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Mike & Maggie returns: Bemidji musicians to perform children's songs Sunday

Mike & Maggie is back.

The Bemidji group that performed children's songs across northern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota for nearly two decades is reuniting to present a fall concert Sunday at Bemidji High School.

The concert, sponsored by the Bemidji Early Childhood Family Education Parent Advisory Council, will begin at 3 p.m. in the BHS Auditorium. Tickets, which cost $3 per person or $12 per family, will be available at the door. There will be treat bags for children, who are encouraged to wear costumes to the concert.

"We just wanted to have a wonderful concert for families that doesn't cost an arm and a leg," said Vicki Wangberg, coordinator of Bemidji ECFE, which is part of the Bemidji School District.

Mike & Maggie, made up of Mike Tangen, Maggie Carlson and Gary Broste, all of Bemidji, will perform a variety of songs with lively actions, including "If You're Happy and You Know It," "The Cat Came Back" and "Little Cottage in the Woods."

"It will be a ball," Tangen said. "We'll have a great time."

Mike & Maggie formed in the mid-1980s when Tangen and Carlson were teachers at Northern Elementary School.

"I had always used music in my classroom, as did Maggie," Tangen said.

The school wanted to hold a music assembly as a reward for students, and asked the two teachers to perform, said Carlson, who is now an assistant professor in Bemidji State University's Department of Professional Education. Soon, they were performing in schools around Bemidji.

"And we just got a lot of requests for our music," said Tangen, who is now the education technology manager for the Bemidji School District.

After people began stopping by the Melody Shop in downtown Bemidji wanting to buy Mike & Maggie tapes, the late Pat Campbell, who owned the music store with her husband, Don, encouraged the group to record their music.

At mutual friend Gary Burger's recording studio in Turtle River, the group recorded their first album, "Mike & Maggie: Music for Children," in 1987. They made 500 copies -- the minimum required.

"They went on sale and they were gone right away," said Tangen, adding that the group then had more copies made.

Shortly thereafter, Mike & Maggie recorded its second album, "Animal Tracs: Gnu Songs for Ewe." The group has since sold a couple thousand copies of each album.

After years of performing concerts across the region, Mike & Maggie began taking fewer gigs as its members' children began getting older.

"The whole time, our families were first," Tangen said.

But in May 2006, the group reunited to present a concert for the celebration of Bemidji ECFE's 20th anniversary. And, some parents who grew up listening to Mike & Maggie as children brought their own children to the concert.

"That was a very special time," Tangen said.