Ostrich, seal, monkey, bear featured in North Branch concert

We R Able guests join in holiday sing-along at Arts RX Concert Series in North Branch

Photo supplied
Photo supplied

At the end of December, sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, We R Able guests gathered for an evening of sing-along holiday songs mixed with some Blues, Beatles and original compositions by singer songwriter Pat Schonhardt.

Audiences helped compose one tune on the spot, as Schonhardt performed an evening concert at the North Country Coffee shop at the North Branch Outlet Mall.

At the conclusion of the concert, guests were invited to get Schonhardt’s autograph using extra posters that promoted the event.

The performer made sure he wrote a personal message to each person. He even reminded one guest about her contribution of the word “ostrich” to the song,  “I’m Workin’ on a Building,” as guests proposed words for Schonhardt to use in an improvised composition.

“Ostrich” was a challenge, he said, but he came up with “If I was an ostrich, I’d tell you what I’d do. I’d act like a chicken and lay an egg, too” much to the delight of all listeners. Other suggestions included goat, bear, seal, horse and monkey.

The concert was part of the Arts RX Concert Series and included an arts evaluation component involving quilt making. Each guest was given a checklist in the form of a grid with different colors in each square. As they listened to the music they checked off the color that matched how they felt about the tunes and songs.

Valorie Arrowsmith and Loreli Millier, staff members of We R Able, asked the audience to turn to a neighbor and justify their color choice and then distributed 4-inch squares of colored paper. Each person took the colors that matched his or her choices from the checklist. Individuals brought their colored squares of paper together on one table top, assembling the pieces to make an attractive quilt.

Encouraged to share the reasoning behind their color choices, one guest said he selected dark green to go with the evergreen of the Christmas tree. Another said he was thinking about blue ice in some of the winter songs.

We R Able provides accessible programs for adults with disabilities ages 14 and up and the general public. Its Facebook page invites area residents to visit the site and “like it” in order to learn about upcoming events.

This event was made possible with a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council through an appropriation from the Minnesota Legislature with money from the state’s general fund.

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