. There is talk of doing this again next summer so hopefully more will be able to come as long as we get our poop in a group and plan ahead!

The cabin sleeps up to 7 people and we have plenty of ground space for anyone that wanted to camp. A couple of the guys rented a cabin in the area, another pitched a tent at the top of the hill and the rest of us stayed in the cabin. It worked out rather well and we only had rain overnight one night.

Considering we were on the cusp of autumn in mid-September, the weather was absolutely amazing! I was keeping an eye on the weather forecast leading up to our long weekend, an exercise in futility to be sure because the forecasts were mostly wrong, lucky for us!! We were able to have a campfire, hang out and dine on the deck, as well as take the pontoon out a few times. Temps averaged in the low 70s during the day and into the 50s overnight. I brought extra blankets in case all the blankets at the cabin were used up, but we never needed those extra blankets.

I have to admit that we were a bit nervous about this get-together. We don’t usually host big parties like this and there were so many details to be arranged for the music, like music stands and power cords and drum machines and I don’t even know what else because I wasn’t too involved in all the music discussions. Dan offered a PA system and various drums and since he wasn’t able to stay, Larry returned all of Dan’s equipment on his way home. We even ordered a porta potty since the cabin only has one bathroom. It was awesome how everything worked out! Well, the porta potty got a little goofed up. We were supposed to call them when we got to the cabin and then they would deliver. Instead, one friend arrived before we did and he was there to meet the porta potty guy. Thanks Larry for handling that for us 👍

We only planned dinners for the three nights: Thursday was taco night, Friday was pizza and Saturday was brats, wild rice and my apparently famous baked beans. The three gals also went to the Super One grocery store in Walker to get food for lunches, drinks and some snacks. We all chipped in here and there and everything worked out well.

During the prep in the months beforehand Sue and I decided that we three gals would go to Itasca on Friday so that we’d get “girl time” and we left the boys to entertain themselves with their music. Sue and Paris had never been to Itasca. I had never been to Itasca at the end of summer and there were many autumn colors starting to show and was so beautiful. I love that park! And lucky for us, Douglas Lodge restaurant was open, and we had a great lunch. Here’s a gallery of photos from our day at the park, a combination of mine and Sue’s photos. Click on any photo in this gallery to see larger photos and scroll through to read comments:

There was also a lot of prep for the music that all of us participated in, some of us more than others. Sue and I had small parts playing flutes on two songs. I don’t remember all the details of that prep but there were lots of emails back and forth. The guys set everything up in the garage since that is the biggest sheltered space in case it rained. In the emails everyone was deciding which songs we should all practice. There were Jump In The Line, Yellow Bird, and Yellow Submarine in the mix.

Following is a gallery of other photos from the weekend. It’s a combination of mine, hubby’s and Sue’s photos. Click on any photo in this gallery to see larger photos and scroll through to read comments:

Dan was kind enough to combine all of our photos to create a video montage on youtube. Some photos are blurry and there is talk of creating another video without the blurry ones. When that happens I will amend this post and add it here. This video contains many of the photos shared here but there are others that I don’t have so it’s a nice addition to this post. Nice job Dan!! And thank you so much 👍

There were many stories shared and tunes played over our three-day long weekend. If any attendees reading this want to add comments, please do as it would be lovely to have others’ perspectives.

It would be fun to do this again next year. Put your thinking caps on and let’s plan it. It was great to spend time with old friends and getting to know others better. And in the end a good time was had by all!

To close, here are some photos of the gorgeous sunsets we experienced. Such a beautiful and peaceful place on 11th Crow Wing Lake.

And one last one that hubby took:


Filed under Minnesota, Music

duets with my sister

How could I have forgotten the duets!?! In a recent post shortly after my trip to Florida, I wanted to share some of the positive things about our trip and I can’t believe I forgot the duets!  But, it’s prompted me to create a separate post because as I started to think about it, we have tons of music in my family.  The duets are a part of that.

I play the flute and piccolo. My sister’s first instrument was the clarinet and she’s still really, really good!! She is one with the talent and energy to be able to play many instruments. I don’t think I can remember all the instruments she knows how to play!  One of them is flute and for years whenever we get together, we play duets. Mostly we play flute and flute duets because usually when we get together it’s away from each of our homes and it’s easier to carry a flute than a clarinet. We have played flute/clarinet duets too but it’s been a while since we’ve done that. And, in the last several years on our semiannual trips to Florida to visit our mother, we played flute and flute duets.

Then I remembered some photos of us playing flute duets.

We have several musicians in our family.  Mom played trombone in high school. Her brother played guitar and mandolin and perhaps banjo as well.  My sister plays or has played clarinet, oboe, saxophone, flute and piano. These are the ones I can remember.  There might be more!  While I play the flute fairly well, she is the real musician.  You’ve got to be talented to play so many instruments!

To continue with the list of musicians, my husband plays bass guitar and he gave our daughter initial lessons on the bass and she picked it up quickly. She plays bass guitar in jazz band at school and she plays the viola as well.  My mother has a beautiful soprano voice and spent many of her retirement years in singing groups.  At one point she was the director of one of them at her retirement village.  While we were in Florida in March to close up her apartment we came across the pile of song lyrics that we set aside when we were there in November.  I had told Miss M about how when we gave Mom the folder of lyrics she began singing the songs.  Miss M really wanted to hear her grandmother sing so we gave Mom the folder and that was our entertainment that night! She sang song after song after song.  And Miss M recorded them.  More happy memories from that trip.

I also sing soprano but some of the upper range notes are too hard for me. I have said that I probably should be an alto. But because the flute parts are typically the melody, it’s difficult for me to sing anything but the melody. So, I stick with soprano for now. I might get brave some day and sing alto. I have sung in various choirs over the years and have enjoyed each one. I’ve always found that music helps bring me out of a bad mood or a funk.  Playing an instrument or singing in a choir is great fun and another way to release creative energy.  It also helps alleviate the blues.  It’s hard to be in a bad mood whilst playing or singing.

I’m going to close with one of my favorite photos of my sister and me playing duets. This was at a Christmas gathering in 1986. Look how young we are!


Filed under Music, Writing

Christmas Oratorio and other festive songs

Last night hubby and I went to a concert performed by Exultate, a group that our former choir director sings with.  It was performed at the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.  What a lovely church.  And a great venue for a concert such as this.  The acoustics were amazing!


This Jesus suspended from the ceiling is breathtaking:


The first half consisted of 14 of the 64 movements of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.  The concert started with the director explaining things about some of the movements we were about to hear.  One was the fact that Bach borrowed music from his previous compositions and simply changed the texts so that they would fit with the Christmas story.  I definitely recognized a couple of those.  The program describes how Bach uses music to give a picture of the texts being sung.  Since the program describes it so well, here’s part of that section word for word: “this is nowhere more evident than in movement 10 where the violins are racing off to Bethlehem at a furious pace and at the same time the voice parts, with texts being sung independently of one another, tell us ‘Let us even now go to Bethlehem.'”  I could definitely feel them racing off to Bethlehem.

The second half began with the choir surrounding the audience and although our friend was on the other side of the church, I could hear his voice.  What a treat that was to hear voices singing all around us.  And what a rich sound it made too. This is a shot of some of the choir near us:


I think that was my favorite part. They sang more Christmas songs, some familiar and some unfamiliar and then we all got to join in at the end for Joy to the World.  A great evening of Christmas music!!

Afterwards we drove down Summit Avenue because I had seen some marvelous Christmas lights recently and wanted to show them to hubby.  This tree stands in the front yard of the governor’s mansion:


And across the street were more but I wasn’t able to get any good shots of them.  On our way home we stopped at White Castle since hubby had a hankering for their “sliders” and I got a chocolate milk shake.  Not the best thing to have on a cold night but it sure tasted good!

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Filed under Music