It’s no secret that Northfielders are known for their love of music and history.
The two will come together next week like clashing cymbals in a marching band as the 2013 Vintage Band Festival kicks off on Thursday (Aug. 1) for a four-day run.
Organizers say that time will stand still as the Vintage Band Festival takes the stage with a multitude of period-inspired performances celebrating the music and instruments of past eras. More than 100 concerts by 30 or more bands will take place in Northfield and surrounding cities, including New Ulm, St. Peter, Nerstrand, Cannon Falls, Faribault, Chatfield, New Prague, Owatonna and Red Wing.
Ensembles participating in the Vintage Band Festival 2013 include some international bands, nationally recognized vintage bands, Midwestern vintage ensembles and a number of Minnesota-based brass bands and community bands.
“The amount and variety of musical styles is amazing,” said Dan Bergeson, president of the Vintage Band Festival board. “They are all brass bands but are all very different. It’s an incredible variety and should appeal to a broad range of ages. It’s history, variety and just incredible talent coming together.”
The Vintage Band Festival brings with it a vast repertoire, dating as far back as the Baroque era and offers cultural performances in a full range of genres, according to organizers. Those in attendance will hear marches, ballads, jazz, polkas and alphorn songs, or as the Brass Messengers from Minneapolis/St. Paul who play Caribbean and Balkan music say, “anything that fits in the twisted brass tubing from originals to covers from around the globe, as long as it’s making joyful noise.”
If the 2013 VBF is anything like the two previous events held in Northfield, festival-goers will be able to step back in time and experience a musical documentary, of sorts, all in one weekend.
“The whole town becomes a theater set,” said VBF artistic director Paul Niemisto, describing the bands’ different genres and ethnicities to be represented at open-air venues of parks, pubs, restaurants and other public spaces. “It’s not only the music, period instruments and authentic costumes viewers will be experiencing, we’re playing the space.”
Niemisto says that attendees to the free festival can witness Civil War reenactment bands — dressed in period clothing — using restored instruments at a Battle of the Bands across the Cannon River, followed by a massed concert.
The event spans the centuries, from primitive pieces to classic arrangements to old-time favorites to present-day smash hits, and it bridges across the country and overseas with more than 30 bands participating.
“Having a place where musicians can meet like this is big,” said Niemisto, the founder of the festival in 2006. “More than 400 musicians are coming here to play great music and to partake in our community. It’s a wonderful festival.”
The Vintage Band Festival is in Northfield for the third time. It was first held in 2006 and drew about 10,000 people. In 2010, organizers say about 15,000 people attended the various concerts around Northfield and surrounding communities.
With its biggest roster of bands and more than 100 concerts to attend, Bergeson believes the 2013 Vintage Band Festival will draw even more people than the previous two festivals. And with concerts beginning each day at noon and performances on the half-hour throughout the city, there will be plenty of variety.
“I’m a musician and a music lover and I will be soaking it all in,” he said. “I just love the music. We’re playing to the cultural traditions of this area. It never gets old.”