When Minnesota singer-songwriter Aby Wolf signed up for a week-long artist residency at the Historic Holmes Theatre for the 2019-20 season, it inspired the theater's staff to expand the opportunities they offer for seeing some of the best local and regional talent the area has to offer, in a more intimate concert setting.
"We wanted to offer something a little different," said Holmes Theatre Executive Director Amy Stoller Stearns. "So we wrote a grant (proposal) to the Lakes Region Arts Council for this new series."
Wolf, whose residency at the Holmes takes place in March, is just one of eight artists who will be showcased in the new Backstage at the Holmes concert series.
"The idea was to create a more intimate concert experience, featuring local and regional artists," said Erik Dale, the theater's events and local productions manager.
D Mills & the Thrills will launch the new series on Sept. 19. Though the show will take place on the main stage, the large black curtain separating the stage from the 800-seat audience section will remain closed throughout the show, with a smaller, raised platform set up on one side of the main stage, and temporary seating on the other. There will also be a cash bar set up nearby.
"The band and the crowd will all be on the stage together, unless demand is such that we have to move it to a larger setting," Stearns said.
All of the shows in the eight-concert series will start at 8 p.m., and admission is $10 per person. Here is a brief look at the bands to be featured as part of the Backstage series:
- D Mills & the Thrills, Sept. 19: "They're a hip-hop group, with a full band," said Dale, noting that the Fargo-based ensemble "blends a bit of jazz and R&B influences into their music."
- Reina del Cid, Oct. 12: "They're a folk rock band from Minneapolis," Dale said. "They do some great covers, but they also produced a new album (of original music) recently." In fact, he added, the new album will be released "within days" of their Holmes Theatre debut.
- Michael Shynes, Nov. 14: "He's a singer-songwriter who has had a No. 1 song and platinum record in Poland," Dale said. Shynes, who originally hails from Little Falls, is primarily a pop artist, Dale said, though he blends in blues and R&B influences as well. "He opened for Deuces Wild here a year ago," Stearns said.
- The Nunnery, Jan. 11: This unusual music act is "an indie singer who layers (recorded) loops of her own voice to create music," Dale said in describing the Minneapolis-based artist's unique sound.
- The Stovepipes, Feb. 15: "They're a blues/rock band from Fargo that is very popular in the area," said Dale, adding that they are primarily known for doing their own, original tunes.
- Aby Wolf, March 6: Wolf will be in Detroit Lakes for a week, doing artist outreach in the lakes area, before bringing her 11-piece band, Champagne Confetti, to the Holmes stage to perform a concert of original music that combines the synthesized pop and orchestral genres. "She's been performing with the Minnesota Orchestra, and she was also a part of the New Standards' Christmas show when it came to the Holmes in 2017," Stearns said.
- Jessica Vines, April 9: "She's a modern jazz and pop artist — and just a really great singer," Dale said. "She performs very high energy jazz."
- Pat Lenertz Band, May 7: "They're a blues, rock and folk band from the Fargo area," Dale said. They were featured as part of the new season of the 2019 Prairie Public TV music series, "Prairie Musicians," as was Jessica Vines.