Gluekstock isn’t your average music festival.
The band, The Therapeutics, is made up of staff and patients at the Minnesota Security Hospital. Gluekstock is the band’s major summer performance, held at Irene Gluek Park on MSH grounds for scores of patients and staff.
Being and performing in the band “gives us a positive outlook on life and lets us forget the negative in our childhood,” patient Brian Detlefsen said.
He’s been in many bands. This one, to him, feels like family. He said patients in The Therapeutics are expressing “the desire we want for change, to improve our status and our skills.”
Fellow band member and patient Mark Elsen keeps a steady stream of music going throughout his day.
“It’s a real therapeutic thing for me,” Elsen said. “Any time I’m bored or when I’m painting, I listen to music. Or when I’m lifting weights — it goes with just about anything.”
The band has about 15 members; it practices twice a month and performs twice a month. But the highlight is Gluekstock, an outdoor performance in an idyllic spot. The music festival and band date to about 2012. In the beginning, the band was made up of staff. But as patient interest grew and the security hospital pursued more fine arts opportunities for treatment, the band began to build and highlight musical talent among patients.
“There is more and more research that shows that music really is medicine in a sense,” said Tammy Rosburg, recreational therapy supervisor. “It does a lot to bring healing to the mind, decreasing depression and building hope.”
Participation in the band can serve as a goal for patients as they work through therapies. All of the MSH patients have been deemed mentally ill and dangerous by the courts.
The Therapeutics performed at the opening reception of a May 2016 art exhibit of works by MSH patients at the Arts Center of Saint Peter. The feedback was very positive on both the art and the music. Patients are preparing for a second art exhibit.
“There are so many challenges for patients here,” Rosburg said. “It’s a long-term facility, so performing or anything fun and creative and challenging brings hope for the outside.”
Jason Anderson, who teaches bass, electric and acoustic guitar to patients, said he sees transformations in patients who join. They may come in timid and reserved, but gain confidence over time.
“I see people light up all the time,” he said. “The collaboration moves us together. It’s fun to see people see the fruits of sharing in a common goal.”
Audience members can react differently to performances, but band members “get a whole new level of security with themselves,” patient band member Jesse Dosen said. “You’re giving something you made that can bring joy and happiness to them.”
Erica Thomas, who has been in The Therapeutics for three years, said she’s eager to continue the experience when she leaves the security hospital.
“It’s a release of energy,” she said. “It brightens my day.”
The park itself is something of a natural oasis on the grounds. Traffic on Hwy. 99 can be heard in the distance. There are a couple of park shelters, but none of the security hospital’s treatment buildings or fences are in view.
Patrick Grande, an MSH patient, said he was eager to perform.
“When you share music with someone, it always comes back to you,” he said. “You feel satisfied.”
Grande performed several original songs with the band. He said he likes to create and his style draws from rock and blues influences. He primarily plays electric and acoustic guitar; guitar has been his instrument since he was 8 years old, he said.
“Without a guitar, I feel there’s something missing,” he said.
Naomi Gaines said she planned to sing two songs she wrote.
“I write all the time, I write many different things,” she said, from a novel to music. “Sometimes, there is not a family member or friend to talk to. So the pen and paper are my psychiatrist, psychologist, friend.”
She said she considers her music inspirational.