Dew Days music, delivered with a little 'Butterlove'
For years, Harbee Tharaldson was the guy who emceed the Mountain Dew Days grand parade. It was his contribution to the annual city celebration.
This year, his son, Kyle, has found his contribution to Dew Days, too. Like his dad's task, Kyle's involves a microphone and speakers. But unlike his dad's contribution, Kyle's also involves a keyboard and some really talented musicians.
Kyle - "Cookie Butterlove" as he's known in the Twin Cities music circuit - was the guy responsible for finding all of the free music on the stage on Oak Street Saturday and Sunday. It wasn't something he'd initially set out to do, but after this weekend, he thinks maybe he's found his own way to contribute to his hometown's celebration.
An unexpected visit
About six weeks ago, Tharaldson was scrambling around his house, trying to get his kids ready and out the door for a school function. They got out the door, all right, but getting into the car was another story.
"There was a police car in the front yard, in front of my house," he said. "And then the chief (Brian Lindquist) came up and said, 'There you are. I've been trying to track you down for about a month.'"
He laughs now about the comment, but said he was a little confused as to why the police chief was out looking for him. But then Lindquist explained he'd been given Tharaldson's name as someone who might be able to help line up some music for the 2010 Dew Days celebration.
Feeling relieved, Tharaldson said he would make a few calls and see what he could come up with.
Oh, and there really wasn't much of a budget for music, Lindquist added before he left.
A few calls
Tharaldson did a little volunteer work with Dew Days in 2009, acting as a liaison for the musicians who played. Between growing up in Farmington and having a dad who was one of the founders of the original festival, he took his charge to heart.
"Farmington has always been near and dear to me," he said. "I remember going to Dew Days as a kid. It was a big thing. It was the next best thing to going to the county fair, and it's something I'd like to see continue."
So he made a few calls to fellow musicians he's worked with over the years. Laid out the situation - there was a stage that needed a band. It was an opportunity to work with other musicians, maybe have a little fun, share some talents with each other and, along the way, Farmington residents.
"After 25 years in the music industry, I've come up with some pretty stellar friendships, so I was pretty overwhelmed to have some of my colleagues come and be willing to help out," Tharaldson said.
Oak Street was a rockin' place Saturday and Sunday. With picnic tables spilling out of the Rambling River Center garage - where the Farmington Lions held a beer garden - and rows of benches set up in front of the stage, people came to sit and watch and just enjoy the show.
The first band on Saturday, "4 on the Floor" played the early afternoon gig. They also brought the sound system and lent it to the cause for the day. Then they all kind of hung out for the next group, a band drummed up by Tharaldson.
Identified as "Dew Jam," the late afternoon band on Saturday wasn't a band at all. Very few of the members on stage actually knew each other. And if they did work together in the past, it had been quite a few years since. But one would have never known that by listening to them.
It was kind of like a Saturday afternoon garage band jam session, only it was held out in public and they only did one take on each tune - even though they'd never practiced together as a group. Tharaldson came up with the playlist beforehand and sent it on, so they each kind of knew what to work on prior to Saturday. But each song performed was a one-time shot.
"While we were on stage, we'd get together and discuss, 'let's play this tune.' We'd have a quick talk about the arrangement and what key it's in, then we'd all go back to our respective positions and play," he said. "A lot of musicians feel that's the best way to play. It's so spontaneous.
"Music becomes more like a language that's spoken spontaneously between the players, so we take a great deal of satisfaction in that."
Sunday morning to early afternoon featured the band Standing Room Only, which is led by Farmington resident Doug Martin. They also provided the sound system for the Brenda's School of Dance performance in the afternoon.
The weekend's music offerings wound up with the jazz group, Five Five Five. That band, Tharaldson said, consists of three of his very closest friends.
Everyone who played on the Oak Street stage did it for free, for the love of a friend and the love of music. Tharaldson did it for the love of his community, and evidently, that rubbed off on one of his St. Paul musician friends, who was so taken with Farmington he started talking about moving here.
"I'm still kind of reeling from the effort these folks were willing to extend for me, basically on the basis of our friendship. I do feel kind of overwhelmed with gratitude," he said. "And I think next year is going to be bigger and better and more fun, and that's saying something, because I had a blast."