Winona never ceases to amaze me. Not only does our little island city have a film festival, but this festival has a mission to engage, educate and activate the Winona community through film, music, and art. Thankfully, as the community behind them, we get to be front and center when Frozen River Film Festival does something like bring Peter Yarrow, to Winona for a benefit concert. The benefit concert is on Nov. 2 at 6:30pm and proceeds will help the festival and its mission, as well as support the feature-length documentary film “Gene McCarthy: In the Land of Aardvarks.”
Peter Yarrow, of folk singing supergroup Peter, Paul and Mary, is both world-changer and artist. It’s no surprise that he would step in to help raise funds for both FRFF and the McCarthy film. Songs you may recognize him for are “Puff, The Magic Dragon,” “Leaving On a Jet Plane,” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.” You may also recognize the song “Don’t Laugh at Me,” which has been performed countless times by Yarrow as he works with the non-profit he partnered in founding, Operation Respect. The non-profit has a heart for seeing schools transformed into “respectful, safe and compassionate climates of learning, free of bullying, ridicule and violence.” (operationrespect.org) Always a mover and shaker, but also an artist, there is a parallel to be drawn between the two men, for both Yarrow and Minnesota Senator Gene McCarthy shook the sixties with their activism, and helped shape a generation with their words.
The film on McCarthy honors both his politics and poetry set up against a backdrop of Minnesota’s beautiful prairies, lakes, and forests. Archival materials and personal recollections mixed with both public and private footage create an unparalleled window into the life of Minnesota Senator Gene McCarthy. At the benefit concert one of the film’s producer’s, Mary Beth Yarrow, will speak about the film and have a few clips to share with the audience. At the film festival in February there will be an extended screening of selected clips as well as a Q&A with the producers Mary Beth Yarrow, Bill Kersey, and Kelle Green.
An added bonus, for those attending the benefit concert, will be the presence of masterful guitarist, composer, arranger and producer, Dean Magraw. He will have his own set as well as share the stage with Yarrow. Magraw, who you may recognize as a frequent guest on A Prairie Home Companion, has a sound that combines “arena-rock reverb, lilting Irish melodies and filigreed back-porch picking.” (jazztimes.com)
General Admission seating is available for the special early bird price of $30 until October 31. Student pricing for the event is $15. After October 31, General Admission seating will be $35. All tickets are available here.