Category Archives: VBF Bands

Vintage and Modern at Vintage Band Festival 2017

Vintage Band Festival 2017 will celebrate musical traditions spanning more than a century on July 29 in Downtown Northfield, MN. At the beginning of the day, we will be showcasing the Fifes and Drums of Historic Fort Snelling. At the end of the day we will be welcoming McNasty Brass Band to the stage. Both of these ensembles are performing for the first time at Vintage Band Festival.

Fifes and Drums of Historic Fort Snelling  11:00-11:45am

The Historic Fort Snelling Fifes and Drums is a volunteer musical ensemble dedicated to representing the fort’s long history through music. The corps performs concerts and field shows in the fort on selected Saturdays from late May through mid-August. The corps also performs in concerts and parades in the Twin Cities area. Our goal is to gain a national reputation by performing throughout Minnesota and participating in fife-and-drum musters and clinics across the country.

Founded in 1971 when the historic site opened, the Historic Fort Snelling Fifes and Drums took a hiatus after only a few years. Music duties at the fort were handled by the interpretive staff, but their performance opportunities were limited. The full corps was revived in 2014 using staff musicians and student volunteers. The musical repertoire now spans from the Revolutionary War through World War II, the years when Fort Snelling was an active post of the United States Army.

McNasty Brass Band  8:30-10:00pm

McNasty Brass Band is a collection of Minneapolis/Saint Paul based horn players and percussionists that fuse the Minneapolis sound with the spirit of New Orleans. The outcome of this fusion is hard-hitting dance music and high-energy live shows.

Each player works tirelessly outside McNasty Brass Band as a side-man, some with national and international touring acts. That’s what makes McNasty special– these youthful but experienced side-men come together and showcase their compositions, solos, group vocals, and stage presence as front-men. “McNasty Brass Band is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t make fun of the kid who is super into trumpet in 5th grade” ( “King Size Life,” their first studio album (available January 27, 2017), encapsulates their live energy with exciting compositions, rowdy gang vocals, and rip-roaring solos. The only thing missing is their dance moves!

We welcome you to Northfield for the entire 12 hours of the concert schedule. Riverwalk Market Fair will share Bridge Square with us from 9am-1pm. For the complete schedule and information about all of the bands, go to the VBF website.

Vintage Band Festival Announces Band Roster for 2017 Festival

For Immediate Release

May 26, 2017

Vintage Band Festival Announces Band Roster for 2017 Festival

The band roster for the upcoming July 29 festival is now complete. Crowd favorites among the bands returning to Vintage Band Festival in 2017 include Bavarian Musikmeisters, Sheldon Theater Brass Band, Twin Cities Trumpet Ensemble, Brio Brass, and Copper Street Brass. New this year will be the Fife and Drum Corps from Historic Fort Snelling in St. Paul, Brass Lassie, and the McNasty Brass Band.

Historic Fort Snelling Fifes and Drums–The Historic Fort Snelling Fifes and Drums is a volunteer musical ensemble dedicated to representing the fort’s long history through music. The musical repertoire spans from the Revolutionary War through World War II, the years when Fort Snelling was an active post of the United States Army.

Brass LassieBrass Lassie performs extraordinary arrangements of Scottish, Irish and French music, mainly traditional, featuring a four-piece horn section, a terrific rhythm section, plus fiddles, flutes, pipes, vocals and some wonderful step dancing.

McNasty Brass BandMcNasty Brass Band is a collection of Minneapolis/Saint Paul based horn players and percussionists that fuse the Minneapolis sound with the spirit of New Orleans. The outcome of this fusion is hard-hitting dance music and high-energy live shows.

Copper Street Brass—The five members of Copper Street Brass have style, substance and a flair for innovation, which has allowed them to transcend the brass quintet box and evolve into something fresh. Copper Street Brass started in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2007 and settled down in Minneapolis in 2008. The group’s new tour program, “The Evolution of the Brass Quintet,” features music from Mozart to Dave Brubeck to Adele. Its blend of musical styles and fusion of electronic effects and brass has wowed audiences in communities across the country. Last season the quintet performed for 4,300 students in 25 schools.

Brio BrassBrio Brass has delighted and entertained audiences throughout Minnesota’s Twin Cities
Metro area since 1999. Composed of more than 50 adult musicians, the group performs its own unique arrangements written specifically for its members. The ensemble’s large repertoire features a broad spectrum of musical styles. Audiences are entertained with fluid ballads, pop of all eras, show tunes, funky rock and lots of jazz. Expect lots of humming, toe tapping and even dancing in the aisles!

Twin Cities Trumpet Ensemble–Understanding that the trumpet holds a special place in the psyche of society, the Twin Cities Trumpet Ensemble seeks to enliven, entertain, and enrich the community through the highest level of professional performance prowess and the presentation of music of
quality and stylistic and temperamental diversity. It exemplifies the transformative power of music through the performance of music written or arranged for three or more trumpets. The ensemble has performed numerous concerts in the tri-state area, including performances at Lake Como Pavilion and several churches.

Sheldon Theatre Brass Band–The Sheldon Theatre Brass Band was founded in 1989 as the resident performing ensemble at the newly restored turn-of- the-century T. B. Sheldon Theatre in Red Wing. The band is made up of cornets, trombones, tenor horns, euphoniums, tubas and percussion. In addition to its regular performances at the Sheldon Theatre, the band performs at a variety of venues throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin, and it has performed at many brass band festivals throughout the United States including NABBA Great American Brass Band Festival.

Bavarian Musikmeisters–Members of the Bavarian Musikmeisters hail from the Twin Cities and model themselves after traditional German village bands, lederhosen and all. The band’s 35 musicians perform authentic musical arrangements on a variety of brass and woodwind instruments: flute, clarinet, trumpet, flugelhorn, tenor horn, baritone, trombone, tuba and percussion. They perform for numerous events in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and have performed at Germanic festivals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota, as well as at the German-American Mardi Gras Association annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The Whistlin’ Dixies–This Twin Cities-based group prides itself on its versatility. The Whistlin’ Dixies has a core group of four fun and funky musicians and adds up to ten others to play a variety of genres, ranging from Motown classics to vintage jazz and swing to rock n’ roll. The band often performs for weddings, parties and corporate events.

New Prague Community Band–The New Prague Area Community Band consists of community members ranging from teenagers to retirees. It plays a diverse selection of band repertoire, striving to entertain all sorts of audiences. Band  members are an energetic group who believe that music is fun; they try to show that in their attitudes and in the songs they play at local events and area celebrations throughout the year.

The venue for the series of outdoor concerts on July 29 will be Bridge Square in Downtown Northfield, Minnesota along the banks of the wild and scenic Cannon River. The show will run from 10am-10pm and feature a variety of Minnesota music ensembles playing 45 or 90 minute sets. Vintage Band Festival will run concurrently with Riverwalk Market Fair, an open-air arts and food market, and will also have a variety of food concessions. Festival goers should bring chairs or blankets and plan to spend the day.

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.

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.

Vintage Band Festival 2013 Report to Donors

November 22, 2013

2013 was the best Vintage Band Festival yet.  Bands from Sweden, Germany, Austria, Texas, Chicago, Maryland, Michigan, Texas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota converged on Northfield Minnesota for 5 days of intense brass wind music.   Artistic director Paul Niemisto designed the festival to showcase vintage brass music, and to highlight the best of contemporary brass music from New Orleans jazz to Chicago shout bands to professional European brass ensembles.  Bringing all these together in one place makes the Vintage Band Festival unique in North America.

VBF 2013 was exponentially larger than either of the previous festivals. 35 bands provided a combined total of 134 unique musical experiences. In 2010, concerts were staged in seven communities beyond Northfield.  For 2013 we added six more towns to make a total of 13: Faribault, New Ulm, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Chatfield, New Prague, Minneapolis, Scandia, St. Peter, Owatonna, Nerstrand, Montgomery and Kasota.

Staffing for VBF 2013 followed a similar format to the previous two festivals, though more people were required due to the increase in the number of band, communities and events.  A platoon of volunteers run the festival, ably coordinated this year by our omni-competent St. Olaf College interns Mitch Evett and Ramsey Walker.  The VBF website was completely redesigned to give concert-goers far more information. The online event schedule was transformed into an interactive experience complete with a biography of each band, a photo of the band and a Google map showing directions to the concert location. An additional Google map displayed all of the concert locations and directions to each one. Free audio samplers of most of the bands were made available using the SoundCloud service.

FESTIVAL GROWTH         2006-2013

Budget                 Bands                    Events                  Attendance        Communities

2006         $38,000               20                           36                           9,000                    2

2010       $100,000              25                           91                           12,000                   8

2013       $170,000              35                           134                         15,000                   14

What’s Next for the Vintage Band Festival

Artistic growth has exceeded our administrative infrastructure and fundraising ability, which needs to grow to match our artistic reach.  We need to recruit board members with specific skills, add to our administrative structure, and pay off about $50,000 in accumulated debt from the three Vintage Band Festivals.  We feel we are at a not-unexpected place for a young festival. We believe we are at a not-unexpected place in our organizational life.  We have established a successful festival unique in North America, and now need to build additional organizational infrastructure to support it.  We believe the $170,000 we spent this year is a reasonable budget to put on a festival of this caliber, and we also believe we can raise that level of support for each festival going forward, given the dedicated audience we have built.

From now through 2014 we expect to

  • Recruit additional board members with specific skills in finance, administration, and fundraising.
  • Improve our communication with and outreach to friends and donors.
  • Establish an annual giving club – our very own “Band-aid” to support VBF in planning as well as in festival years.
  • Extinguish the approximately $50,000 in debt we have accumulated.

By 2015 and 2016 we expect to

  • Hire our first part time administrator to manage preparations for the festival.
  • Program and present the 4th, and best yet, Vintage Band Festival 2016.

What the Vintage Band Festival Needs from Our Friends

  1. Board members with specific skills in finance, administration, and fundraising.  If you would like to nominate someone or volunteer, please let us know.
  2. Friends who will consider holding part of our accumulated deficit as no-interest loans for a period of two years while we negotiate payments and increase our fundraising capacity.
  3. Dedicated supporters who will pledge an annual gift to the Vintage Band Festival so we have adequate planning funds in the off years.  We especially appreciate annual gifts of $100, $500, or even $1,000 which can help us build a reliable income.
  4. Gifts of any amount now so we can build up an advance reserve fund for the 2016 Vintage Band Festival.

Thank you for your past support of the Vintage Band Festival.  You, our friends and audience, are a vital part of the Vintage Band Festival experience.

Paul Niemisto, Artistic Director

Jan Stevens, President of the Board of Directors