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Tour brings '60s bands together for concert in Bemidji

BEMIDJI - Lakeland Public Television and the Sanford Center are happy to be together, teaming up Tuesday to host the "Happy Together Tour" at the Sanford Center.

"It is kind of built as a chance for people to support public TV and have fun doing it," LPTV Promotion Manager Ron Johnson said.

This is the sixth benefit concert for LPTV, and will feature classic artists including the Grass Roots, The Buckinghams, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, The Turtles with Flo and Eddie and The Monkees' lead singer Micky Dolenz.

This is the first year the benefit concert will be at the Sanford Center, as previous performers have played at the Bemidji High School Auditorium. Johnson said part of the reason for the change is that this is expected to be the biggest concert they have put on, with an expected 2,500 to 3,000 people in attendance.

Johnson said his background working as an independent producer has given him some contacts to help him bring in performers, but LPTV has also done this in the past - bringing oldies groups like the Smothers Brothers, the Diamonds, Bobby Vee, the Tokens and B.J. Thomas.

He said many of the entertainers that perform are ones that have been featured on specials aired on the Lakeland television station, which is why concerts typically feature oldies music.

The "Happy Together Tour" is themed off of the Turtle's 1967 hit song. The 1960s bands have performed together at various venues across the country and are scheduled to perform Aug. 27 at the Minnesota State Fair.

Johnson said the transition to the Sanford Center was one that they had considered last year, but this year they were given no choice because of the size of the act.

"We couldn't afford them to perform at the high school (because) they cost more than our budget and we would have to charge and enormous ticket price just to come out even on it," Johnson said.

The ticket prices stayed in the ballpark that Johnson wanted at $28 and are still available at the Sanford Center Box Office or through Ticketmaster.

The cost for the use of the building is higher than that of the high school auditorium, which is where the partnership with the Sanford Center helped out. The two are working together to promote the show. The Sanford Center is helping with some of the expenses for the rent of the facility, production equipment, staff and labor.

For their help with the expenses, the Sanford Center will share in some of the concert's profits.

"To me, what is more important than the profit and the success of the show is just having the ability to realize how easy it is to work with the Sanford Center team," Sanford Center Director of Sales and Marketing Cyrus Pansch said.

Johnson said the partnership is a good trade off because it puts less strain on LPTV's staff and volunteers and allows for a bigger show.

LPTV will use its profits from the concert to help fund daily expenses for the upcoming year.

Johnson said the membership fund, which the profits will go into, is used primarily to buy the programs that are shown on the station. LPTV also has its capital campaign to help raise money for the new media center, but Johnson said the benefit concert is not directly for that.

Pansch said nearly 2,100 tickets have been sold and tickets will continue to be available up until show time.