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Bluegrass, Bobby and more: Monroe Crossing, Vee tribute concerts coming to Holmes Theatre this month

Known collectively as The Killer Vees, the family, friends and former bandmates of the late Minnesota music legend Bobby Vee will be bringing their tribute to the man and his music to the Historic Holmes Theatre on Thursday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
Monroe Crossing includes (left to right) David Robinson, banjo; Derek Johnson, guitar; Matt Thompson, mandolin; Lisa Fuglie, fiddle; and Mark Anderson, bass. The group will perform at Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre this Wednesday, July 18 at 7:30 p.m. Photo credit: Jamey Guy2 / 2

Though the Historic Holmes Theatre's 2018-19 season doesn't officially get underway until September, the Holmes will host two concerts on its main stage this month.

The Midwest's premier bluegrass and gospel quintet, Monroe Crossing, will perform on the Holmes stage this Wednesday, July 18 at 7:30 p.m., while the 'Killer Vees,' a band consisting primarily of family, friends and former band members of the late Bobby Vee, will present a tribute to the Minnesota music legend on Thursday, July 26. Both shows are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

Monroe Crossing

Now in their 18th year of performing throughout the United States, Canada and Europe — as well as South Korea — the five-piece band known as Monroe Crossing entertains a wide variety of audiences with their own unique brand of bluegrass.

"We have done over 2,100 shows now, which averages about one show every three days over the last 18 years," says Matt Thompson, who has been with the band since its inception.

With a combination of tight vocal harmonies, stellar instrumentation and endearing comedic stage presence, they will bring an unforgettable experience to their audience when they take the stage at Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre this Wednesday, July 18 at 7:30 p.m.

"We have played hereat the Holmes Theatre quite a few times," Thompson added.

The band specializes in traditional bluegrass music as well as bluegrass gospel — but have also been known to branch out into other genres including country, blues and rock & roll.

"We were inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in 2007, along with Prince," said Thompson. "We suspected that he (Prince) would not attend, so the night before the induction ceremony we learned 'Purple Rain' and played it in his absence."

The group's unique take on the song, which Thompson describes as "what Prince might have sounded like if he'd grown up listening to (renowned bluegrass performers) Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs instead of James Brown," has now become a much-requested part of their repertoire, he added.

With so many talented songwriters on their roster, the group also performs much of their own, original music.

"We all do a little bit of songwriting," says the band's guitarist and lead vocalist, Derek Johnson, who joined Monroe Crossing eight years ago. "I tend to write songs that have a more traditional bluegrass feel."

The band also dresses in vintage, 1930s-style clothing, reflecting the fact that bluegrass has its origins in that period of American history — and in true bluegrass tradition, they perform standing around a single, central microphone, taking turns to step up to the mic as each instrument and vocalist is featured.

Taking audience requests at intermission is also a standard at Monroe Crossing shows, so the audience always has an opportunity to hear some of their favorite tunes during the second half.

Founded in 2000 and named in honor of Bill Monroe, "the Father of Bluegrass," Monroe Crossing plays an average of 125 shows every year in venues across the USA, Canada and Europe. Making appearances in places like Branson, Mo.'s Silver Dollar City, the legendary Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Ark., the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the 2014 IBMA World of Bluegrass convention in Raleigh, N.C., and twice at the one and only Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Founding band members Lisa Fuglie (fiddle, mandolin, guitar and lead vocals), Thompson (mandolin, fiddle and harmony vocals) and Mark Anderson (bass and bass vocals) were joined eight years ago by Johnson (guitar and lead vocals); and the band's youngest member, David Robinson (banjo, dobro, harmonica and harmony vocals) was added seven years ago.

The band's name came about, its founding members say, because they met through the music of Bill Monroe — as they like to put it, "We had a Monroe Crossing."

Tickets for this show are $22 for adults and $11 for students. For more information, please visit www.dlccc.org/holmes.html, call 218-844-7469, or visit the box office at 806 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes.

Remembering Bobby Vee

Take an authentic and joy-filled ride through the music and life of the Midwest's own Bobby Vee, performed by his sons, nephew and grandson — Jeff, Tommy, Matt and Bennett Velline, respectively — along with members of Bobby's touring band and string section, who are collectively known as "The Killer Vees."

Known in the music business as the "rhythm section to the stars," Jeff and Tommy Vee have been playing drums and doghouse bass respectively for over 30 years, with a resume far to long to list. They have performed and toured with a virtual who's who of the music business including Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Paul McCartney, Ronnie Wood, Brian Setzer and Chuck Berry, Bill Medley, Sam Moore, Peter Noone and of course their father, Bobby Vee... just to name a few.

In 2008 Jeff & Tommy joined forces with their cousin Matt Vee and his talented wife Julie to form "The Killer Vees." Matt, an accomplished performer in his own right also toured nationally and internationally with Bobby Vee and others from the '60s era as well as 13 years as guitarist and vocalist for Midwest favorite Johnny Holm. Matt is also a frequent guest performer with "The Fabulous Armadillos."

Together they have also produced regional touring shows such as, "I Am He Said: A Celebration of Neil Diamond," and "The Killer Vees: Classic Country." As The Killer Vees, they perform a dynamic variety show which includes material from their past productions in addition to other great classic rock 'n roll and crowd-pleasing Americana musical standards.

This performance will also include a special guest appearance by cast members of the hit musical, "Teen Idol."

Tickets are $28 for adults, $14 for students, and can be purchased in person at the Holmes Box Office, 806 Summit Ave., by phone at 218-844-7469, online at www.dlccc.org/holmes.html, or at the door on the night of the show.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 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
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