The upper level of the Becker County Museum in Detroit Lakes will be filled with the sound of music this Friday, Oct. 27 - bluegrass music, to be exact.

By popular demand, the museum will be offering a special encore performance of Dick Kimmel's "History of Bluegrass" concert - which besides Kimmel, the renowned Minnesota musician, will also feature talented local violinist Pamela Longtine - at 7 p.m. Friday. An earlier edition of this concert was held at the museum in the spring of 2016, bringing in a full house of music lovers.

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Friday's performance is part of a busy schedule of programming planned at the museum this fall, in conjunction with its annual membership drive.

"Our memberships are what enable us to keep our doors open, to expand our programming to meet the needs of our members and this region, and to do our due diligence in maintaining the historic artifacts and research documents entrusted to us, to the best of our ability," says Becky Mitchell, the museum's executive director.

"The stronger our membership base is, the stronger the impact we are able to make on our community," she added.

The cost of an annual membership is just $30 per person - unless you are a senior citizen or a student, in which case you would pay $20 or $15, respectively - and a family membership is $50 per year. Businesses and townships pay $100 per year for membership, while a city or village would pay $250.

In exchange for this annual membership fee, which expires on Dec. 31 of each year, members are entitled to free museum admission (although kids under age 18 are already admitted free of charge), as well as discounts on gift shop items, research and document copy fees, and event tickets - including this Friday's concert, for which admission is $15 per person, or $12 for museum members. Tickets may be picked up at the museum (714 Summit Ave.) during its regular hours, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, or reserved by phone at 218-847-2938. Because seating is limited, it is encouraged to purchase tickets in advance. There will also be a cash bar, and refreshments, Mitchell said.

In addition to all these benefits, members also get to participate in the annual board elections, which will take place this year as part of the museum's annual meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 5 p.m. (ballots are mailed out in advance, and can be returned by mail as well).

"Current members still receive all these benefits through the end of the year," Mitchell noted. "This membership drive is for 2018."

Besides Friday's concert, other upcoming events at the museum in November include a Brown Bag Lunch presentation with naturalist Lowell Deede, who will be discussing how he developed his map of area wetlands - which is also a puzzle. Deede's presentation will take place at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 8. There is no cost to attend other than the lunch, which can be reserved for $8 apiece by calling the museum at 218-847-2938 before 10 a.m. on the day of the event.

This presentation will be immediately followed by another Night at the Museum event on Friday, Nov. 10 from 6-8 p.m. The two previous such events have been for moms and sons, and daddies and daughters - this one is for the whole family, says Mitchell. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids and $20 per family. Museum members also receive a discount on admission for this event, Mitchell said.

Then on Saturday, Nov. 18, the museum has invited local paranormal investigation group, Midwest Paranormal Files, to co-host a special Family Day event featuring "Local Legends and Lore," starting at 11 a.m. This "family-friendly" event will include information on such local phenomena as the Hairy Man of Vergas, Detroit Lake Monster, and the Minnesota Ice Man, as well as reported UFO sightings and other curious historic happenings in the area.

The museum will be closed to the public during Thanksgiving week, Nov. 21-25 - so that staff can prepare its new holiday-themed displays for the Holiday Open House on Tuesday, Nov. 28 from 1-3 p.m.

As most local residents already know, the museum's current home at 714 Summit Ave. has been plagued by roof leaks and moisture damage in recent years, and the repairs needed to the building are extensive enough that the board of directors has decided it's time to begin looking at a new facility.

Mitchell said that the architect's plans for that new building, which were unveiled last year, are now just one option that the board is considering: A new possibility has emerged through discussions with representatives from the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center (DLCCC), Chamber of Commerce, City of Detroit Lakes and Becker County.

"As part of those discussions, we have revisited the idea of attaching our new facility to the Historic Holmes Theatre (which is part of the DLCCC, located right across the parking lot from the current museum) at the lobby level," says Mitchell. "We're exploring which of these options is the best plan for the future of our neighborhood, as well as the museum itself.

"We want to build a facility that will have room to grow, for the next 50 years or more," she added. "We have a meeting coming up shortly with the architect and representatives of the DLCCC and Holmes Theatre, to come up with a building plan to present to our respective members and then, to the public."

But before all that happens, Mitchell said that the museum's staff is getting ready to present this Friday's concert, titled "The History of Bluegrass," which will be presented by Dick Kimmel and Pamela Longtine.

'It's the history of Bluegrass... from my perspective'

Though it has English, Irish, Scotch, Welsh and even African influences, bluegrass is a uniquely American form of roots music that was born in the mountains of Appalachia.

The man now known as "The Ambassador of Bluegrass" currently makes his home in Minnesota, however. Born and raised on the East Coast, Dick Kimmel first became interested in bluegrass music after his family moved to the Chicago area, while he was still in high school.

"I realized right away that there was a void of people talking and writing about this kind of music," Kimmel says.

Fifty years later, Kimmel has become recognized as one of the leading authorities on bluegrass music, both as a performer and as a historian, having been performing and recording music in the genre for more than 50 years now.

In fact, Kimmel is a member of America's Old-Time Country and Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame (inducted in 2008), the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame (inducted in 2010), and the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame (inducted in 2012).

He has performed as both a solo musician as well as in various bands and ensembles including Dick Kimmel & Co., Mountain Grass, the Wild Turken Stringband, The Alan Munde Trio and duos with Longtine, Adam Granger, Ian Kimmel and Lori Jean, to name a few. He has been featured on more than two dozen recordings, including several solo CD's.

Kimmel will be bringing all that knowledge and talent to the Becker County Museum for this Friday's concert, which starts at 7 p.m.

"It's the history of bluegrass from my perspective," Kimmel explains, noting that the show is a combination history program and concert that will feature live performances as well as some recordings from early bluegrass musicians. He will be joined by the lakes area's own Pamela Longtine, a talented fiddle player in her own right.

For more information about Dick Kimmel (including his musical partnership with Longtine), visit his website at www.dickkimmel.com. There are video clips of his performances available as well as an online store to order his music.