Local artists step into the spotlightOn Thursday, Oct. 4, Woodbury Parks and Recreation kicked off a new music series, titled the “Local Music Showcase,” at the Central Park Amphitheater where local musicians perform.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury Parks and Recreation Department will be shedding a little light on the talent that calls Woodbury home.
On Thursday, Oct. 4, Woodbury Parks and Recreation kicked off a new music series, titled the “Local Music Showcase,” at the Central Park Amphitheater where local musicians perform.
“It’s a good local venue,” said Blaine Beck, of Central Park. “It’s a fun low-key place to perform and it’ll give quite a bit of exposure to the people.”
The showcase is also co-sponsored by Potbelly sandwich shop, which frequently has local performers in its restaurant.
Thursday’s performer was Rob Olson, an acoustic guitarist and singer.
“I love the venue,” Olson said. “It has some great sound in there.”
Beck said the idea of the “Local Talent Showcase” developed earlier this year when the Parks and Recreation department got together to discuss its performance lineups for the fall.
“There’s a lot of really good talent right in Woodbury,” he said. “So, we thought it would be a great chance to showcase that.
“We wanted to be able to have a place where families and friends can see them perform.”
The city solicited performers through its website.
Performers sent applications, including a music sample, after which city staff selected performers.
“We got a very good variety,” Beck said. “We were able to secure all of them.”
The “Local Talent Showcase” will run 7-8 p.m. Thursdays at the Central Park Amphitheater now through Dec. 20.
Performers include: Riff Raff, acoustic singers, on Oct. 18; David Houghton, harmonica, on Nov. 1; Amrita Mohanty, violinist, on Nov. 8; Justin Schaap, acoustic singer, on Dec. 6; and Nathan Christensen, acoustic singer, on Dec. 20.
“We’re hoping for a very good response,” Beck said, “with it being local performers.”
Olson, who had performed earlier this summer as part of the city’s Sunburst Festival, said he decided to participate in the “Local Music Showcase” because it was a great opportunity to showcase himself.
“I love to perform,” he said. “It’s a form of expression for me.”
Olson said he loves being in front of any audience.
“It’s probably an ego boost more than anything – I love the applause and I love to make people smile,” he said. “I love to be in front of people sharing what I have to offer.”
Olson, who is from Lake Elmo, said he’s been playing ever since he was a child.
“My whole family on my father’s side is musical,” the 51-year-old said. “It was just natural for me to pick up a guitar and start playing.”
Olson describes his style as acoustic cover songs – mainly 1970s and 1980s.
He said he donates all of his earnings from his music to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Beck said if this first “Local Talent Showcase” proves to be a success, he could see it as something that runs all year.
He said he could even see it expanding to other venues.
Olson said having a showcase like this where local talent can get exposure is a great addition to the city.
“I think it’s important to keep live music alive because nowadays we’re much more iPod, iPad and iPhone focused,” he said. “Plus it’s important to keep the small-time musicians making a living.”