From rock to opera to ukulele, “Prairie Musicians” showcases the sounds of the region – InForum

Opera music

FARGO – Sometimes it’s better to wait and sometimes it’s better to move on.

This is how Barb Gravel, producer of

Prairie Public “Musicians of the Prairies”

think about the new season, which begins January 27.

For the past 13 years, the TV channel has brought regional musical artists to its studio in downtown Fargo in January or February to record a mini-concert to air later in the year. Last year, the pandemic prompted the show’s creators to postpone recording until April and limit performances to solo musicians only. This year, Gravel thought there might be a good window in the fall to record full bands. She jumped at the chance and is glad she did.

“Oh my God. Having a front row seat to see musicians in the studio is amazing,” she said of the possibility of recording bigger acts.

One of those groups is Minneapolis-based Aaron Tinjum and the Tangents. The roots rock act was originally scheduled to record in February 2020, but a winter storm prevented it from making the trip and missing out on this season’s lineup. Last year, with the settings limited to solo artists, the band had to switch. This year, the weather and other conditions have worked to draw the group in and the results have paid off, as viewers will see when the segment takes place in March. 17.

“It was great after two years of finally bringing him here,” said Gravel.

She was also able to cross another item off her wishlist, bringing opera to the show.

Soprano Heather Hjelle (right) performs “Prairie Musicians” on February 10th.

Contribution / Prairie Audience

“It’s a genre I’ve always wanted to have, it’s opera,” says the producer.

She found her interpreter in

Heather hjelle

, who worked in Chicago until the pandemic prompted her to return home to the family farm in Barrett, Minnesota, west of Alexandria. Now a teacher and performing in rural communities, Hjelle brought her great voice to the Prairie Public studios. This set will air on February 10.

“I’m really thrilled that the audience is seeing this show,” Gravel says of the dramatic soprano. “It’s a dream boat.”

Valley City country singer Greg Hager performs “Prairie Musicians” on March 24.

Contribution / Prairie Audience

Prairie Public even brought a grand piano to accompany their performance.

“For me, that’s the bonus of the show. You never know what you are going to get. It is the representation of our region, ”says Gravel.

Artists include acts from North Dakota like the Eclectic Fargo Act

The Cropdusters

, rock band Bismarck

Extremely suitable

and Valley City singer-songwriter

Greg Hager

. Minnesota is represented by ukulele player Moorhead

Rachel Meyer

, Gary country singer

Terry mackner

and Staples gospel pianist

Gary Timbs


Annie Mack (right) and her band perform “Prairie Musicians” on January 27th.

Contribution / Prairie Audience

Series gets off to a good start with the Minneapolis singer

Annie mack


“It was nice to have his soul and blues style. It was such a big sound, ”says Gravel.

The program allows artists to show off what they’re doing, providing more exposure than just a YouTube clip. Due to copyright issues, artists must perform original tunes.

Gravel reviews all the acts before booking them, but finds out even more after receiving them in the studio where she conducts an interview with them. She points her finger

Blue red roses

of Battle Lake, Minnesota, as an act she understood better after their visit.

Blue Red Roses, Mary and Daniel Olson perform “Prairie Musicians” on February 24th.

Contribution / Prairie Audience

“Everything I had seen did not do them justice,” Gravel says of the acoustic duo. They are the cutest couple. They are really endearing. I’m really happy to have them.

This episode airs on February 24.

Gravel says artists are typically in the studio for around four hours, giving the musicians and the recording crew a better understanding of each other.

“After four hours, you are best friends,” she said. “These are musical treasures and the kindness they show by sharing their music, they are really caring people.”

As she works on other projects throughout the year, she always keeps her eyes and ears open for next season’s star performers.

“It’s really fun working on this,” she says. “I’m always looking for groups. I am always open to hearing new sounds.


“Musicians of the Prairies”

WHEN: January 27 – April 14

O: Prairie Audience