On Saturday, August 14, the BoDeans and 3 other bands performed in the Lake Front Park Bandshell in Hudson, WI as part of Phipps Fest. The weather was beautiful and there was a variety of music types to satisfy nearly all music tastes. This was the first Phipps Fest and I certainly hope it’s not the last!
It’s not winter, so that means it’s road construction season. If you found Lake Front Park on Saturday with the current maze through Hudson, congrats! If you didn’t make it, you missed a great show! The concert was free, but a donation was suggested. Donations went to support The Phipps Center for the Arts, a great local theater and performance center in Hudson, WI. If you have never been to the Phipps Center for the Arts, you need to put it on your list of things to do for the next year!
The day of music started with Latin Swing band Charanga Tropical. Charanga Tropical is a local band hailing from Minneapolis. Founded in 2006, Charanga Tropical performs with an instrumentation that dates back to the roots of Cuban music featuring a sizzling Latin rhythm section, three violins, vocalists, and flute. Repertoire includes rarely heard danzones and a spicy variety of modern son, salsa, cha cha cha, and timba. The music is rich in harmony and melody, fantastic for listening and superb for dancing. I had not heard them before and what a treat! They had the crowd up and dancing from the start. I love salsa and Cuban Beats and definitely want to see them again. I thought their set was way too short. In between bands, people from the crowd volunteered to play Phipps trivia games and were given some Phipps historical info.
After a brief delay, the bluegrass group Monroe Crossing took the stage. It looked like Monroe Crossing had fans in attendance as several people moved to the front of the park and sang along to songs and cheered at the completion of each song. The Minneapolis based band was named in honor of the Father of Bluegrass Music Bill Monroe. Monroe Crossing is a popular local Bluegrass Band and has appeared at the Phipps Center of the Arts in the past. Monroe Crossing was very down to earth, conversing with the crowd and band members between songs. They played their own songs along with their versions of popular Bluegrass songs, Country songs and even some pop music. Another enjoyable set that could have ran longer!
The third act was soulful singer-songwriter Annie Mack and her band. Annie Mack blew away the crowd with her silky voice and four-piece band. From North Minneapolis, Annie is a blues/roots musician that incorporates influences of folk, rock, and country gospel in her music. Listening to Mack on Saturday made me feel I was experiencing an artist that has much greater things coming in the near future. Near the end of her set, she called an audible and performed a song not on her original set list – Small Town Blues. The song was fantastic, one of the highlights of her set and really had the crowd rocking. Other highlights were songs “Testify” and “Tell it Like it is”. If you have the chance, you really want to see Annie Mack, she is a local treasure!
By the time the Bodeans took the stage, the area was packed. The hilly area was full of blankets people had brought to sit on and camping chairs. People of all ages were in attendance, toddlers to grey hairs. I was a little surprised by the number of young children in attendance. This was definitely a family event! The BoDeans started slow, but it wasn’t long before people left their blankets and chairs and were dancing and jumping in front of the band. Young kids were dancing, several people were singing along and the band looked like they were having as much fun as the crowd. People were hugging and rocking back and forth. There were tears, singing, shouting and a lot of fun by such a wide range of people – it was a joy to behold! It was a great night in the tiny river town and I hope it’s the beginning of a yearly event!
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