Variety is the spice for CR concerts

Another celebration of music and art is about to get under way in Coon Rapids.

by Kelly Johnson
Staff writer

Another celebration of music and art is about to get under way in Coon Rapids.


American harpist Nicholas Carter will perform as part of the Coon
Rapids Arts Commission’s Dessert and Coffee Series.    (Photo submitted)

Since 1989, the Coon Rapids Arts Commission has sponsored a Dessert and
Coffee Concert Series to celebrate the arts by gathering the community

The 2009 concert series begins Jan. 8 and features the musical stylings
of 1st Things 1st. This musical ensemble, featuring a band and
vocalists, performs a musical review from the 1940s and beyond.

1st Things 1st includes seven vocalists and three band members,
allowing for a range of musical styles from the 1940s era vocal and big
band sounds to contemporary popular music.

According to the 1st Things 1st Web site (,
the group began in 2006 when “former professional club musicians,
church musicians and long-time vocalists got together and reminisced
about the good old days performing.”

It was a common love of performing music that brought the 1st Things
1st musicians together to entertain audiences throughout the metro area.

The Dessert and Coffee Concert Series will continue Feb. 12 with a performance by Latin American harpist Nicolas Carter.

Carter was raised in Paraguay, where he learned to play the national folk instrument, the harp.

For some 20 years, Carter has been composing, recording and performing harp music, with nearly a dozen albums to his credit.

He learned to play the harp by ear, working on finger techniques and developing strong memory and improvisational skills.

According to his Web site (, “Harp music was part
of the social rituals of life in Paraguay, present at parties,
churches, serenades, musical festivals and folk dances.”

Carter’s music is reflective of that musical heritage and draws on his experiences in Paraguay.

On March 12, acoustic guitarist Justin Roth will take the stage in Coon
Rapids. Roth blends intricate guitar work and smooth vocal melodies in
a way that puts a new groove into acoustic folk music.

According to his Web site (, he has been compared
with Michael Hedges, David Wilcox, Martin Sexton and Willy Porter.

Roth is a self-taught finger style guitarist who has a unique ability to find a new guitar voice.

In his live performances, Roth involves his audiences by having them write their own songs during his set.

An improvised version of the song is performed at the end of the show.

The series concludes April 9 with a performance of jazz favorites by
the Anoka-Ramsey Community College Jazz Band, under the direction of
Rich Manik.

Besides a musical performance, concert-goers are treated to a display
of work from local artists. Coffee, apple cider and a dessert featuring
cake, pie or ice cream sundaes are also served.

The concerts begin at 7 p.m. at the Coon Rapids Civic Center, located
at 11155 Robinson Drive in Coon Rapids. Tickets are $7 for adults and
$5 for adults 65 and older and children 12 and under. There is a $4
discount for the purchase of all four concert tickets. For more
information or to purchase tickets, call 763-767-6493.

Kelly Johnson is at

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