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Monroe Crossing: Paul Bunyan Playhouse to host Bluegrass band

From left are Art Blackburn, guitar; Benji Flaming, banjo; Lisa Fuglie, fiddle; Mark Anderson, bass; and Matt Thompson, mandolin, who are members of the Bluegrass quintet Monroe Crossing. The group will play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Chief Theatre, 314 Beltrami Ave. N.W. Submitted Photo

As part of its 10th anniversary tour, Monroe Crossing will perform in Bemidji.

The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Paul Bunyan Playhouse, 314 Beltrami Ave. N.W.

"They're really a hot group when they're here," said Natalie Grossfield, Paul Bunyan Playhouse board member. "(In the past) They've sold out the house, which is good for the Playhouse."

Tickets for the Playhouse fundraiser are available at Brigid's Cross Irish Pub, Wild Hare Bistro, Overbeek Electronics and at the door.

"There's a lot of (Bemidji) Bluegrass fans; we try to get up once a year," said Matt Thompson, emcee and mandolin, vocals and fiddle for the band. "We play around a single microphone like Bluegrass bands did in the early days, though we have a much better microphone."

He said they dress in 1940s-era outfits, especially the men's neckties. Other band members are Art Blackburn, guitar and vocals; Lisa Fuglie, fiddle, mandolin and guitar; Mark Anderson, bass and vocals; and Benji Flaming, banjo.

Thompson said the band plays traditional Bluegrass, gospel, original music and some crossover pieces, such as Prince's "Purple Rain." The second half of the show always features songs by audience request.

Monroe Crossing, based in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, was organized in the fall of 2000 and named in honor of Bill Monroe, the father of Bluegrass music. The band was nominated for Artist of the Year in 2004 by the Minnesota Music Academy.