This trip out I was joined by the other members of Take Jack, the collaborative ensemble from Sonoma County I have been with since the group formed in 2010. We were joined by Ron Smith – fantastic photographer, actor and Co-Jack extraordinaire. Here is a bit about our time together during the week leading up to the first CRAZY COLD BEAUTIFUL concert.
FRIDAY JANUARY 29
Take Jack arrives, Minneapolis. Ten of us with all of our gear and a rental bass from All Strings Attached snug into 3 behemoth rental SUV’s and head to Duluth.
Temperatures dropping. Snow falling. Good news for the marathon! In the Star Tribune today, spotted at an airport kiosk upon arrival, an incredibly thoughtful article about the project, written by Katy Read:
SATURDAY JANUARY 30
Early start heading toward Grand Marais with a stop in Beaver Bay to visit the mushers with their teams getting Vet checks in preparation for the 2016 JBSDM, and to pay our respects at the gravesite of John Beargrease.
Midday arrival at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in time to join the 47 members of the Borealis Chorale and Orchestra for lunch and an afternoon rehearsal. Fantastic to see everyone again. Brilliant singers and musicians, stellar people all ‘round and Bill Beckstrand is a truly gifted director, musician, composer and well… plus – he’s just one of the people you’d most want to meet in a lifetime.
SUNDAY JANUARY 31
The 2016 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon begins! Take Jack sings “O Canada,” arranged by member Chris Smith, and then – the “Star Spangled Banner.”
(Just want to say to all you Giants fans who have sung the SSB in SF at AT&T Park on a sunny spring day? Try this.) … and then suddenly the lyrics we’ve been rehearsing for the past several months (in this instance words from musher Frank Moe) come alive as the countdown begins and the teams take off “… Nine, eight, seven, six… like a shot from a gun… smokin’ down the chute…” Here is Nathan Schroeder at the start line. Photo • Ron Smith.
We made stops later in the day and evening at Finland and Sawbill checkpoints.
MONDAY February 1
Rehearsal number two with the BCO. Joined this time by the orchestra including Yvonne Caruthers on cello – featured in several of the pieces.
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 3
A visit with the kids at Sawtooth Elementary School to sing through “Without Those Dogs” in Kerri Bilben’s inspiring music class.
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 4
The Jacks go mushing with Matt Groth of Grand Marais. So much I could say here but here’s the deal. Just go. Try it. Really. https://www.facebook.com/grandmaraissleddogadventures/
Robin scores a puppy hug:
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 5
At long last the day of the first concert has arrived. We do one final rehearsal at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church where Pastor Mark Ditmanson has so generously supported the project, allowing our keyboard, amps, speakers, and additional gear loaned to us by the North Shore Music Association, to remain set up all week long. Thank you Grand Marais for your kind welcome!