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Free-flowing night of words and tunes

Brothers Ross and Barton Sutter will offer a free evening of entertainment April 25 at the Anderson Center. While in town, they’ll also conduct a pair of workshops at the Red Wing Area Seniors’ Pier 55 center.

A highly accomplished pair of folk musicians, brothers Ross and Barton Sutter will perform an evening of song, storytelling and poetry on April 25 at the Anderson Center at Tower View.

The event will begin with a reception at 7 p.m. in the newly restored barn at Tower View, followed by the concert at 7:30 p.m. The program, which is free, is presented by the Anderson Center and Hobgoblin Music of Red Wing.

Both brothers have earned reputations as touring artists, but they take special pleasure in blending their talents in a poetry-and-music sibling act.

Ross Sutter is a roving troubadour, best known for singing Scandinavian, Scottish and Irish songs, along with American traditional and popular songs. He accompanies himself on guitar, dulcimer, button accordion, bagpipes, bodhran and the Irish goat-skin drum.

Barton Sutter is a poet, essayist and writer. He is the only author to win the Minnesota Book Award in three different categories, and he was chosen as the first poet laureate of Duluth in 2006.

“We’ve done shows together for about 30 years,” Ross Sutter said. Back in 1983, they joined historian Annette Atkins to present “Minnesota is a State of Mind” in small towns across the state through a series sponsored by the Minnesota Humanities Commission.

The upcoming Red Wing concert is part of a tour funded by a Minnesota State Arts Board grant. When they applied for the grant, the Sutters said, the Anderson Center agreed to be one of the tour sites. Gary Stone at Hobgoblin Music joined in to coordinate poetry and music workshops that will be held at the local Pier 55 senior center.

Ross Sutter has performed at the Anderson Center’s Summer Celebration of the Arts events and at Hobgoblin’s Music Loft, so he is familiar with the Red Wing audience.

Together, the brothers are putting together a program designed for the local crowd.

Ross Sutter will draw a variety of tunes from his established programs — “Greet the Folks at Home,” which explores Scandinavian immigrants and their descendants; “How to Say North,” which includes “Minnesota kinds of things,” and “For My Wife upon the Garage Roof,” which honors the many moods of love.

In addition, he said, there will be reflections on growing up the children of a Lutheran preacher.

“That was a big influence,” he said.

Some songs written by Barton Sutter will be featured, too.

“There’ll be lots of humor in this show,” Ross Sutter said. “Barton’s poems are funny,” especially pieces about northern Minnesota. Among the featured works will be poems from his latest book, “The Reindeer Camps and Other Poems.”

His brother uses many traditional forms of rhyme and rhythm, Ross Sutter said. “He’s done a lot of theater. It’s fun to listen to him read — it’s so accessible, and so musical,” including the crowd favorite, “When the Smelt Buckets are Loaded, I’m Coming Home to You.”

Both brothers are well known around Minnesota.

Ross Sutter, Minneapolis, has performed widely in Minnesota at venues ranging from concert halls to libraries and schools, outdoor festivals and senior centers. He also has appeared on “A Prairie Home Companion,” and his work is heard on several recordings, including the popular children’s CD “Mama Will You Buy Me a Banana.”

Barton Sutter, Duluth, has taught at St. John’s University, University of Minnesota campuses in the Twin Cities and Duluth, and the University of Wisconsin in Superior. He has received numerous awards for his writings, and three of his plays have been produced.

Books and CDs will be available for purchase and signing at the end of the concert.

In addition to the State Arts Board grant, the program received support from the Jones Family, McKnight, Target and Xcel foundations.

For more information, call the Anderson Center at 651-388-2009.

Folk musicians will teach dulcimer, poetry workshops

Workshops on writing “Poetic Portraits” and building a one-string dulcimer will be offered April 25-26 at Pier 55, 240 Harrison St.

Teaching the sessions will be the Sutter Brothers — Barton, a writer and performer, and Ross, a singer and instrumentalist. They will be in Red Wing for the weekend to perform a free, public concert at 7 p.m. Friday at the Anderson Center’s historic barn.

At 1 p.m. that day, Barton Sutter will guide participants as they create portraits of people using words filled with imagery.

“Poetry can be used to pay tribute, memorialize, explore and understand the villains and heroes around us,” according to the seniors’ Website,

Cost for the workshop is $15 for members, $20 for non-members.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, Ross Sutter will teach participants to make and play a one-string dulcimer. The dulcimer kits are being supplied by Hobgoblin Music, where Stoney End folk harps are crafted by hand.

“This is a great workshop to do with your grandchildren or just yourself,” the senior organization said. Afterward, Ross Sutter said, there will be an opportunity to visit Hobgoblin and see how and where the kits were made.

Cost is $28 for members, $30 for non-members. The fee includes the materials to make the dulcimer in addition to the lesson.

Call Pier 55 at 651-327-2255. Registration and payment deadline is April 21.

If you go…

Who: Ross and Barton Sutter

What: “An Evening with the Sutter Brothers”

When: 7 p.m. Friday, April 25

Where: Anderson Center historic barn

Cost: Free

More info: 651-388-2009 or

Stacy Bengs-Silverberg

Stacy Bengs has been a photojournalist at the Red Wing Republican Eagle since 2010. She holds a bachelors degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota.

(651) 301-7880