Radio Magic: Reina del Cid and me as a Centaur

This Saturday, April 9, I’ll be bringing my Great Northern Radio Show to Pequot Lakes, Minnesota. I previewed the show late last week here at the blog.

Today (Friday), I leave my familiar environs here on the Iron Range, escaping to Minnesota’s Central Lakes region where one finds Pequot Lakes along Highway 371. We’ve got a full 36 hours of intense preparation for Saturday evening’s program, which will be broadcast across Northern Minnesota and online.

I’m not going to lie, one of the things I love about producing a variety show is that I essentially get to create a living playlist with my favorite Minnesota bands. There aren’t many situations where people get to point at a band, causing them to play a specific song. I’m one of the lucky few.

Reina del Cid and her band will perform at the April 9 Great Northern Radio Show in Pequot Lakes.

Reina del Cid and her band will perform at the April 9 Great Northern Radio Show in Pequot Lakes.

This time we have Reina del Cid and her band as our headline act.

Reina del Cid’s newest album “The Cooling” is fantastic. What I like about her work is how the songs often have a sweet, even upbeat sound while delving into deep dark corners with the lyrics.

One thing the show is giving me is a working relationship with music. I’ve always loved music — played in the band in high school — but never had the ear for singing or the time for an instrument after I left school. The show has allowed me to be creative with music. And I’m just starting to see the way that works.

Here’s Reina performing a cover of one of my favorite songs, John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” for her “Sunday Mornings with Reina” series last summer:

It hit me the other day that “Angel From Montgomery” had inspired me more than I ever knew.

For instance, there was last year’s Easter column, a gothic narrative of an old woman (who happen to be a marshmallow Peep).

“I come to believe, son, that we all come from one vat. One big cauldron in some cosmic factory. Sometimes, when the morning light come in, I remember my sisters. We all come in attached, like one. But that was a long time ago.”

What happened to them?

“They’s gobbled up. One by one. I got put up on the shelf, ran off with rabbit. Been here ever since. Rabbit, he worked down in the mine until his ear got gnawed off. He ain’t been the same. Me, I used to take in the laundry from the cereal toys, but they stopped comin’ ‘round while back. That’s when I picked up all this weight. Doc says I got diabetes, but I don’t know. I’m already all sugar. Ain’t got no legs or arms.”

Then in 2014, I wrote an ice fishing narrative told from the viewpoint of an old female fish pondering her life.

I see all a fish go up the holes. One after another. The little’ens come on back sometimes, but the bigg’ens n’er do. In the early days I’d ask the ones what come back what they seen. They always got that faraway look in their eye, like they can’t focus on nearby things. They just glub glub. They say nothin.’ They get fat. Go back up the holes. Not so lucky them next time.

Sometimes I wonder what goes on up the holes. Ain’t a fish soul livin’ from my time. Had a man once. He never said a word. Next day he go up the hole. I had a school of minnows. One’s what left n’er came back. One’s what stayed I ate. I all by myself now.

Only recently did I realize that I was rewriting “Angel of Montgomery” using talking animals (and/or marshmallows).

Anyway, that’s what I do with the Great Northern Radio Show. It’s a real show about real people, blending fact with total absurdity. Absurdity allows you to speak greater truths, I find.

The show also lets me take what I know — Northern Minnesota — and turn into a big, big show. We pay way more attention to the little details of life in this area than folks would ever expect, which creates a world (I hope) that anyone could enjoy on its own merits.

The Pequot Lakes show is shaping into a good one. In addition to Reina del Cid, we have two young, up-and-coming bands in the form of Last Call and Hog Rooster. I’ll have some new radio monologues, plus all the sketches.

I am willing to share one preview: I will be portraying “The Centaur” in one of the sketches. I don’t always perform in the sketches myself, but this is an instance where I’m reprising a character I did in a previous show.

So, readers might get a kick out of all this. There are tickets available for the live show. Admission is $10, free for kids and college students with IDs. Be in your seats by 4:30 at the Pequot Lakes High School auditorium.

You can listen to the show from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, April 9 on Northern Community Radio.

  • 91.7 KAXE (Grand Rapids, Bigfork, Aitkin and the Iron Range)
  • 90.5 KBXE (Bagley, Bemidji)
  • 89.9 (Brainerd)
  • 103.9 (Ely)
  • Streaming live all over the world at

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