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Big Turn, big success: 2-day music festival rocks Red Wing

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Madelyn Hartke, a member of The Key Kids a duo from Cannon Falls, plays guitar during the second annual Big Turn in Red Wing. Hartke and band mate Charley Markson (who started the performance on drums), traded instruments halfway through their set Feb. 23. Both musicians sing and play the guitar, bass and the drums. Rachel Fergus/RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 9
Brooke Elizabeth was one of the artists who kicked off Big Turn festivities on Feb. 22, 2019. The Ellsworth resident sang a half-hour set at the Red Wing Arts Depot Gallery. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 9
Ben Mulhern, drummer for the Wastrels rock band, jams out during the Big Turn Music Fest on Feb. 22, 2019, at the American Legion. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 9
The lead singer of The Fontanelles tunes his guitar between songs during the Big Turn Music Fest on Feb. 22. The Fontanelles performed at the Red Wing Elks Lodge. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 9
The duo Land At Last is composed of Mike Munson from Winona (right) and Jake Ilika of Minneapolis. The group played in Christ Episcopal Church on the Saturday of the 2019 Big Turn. Rachel Fergus/RiverTown Multimedia 6 / 9
Dessa, a headliner of the second annual Big Turn Music Fest, is known for her performances, songwriting, speaking and published written works. The Sheldon Theater was standing-room only during Dessa's performance Feb. 23, 2019. Rachel Fergus/RiverTown Multimedia. 7 / 9
Venue signs were placed outside all of the 21 places where bands played during the Big Turn Music Fest Feb. 22-23, 2019, un Red Wing. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia8 / 9
Haley Fleming, a former Red Wing resident, plays the violin during the Big Turn Music Fest on Feb. 22, 2019. Fleming played with Doc in the band Theyself. Fleming and Doc play together in the band Fairfax, AK as well. The pair performed together at the Red Wing Bicycle Company & Outfitter. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia9 / 9

Coverage by Matthew Lambert and Rachel Fergus 

The Big Turn Music Festival sold 1,300 tickets and 100 VIP passes, had 150 volunteers and hosted 550 individual artists. All of this despite the snow that fell, coating anyone who dared step outside to hope between Big Turn's 21 venues.

Artists from Dessa, who travels the country performing, to local groups like The Local Hooligans, were spread throughout Red Wing's downtown.

The Red Savoy hosted a few local groups throughout the festival including The Key Kids, a duo that hails from Cannon Falls. The number of festival-goers who were crammed into the pizzeria was not counted. However, whenever a seat or, more coveted, a table was open, a mad dash to claim the place ensued. Those who walked into Red Savoy as customers, not festival participants, were led, as though they were being escorted by a bodyguard, through the crowd to a back room, where they could eat in a more quiet setting.

Before the festivities began, the members of The Key Kids, Madelyn Hartke and Charley Markson, talked with the Republican Eagle about their music and experience with Big Turn.

Q&A with The Key Kids

How would you define the music that you play?

Future townie rock for record collectors. Or songs for the isolated astronauts of the future to reminisce to.

Did you play at the Big Turn last year?

Nope. We were too busy throwing away bad songs. Honestly we were shocked to get accepted for it this year, being so new and all. (The group was founded in 2017.)

You live in Cannon Falls, correct? Why Cannon Falls?

We started the band in St. Paul, but the songs seem to have resonated from the dirt roads of Cannon Falls. Also at heart we're both winos.

What is your setup for the performance?

We keep to the confines of a traditional rock band. It can be hard not to add glitter to your oil painting. So we're trying not to do that. We already look like kooks as is, being just the two of us. Nothing against glitter, glitter is cool.

How do you decide on your setlist?

We usually try to get in a huge fight with each other right before the show, that way the only people we're trying to please is ourselves. Then we write the setlist.