The Singing Slovenes
Under the direction of Frank Bucar and assistant director Mary Spehar White, “The Singing Slovenes” were formed in the multi-ethnic community of Gary-New Duluth in 1980. The mission of the Minnesota group is to preserve Slovenian music and cultural heritage. Slovenia is an alpine country nestled between Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia. Though the name of the troupe is indicative of the Slovenian heritage, the group boasts a wide and varied number of nationalities. The “Singing Slovenes” represent countries far and wide; Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Poland, France, Norway, Finland, and Sweden.
Sharing the joy of their musical heritage helps promote good fellowship and love of their neighbors through the use of their time and talents. These performances are educational as well as entertaining. Dressing in native costumes for performances at educational facilities gives the students the opportunity to experience other cultural attire. There are also geographical and language lessons that transpire during the course of the performance. The singers also appear at festivals, senior centers and nursing homes, as well as area churches with their musical ministries. Instrumental accompaniment for the troupe is provided with accordions, guitars, and drums. “The Singing Slovenes” promote fellowship through music and cultural education, sharing the Slovenian heritage and preserving it for current and future generations.
Some noteworthy accomplishments on the national level include being nominated for numerous awards at the Cleveland Polka Hall of Fame Awards Show during the 50th Anniversary of Tony Petkovsek’s Annual Thanksgiving Polka Party in November, 2011, and winning the Cultural and Heritage Award. The Singing Slovenes made back to back appearances in 2011 and 2012 at World Fest at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.
McInnis’ Kitchen brings a fresh, energetic sound that is unique in the way they interpret traditional music. Their sound is a result of the living-trad music process and what happens when various traditional players bring their own varied cultural mix together to make music. They have been captivating audiences with their energetic and unique blend of Irish, Scottish, Newfoundland and Canadian Maritimes Celtic traditional music that has earned them a following everywhere they perform in the US and Canada.
McInnis’ Kitchen combines the vocal talents of members Sue Spencer and Jim Ofsthun with the fiery fiddle style from fiddlers Mark Boggie, Chuck Butler and Mark Monroe. The driving rhythmic music is performed on fiddle, guitar, bodhran, button accordion and whistle. The songs often tell the stories of the people, their journeys and the sea. The energy and fun these musicians project in their performances attest to their own kitchen music roots and cultural upbringing.
The members now hail from NE Minnesota (including Duluth) and have performed at numerous prestigious venues such as Minnesota Irish Fair (St Paul, MN), Newfoundland-Labrador Folk Festival (St. John’s, NL), Old Fort William Celtic Fair (Thunder Bay, ON), Tall Ship Festival (Duluth, MN), Scottish Ramble (St Paul, MN), Lucius Woods (Solon Springs, WI), Festival of Friends (Outer Cove, NL), Phipps Center for the Arts (Hudson, WI), Big Top Chautauqua (Bayfield, WI), Center for Performing Arts (Tucson, AZ), Bonn Tours Cruises - Gros Morne National Park, NL, Woody Point Heritage Theatre (Woody Point, NL), and Canada Day Celebration (Thunder Bay, ON) to name just a few. They have appeared on radio and television in both the US and Canada, and are perennial headliners at Duluth's Grand St. Patrick's Day Celebration at Clyde Iron Works.
The Fish Heads
The Fish Heads are a unique blend of vocals and musicianship with Kim and Mike Monson trading guitar and bass work, while Mike also play drums pedals with his feet. Paul Jones is a master pedal steel player doubling up on Banjo and dobro also. All three do lead and harmony vocal work and blend beautifully. Their repertoire for Taste of Duluth will include bluegrass, old country and originals. They have been performing together for over 30 years and are Duluth treasures.