Grand Marais, Minnesota, is home to the Arrowhead Center for the Arts. The theater is connected to the high school but is not necessarily used by the high school. It is used often by the community, especially in the summer. The theater seats about 500.
During the summer there is a constant stream of concerts and theater productions at the Arrowhead Center. The Grand Marais Playhouse is based at the Arrowhead Center. During the summer they had two productions: “Arsenic and Old Lace” and “The Adams Family Musical.” Over Labor Day weekend, there was a production of “Ole and Lena’s 50th Wedding Anniversary and Vow Renewal.” We did not get down to see any of these, although we heard they were lots of fun. The Playhouse also has productions through the year. They were auditioning for “The Sound of Music” at the beginning of September and the musical will be a joint production of the high school and the community.
The Arrowhead Center is also home to the North Shore Music Association. They host concerts through the year with something happening most evenings in the summer. We attended two concerts here during the summer.
The first concert we attended was Harpeth Rising, a female trio that does “chamberfolk” music. Jordana Greenberg, the violinist and lead singer, and Maria Di Meglio, cellist who sings harmony, are both classically trained. Michelle Younger adds a bluegrass twist to the group with banjo and mandolin playing. They mostly play original compositions which sound folksy with a little bit of chamber music and some close harmony underneath. Here is a youtube video of one of the pieces they sang that I enjoyed, “Norwegian Woods.” I enjoyed the concert and the pieces I liked best were their unique arrangements of songs written by others.
The second concert was more of a stretch for me musically, but it was in Johnny and Val’s wheelhouse: Monroe Crossing. Monroe Crossing is a bluegrass group that does a mix of original music, gospel, and classic bluegrass. Bluegrass is a unique American form of music with Scottish and Welsh origins but an Appalachian base and a jazz twist. It is also characterized by close harmonies in the vocals.
Monroe Crossing was a lot of fun. They are a Minnesota based band and are very popular on the North Shore. They play in a lot of bluegrass festivals and will be featured on two bluegrass cruises this next year. We enjoyed their musicianship, the singing, and the patter between songs. The first half of the concert was songs they recorded and the second half was audience requests. I enjoyed the second half more than the first because most of the songs were hymns or bluegrass pieces that I know (I am only familiar with a few bluegrass musical numbers). I thought it was ironic that, after living in Nashville, Chattanooga, and South Carolina, I went to my first bluegrass concert in Minnesota! Monroe Crossing has released 14 cds. Here is one of my favorite songs from the concert, “Micah 6:8”
We enjoyed attending two concerts at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts in Grand Marais. The diversity and quantity of the programs offered make Grand Marais the center for the arts on the North Shore.