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Holmes offers best of the up-and-comers: Fresh new music in DL

DL'S OWN HARDWOOD GROOVE will open the Caravan du Nord show on Saturday.1 / 2
ALISON SCOTT and her band will also be featured at Saturday's show in the Historic Holmes Theatre.2 / 2

Do you enjoy experiencing fresh new music from some of Minnesota's best up-and-coming young artists?

Then you won't want to miss this Saturday's Caravan du Nord concert at the Historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes.

The concert, hosted by the Minnesota Music Coalition, will include not just one, or even two, but three groups of homegrown Minnesota musicians.

First to hit the stage at 7 p.m. will be Detroit Lakes' own Hardwood Groove. Though just two years old, this six-man band features several familiar faces on the local music scene, including Jake Seelye, John Evans, Ben Grimsley, Dave Walther and brothers Keith and Dan Thornby.

"We're all from Detroit Lakes, and most of us have been playing together for a lot longer than two years," said Dan Thornby, who plays acoustic guitar and harmonica.

Though each band member plays a different instrument -- Keith Thornby is a saxophone player, Seelye plays mandolin, Evans, electric guitar, Grimsley drums and Walther, bass and guitar -- they share vocal duties, Dan Thornby said.

"I think most of us have been playing since elementary school," he added. "I started out playing saxophone in the fourth grade, and then I started playing guitar."

Thornby describes the group's sound as "a mixture of bluegrass and organic rock and roll."

Their repertoire ranges from "a good handful of songs we've written" to unique rearrangements of more familiar tunes, he added.

"We do a little of everything," Thornby said. "Even if we're doing covers, we try to put our own touch to them, or mix different songs together (as medleys)."

Those attending Saturday's show should expect to hear mostly original music, however.

Getting to perform in front of a live audience and see the crowd's reaction to their music is a big part of the reason why Thornby and his bandmates do what they do.

"It just feels really good -- especially when you can see the reaction from the crowd, and hear good things about your music," he said.

"I'm really excited (about Saturday's show)," Thornby added. "I love both bands that are coming (from the Twin Cities), and it's also exciting to be part of this Minnesota Music Coalition Concert.

"It's really an honor -- they're a good organization that's supporting Minnesota musicians, so we're pretty lucky to have this chance."

Hardwood Groove will be followed onto the Holmes stage by Minneapolis singer-songwriter Alison Scott, backed by her four-piece touring band.

"It's our first time playing in Detroit Lakes, we've never been there before," Scott said.

Though they've only been performing together for about five years, Scott's band already has three discs of recorded music to their credit.

"We put out two albums of originals, and one covers EP, and we've also put out a live concert DVD," Scott said. (The concert DVD was recorded at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis.)

Saturday's show will consist mainly of songs from the group's latest release, "Chinese Whispers," which came out "about a year ago," Scott added.

Though she writes "about 70 percent" of the band's music herself, Scott does collaborate on a song or two with the band's guitarist, Kevin Bowe.

When it comes to songwriting influences, she added, "I like to pull from all kinds of places."

Scott doesn't just write songs about the current events in her own life, she also draws inspiration from the past as well as her friends' shared experiences, and even the occasional movie or television show.

Though she comes from a musical family, and has been singing and performing for most of her life, Scott is a relatively late bloomer as a songwriter.

"I was singing Italian arias in high school -- I really wasn't studying pop music at all," she said. "I liked it, but I really didn't start writing my own songs until I ended up at the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul."

After graduating from high school, Scott spent her first year of college "as a music theater major in North Carolina."

"But I never really settled down there," she added.

After deciding to take a semester off, she went back to her Minnesota roots for a while.

"I heard about McNally Smith at a college fair, and I thought, 'it looks like I'd be happy there,'" she said.

It was her stint at McNally Smith that Scott credits with inspiring her to become a songwriter.

"I don't think I would have been doing this for a living at all if I hadn't gone through there," she said.

Her family also played a role in that process, however.

"Because I had such a supportive family I think it was pretty easy for me to make the transition to doing it (writing and performing songs) professionally," she said.

About five years ago, Scott formed a band and began performing on the Twin Cities music scene.

"My first gig was at my first album release party, in 2006," she said. "The band has been together and working constantly pretty much ever since."

Unlike Scott, Caravan du Nord headliner Nicholas Mrozinski has been writing songs for pretty much as long as he can remember.

"Since I first started playing piano at seven or eight years old, I was always adding stuff to the pieces I was playing," he said.

In fact, he often had points deducted from his performances at different music competitions because he had trouble sticking to the music as written.

"I've been writing my whole life," he said. "I have a box of all these notebooks with lyrics, ideas and drawings in them."

Those notebooks form the basis of his music. Mrozinski said one of the things he likes most about songwriting is that he can take some of his own experiences, even the painful ones, and turn them into inspiration for others.

"This is my way of dealing with life -- taking my struggles and turning them into a gift (music) that actually heals people," he said. "People strive their whole lives to achieve something like that, and we get to do it on a nightly basis."

Saturday's concert by Mrozinski and his bandmates -- known as "The Feelin' Band" -- will basically be a compilation of "greatest hits" from each of the seven CDs he's recorded.

"We'll give them a taste of the whole discography," he said. "Each CD I put out is an evolution; to pack all that evolution into an hour's show is going to be interesting. I'm really looking forward to it."

The Caravan artists will also be doing two free workshops Saturday. There will be an Industry Insider Panel from 2 to 3 p.m., bringing media and promoters together to talk about marketing, promoting, legal issues and more. In addition, there will be an Artist Tutorial nd Songwriting Workshop from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. Call Becky Mitchell at 218-844-4221, ext. 117 to sign up. Space is limited.

Tickets for Saturday night's show are $15 for adults, $7.50 for students, and can be purchased by phone at 218-844-SHOW (7469), online at or directly from the Holmes Theatre Box Office at 806 Summit Ave.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454