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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • LAH/BNP fundraiser brings Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders to Bootlegger’s Friday, April 4

  • Annual spring fundraiser will raise money for elderly homeowners.
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    The Living at Home Block Nurse Program (LAH/BNP) will hold an evening of good food, great friends and quality, soulful-southern Minnesota sounds as a part of its annual spring fundraiser scheduled for next Friday, April 4 at Bootlegger's Supper Club.
    Founded in 1999, the LAH/BNP was established as a non-profit organization with the mission of meeting the needs of elderly homeowners. The LAH/BNP accomplishes this by working with local volunteers and communities to enhance and protect the well being of those age 60 and above by offering preventative services and programs that help individuals maintain their personal wellness, avoid emergency room visits and stay in their homes.
    The LAH/BNP Board of Directors is consists of nine members who bring a myriad of expertise, encompassing health care, finance, administration, education, ministry and more. At present, there are 83 volunteers who provide transportation and other services to the 159 seniors and 12 individuals with disabilities who currently rely on program.
    The April 4 event will begin with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. and be followed  by dinner and entertainment beginning at 6:30 p.m. A chicken and stuffed pork chop entree will headline the evening buffet, while a musical performance by Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders will provide a supplementary well beyond a dinner dessert. Cost of the meal and entertainment will run event-goers $30 for the package. For those adhering to the tradition of Lent, a fish alternative will be made available.
    One final note of interest for attendees is a local family connection to Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders; the groups drummer, Joel Beithon, is the son-in-law of LAH/BNP Director Mary Ims. Background on Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders follows.
    Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders
    Matt Arthur has spent most of his life living just outside of Hope, in rural southern Minnesota. He learned to sing by listening to gospel records from Tennessee Ernie Ford and Johnny Cash, and decided that’s what he wanted to do when he grew up. He gave it a good shot in the 1990s, when his first band (Prest Asbestus) played everywhere in the Twin Cities, sharing stages with such local luminaries as Run Westy Run, Babes in Toyland, and Soul Asylum—as well as national acts like Vic Chesnutt, Tad, and the Afghan Whigs. When the band ultimately fizzled, however, Matt headed back south and settled in tiny Ellendale (pop. 691).
    But settling wasn’t really Matt’s style. So, after shaking things up a bit as a member of the local town council, he wrote and recorded a solo album of folk-gospel songs. While the recording proved to be not-churchy-enough for the religiously inclined, and utterly bewildering to the indie rock crowd, it unleashed a taste for songwriting that has produced over 50 original tunes to date.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Bratlanders came into being when siblings Don, Doug, and Beverly Bratland were enlisted as Matt’s backing band at a 2003 Johnny Cash tribute show. The group continued for several years as a country-rock cover band and as accompanists for Matt’s songs, but they didn’t consider themselves much more than a novelty act. That started to shift in 2010, when personnel changes and a year-long standing gig at a Northfield pub pushed them to hone their craft and find their own sound during biweekly three- and four-hour sets.
    By early 2012, Matt Arthur & The Bratlanders began to take their live show beyond Southern Minnesota. Buoyed by a warm Twin Cities reception and a solid lineup—the Bratland brothers on guitar & bass, Joel Beithon on drums, and Pete Christensen (Mad Ripple band) on keyboards—Matt and the band decided it was time to enter the recording studio.
    Nearly a year in the making, the group’s first full-length, full- band recording, “Heavy On My Mind,” was released on the Rice County Records label in March 2013. Produced by Michael Morris (Dewi Sant), the album’s ten songs range from rambling alt-country ballads to an a cappella gospel stomp to a fiery protest anthem, and they feature guest appearances by Randy Broughten (Gear Daddies, Trailer Trash, Cactus Blossoms), Dave Mehling (The Fontanelles, Portage), Jonathan Rundman (Kaivama), Angie Talle (House of Mercy Band), Hilary James (We Are The Willows), and more. You can hear it for yourself at the Rice County Records website: ricecountyrecords.bandcamp.com.
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