'Voice' star gets things Rolling
By Ruth Nerhaugen, contributor
Rolling River Music Festival organizers have done it again — created an event that is guaranteed to fill Central Park with music lovers of all ages and musical inclinations.
Headlining this year’s free show, which will take place June 28 in the Central Park Band Shell, is Nicholas David Mrozinski, a multi-talented singer/songwriter from St. Paul who reached new levels of popularity nationwide on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2012.
The other acts will be the 1970s disco dance band Boogie Wonderland and an acoustic roots/soul/country group, Elliott & The Sensitive Fellas.
For the past five years, national acts have been drawing 2,000 to 2,500 people to the downtown park many consider Red Wing’s outdoor living room.
The festival began as a July 4 concert in 2009 celebrating the debut of a new band shell that was a gift to Red Wing from the Jones Family Foundation. A number of partners have joined in sponsoring the music festival over the years so it can continue to be free to everyone.
As far as Mrozinski — Nicholas David to his legions of fans — is concerned, the band shell was one of the big attractions when he was invited to perform at the festival.
“I’m excited to come to Red Wing,” he said, explaining that when he got the offer he was sent an image of the venue. “That band shell looks pretty awesome,” he said. Having performed in many amphitheaters while on tour, he said, “I love playing outdoors.”
Mrozinski has been extremely busy since his top-three finish on “The Voice,” but he was an experienced performer before he became a member of Cee Lo Green’s team.
He had already recorded five critically acclaimed albums, his alternative soul music was heard on national airwaves, and he had participated in a great many charity and collaborative projects.
A one-of-a-kind artist known for his distinctive apparel — scarves, hats and blazers, preferably with elbow patches or nifty lapels — he has worked with other Minnesota musicians on charity albums including the Minnesota Beatle Project. That album raised money to help keep music programs alive in the schools.
Mrozinski and his label, Wake the World, also are unusual in their commitment to minimizing the environmental impact of their products. They use recycled materials and “green” designs on their CDs and packaging.
Most recently, he traveled to Mexico as an ambassador for the Smile Network, which improves the lives and faces of poor children. He also likes working with the Salvation Army.
“I use music as a vehicle for positive change,” Mrozinski said — especially as it involves kids.
He performs what he calls “music from the heart, for the heart.” It incorporates influences from multiple genres, from Beethoven to Prince, and does not fit any simple label, although “alternative” or “versatile country soul” are popular descriptions.
Critics have called his performances “must-see,” describing how he gives himself over to the music when he walks on stage.
When Mrozinski appears in Central Park, he will be accompanied by a four-piece group that has been touring with him. He said he is working on a new album, “Make Hope,” which likely will be released in the fall.
He plans to sing some audience favorites from that album and also some numbers he performed on “The Voice” that crowds seem to like a lot.
The Rolling River Music Festival begins at 5 p.m.; Mrozinski will take the stage around 8 p.m.
Disco rock, acoustic roots featured at festival
Two very different musical groups will bring their unique sounds to the Central Park Band Shell when the Rolling River Music Festival gets under way at 5 p.m. June 28.
Boogie Wonderland, a Twin Cities-based group that performs high-energy disco rock ‘n’ roll from the 1970s, has been touring since 1997.
The six-piece group has multiple lead singers. It has a reputation as one of the hottest groups on the Minnesota scene, and for more than a decade it has been listed among the top live performance shows in the nation.
“Powerful vocals and musicianship are blended into a cohesive show unmatched anywhere,” Sheldon officials said, citing an intricate blend of megahits and disco.
Elliott & The Sensitive Fellas will bring a very different mood and sound to the park. The five-piece group plays acoustic roots/soul/country music.
Members are Elliott Blaufuss on acoustic guitar, squeezebox, clarinet and vocals; Kale Baglyos Reed on mandolin, fiddle and vocals; Ryan “Daddy” Kimm on upright bow fiddle and vocals; Shane “Shakers” Akers on dobro; and Patrick Nelson on drums and vocals.
Blaufuss is a rhythm and blues artist from Minneapolis with “incredible vocal range, mesmerizing melodies and catchy funk grooves,” according to Sheldon spokesmen. He and Reed, a Red Wing native, both previously performed with the Johnny Holm Band.
“The Fellas’ live show is rooted in country and soul but their sound, which is evocative, heartfelt and achingly alive, is wholly their own,” Sheldon spokesmen said. In addition to playing regularly at Glueks in Minneapolis and at the Minnesota Zoo, the band has released one self-titled album.
People are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets to Central Park for the concert. Vendors will be selling a variety of food, beverages and ice cream treats. The show will go on, rain or shine.
Admission is free because many local businesses, organizations and individuals have come forward to sponsor the music, including Dave Syverson Ford, Jones Family Foundation, Lawrence Transportation Services, Red Wing Shoe Co., Sturdiwheat Inc., Missy Donkers and Wylie Wilson Trucking.
Other sponsors are the Anderson Center, Associated Bank, Big Fish Digital, Coldwell Banker Nybo & Associates, Edward Jones, First Farmers & Merchants, Merchants Bank, Red Wing Chevrolet and Ford, Gary and Pamela Alvord, and Robert and Carolyn Hedin.
For more information, contact the Sheldon Theatre at 651-388-8700 or www.sheldontheatre.org.
If you go…
What: Rolling River Music Festival
Who: Nicholas David, Boogie Wonderland, Elliott & The Sensitive Fellas
When: 5 p.m. June 28
Where: Central Park Band Shell
More info: www.sheldontheatre.org