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No Rest for the Pickers to open for Monroe Crossing in May 7 concert

No Rest for the Pickers is made up of teenagers Sawyer Corcoran on fiddle, Johnny Pfaff on bass and Aidan Larson on mandolin. They met at Headwaters fiddle camp a few years ago and struck up a friendship. Joining them are a pair of 33-year-olds, Joel Verschay on guitar and Corey Campbell on banjo.

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No Rest for the Pickers band members Joel Verschay on guitar, Aidan Larson on mandolin, Sawyer Corcoran on fiddle, Corey Campbell on banjo and Johnny Pfaff on bass, will open at 7 p.m. with a 30-minute set ahead of Monroe Crossing for a fundraising concert supporting Headwaters Music and Arts on Saturday, May 7, at the Chief Theater.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — Monroe Crossing will be the headliner, but an up-and-coming local band featuring three talented teenagers will get things started at the Chief Theater on Saturday, May 7.

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Monroe Crossing will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at the Chief Theater in Bemidji. From left: David Robinson on banjo, Matt Thompson on mandolin, Derek Johnson on guitar, Lisa Fuglie on fiddle and Mark Anderson on bass.
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No Rest for the Pickers will open the show at 7 p.m. with a 30-minute set. The event is a major fundraiser for Headwaters Music and Arts, providing funds for its music scholarship program.

A limited number of tickets priced at $25 may be available at the door or by calling Headwaters at (218) 444-5606.

No Rest for the Pickers is made up of teenagers Sawyer Corcoran on fiddle, Johnny Pfaff on bass and Aidan Larson on mandolin. They met at Headwaters fiddle camp a few years ago and struck up a friendship.

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Teenager Sawyer Corcoran started No Rest for the Pickers because he wanted to put together a bluegrass-style band he could play fiddle in on a regular basis.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Joining them are a pair of 33-year-olds, Joel Verschay on guitar and Corey Campbell on banjo. The band was formed three years ago.

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Verschay, a teacher at Leech Lake Tribal College, said he and Campbell are happy to be along for the ride as the youngsters develop their skills.

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Joel Verschay, a teacher at Leech Lake Tribal College, plays guitar with No Rest for the Pickers.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

“They’re just very talented, and they get better and better,” Verschay said. “It’s cool to see them grow as musicians and individuals. Corey and I very much view our role in the band as being support. The young guys keep us honest, too, because we’ve got to pick up our instruments and practice just to keep up.”

The group was scheduled to open for Monroe Crossing in Bemidji two years ago, but that concert was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, No Rest for the Pickers has played a variety of gigs in the region, including a John Prine tribute event at Headwaters in April.

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Corey Campbell, a forestry technician for Beltrami County, heard fiddle player Sawyer Corcoran jam with a Celtic group at Brigid’s Pub, prompting him to seek out a spot as banjo player for No Rest for the Pickers.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

“This is an awesome opportunity,” Verschay said. “It’s about two years in the making. It’s kind of like a good bookend to it, to be able to do that two years later. We’re a different, tighter band now.”

Headwaters executive director Tricia Andrews remembers the young musicians meeting at fiddle camp and bonding over a shared love of music.

“That connection with fiddle camp and that good experience is special,” Andrews said. “It’s our longest-running summer program. It makes me happy knowing that sort of thing happened. They formed a friendship and it grew to this. I’ve seen them grow and become more confident as performers.”

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Aidan Larson learned to mandolin so he could join bluegrass-style music group No Rest for the Pickers.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Leah Corcoran, who manages the band, said her son wanted to put together a bluegrass-style band that he could play in on a regular basis.

“We sort of scouted people out,” she said. “Johnny and Aidan were a natural fit, of course. At the time, however, Aidan wasn’t playing mandolin at all. He was playing viola. But he has since learned and mastered the mandolin, so that’s been a really cool thing to watch.”

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They also reached out to find a banjo player and a guitarist to complete the group.

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Teenager Johnny Pfaff plays bass with bluegrass-style music group No Rest for the Pickers.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Campbell, who works as a forestry technician for Beltrami County, heard Sawyer jam with a Celtic group at Brigid’s Pub, where Leah was a server. Verschay is a family friend.

“They hit it off right away,” Leah said. “It started out very informally. But as their individual skills developed, they grew musically as a unit, and they’ve really evolved as a band.

"They started with mostly bluegrass with some folk-rock mixed in, but they kind of have their own groove now that people come to expect to hear from them. They’re very lively. They really get people moving.”

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No Rest for the Pickers will open at 7 p.m. with a 30-minute set ahead of Monroe Crossing for a fundraising concert supporting Headwaters Music and Arts on Saturday, May 7, at the Chief Theater.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Dennis Doeden, former publisher of the Bemidji Pioneer, is a feature reporter. He is a graduate of Metropolitan State University with a degree in Communications Management.
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