The Cowboy Band Returns!!

For Immediate Release

November 4, 2016

mtcowboyband(Northfield, MN)– In 1912, a cowboy band and a group of Blackfeet Indians from newly developed Glacier National Park traveled to expositions in Minneapolis and Chicago to promote the state of Montana. Hired by Great Northern Railway President Louis W. Hill, the son of James J. Hill, the musical ensemble included a cornet soloist named G. Oliver Riggs.

Award-winning freelance journalist Joy Riggs, the great-granddaughter of G. Oliver Riggs, will tell the story of this unusual adventure in an engaging presentation on Monday, November 14. Joy will speak at 3:30 p.m. at the Northfield Retirement Center Chapel, 900 Cannon Valley Drive West, and again at 7 p.m. at the Northfield Senior Center, 1651 Jefferson Parkway. This Vintage Band Festival educational event is free and open to the public.

Joy is writing a book of memoir and history about the extraordinary exploits of her paternal great-grandfather, a pioneering Minnesota band director. She received a 2015 emerging artist grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC), and she serves on the board of the Vintage Band Festival. She blogs about her book project and her family’s adventures in making and appreciating music at Joy grew up in Alexandria, Minn., and has lived in Northfield for the past 18 years with her husband and their three children.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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Vintage Band Festival 2016 Features Music and Good Stories

July 11, 2016


Vintage Band Festival 2016 Features Music and Good Stories

Artistic Director: Paul Niemisto,; 612-308-6857

Media Contact: Dan Bergeson,; 507-581-0553

Northfield, MN —Vintage Band Festival 2016, July 28-31 in Northfield, MN, will feature four days of non-stop brass and wind band music, but it will also be an occasion to witness historic achievements, meet internationally renowned artists and interact with hundreds of musicians and their families. Read on to learn about two of the highlights of this year’s festival.

Friedemann Immer, Master Trumpeter

Freidemann ImmerFriedemann Immer will be a special guest trumpet soloist at Vintage Band Festival 2016, joining the Kentucky Baroque Trumpets under the direction of Don Johnson.

Friedemann Immer, born 1948 in Duisburg, Germany, is one of the best known Trumpeters in the musical world. Early in his career he specialized in the playing of the Baroque Trumpet and played with orchestras such as Concentus Musicus Vienna, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music Berlin, Musica Antiqua Cologne, la Stagione Frankfurt, Academy of Ancient Music London, Boston Baroque and Aston Magna USA . He has worked with conductors Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Frans Brüggen, Thomas Hengelbrock, Ton Koopman, Philippe Herreweghe, Marcus Creed, Martin Pearlman, Ivor Bolton, Christopher Hogwood and Hellmuth Rilling. Immer has made over 200 recordings and appeared many times on radio and television. This includes more than 10 recordings of J.S.Bach´s second Brandenburg Concerto on period instruments.

Friedemann Immer was invited – as a soloist and with his “Trompeten Consort Friedemann Immer” –  to the Historic Brass Symposium in Amherst, Massachusetts (1995) and New York City (2013) and to several International Trumpet Guild Conferences, the last one in 2014 in Valley Forge/King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. This is his first visit to the Vintage Band Festival.

Friedemann Immer is Professor for Baroque Trumpet at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Cologne, Germany, and at the Royal Music-Academy in Copenhagen, Denmark. He taught 20 years at the Sweelinck Conservatorium in Amsterdam. In addition to these activities he continues to give master classes all over the world.

For more information about Friedemann Immer or to schedule an interview, contact Don Johnson, phone 270-699-5764.


Vintage tuba found in Northfield, MN antique shop is now restored

1st brigade tuba before restoration


Three years of work and the Northfield tuba mentioned in the article “Trash to Treasure” (Northfield News, 8/5/13) has come back to 1st Brigade Band to begin a new life in 2016! Nancy Campbell-Pierce has done a wonderful job restoring this irreplaceable part of history.
This horn was spotted in a Division Street shop window in by Doug Condon and Elsa Condon, members of 1st Brigade Band of Watertown, Wisconsin, while in Northfield, MInnesota for Vintage Band Festival 2013. The two talked with the shop owner, Devin Johnson. Mr. Johnson had found this piece of musical history in a Twin Cities scrap yard about to be melted down. The shop owner purchased the scrap and was going to make jewelry out of the parts.
1st Brigade tuba after restoration


Doug and Elsa Condon saw the importance of the instrument and with impeccable timing, persuaded Bandmaster Jon Condon and the instrument curator of the band, Dan Woolpert, to negotiate the preservation of the instrument with the shop owner. 1st Brigade Band will have this instrument in playing condition for their return trip to Northfield for Vintage Band Festival 2016, July 28-31.

For more information about this amazing instrumental transformation or to interview the musicians involved in the process, please contact Doug Condon, phone 920-342-6361.


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

VBF Celebrates 10 years: 2006-2016

VBF 2016 Cloisonné pin

For Immediate Release

July 1, 2016

Vintage Band Festival Celebrates 10 Years: July 28-31, 2016

Artistic Director: Paul Niemisto,; 612-308-6857

Media Contact: Dan Bergeson,; 507-581-0553

(Northfield, MN) – Northfield, located in southern Minnesota — known for its appreciation of music and history — has become a travel destination within the Midwest sought out for its authentic experience. The Vintage Band Festival, to be held July 28-31, will be the highlight of the summer as it welcomes re-enactment bands from across the US and abroad to “dust off their horns and old sheet music” and bring music to life — in all of its glory — from days gone by.

The international festival boasts 100 concerts at outdoor parks, performance stages, dining establishments and pubs in the picturesque river town of Northfield and at a multitude of festival concert sites in nearby communities. Find a full schedule of “living history” performances, auxiliary events and attractions, plus a sample travel itinerary for discovering more treasures in southern Minnesota, at

Amid the vast collection of performing bands that accentuate cultural influences, genres and period-inspired repertoires several Midwest historic revival bands are participating in this year’s Festival. Today’s audience can hear what Presidents Lincoln and Davis, Generals Lee and Grant, and their contemporaries heard in their

The 1st Brigade Band, from Watertown, Wisconsin, dressed in navy blue uniforms takes as its inspiration the  eighteen men from the Brodhead Brass Band who enlisted in the Union Army in 1864 as the Band of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 15th U.S. Army Corps. They served under the command of General William T. Sherman. After locating and restoring dented and broken instruments and reconstructing torn music sheets, the 1st Brigade Band continues this musical legacy from 150 years ago. This will be the third time this band has performed at the Vintage Band Festival.

Another ensemble which will relive music of the 19th Century is the Independent Silver Band (ISB) of Mount Vernon, Illinois. Back in its heyday, the community enjoyed “first class entertainment and boundless enjoyment” as the ISB played for “balls, picnics, parties, political rallies, and more.” By bringing together interested brass players and percussionists from Mt. Vernon and surrounding cities and towns in southern Illinois, William L. Reynolds created a proper team of dedicated persons who could provide the chance to hear the music of a bygone time. With their very stylish green uniforms, unique helmets, and a complete “show” with narration, they will be coming to Northfield to entertain for a second time.

19th century brass bands have been described as having sweet and mellow intonations, but to have survived and flourished in a time of great conflict within our country, the music served a broader, brasher purpose that uplifted the morale of its people during an era of clashing dissonance. This unforgettable time would become a defining part of our national heritage and have a pronounced and resounding effect on the history of music in America today.

2016 is also within the centennial period of World War I and some bands will honor this history and present an additional focus for the Festival.  A highlight will be an outdoor Victory Dance with the Buddy Koopmans Swing Orchestra on Saturday night.

While the bands will perform individual concerts on all of the Festival days, on Saturday, July 30th, the Battle of the Bands takes place at noon on the Riverfront. Many community bands from all over Minnesota will also be included in the schedule each day. Evening entertainment will include appearances by Copper Street Brass, Jack Brass Band and Banda La Verdadera, all well-known professional ensembles from the metropolitan Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Brass bands have been important in Minnesota since the 1850s. The Great Western Band was active as early as 1858. The St. Anthony Brass Band played for the grand opening of the suspension bridge over the Mississippi in St. Anthony in 1863. In 1861, the Red Wing brass band played as they sent Civil War volunteers to Fort Snelling. When the soldiers returned after the war, they were greeted by the Great Western Band at the St. Paul Train Station. A group from the Vintage Band Festival, The Manitou Regimental Band, played in 2015 for a reenactment of the return of Minnesota troops from the Civil War arriving on a paddle wheeler at Fort Snelling.

For more information on how the pages of history turn as the musical faintness has been captured in the wafts of distant winds and brought into the present, visit the Vintage Band website at The 2016 band roster and complete schedule of events is located there. Find Vintage Band Festival on Facebook at “Vintage Band Festival” and Twitter at @vintagebandfest.


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

VBF Spring 2016 Fund Appeal

The following letter was recently sent to the Vintage Band Festival donor base. Since many website visitors are not yet donors, the letter is reprinted here for their information.

VBF 2016 Pin.3MidnightBlue

May 2, 2016

Dear friends,

The tenth anniversary four-day Vintage Band Festival happens July 28-31—just three months away.  The band roster and the performance schedule have been finalized. There will be 31 bands and about 100 concerts.  Our last four-day festival, in 2013, attracted 15,000 attendees, and the diversity of bands and music repertoires was amazing—the festival has become a major event in this region and nationally.

The lion’s share of the approximately $100,000 in funding for the festival comes from hundreds of gifts by local individuals, an astonishing example of cross-community collaboration.  In addition to making cash gifts, Northfielders host band members in their homes, set up and take down at performances, and give hours of their time locating resources beyond cash so that the whole project can come to pass.

I’m writing to ask you to make a gift in support of this summer’s four-day Vintage Band Festival.  Gifts of any size are deeply appreciated, but here are two ways to support the festival that link to specific needs at the core of our costs:

  • We house visiting bands that travel long distances to Northfield in Carleton College facilities at our expense.  Since several of the bands will stay 3-4 nights this summer we will need to fund approximately 300 nights at $35/night.  A gift to fund five nights would be $175; ten nights $350, and so on.
  • The largest part of our budget is the fees we pay to get some of the best and most unusual bands to come to the festival.  Some nearby Minnesota bands do not charge us a fee but we will be paying 20 bands a total of $33,750 for this summer’s festival.  A gift of any amount will help with these costs, but for a gift of $1,000 we would designate you in our publicity as the sponsor of a specific band.

Checks can be made out to Vintage Band Festival at 204 W. 7th St. #130, Northfield, MN 55057.  Credit card donations can be made by clicking the big green “DONATE” button on our website Thank you most warmly for your consideration of this request.  Let the music begin!


Janet Gettings Stevens, President                                                                     Paul Niemisto

Vintage Band Festival Board of Directors                                                        Artistic Director

Vintage Band Festival: Ten Years of Music and Memories

VBF Presents NiemistoVintage Band Festival will present its latest Enrichment Series installment twice on Monday, May 9, 2016. The program will be given first at the Northfield Retirement Community Chapel (900 Cannon Valley Drive West) beginning at 3:45pm. The Northfield Senior Center (1651 Jefferson Parkway) will host the second presentation at 7pm.

The featured guest will be Dr. Paul Niemisto speaking on the topic “Vintage Band Festival: Ten Years of Music and Memories.” Dr. Niemisto will address such questions as “What is a Vintage Band?” “How do we locate and select the vintage bands that play at the festival?” “What can listeners look forward to at the 2016 Vintage Band Festival?” Niemisto will also perform a demonstration on the helicon, a low brass instrument that is a precursor to the modern-day Sousaphone. He will have three helicons from his personal collection on display at the event.

Vintage Band Festival 2016 will take place in Northfield July 28-31, 2016. 30 bands will play over 100 concerts in Northfield and surrounding communities during the 4-day festival. 2016 is the 10-year anniversary of Vintage Band Festival. Details of the 2016 festival can be found at



This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the

SoutheasternMinnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and

cultural heritage fund.

Mn Legacy logo

Spaghetti Dinner to Benefit Vintage Band Festival

April 12, 2016

For Immediate Release

Northfield, Minnesota—The Northfield Eagles Club will be hosting a benefit spaghetti dinner 2016 VBF Poster Spaghetti Dinner Spaghetti dinner posteras a fundraiser for Vintage Band Festival 2016. The event will take place, Saturday, April 23, 2016 from 5:30pm – 7:00 pm at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles Club, 304 Water Street South, Northfield. Dinner will consist of spaghetti with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese, salad and sliced bread. Cash bar will be available. Local area scouts will be serving the dinner.

Live music will be presented throughout the evening. There will be three ensembles playing for the dinner guests: student musicians from St. Olaf College at 5:30, Bridge Square Band at 6:00 and an ensemble of student musicians from Northfield High School at 6:30.

Tickets for the Vintage Band Festival spaghetti benefit dinner are available in advance at Coldwell Banker South Metro Office, 419 Division Street South, Northfield. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Tickets may also be purchased at the door the night of the event. All proceeds from the event will benefit Vintage Band Festival.

Vintage Band Festival 2016 will take place in Northfield July 28-31, 2016. 30 bands will play over 100 concerts in Northfield and surrounding communities during the 4-day festival. 2016 is the 10-year anniversary of Vintage Band Festival. Details of the 2016 festival can be found at

VBF Presents “Fife and Drum Experiences in the Civil War”

March 28, 2016

For Immediate Release

For more information contact Jan Stevens ( ; 507-244-0500).

Northfield, Minnesota—On Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 3:45pm at the Northfield Retirement Center and again at 7:00pm at the Northfield Senior Center, Vintage Band Festival presents “Fife and Drum Experiences in the Civil War.” The public is invited to experience the stirring sounds of traditional fife and drum music as it was played in the United States Army during the American Civil War.

Two 45-year members of the state’s premier Civil War re-enacting unit, the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, will explain and demonstrate the instruments and various calls, signals and martial airs that were an essential part of the daily life of all Minnesota’s volunteer soldiers 150 years ago. The men will be wearing authentic copies of original clothing and accessories.

John Guthmann and Jim Moffet will recount how they found an annotated original music book in the collection of the Anoka County Historical Society that has proven to be instrumental in the ongoing musicology of this segment of American folk music. The book was written by George Bruce and Dan Emmett and is titled “Drummers’ and Fifers’ Guide”.

“Fife and Drum Experiences in the Civil War” is presented by Vintage Band Festival, a 10-year old organization dedicated to showcasing vintage brass and wind music in Northfield and other southern Minnesota communities. The next Vintage Band Festival will be held July 28-31, 2016 in Northfield.

Vintage Band Festival 2016 Band Roster

March 14, 2016

For immediate release

Artistic Director: Paul Niemisto,; 612-308-6857

Media Contact: Dan Bergeson,; 507-581-0553

Northfield, Minnesota—The Board of Directors of Vintage Band Festival has announced the roster for Vintage Band Festival 2016 scheduled to take place in Northfield July 28-31, 2016. 2016 marks the tenth anniversary for the Vintage Band Festival organization which has staged five previous events. Festivals in 2006, 2010 and 2013 were four-day affairs and those in 2014 and 2015 were each one-day “Mini-Fests.”

There will be both international and domestic bands at this year’s festival. The international bands are traveling to Minnesota from Belgium, Germany and Sweden. The domestic bands represent seven states: Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Minnesota bands comprise the largest contingent with 18 bands on the list. The complete roster can be found here.

Vintage Band Festival 2016 will showcase seven bands making their first appearance at the festival. Four of the first-timers are Civil War re-enactor bands, one is a brass quartet, one is a clarinet sextet and one is a Hispanic “Banda”, Banda la Verdadera, from Minneapolis, MN. Two of the Civil War bands are from Iowa, one is from Illinois and one is from Indiana.

Bridge Square Main Stage headliners at the Vintage Band Festival 2016 will be Copper Street Brass, Jack Brass Band, Banda la Verdadera and Brass Messengers.

Vintage Band Festival 2016 is a four-day brass and wind extravaganza taking place in multiple locations throughout Northfield and surrounding southern Minnesota communities. 30 bands will present over 100 concerts during the festival in parks, churches, retirement communities, veterans clubs, bars and pubs. The festival is free and open to the public. Complete information can be found at

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Fall 2015 Report to Friends of VBF

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

 One Day Festival August 1, 2015

Our second one-day event on August 1 was a tremendous success. 12 bands played on the Bridge Square stage during the 12-hour festival and donations from the audience reached $8,000. Thanks to Riverwalk Market Fair for another fruitful collaboration!

Financial Update

On August 3, 2015 Vintage Band Festival was able to meet all of its past obligations, pay for the expenses of the 2015 one-day festival and continue into the fall with a positive cash balance. Since that time, additional donations and grant awards have resulted in a cash balance of $20,000. Since the projected budget of the 2016 festival is approximately $100,000, $80,000 remains to be raised. We plan to accomplish this with a combination of grants, business sponsorships and appeals to VBF friends like you!

Homecoming at Fort Snelling

VBF sponsored the music for the reenactment of the 150th anniversary of the 2nd Minnesota Infantry’s homecoming at historic Fort Snelling on August 15.  Thanks to The Manitou Regimental Band for a fabulous job!

Vintage Band Festival Presents

VBF hosted three amazing educational programs during the fall. On September 28 Paul Maybery gave a presentation on the history of brass bands in the United States. William Crowder, “Bugler Bill”, was in period dress on October 26 and demonstrated dozens of bugle calls in a “day in the life” of the United States Army infantry. On November 23, Joy Riggs read from her forthcoming biography of her great grandfather, G. Oliver Riggs, a real-life music man. Thanks to our friends at the Northfield Retirement Center and the Northfield Senior Center for being great partners in this effort.

 News from the Board of Directors

Jesse Streitz joined the Board at the November meeting. Jesse is a recently retired local business owner and a fine clarinetist. Welcome Jesse! Jim Haas, VBF Treasurer, announced his plans to resign from the Board at the end of 2015. Thanks to Jim for his outstanding work during the past two years!

VBF Secures SEMAC Grant

Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council awarded Vintage Band Festival a $10,000 Arts and Culture Heritage Grant in November. The money will be used to support the participation of a number of Midwest bands in the 2016 festival. Thanks to Board Secretary Joy Riggs for her successful grant application.

2016 Festival

The next multi-day Vintage Band Festival is scheduled for July 28-31, 2016. The band roster is nearing completion and promises to be an outstanding array of variety and talent. 2016 will be the 10-year anniversary of Vintage Band Festival and next year’s festival will be the sixth staging of this unique blend of brass and wind music,

You Can Help!

Please consider a year-end tax-deductible donation to Vintage Band Festival. You can make a secure donation on our website,, or send a check to Vintage Band Festival, 204 W. 7th St.., Box130, Northfield, MN 55057.

VBF Receives $10,000 SEMAC Grant

Vintage Band Festival is pleased to announce that on November 17, 2015 VBF received a $10,000 Arts and Culture Heritage Grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC). This grant will be used to support several Minnesota bands that will be appearing in the next Vintage Band Festival July 28-31, 2016.

SEMAC awarded 38 grants in this cycle for a total of $234,460 in funding to applicants throughout southeastern Minnesota. This included eight Presenter/Production Assistance grants for $22,500, eight Small Towns/Rural Areas grants for $19,605, and 22 Arts & Cultural Heritage grants for $192,355.

Many thanks for the efforts of Joy Riggs, Vintage Band Festival Board member and Secretary, for her fine work in writing a successful application. This is the second SEMAC grant that Joy has written. The first was a $4,000 General Operating Support grant awarded in August 2015.