Not just fiddlin’ around

The families that play together, stay together. That’s the take-away from talking with Karen Rath, president of the Frozen Fingers Music Association of Minot, which is holding its 19th annual bluegrass and old-time music festival Friday through Sunday at the Sleep Inn & Suites in Minot. Rath, who also performs with the Dakota Rose Band, says the event grows larger each year.

“It also has a changing make-up, with younger children coming with their grandparents. We have people coming from Bismarck, Bottineau well, from about a hundred-mile radius,” she said.

The three days break down to workshops, performances and dances. The festival begins Friday evening with dancing to the Dakota Rose Band from 7 to 10 p.m. That part of the weekend is open to the public with a free will offering requested. While the rest is also for the public, there is a $15-per-day charge to participate, which includes a mandolin workshop on Saturday and a guitar workshop on Sunday. Immediately following these, time is set aside for an “open stage” hour, which Rath said is always full of really good talent.

“We hope to have three or four bands each day, and sometimes you get someone with a really good voice or a group with a great musical blend,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity for people who don’t otherwise have the chance to perform like this.”

The open stage encourages more people to get involved, which is the goal of Frozen Fingers.

“We had a call recently from an older gentleman who was so happy to see this happening,” Rath said. “He said he just doesn’t have anyone to play with anymore.”

After this, established bands take the stage for hour-long sets each until 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday. Sunday also has a “Polka Worship Service” at noon. A second dance is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m., also to the Dakota Rose Band.

In the days before television, or even radio, families had to make their own entertainment, and music was the logical avenue of expression. Different members could choose different instruments, and those with good voices were always welcome.

Among the musicians who make up the bands performing throughout the two days are guitarists, fiddlers, pianists, accordionists and harmonica, banjo and bass fiddle players. Some of the bands playing include local favorites Tin Star and Roughriders, with Walt Storey and the Mackey Family. The out-of-towners come from places such as Tioga and the Turtle Mountains to Minnesota.

The players range in age from 2 to “don’t ask,” with grandparents sharing their musicianship with several generations of offspring. Members of the Dakota Music Association Hall of Fame will be performing, including newly inducted Jim Mackey; Floyd Borud, who was inducted last year; and Rath herself, an inductee four years ago.

Come, she said, and enjoy the music from this country’s roots. Schedules for both days are on the website at (frozenfingers.org).