Great Food, Colorful Art, Sold Out Jazz, Etc

Sam Black

Moonlight Serenade, acrylic & mixed by Ginger Hemmingsen
Moonlight Serenade, acrylic & mixed by Ginger Hemmingsen
Spring Storm, acrylic & mixed by Ginger Hemmingsen
Spring Storm, acrylic & mixed by Ginger Hemmingsen

I had a delightful weekend, with a couple of eye-opening surprises tossed in. For starters, I headed over to UMD Friday night to catch the jazz energies of the Canadian sisters, Christine and Ingrid Jensen. Being a Duluthian for a few decades, it did not occur to me to buy tickets ahead of the evening performance. Much to my localized surprise, the quintet concert was totally SOLD OUT. There were probably two dozen people in the Weber lobby hoping to get last minute available seats. I went home and spent two or three hours over the weekend listening to those artists on Youtube, but I know that being in Weber with the live sound would have been much more stimulating. Occasionally, there are enough Duluthians to completely fill up a musical event. I like the concept, even if I got pinched this time around. Maybe I’ll learn from this.

Beautiful (and delicious) dinner with brilliant moonshine from the art

    Saturday night, Kathy and I dined at the New Scenic Cafe, and sat right under the gnarled maple burl bowls carved by Lou Pignolet, now living in Hovland and sharing his skills and creations with others. We quickly nibbled our spicy Laab moo(from Thailand) and headed off into curried blue mussels with crispy French fries, and the venison sandwich with lingonberry jam and prosciutto. All this blended well with the French gamay noir wine, from the Domaine de la Grume. During all this tasty delight, the Moonlight Serenade from Ginger Hemmingsen’s art work slightly illuminated our table. Her acrylic and mixed media paintings were all around us, including a colorful Spring Storm, and a blurry gray Sea Smoke. I really like what the Moonlight did for my delicious dinner, so I recommend both to you while the artwork is still on display.

Amateur Musicianship at its very best

   Sunday afternoon offered a common diversion for us, but we showed up out in Lakeside at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, for a very diverse musical program all performed by local artists from high school age up to fully-invested seniors! The festivity opened with a Windchill Brass presentation of “Royal Garden Blues” followed by the Beatles “All You Need Is Love.” That set the stage for the diversity to come. Elias Mokole, baritone faculty at UMD offered a heart-melting rendition of “Somewhere,” from the ending of West Side Story. Then he cracked us up with the Victor Herbert song from Miss Dolly proclaiming that a ‘woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke!” All the audience was enjoying the humor.

   Libby Gaalaas, Parker Hinnenkamp, and Tommy Kishida offered duets for handbells, with Velda Bell on the piano. These musicians are quite familiar to a number of churches around town, and the duet for handbells alone, Peace, by Kevin McChesney, was an amazing display of dexterity and mood-setting: two ringers, 37 handbells, and all four arms in constant motion. 

   Jason Branham, music director at First Lutheran, offered a piece of gentle ragtime on the pipe organ, called Sweet Sixteen. This frolicsome delicacy was composed by William Albright, very prolific American who died in 1998. Branham had the pipe organ gently dancing around the loft, if you can imagine that. Local young (Irish/Cornish) tenor, Brandon Veale, sang a couple of well-known Irish tunes with his high, clear lyricism.

   Finally, a quintet of string playing high school juniors and seniors played the finale from the beautiful Franz Schubert Quintet (D.956), written at the end of his life. Josephine and Josh Peterson, Lucy Hahn, Jace Jordan, and Henry Paton showed just how professionally they can play together.
   This program was entirely hosted by the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists, to keep a scholarship plan in motion to support young musicians such as these. I will write about such youngsters again, as I believe that Duluth is energetically trying to keep ‘the next generation’ of professional musicians in motion. Look for other examples of young artists - of all disciplines -  around town week after week.