Tag Archives: Paul Niemisto

Vintage Band Festival Announces Grant Award from Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council

May 22, 2017

For Immediate Release

Vintage Band Festival Announces Grant Award from Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council

Northfield, Minnesota—Vintage Band Festival is pleased to announce that it has received a $3,000 grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) in support of one of the performing bands at this summer’s one-day festival on July 29. The award also covers expenses for sound production at the event. SEMAC has been a strong supporter and advocate for Vintage Band Festival since the festival was launched in 2006 and this recent grant continues that tradition.

Vintage Band Festival was founded in 2006 by Dr. Paul Niemisto, at the time a faculty member of the St. Olaf College Music Department. The inspiration for staging a series of brass and wind band concerts simultaneously at multiple outdoor venues in Northfield, Minnesota came from observing similar events while visiting small towns in Germany and Austria. The local community responded enthusiastically to the idea and Vintage Band Festival is now a thriving and beloved ongoing enterprise in Northfield. Four-day festivals have been held in 2006, 2010, 2013 and 2016. Recently, a variation on the concept was created and now one-day summer events are staged during the intervals between the grand four-day events. The next one-day Vintage Band Festival will be held July 29, 2017.

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

“Band festival restores vintage sounds” via the Rochester Post-Bulletin

The Vintage Band Festival was recently mentioned in the Rochester Post-Bulletin. Read the article here

“Recalling History Through Its Sights and Sounds” via the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota

Read a recent blog post about the Vintage Band Festival via the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota here.

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 http://vintagebandfestival.org/bands/. Music samplers and a full event schedule can be found at vintagebandfestival.org. Press information can be found at http://vintagebandfestival.org/press/.

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 amy@achesoncreative.com.