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Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
(218) 333-9819 customer support
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Back Porch series

The Blackduck Community Library will be starting a three-part series Jan. 24 at the library at 6:30 p.m. This Back Porch series will feature Neal Hagburg, a Minnesota singer/songwriter who writes songs that encourage people to reflect on their lives and the way they treat others.

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The series will feature original music and discussion, examining prejudices towards others of different religions, orientations, gender, class, race, etc., not from a religious or political perspective -- but from attendees own experiences of the songs.

Hagburg uses his songs to bring about reflection and dialogue, then find creative ways to move forward together in a polarized world.

He has been awarded a McKnight Fellowship for his work in this area and has received a McKnight Foundation Community Outreach grant for this project. His CD, Its Not As Simple As It Seems, forms the foundation for the music.

The team of Neal and Leandra is well known. Since releasing their first album, Old Love, in 1992, they have produced close to a dozen recordings. Tours have taken them to Canada's Winnipeg Folk Festival and to 45 states from the Kerrville, TX Folk Festival to a tiny coffeehouse in San Luis Obispo, CA, from New York's Carnegie Hall and Minnesota's famed Guthrie Theater to small-town Louisiana for a concert in a former Confederate hospital.

He was honored with a 2010 McKnight Composers Fellowship for It's Not As Simple As It Seems.

The idea for the "Back Porch" series came together over the past summer. Hagburg did a performance in Bemidji, which was very well received. Blackduck Librarian Nance Kunkel attended and was struck by how closely it resembled a project she had been trying to pull together for several years.

Based on memories of the days when each community had a 'village oak tree' where folks gathered to discuss the events of the day, Kunkel had thoughts of trying to introduce that concept at the library, using the back deck for a series of conversations.

When Hagburg was awarded the McKnight Composers Fellowship, one of the things he did was contact the Kitchigami Regional Library System, to see if the Region would be interested in a two or three part series. Director Marian Ridge put Hagburg in contact with Kunkel and the "Back Porch" series was born.

Each of the three evenings will focus on different aspects of the music and discussions. Interested persons of all ages are invited to attend, although the subject may be more suitable for older teens and adults and not children. Although it is hoped that many people will be able to attend all three evenings, it is not required and people are free to come to one, two, or all three of the evenings. These will be held the fourth Monday of each month -- January, February and March.

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Pioneer staff reports
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