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Bandshell series kicks off with Monroe Crossing

Monroe Crossing will treat their fans to a medley of bluegrass and classic country music when the band opens for the 2018 bandshell concert series in Dickinson.

The performance starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12, at the Phil Patterson Memorial Bandshell. Bring a lawn chair or blanket, it’s free.

Named in honor of Bill Monroe, “The father of bluegrass music,” Monroe Crossing has entertained audiences across the United States, Canada and Europe.

Derek Johnson, who is lead vocalist and plays guitar, said the band is based in the Twin Cities.They are touring  west for a week, including performances in Fargo and at the Bluegrass Festival in Cross Ranch State Park.

He describes bluegrass as a pure form of country music that requires five instruments -- fiddle, banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar and bass.

“I used to be a rock n’ roller, but came into the bluegrass acoustic aspect of it,” he said. “A lot of people appreciate it, but don’t like it until they’ve seen it live.”

The musicians are affiliated with the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association, an organization that has been around since the 1970s.

“They do a wonderful job of promoting bluegrass and hosting festivals, and that’s how we met each other,” he said.

The band has recorded 17 CDs, the three most recently being “Monroe Crossing Plays Classic Country,” “Mortals & Angels: A bluegrass Te Deum”  and “Winter Wonderland.”

The “Classic Country” album, for example, highlights renditions of songs from artists such as George Jones, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash.

“We have multiple songwriters, which helps us stand out as a bluegrass band,” he said. “We do a lot of community theaters and outdoor shows in the summer. Bluegrass is very family friendly.”

The band will present a medley of patriotic songs for the Flag Day ceremonies that night.

“Over the years, we performed for different events over the Fourth of July and recently a memorial for Minnesota fallen police officers. We have worked out a fair amount of patriotic tunes for some of those.”

Having toured together for past 18 years, he said the glue that holds them together is their love of music.

“It’s the love of entertaining audiences -- we love giving a good show. People who are skeptical, will be entertained whether they like blues music or not,” he said.

The roster includes: David Robinson, banjo; Matt Thompson, mandolin; Derek Johnson, guitar; Lisa Fuglie, fiddle; and Mark Anderson, bass.