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.
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Looking through his grandparents' old family hymnal, pianist Neal Topliff started to pick songs for his next album. That was just more than a year ago. The Red Wing resident recently released "A Midnight Clear," his 10th CD and second Christmas compilation. "I have always loved Christmas and the music was always a big part of the holiday season," Topliff said.
As the Sheldon Theatre prepares for its holiday season, a sprinkle of Minnesota folk music at its finest glimmers in the lineup. The young soulful folk singer/songwriter Mason Jennings takes the stage Saturday Nov. 17. Opening for Jennings is Minneapolis-based duo Fort Wilson Riot. The concert presented by 89.3 The Current, Minnesota Music Coalition and Caravan Du Nord is a melting pot for all ages. Jennings' music has become increasingly popular over the years gaining exposure through radio waves, concerts and continuous album releases.
On a dreary Wednesday afternoon, the controlled yet chaotic atmosphere of a middle school auditorium explodes with creative youthful energy as co-directors Julie Martin and Helene Olson-Reed prepare for rehearsal. The two are managing the prepping, primping and fine-tuning of the Twin Bluff Middle School's fall musical and the world premiere of a Red Wing resident's work "Under the Bed," set for Friday Nov. 2 and Saturday Nov. 3. The play was presented to Martin just over a year ago by poet and children's writer Jacqueline West.
Minnesota music songstress Haley Bonar will perform in Cannon Falls Saturday Oct. 20, returning to town after recently recording a new album. "It just seems like it made sense," said Jeff McCusker, co-owner of the small recording space LittleBig Studio. "Why not put two and two together? She recorded here in town and we wanted her to play in town. Bonar began her career at age 20 while in Duluth, Minn., when she was plucked from an open stage performance during Experimental Thursdays, a musicians outlet to showcase their ability.
Based on a simple goal, "to provide access to the arts for everyone," Red Wing's ArtReach is soaring higher than ever. "The kids are just so proud of themselves," said Benjie Achen, as she smiles and her eyes dart around the collage of framed artworks that smother the walls in the organization's colorful space tucked off Bush Street.
Red Wing Art Association's most popular event, the Fall Festival of the Arts, is held each October during the peak fall color season. The 2012 festival is set for Saturday Oct. 13 to Sunday Oct. 14. It attracts thousands of visitors. This juried art festival brings more than 90 artists to historic downtown to sell their creations. "There are obvious reasons for this influx of visitors," said Fall Festival coordinator Deb Wasmund.
Just shy of a month into the school year, Red Wing High School students are putting the final touches on the fall play "Alice in Wonderland." The production is loosely based on the 1865 children's novel written by Lewis Carroll. Kirk Buis adapted the play for modern day - making it appropriate for children by eliminating some storyline to cut down on time, while creating some great characters that engage audiences for any generation, says director Sean Dowse.
Classic big band sound used to be a quintessential part of American culture - over 100 years ago. The John Philip Sousa Memorial Band has devoted their entire longevity to preserving that nostalgic sound. The band will be returning for their 17th consecutive year at the Sheldon Theatre, Saturday Sept. 15. "The concerts we play at the Sheldon are different every year," said Sousa director Scott Crosbie.
Writing to preserve American history on the pioneer front, Laura Ingalls Wilder may have had no idea the outcome of her tales of the lost era. Her successful series "Little House" among others have been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide. Readers of all ages still enjoy Wilder's tales of a family's simple joy and elemental struggle as they work together to build a life on the frontier. To honor the author and her birthplace, Pepin holds Laura Ingalls Wilder Days. The two-day celebration is jam-packed with events, stories, demonstrations and history.
When Tricia Back met Amy Stanton while on the job, she really wanted nothing to do with her. "I was not looking to making friends," Back said, "and she was a bubbly person so I avoided her like a plague." The two women work as self-proclaimed whistle-wearing "recess ladies" at an elementary school in Cottage Grove. "I have a guitar charm on a necklace that I also wear," Back added. Once Stanton noticed that piece of jewelry, the door to a new relationship was soon opened. "She asked me, 'Do you want to jam?'" Back laughed. "I thought she was the biggest dork in the world ...