The 13-acre Excelsior Commons park area was designed with summer nights in mind, with public recreation space, playgrounds, swimming areas, sports facilities and restrooms flanking beautiful Lake Minnetonka in the heart of bustling Excelsior. It’s home to Art on the Lake, the hometown Fourth of July celebration, and countless smaller events.
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When you hear about the accomplishments of local band The Excelsior Turtles, you might be surprised to find out the members aren’t middle aged, but middle schoolers instead. Two up-and-coming musicians—Brian Williams and Max Scholten, both 13—met three years ago through the Excelsior Rock Club at Minnetonka Music (read more about the rock club in our August 2017 issue). Brian and Max hit it off both personally and musically, and decided to start a band. With a third musician—their Rock Club instructor Cooper Alt—The Excelsior Turtles were born.
Youngsters who dream of wowing crowds with their musical prowess are in luck—Minnetonka Music is here to teach them how to rock. The Deephaven store is home to the Excelsior Rock Club, which is specifically geared toward kids ages 8 to18. With weekly group rehearsals, private lessons and a public performance to show off their new skills, the program gives kids the chance to learn the fundamentals of rock and roll in a collaborative, encouraging—and, ahem, loud—environment.
Pippi Ardennia sings jazz straight—without runs, without the vocal “somersaults” they performed at her grandfather’s Pentecostal church on Chicago’s Southside, where Ardennia grew up. “I didn’t like doing all that stuff,” she says. Her parents introduced her to Broadway belters—no frills. “But at the same time, I don’t sing any song the way it was written; every song has to go through my filter.” Ardennia tries not to rehearse.
In our August 2014 issue, we featured the story of Minnetonka High School graduate Holly Henry, who found success in a national singing competition. Since then, Henry’s star has kept rising. With one full-length album and two EPs under her belt, Henry also has a YouTube channel where she sings originals and cover songs to engage with her nearly 350,000 subscribers.
To those of us who live here, Lake Minnetonka means home. To some global music fans, however, it might mean funk and jazz.
In Melbourne, Australia, there’s a band called Lake Minnetonka. The members are Australian—so how the heck did they choose such a name? For one thing, they say, their music is influenced by Minneapolis native son Prince, who referred to the lake in his songs. Lake Minnetonka (the band, that is) also incorporates sounds inspired by other Minnesota artists like Mazarati, Alexander O’Neal, the Time and Sheila E.
In celebration of the Capital City’s music scene, Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has declared 2016 the Year of Music. The initiative highlights the people, venues and sounds that make up the city’s diverse music community.
One of the talented people being spotlighted by this program is Solomon J. Parham, a veteran jazz musician and teaching instructor at Walker West Music Academy on Selby Avenue. (Read more about Walker West Academy here).
The Mount Calvary Academy of Music, originally founded by the music ministry of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, has been shaping musicians for the past 14 years.
Dan Riggs is still amazed that the radio internship at KDWB he landed shortly after graduating from St. Paul’s North High School turned into a 17-year career as an on-air host for popular local stations also including Cities 97, KOOL 108 and WLOL.
“The goal was to take a year off between high school and college and have fun,” Riggs says.