Local bands bring global beat to downtown Minneapolis

Ukranian Village Band performs at Hennepin Theatre Trust event center

The scene that served as our inspiration: A mix-up at the Israeli border leads the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra to a sleepy desert town where they are forced to spend the night. There is one café and no hotels. It’s an uneventful night. The band meets the locals; they talk, sing, dance and spend time together. The Band’s Visit  highlights, through these ordinary interactions and over music and conversation, how even the smallest moments can have a lasting impact.

The crowd started a conga line as Samba Meu played the Hennepin Theatre Trust event center for Bands Around the World.

The crowd started a conga line as Samba Meu played during Bands Around the World.

During the show’s tour stop in Minneapolis, Hennepin Theatre Trust enhanced this spirit of The Band’s Visit  with a series of pre-show concerts. Each night, a Twin Cities-based music group brought sounds from around the world to the Jack Link’s Legend Lounge at the Trust’s event center in the heart of the Hennepin Theatre District.

“To be playing and look out at Hennepin Avenue was a great experience,” said Stefan Iwaskewycz, drummer for Ukrainian Village Band, which kicked off the series with an opening night performance.

The bands represent the vibrant cultural diversity of the Twin Cities, bringing different styles from around the world. People were on their feet as Ukrainian Village Band played a variety of folk and modern music representing communities from around Ukraine. Later in the week, Siama Matuzungidi and Dallas Johnson performed upbeat Congolese music. Samba Meu, an acoustic Brazilian-roots ensemble, warmed a cold Minnesotan night with the sounds of Brazil. We closed the series with Turkish classical music from the Nihavent Trio, which features Laura Harada, a violinist with the National Arab Orchestra who has performed with two members of The Band’s Visit touring ensemble.

Siama Matuzungidi performs in the Hennepin Theatre Trust event center.

Siama Matuzungidi performs in the Hennepin Theatre Trust event center.

The concert series is part of Hennepin Theatre Trust’s efforts to drive cultural and economic vitality and to bring together diverse partners and people to help make our programming relevant and meaningful, and our downtown a destination for everyone.

“We haven’t had the chance to play downtown Minneapolis, and we’re grateful to Hennepin Theatre Trust for creating this opportunity,” Iwaskewycz said. “Hopefully, we’ll be back again!”

See more pictures from the music series.