New London Music Festival brings unique lineup of musical performers to outdoor stage Saturday

The outdoor festival, which begins at 11 a.m. and is expected to wrap up by 7 p.m., includes music that ranges from funk to gospel, popular cover tunes, original music and everything in between.

“We’re just trying to keep bringing in a wide variety and style of music that people typically don’t get exposed to,” said Steve Slominski, chairman of the festival board.

As part of a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council, one of the goals of the festival is to expose audiences to professional, quality music that they otherwise wouldn’t have easy access to, Slominski said.

The festival is held under a canopy of oak trees in Neer Park, located along the North Fork of the Crow River in New London.


The “very relaxed” venue creates an opportunity for people to listen to good music and “enjoy small-town atmosphere,” Slominski said.

At $20 for advanced tickets (available until 5 p.m. Friday) and $25 for tickets at the gate (with a $5 discount for senior citizens), he said the price for an “entire day of music is well worth it.”

The metro musicians on tap bring a variety of styles to the table, including Rachel Kurtz, whose high-energy soul and gospel music has been heard by thousands during her numerous appearances — including the 2018 National Lutheran Youth Gathering in Houston. She will take the stage at 12:30 p.m.

Kurtz, from Minneapolis, just released a 13-song collection of original soul, Americana and blues tracks called “Love.”

Siama Matuzungidi, who brings his African influences to life with his Congolese music, performs at 4 p.m.

He was awarded a McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians in 2014 and, with the help of a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, released the critically acclaimed, “RIVERS — from the Congo to the Mississippi” album.

The headliner for the day, Casual Confusion, wraps up the show with a performance that begins at 5:15 p.m.

Made up of Minneapolis natives Colin Hodges, Zach Dennison, Kenneth Garnier and Matt Hughes, the band classifies its genre as a fusion of rock and soul in its promotional materials.

Slominski said the festival will also showcase up-and-coming local talent to “keep that hometown vibe.”

He said the festival organizers want to book the young talent before they get too famous and too expensive to hire for the show. He didn’t say this as a joke.

The lineup includes several young artists with promising futures in the music world.

The day kicks off at 11 a.m. with music by the Jazz Bandits, made up of current and former New London-Spicer students.

Ava Hanson, a New London-Spicer High School student who performs at 11:45 a.m., has been singing and playing guitar for years in the area, drawing a strong fan base eager to hear her easy-to-listen-to covers and original songs delivered with a sweet, lilting voice. She’s also logged a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York as part of an elite group of young school singers.

Ben Noeldner, who performs under the name Ben David, is an NLS graduate and a senior at the University of Minnesota. He’s hit the music scene hard in the metro area, playing at popular venues and putting out an album of original music with lyrics that read like poetry. He’ll be on the stage at 1:45 p.m.

Pit of Fashion, a local band comprised of Kyle Novak, Andrea Limoges and Maria Novak that performs popular covers songs with a mix of vocals, winds, keys and machines, is scheduled for 2:45 p.m.

“We had a lot of local connections we wanted to take advantage of,” Slominski said.

He’s hoping the mix of “known quantities” made up of local talent and a collection of fresh, unique performers who make their living from music will appeal to a broad audience.

As with most volunteer-driven events, Slominski said more volunteers are needed to keep the festival going. Anyone who’s interested in volunteering can contact him at 320-905-6214.

For more information go to: newlondonmusicfestival.org.

Showtime is 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Neer Park in New LondonTickets are $20 in advance (until 5 p.m. Friday) and $25 at the gateAdvance tickets available at Goat Ridge Brewery, Mill Pond Mercantile and Whitney Music and online at www.eventbrite.comBring lawn chairs, blanketsFood and beverage vendors on site include Goat Ridge Brewery, Model Citizen, food truck by Mark Muldrow, a latte and gelato concession trailer and the church pie-and-ice cream ladies Big canoe rides and kayaks available from Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center 11 a.m. The Jazz Bandits11:45 p.m. Ava Hanson12:30 p.m. Rachel Kurtz1:45 p.m. Ben David2:45 p.m. Pit of Fashion4 p.m. Siama Matuzungidi 5:15 p.m. Casual Confusion

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