Great Northern Radio Show in Grand Rapids June 23

Host Aaron Brown kicks off the June 17, 2017 Grand Rapids broadcast of the Great Northern Radio Show by cuing actress Rachel Brandt. (PHOTO: Grant Frasier)

On Saturday, June 23 we’re bringing the Great Northern Radio Show back to the Reif Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. If you’ve followed this blog, you know that every few months I fire up this massive, sputtering contraption and have some fun with live radio somewhere in Northern Minnesota.

And I’d love it if you could join us in Grand Rapids for the live broadcast. Tickets info here. If not, I’d love you to listen on the radio. If not that, then listen online at Or, if you miss it, listen to past episodes on our Great Northern Radio Show webpage.

Who’s in the show?

How about the Holy Hootenanners!

The Holy Hootenanners of Mahtowa, Minnesota, play “foot-stompin’, hoot-n-holler country gospel.”

That’s a lot of musicians, folks. More than an octopus has tentacles. They bring a big sound and joyful vibe.

The Don’t Tell Darlings, featuring Camilla Ammirati and Megan Orwig Reynolds.

Then we’ve got the Don’t Tell Darlings, an Americana act featuring rich harmonies and original tunes in a traditional style.

How they ended up in the show is an interesting story. The Don’t Tell Darlings formed in the state of Virginia a decade ago, recording albums and touring the east coast, Appalachia and beyond.

Even though the band members fanned across the country to raise families, the band still gets together each summer near where one of them lives. This year, vocalist and guitarist Megan Orwig Reynolds, whose family moved to Hibbing last year, got them here to Northern Minnesota.

And, of course, Katie Houg leads our house band. I told Katie that with all this plinky, plucky music she should unleash the untamed beasts of rock and/or roll. I am confident she will deliver.

We’ve got a lot of great material in the show. I had fun writing it. As usual, we have a couple dozen talented people making this thing better than it deserves to be.

Here’s the press release:

Great Northern Radio Show in Grand Rapids June 23

Great Northern Radio ShowGRAND RAPIDS, Minnesota— The Great Northern Radio Show will return to Grand Rapids, Minnesota for a June 23, 2018 live broadcast at the Myles Reif Center for the Performing Arts Center. Highlighting the program will be the folk gospel band The Holy Hootenanners and Americana act the Don’t Tell Darlings. The show’s soulful house rock band led by Katie Houg will also enliven the program.

This traveling variety program is produced by the Grand Rapids-based Northern Community Radio, an independent National Public Radio affiliate covering a large part of Northern Minnesota. Through comedy, stories and music, the Great Northern Radio Show celebrates life in small towns and rural places.

Producer and host Aaron Brown leads a talented cast through local legend and real life, highlighting the talent and culture of northern Minnesota. Each show celebrates a unique location and the people who make it special for a wide audience on the radio and online. The show appears in its hometown of Grand Rapids once each year.

“Sometimes it helps just to laugh, tap your toes and feel a little joy in your heart,” said Brown, a Northern Minnesota author who lives in Balsam Township. “That’s what we do at this show. We mix cutting edge humor with a feeling of belonging and hope. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, and that’s not true of most entertainment.”

Great Northern Radio Show bandleader Katie Houg (PHOTO: Grant Frashier)

The show’s all star house band for this show features bandleader Katie Houg on keyboard and vocals, Eric Carlson on guitar and vocals, Aaron Schnackenburg on bass and Doug Quance on drums.

The June 23 program will feature The Holy Hootenanners, a Mahtowa, Minn.-based band playing “foot-stompin’, hoot-n-holler country gospel.” The show will also feature The Don’t Tell Darlings. This harmonizing Americana group started in the state of Virginia, toured nationally and now performs each summer in a different part of the country.

The Great Northern Radio Players for this show include Rachel Brandt of Ada, Jason Scorich and Louisa Scorich of Duluth, C.J. Anderson of Pequot Lakes, Lauren Nickisch of Pequot Lakes on foley sound effects, and Doug Brown of Balsam Township. Special guest storytellers from the area will be a part of the program as well.

“We try to pack these shows full of surprises, special moments and laughter,” said Brown. “If we do our job right, you have no idea what’s going to happen next. Of course, that’s also what happens when we do our job wrong.”

The programs will air live from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, 2018. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 with KAXE membership, free for children and students with IDs. Audience must be in their seats by 4:30. Seating is limited. Call the Reif Center box office for tickets at 218-327-5780 or visit

The June 23 program will air live on 91.7 FM KAXE in Grand Rapids, Aitkin and the Iron Range, 90.5 KBXE Bagley and Bemidji, 89.9 FM Brainerd and 103.9 FM in Ely. The show is also rebroadcast on independent public radio stations throughout Minnesota. Live stream and podcast at Call Northern Community Radio for information 800/662-5799 or visit

The Great Northern Radio Show is made possible in part by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Additional support from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Culture and Tourism grant program and the Blandin Foundation.

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