Banjo duo to close out Mankato’s Banjo Hour series

The inaugural season of “Banjo Hour with Captain Gravitone and the String Theory Orchestra” will conclude on March 4 with a final show at The Loose Moose Saloon and Conference Center in Mankato.

For those of you who don’t know, Banjo Hour is a musical series that began last fall and has brought great artistic talent to our region. The previous four Banjo Hours occurred, with great avail from the local community, at the Treaty Site History Center in St. Peter and welcomed the jazz trio Rio Nido, guitar/fiddle combo Pushing Chain, acoustic virtuoso Dean Magraw, and the Celtic-fusion folk-rock of Lehto and Wright, as well as Minneapolis comedian Michael Callahan, banjo expert Tom Nechville, and various local “Hot Spot” songwriters from around the area.

These artists have a dense history of performing in the approximate Midwest and the city of St. Peter has been fortunate to receive them periodically over the past few months. However, thus being mentioned, the movement of Banjo Hour from St. Peter to Mankato is an exciting affair to say the least. Mankato (a town that has undergone a wave-like fluctuation of live performances) can only benefit from the addition of a series like Banjo Hour, and one hopes that this expansion will persuade future Banjo Hours to occupy a larger geographical sector while still maintaining its humble aesthetic. Time will tell, but the ball is certainly rolling in the right direction.

Alas, let us digress to the immediate matter at hand: the end of the inaugural season. And what an end it will be! The featured artist for this season’s Banjo Hour finale is The Lowest Pair, an unbelievable banjo duo that joyrides the edge of brilliance with their sheer skills and poetic musings. Palmer T. Lee and Kendl Winter met at a music festival in Minneapolis a few years ago and they’ve been musically crushing it ever since. The duo recorded its first album, 36 Cents, in Trampled by Turtles headman Dave Simonett’s basement and have since produced four albums including Uncertain As It Is Uneven, The Sacred Hearts Sessions, I Reckon I’m Fixin’ on Kickin’ Round to Pick a Little, and their most recent Fern Girl & Ice Man – all of this within a few short years.

Lee and Winter (with their rustic Americana look that conjures the depressive agrarian farmer and his wife in Grant Wood’s classic painting “American Gothic” and replaces the pitchfork with a banjo, the neutral black apparel with rugged flannels, and the shrewd, calculating stares with soul-stealing desire and determination) will undoubtedly round out this year’s Banjo Hour series in serious musical fashion. Immense, raw talent radiates from The Lowest Pair and fans of bluegrass and string-based music in general will certainly kick themselves for missing them at the Loose Moose.

Callahan will also return to perform his comedy and magic at this Saturday’s show and the featured local “Hot Spot” artist is Mankato’s own Laura Karels of Bee Balm Fields. Karels’ passionate acoustic performances, known well in Mankato, cause a swooning sensation that will blissfully collide with the roots of The Lowest Pair.

Banjo Hour is funded, in part, through the Minnesota State Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and Nechville Music. Patrick’s on Third, Morgan Creek Vineyards, Mankato Brewery, and the St. Peter Food Co-op are additional sponsors. Tickets for this Saturday are available online at captaingravitone.com or at the door. Also, if you are a student with a MavCard or if you bring a copy of this newspaper to the Loose Moose, you will receive a considerable discount.

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