Fondly remembered director of 33 years will lead four-piece horn section
Former Little Falls Community High School (LFCHS) Band Director Dwight Nelson will be returning to the stage for the summer music festival Rock the Park. The free concert will be held Saturday, Aug. 4, from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. at Maple Island Park in Little Falls.
An annual event presented by Great River Arts Association (GRAA), Rock the Park will go old school this year with The Upper Mississippi Rhythm and Soul Revue, featuring a variety of rhythm and soul-inspired music, including Motown, reggae, blues and pop.
“This type of music spans from generation to generation,” Nelson said. “Rhythm and soul is still very popular. A lot of today’s music still models itself after it.”
A trumpet player, Nelson will lead the horn section that will accompany local band “Brothers Tone.” Nelson will be joined by 2012 Pierz Healy High School graduate Preston Weber on tenor saxophone and 2012 LFCHS graduate Jocelynn Moran on trombone.
Nelson’s horn section will also include an old college friend of his, Craig Mesenbring, on trumpet. Mesenbring attended St. Cloud State University with Nelson during the 1970s. Like Nelson, Mesenbring also went to direct a high school band.
Rock the Park will mark the first time the pair has shared the stage since college. Nelson said he looks forward to collaborating with his friend and fellow trumpet player again.
“There’s a joke in the music world that your trumpet players will always have the biggest egos in the band. Whether or not that’s true, I don’t know,” Nelson said.
Nelson’s reputation as a fun-loving musician goes back to his days as band director at LFCHS, where he left a lasting legacy during his 33-year tenure.
“I always told my students we would work hard, but we would have fun doing it. That was something I tried to instill in them,” he said.
For pep band performances, Nelson often chose rhythm and soul songs because he knew the lively tunes never failed to please the crowd.
“I enjoyed what I was doing, so the kids enjoyed it, too. It just worked,” Nelson said.
In addition to Nelson’s horn section, Rock the Park 2012: The Upper Mississippi Rhythm and Soul Revue will include headliners and back-up singers.
“We’ll have a 15-piece group up on stage. It’s going to be one big rock band,” Nelson said.
Special guests will include Great River Arts Executive Director Jill Moore and community members, Jeff Anderson, John Fedor, Jim Norwood, Andy Spofford, Elene Tonder and Terri Verkuilen.
“With the combination of good people behind the scenes and great sponsors to fund it, I’m sure Rock the Park will be a success,” Nelson said.
Food, beer and soda will be served starting at 6:30 p.m. The rain location is Crestliner warehouse.
Every year, Rock the Park brings together a variety of musical talent to highlight a different music genre.
Rock the Park is a highlight of the Arts in the Park summer concert series presented by Great River Arts. Donations are appreciated, as the concert is a major fundraising event for the organization.
For more information about Rock the Park 2012: The Upper Mississippi Rhythm and Soul Revue, call Great River Arts at (320) 632-0960 or visit www.greatart.org.
As the hub for the arts in the greater Morrison County area, Great River Arts is a welcoming, supportive and inspirational gathering place. Creativity meets community in the music and theater performances, exhibits and classes the organization offers for all ages and skill levels in its downtown Little Falls headquarters and in satellite locations throughout the county.
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Pictured during a recent rehearsal are musicians front row (from left): Preston Weber, Dwight Nelson and Paul Roach. Back row: Jim Norwood, Jocelynn Moran, Andy Spofford and Jill Moore. They are a sampling of those who will perform during the Aug. 4 “Rock the Park” event at Maple Island Park in Little Falls.