Author Archives: Paul Niemisto

New Donors Get VBF Programs In Advance

If we receive your DONATION before July 15th, we will mail you a copy of the OFFICIAL VBF PROGRAM before the festival starts. How to donate: Click on the “Donate Now” button on the VBF Homepage, or send your check to “Vintage Band Festival” at 204 W Seventh St #130, Northfield, MN 55057; or you can stop at “By All Means” on Bridge Square and donate in person. Pledge on the phone? 507-321-1250. Thanks for your support in advance. Each new donor also receives a classy cloisonné lapel pin.

Early Reservation of VBF 2013 Special Event Tickets

Coming Soon: early availability of VBF special event TICKETS: (all with limited seating)

• Lunch, Listen and Learn at Contented Cow for Wednesday July 31, Thursday August 1, Friday August 2, Saturday August 3: $10.00 each (food and music)

• German Food and Music: with Bavarian Musikmeisters, Sunday afternoon, August 4. Northfield Senior Center. Cost: tba

• 19th Century Cotillion Ball with Dodworth Saxhorn Band; Northfield Armory. Saturday, August 3, 8:00 PM- Tickets free to donors who request them.

• North Star Cinema Orchestra- Vaudeville Entertainment and Silent Moving Pictures. Sunday, August 4, Grand Entertainment Center, 7:00 P.M. Tickets free to donors who request them.

To reserve tickets contact VBF HQ at 507-321-1250 or <>. Tickets can also be obtained in person at HQ (CHM 117 St. Olaf College) or at the VBF Booth- Northfield Riverwalk Marketfair on Saturday mornings (we also have shirts, hats, info, etc).

VBF HQ will open on Bridge Square on Saturday, July 27th,

Celebrating Music over the Centuries and across the Nations

Visit our press page for information on a special Media Day and more.


NORTHFIELD, MN, July 2013 – Time will stand still as the Vintage Band Festival takes the stage Aug. 1-4 with a multitude of period-inspired performances celebrating the music and instruments of past eras. More than 100 concerts will take place this summer in Northfield and surrounding satellite concert sites for an unforgettable experience recalling music in history.

The Vintage Band Festival – a historic account of its own – brings with it a vast repertoire, dating as far back as the Baroque era and offers cultural performances in a full range of genres. Hear marches, ballads, jazz, polkas and alphorn songs…or as the Brass Messengers from Minneapolis/St. Paul who play Caribbean and Balkan music say, “anything that fits in the twisted brass tubing from originals to covers from around the globe, as long as it’s making joyful noise.”

Festival-goers will be able to step back in time and experience a musical documentary, of sorts, all in one weekend. “The whole town becomes a theater set,” said Festival’s Artistic Director Dr. Paul Niemisto, describing the bands’ different genres and ethnicities to be represented at open-air venues of parks, pubs, restaurants and other public spaces. “It’s not only the music, period instruments and authentic costumes viewers will be experiencing – we’re playing the space.” For example, attendees to the free festival can witness Civil War reenactment bands, dressed in period clothing, using restored instruments at a Battle of the Bands across the Cannon River followed by a massed concert.

The Vintage Band Festival serves as a portal into different eras with additional auxiliary events offered, such as ballroom dancing, a vintage “base ball” game, vaudeville entertainment and more.

This larger-than-life musical event spans the centuries, from primitive pieces to classic arrangements to old-time favorites to present-day smash hits, and it bridges across the country and overseas with more than 30 bands participating.

The Kentucky Baroque Trumpets will be performing signal calls dating back to 1240 from Krakow, Poland. This band offers a series of cavalry fanfares, solos, and duets, primarily from the 1600 and 1700s and has just recently recorded, for the first time ever, and with some of the finest trumpeters in the world, a facsimile from Composer Cesare Bendinelli that was transcribed into modern notation, according to Kentucky Baroque’s Artistic Director Don Johnson.

Dr. Niemisto also notes several European performances planned for Aug 1-4 that are indigenous to their place of origin such as: the Swedish band Medevi Brunnsorkester, a brass sextet with music dating back to 1870; the Oktetten Ehnstedts Eftr., a Swedish wind band, that hails from Stockholm; the Original Drachenfelser Musikanten, a quartet from Germany; and Eine Kleine DorfMusik Kapelle that harkens back its age-old scores from small villages in Austria. “Each one is conscientiously trying to preserve and present a style of music that is indigenous to a very specific part of their country. Even within these countries, there are still differences and one might find it culturally interesting to hear contrasting interpretations, within one language group.”

Dr. Niemisto added, “It’s also culturally compelling to hear the bands from the United States that are creating music that is not indigenously American, such as The Brass Messengers, Klezmerica, and Mariachi mi Tierra.”

Progressing along the musical timeline, the Copper Street Brass Quintet out of the Twin Cities has a tour program called the “Evolution of the Brass Quintet” that is aimed at education and offered to communities across the nation.

A headliner at the Vintage Band Festival that reinvents old to new is an extraordinary musical family – the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. The eight brothers from the south side of Chicago have played all over the world. A recent press release from the band says, “Every step taken by these ambassadors of brass, has been to fuse the better parts of every musical genre, into a legacy to share the future of music.”

Another noteworthy band is Kenny Carr and the Tigers, a trombone shout band from North Carolina. Kenneth Carr shared these words: “The Vintage Band Festival and the city of Northfield is a great venue and place for us to display our love for the brass sound. We are elated to be part of such a historic event.”


For a complete band roster, go to Music samplers and a full event schedule can be found at Press information can be found at

Find VBF on Facebook at “Vintage Band Festival” and Twitter at @vintagebandfest.

Festival inquiries and photo requests, contact Amy Acheson at 651-470-0028 or

Vintage Band Festival 2013 at a Glance

THE VINTAGE BAND FESTIVAL is pleased to announce its third Vintage Band Festival will take place in Northfield, Minnesota on August 1-4, 2013. This international music festival is a four-day celebration featuring 30 bands from across the United States and abroad with 100 concerts showcasing a variety of genres, heritage influences and period-style performances.

• Ensembles participating in the Vintage Band Festival 2013 include some exciting international bands, nationally recognized vintage bands, Midwestern vintage ensembles and a number of Minnesota-based brass bands and community bands. For a complete list of the roster and links to individual band websites, visit

• Auxiliary events surrounding the festival are: vintage baseball, ballroom-style dance, vaudeville entertainment, Battle of the Bands, Massed Civil War Bands Concert, Lunch Listen & Learn concerts, historical musical instrument exhibit, Sunday music in area churches, and the Early Brass Festival gathering of the Historic Brass Society (New York). All performances are free and open to the public, although financial donations are encouraged. Dress in vintage attire is usual, but not required.

• Events begin at noon each day. There are performances on the hour and every half hour at various venues throughout the city well into the evening. In observation of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, there will be a Battle of the Bands on the banks of the Cannon River.

• The Vintage Band Festival will also be collaborating with the Saturday morning Riverwalk Market Fair. Surrounding communities will also collaborate through satellite VBF performances. Events are scheduled in Dundas, Faribault, Owatonna, Cannon Falls, New Prague, Red Wing, Chatfield, New Ulm, Minneapolis and more.

 International Bands

• Oktetten Ehstedts Eftr (Stockholm Home Guard Band) – Sweden

• Medevi Brunnsorkester (Brass Sextet) – Sweden

• Eine Kleine DorfMusik (Bohemian Band) – Austria

Original Drachenfelser Musikanten – Germany

American Bands

• Kentucky Baroque Trumpets – Kentucky

• Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (New Orleans & Delta Style) – Illinois

• Independent Silver Band (19th Century) – Illinois

• Newberry’s Victorian Cornet Band (19th Century) – Maryland

• Dodworth Saxhorn Band (Civil War Era) – Michigan

• Kenny Carr and the Tiger Shout Band – North Carolina

• Lex-Ham Community Band – Minnesota

• Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Cowboy Band (Civil War) – Texas

• 26th North Carolina Regimental Band (Civil War) – Washington DC

• 1st Brigade Band (Civil War) – Wisconsin

• Century Brass Band (Civil War) – Minnesota

• Copper Street Brass Quintet – Minnesota

• North Star Vaudeville Orchestra – Minnesota

• Schell’s Hobo Band – Schnikelfritz – Minnesota

• Sheldon Theatre Brass Band (British Style) – Minnesota

• Dolce Woodwind Quintet – Minnesota

• Ameriikan Poijat (Finnish Brass Band) – Minnesota

• New Prague Area Community Band – Minnesota

• New Ulm Original German Band – Minnesota

• Brass Messengers (Balkan Band) – Minnesota

• Lake Wobegon© Brass Band (British Style) – Minnesota

• Jack Brass Band (New Orleans Style) – Minnesota

• Klezmerica (Klezmer Band) – Minnesota

• Mariachi mi Tierra Band – Minnesota

• Matterhorn Alphorns – Minnesota

• Minnesota State Band – Minnesota

• The Bavarian Musikmeisters – Minnesota

• WindWorks Quintet – Minnesota

• Swing and a Miss – Minnesota

The Vintage Band Festival 2013 is a non-partisan, non-profit community organization.

For the complete schedule and bios, visit www.

Pre-Festival/Media Day

Media are welcome to a series of international band performances taking place on July 31, as part of the VBF’s pre-festival activities.

Please see the following:

Lunch, Listen & Learn #1: Newberry’s Victorian Cornet Band *

12:00 pm – 12:50 pm    Contented Cow Pub, Northfield MN

*Call 651-470-0028 to reserve a complimentary meal ticket.

Medevi Brunnsorkester (Sweden)

3:00 pm – 3:50 pm Archer House Riverfront Gazebo, Northfield MN

Medevi Brunnsorkester (Sweden)

7:00 pm – 7:50 pm Grace Lutheran Church, Nerstrand MN

Eine Kleine Dorfmusik Kapelle (Austria)

8:00 pm – 8:50 pm      Contented Cow Pub, Northfield MN

Original Drachenfesler Musikanten (Germany)

8:00 pm – 8:50 pm      J. Grundy’s Rueb’n’Stein, Northfield MN

Media are also welcome to attend a reception at the Northfield Historical Society celebrating donors, foreign guests, and volunteers.  Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served starting at 5:30 p.m.

Photography and interviews with international vintage band performers and Artistic Director Dr. Paul Niemisto are available on this date and throughout the festival.

Further questions, call 651-470-0028. Press information is here.


(Northfield, MN May 2013) – Cultural influences from all over the world contributed to the rich history of American brass bands. Attendees of this summer’s Vintage Band Festival will hear this richness expressed through the performances of a number of ethnic bands, including several from Minnesota.

Here’s a look at some of those bands participating in the Aug. 1-4 festival:

The Brass Messengers started as a street band playing the music of the Caribbean and Balkans. This Minneapolis-based band is well known for its lively performances and its involvement in the Heart of the Beast May Day Parade. “Our music of choice is anything that fits in the twisted brass tubing, from originals to covers from around the globe, as long as it makes a joyful noise.”

The entertainment band tradition of klezmer, secular Jewish music that originated in Eastern Europe, will be represented at the Vintage Band Festival by the Klezmerica band of the Twin Cities. Also known as the Frozen Chosen, Klezmerica has played all over the United States, in Canada, and Israel.  (

Traditional Mexican music styles of mariachi and banda also have influenced the American brass band sound. Minneapolis-based Mariachi mi Tierra ( has performed widely around the country, and at events closer to home, like Minnesota Twins baseball games. Mariachi music has incredible diversity, from rapid tempo “sones” (quick songs), to “romånticas” to dance forms such as the “cumbia”, “bolero”, “polka”, and “vals” (waltz). They include the typical instruments: trumpets, fiddles, and guitars.

Among the other Minnesota bands reflecting ethnic traditions are the Original New Ulm German Band and the Bavarian Musikmeisters (, both well known in their own communities and around the region. For the Bavarian Musikmeisters, the music is about “sharing the beauty, enjoyment, and history of traditional Germanic band music and culture with people of all ages.”

The Minnesota-based Finnish band Ameriikan Poijat (Boys of America) recently returned from a concert and festival tour of Finland, performing at the Lieksa International Brass Week and on the main esplanade in Helsinki and many other locations. The seven brass players are from all corners of Minnesota.  (

Visit our website for more information and a four-day schedule with over 100 performances at Stay tuned for more news from the Vintage Band Festival as exciting national and international bands (soon to be announced) will bring their heritage music to this year’s festival, as well! Our news blog can be found at

The Vintage Band Festival is a four-day celebration featuring bands from across the US and abroad. Over 100 concerts fill the streets of historic Northfield and satellite concerts sites throughout southern Minnesota on August 1-4. The Festival offers a variety of genres, ethnic influences, and period-style performances. Visit for more information.

Find us 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 & cultural heritage fund.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


“Vintage Band Festival Delivers a Blast From the Past” via Leisure Group Travel

“Travel through time — compliments of the Vintage Band Festival — as it takes you on a whirlwind musical extravaganza August 1-4 in southern Minnesota. This notable event will be the highlight of the summer – welcoming 30 US and international bands as they perform an astonishing 100 concerts over four days! …”  Read more here.

This advertorial was written for Leisure Group by Amy Acheson.

“Minnesota Festival to Feature Vintage Bands” via Leisure Group Travel

Note: This article can be found on Leisure Group Travel‘s website. Read more Vintage Band Festival coverage here and here.

The Vintage Band Festival, set for Aug. 1-4 in Northfield, Minn., once again will present performances from a wide variety of brass bands. A rich history is found in British-style brass bands. Two Minnesota-based bands in this tradition will appear at the Vintage Band Festival in August — the Lake Wobegon® Brass Band and Sheldon Theatre Brass Band.

Sheldon Theatre Brass Band

Sheldon Theatre Brass Band

This band style began during Britain’s industrial era, when newly invented brass valves were being mass-produced. The resulting cultural change took “playing in a band” to a new level, inspiring challenging contests that enlivened the working communities, heightening spirits and creating a category of band music all its own. Today the North American Brass Band Association embodies this tradition passed down through the centuries, while many heritages continue to embrace British-style music throughout the world.

Read more here.

Catch Vintage Band Fever

Note: This post is available courtesy of Joy Riggs, freelance writer and Vintage Band Festival executive committee member.

The countdown to Vintage Band Festival 2013 is at 77 days – it’s less than three months away! If you enjoy listening to world-class music, attending family-friendly summer festivals, and exploring cool small towns, make plans now to travel to Northfield, Minn., this summer – the town of Colleges, Cows and Cornets!

Thirty bands are scheduled to present 100 concerts during the four days of the international festival, showcasing a variety of genres, heritage influences and period-style performances. Some bands are making a return appearance, and others are new to the festival. Detailed information about the bands, links to their websites, samples of their music, and a searchable performance schedule are available on the festival website,

New bands this year include Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Cowboy Band, from Texas (also known as the Frontier Brigade Band); the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, a New Orleans-style band composed of eight brothers from Chicago; and two bands from Sweden, Ehnstedt’s Octet and Medevi Brunnsorkester.

Read more here.


Southern Minnesota: A Midwest Destination for Music & History



 Southern Minnesota: A Midwest Destination for Music and History

(Northfield, MN May 2013) – 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, August 1-4, will be the highlight of the summer as it welcomes re-enactment bands from across the United States and abroad to dust off their horns and old sheet music and bring music to life — in all 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 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

Participating in this year’s Festival, amid the vast collection of ensembles that accentuate cultural influences, genres and period-inspired repertoires, are several Midwest historic revival bands:

The Dodworth Saxhorn Band from Ann Arbor, Michigan, plays patriotic airs, orchestral transcriptions, marches, quicksteps, and ballroom numbers such as quadrilles, waltzes, polkas, gallops and schottisches. The band was a major influence on the New York music scene in the 1800s, performing at concerts, balls, social events, political rallies, and U.S. presidential inaugurations.

The 1st Brigade Band, from Watertown, Wisconsin, dressed in navy blue uniforms, dates back to 1864 when eighteen men from the Brodhead Brass Band enlisted in the Union Army as the Band of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 15th Army Corps. They served under the command of General William T. Sherman. After locating and restoring dented and broken instruments and reconstructing torn part sheets, the band continues its musical legacy from 150 years ago.

Now you can listen to music that Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Generals Lee and Grant, and their contemporaries heard in the day.

Nineteenth 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 seemingly served a broader/more brash purpose … that dignified the morale of its people during an era of clashing dissonance. The country battled with internal strife as the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 made its tragic mark in Minnesota’s own history.

This unforgettable time would become an inherent part of our heritage and have a pronounced and resounding effect on the history of music in America.

With 2013 being in the middle of the American Civil War’s 150th Anniversary observation, these revival bands, plus other historical bands from the East Coast and South, will present an important focus for the Festival.

While the bands will perform their own concerts on all of the Festival days, a Battle of the Bands will take place Saturday, Aug. 3, at noon along the banks of the Cannon River. A Massed Civil War Bands Concert will follow at 1 p.m. on the 4th Street Bridge, completing the Civil War Anniversary Day of the Festival.

Another ensemble that will relive music of the 19th Century is the Independent Silver Band of Mount Vernon, Illinois. Back in its heyday of the 1880s, the community enjoyed first-class entertainment and boundless enjoyment as the band played for balls, picnics, parties and political rallies. By bringing together interested brass players and percussionists from Mt. Vernon and the surrounding area, William L. Reynolds created a modern band dedicated to playing music of a bygone time. With their stylish green uniforms, unique helmets, and a living history show with narration, they will be coming to Northfield to entertain for a second time.

New to the festival this year is the most local of the Midwest groups: the Century Brass Band from Minneapolis-St. Paul. Formed recently, “Century” follows the traditions of Minnesota bands of yesteryear and uses all original music from 150 years ago.

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 Civil War volunteers departed for Fort Snelling. When soldiers returned after the war, the Great Western Band greeted them at the St. Paul train station. The Century Band calls on this rich heritage for its inspiration.

For more information, tune into our news blog at Find the VBF on Facebook at “Vintage Band Festival” and Twitter at @vintagebandfest.


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Vintage Band Festival (Northfield) Concert Venues
Credit: Google Maps

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Vintage Band Festival (Satellite) Concert Venues
Credit: Google Maps