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Woodbury songsmiths raising their voices for veterans this week

Woodbury musicans Phil Thompson (left) and Matthew Griswold (right) will perform together in concert at the Woodbury Lions Veterans Memorial on June 12. (Submitted photos)

Matthew Griswold knows all too well the price of war.

The Woodbury resident spent five years in the U.S. Army as a military police soldier and member of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team/First Armored Division in addition to being deployed to Iraq to fight in the Battle of Ramadi. 

“There’s always a price to war,” he said, “so it’s important to remember what it means to be a veteran and remember who they are in our community.”

Griswold, who has made a name for himself as a musician, is hoping to bring awareness to that cause when he teams up with Phil Thompson, another local musician and Woodbury native, for a free concert June 12 at the Woodbury Lions Veterans Memorial at City Hall.

“It’s important to remember that the veterans in and around our community still need attention,” Griswold said. “This is a good chance just to remind ourselves of that.”

The Woodbury Lions Club, who first constructed the Woodbury Lions Veterans Memorial in 2007, approached Thompson about organizing a free event as a way to bring awareness to the memorial.

“They were trying to come up with a fun way to publicize that they’ve completed this project,” Thompson said. “Not many people actually know what those flags are all about on the corner.”

Bruce Nettleton, vice president of the Woodbury Lions Veterans Memorial Council, said it’s important for people in the community to be aware of the memorial.

“I’m often disappointed and surprised when talking to people in the community that they’re not aware of the memorial,” he said. “It’s a powerful and meaningful and somber place to go and reflect and this concert will offer a different opportunity for people to come and check it out.”

Once Thompson agreed to the concert, he said he approached Griswold about teaming up since the two musicians are long-time friends and frequent collaborators.

“Plus, he is a great addition, given his background in the service,” Thompson said of Griswold.

Throughout their careers, both Thompson and Griswold have dedicated themselves to using their music for good.

“Anytime (Phil and myself) can get together to play some music is a privilege and then to be able to do it for a cause like that is obviously very special to me,” Griswold said. “We’ve spent our careers making sure that we’re not just doing it for ourselves. The concert will be kind of an equation for a perfect day.”

Uniting people

During the concert, both Thompson and Griswold will perform individual sets – Thompson with his pop-piano style and Griswold with his folk-rock guitar style – before joining at the end for a few numbers.

The music performed will be a collection of patriotic standards, original songs and popular adult contemporary classics.

“We’re going to be playing into the sunset,” Thompson said. “It’s just about the music and getting a group of people out there to experience the memorial.”

The concert will have a few chairs set up, but audiences are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets, Thompson said.

Griswold said he hopes the concert aids in bringing the community, the memorial and veterans together.

“The memorial isn’t there to be separate from the community, it’s there to be part of the community,” he said. “The concert is a good opportunity for the people that attend to not feel so distant from the memorial and maybe the veterans that attend will feel not so distant from the community – if the event can bridge that gap at all, it will be a success.”

The Woodbury Lions Veterans Memorial concert featuring Phil Thompson and Matthew Griswold will be June 12 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the memorial, 8391 Valley Creek Road. Freewill offerings will be accepted.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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