Julie Johnson, with ties to BSU and the area, will be back with her band, Julie Johnson and the No-Accounts on Monday
BEMIDJI — Even as a young musician, Julie Johnson displayed an uncanny vision of how music could and should be played.
One person who does remember Johnson from her formative years when she traveled with her parents from Baudette to Bemidji for flute lessons is Susan Nelson, adjunct music faculty on the staff of Bemidji State University.
"She was just so committed and they would drive down from Baudette every two weeks and she would have a long lesson with me," said Nelson. "Johnson had received an Artist Mentor Grant from Region 2 Arts Council back in the 1990s, which opened the door for her to study flute with a professional musician when she was only 16-years-old."
Johnson will bring her musical talent back to Bemidji next week when her band, Julie Johnson and the No-Accounts will be the entertainment for the Bemidji Library Book Festival Poetry Slam at 7 p.m. Monday at the American Legion, 217 Minnesota Ave. NW.
The mentor grants allow for middle-school through high school students to mentor with an expert in the field of choice related to the arts: music, fine and performing arts and technical fields.
"She was a very good flutist to begin with even though she had not had the opportunity to study with a professional," continued Nelson. "And she was interested in all aspects: music theory, music history, evaluating different performances and so on."
Nelson has taught many aspiring musicians and teachers through her almost 20 years at BSU. Johnson is an example of a musician who started out with talent and dedication, but with not a lot of music experience who has turned into a wonderful musician through her own efforts, she said. Johnson devotes herself to music by teaching, playing, composing and "out of the box" initiatives. Recently, Johnson started working with dancers and choreography.
Johnson is a prolific composer who is noted for her depth in researching and rescoring music from the Iron Range, French Canadian Voyageurs, Scandinavian churches and Minnesota Folk Legends.
On her website, Johnson wrote of the group’s sound, which is "filled with a lot of improvisation that requires precision" but also noted the quiet that spreads over a rowdy bar scene when the audience is deeply attentive to the lyrics. The performances range from a blend of folk, jazz, classical and original compositions knit seamlessly into a whole cloth.
Johnson has been active in the music scene in the Twin Cities for some time, joining with her Augsburg College friends to form Julie Johnson and the No-Accounts in the summer of 2009. The band features Johnson on flute and bass flute, Doug Otto on vocals and guitar and Drew Druckrey on guitar, resonator guitar, vocals and mandolin.
The Poetry Slam will begin at 8:30 p.m. and is adult entertainment not meant for young audiences because of language and content. The Bemidji Public Library Poetry Slam will kick-off the Bemidji Book Fest at 8:30 p.m., Monday at the American Legion.
A poetry slam is a competition at which poets read or recite original work that is given a score by previously selected judges. Registered participants should have three readings prepared in the event they make it through all three rounds. There is a three-minute time limit per round with no props, just the voice and performance of the poet. The slam is limited to 12 poets. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners. To enter, you must pre-register by contacting the Bemidji Public Library at (218) 751-3963. All events are free and open to the public.