Prairie Fire Lady Choir
Song: All My Little Words by the Magnetic Fields
Arranged for the choir by Valerie Kahler
From the album Absolutely Cuckoo: Minnesota covers the 69 Love Songs
Available for free download here: http://69ls.mn/
Directed by Areca Roe
Thank you to Metropolitan State University Screenwriting program and Studio Arts program, and thank you very much to Ellie Schmidt for helping out!
We got together on Sunday afternoon to pick a few new songs for the upcoming season — all proposed and selected by choir members! It’s only January, but we’re already getting excited about our next season.
For our next big event, we’re participating in an event at the Cedar Cultural Center called ‘Drone not Drones’, which is a benefit for Doctors Without Borders. There will be performances from artists such as Sparkhawk, J.T. Bates, Martin Dosh, and many, many more. Visit the Cedar’s event page for more information.
In December, we received an exciting grant to conduct song-writing workshops with Aby Wolf (who arranged our song, ‘September Gurls’) for the next few months. These will culminate in a performance at the Cedar in May. There will be a lot more information about this to come — hopefully we can share some notes and photos along the way!
Mary Mack’s infamous holiday meat raffle show is back once again, and it’s going to be bigger and better than ever. Instead of hosting it in the basement Clown Lounge at the Turf Club, Mack is taking her variety show to the much larger Cedar Cultural Center, where there will be a doggie sweater competition to make things interesting, as well as a meat candelabra.
Mack says she’s been doing some sort of holiday show in the Twin Cities for the last seven or eight years, but this year will be the fourth time she’s done the meat raffle. In addition to the doggie sweater competition, Mack is bringing fire into the equation. “Small fires,” she says. “Just candles. I probably put too many dangerous things in the show. It should be called the ‘liability show.'”
For the dogs in sweaters contest, people were able to enter their pups through a contact form on her website. “We limited it to eight dogs. However, I lost the email for one of the dogs.” The powers that be, she explains, are pretty strict. They want the names of the dogs, and to make sure they have had their rabies shots. “I can’t find the dog owner and tell them they are not allowed to have rabies.”
Of course the meat raffle festivities wouldn’t be the same without the prizes, though Mack’s caveat is that the dog prizes from Chuck and Don’s will be better than the human prizes, which will mostly be different forms of meat and meat products. She notes that there’s a new rule this year. “You cannot give back your meat. People started giving it back. Once it is in your hands, you’ve got to take it. I can’t take this stuff back in the car. If it’s gelatinous meat, it’s a huge mess.”
On the docket for the evening are comedians, writers, poets, and bands. Some will be returning guests, such as comedian Rana May and poet Paul Dickinson, and there will also be new folks like Amber Preston, who will be reading an excerpt from a New Kids on the Block novel. Annette Schiebout will also be performing, as well as novelist John Jodzio and actor Joseph Scrimshaw.
The event will also boast an assortment of music, including the Sex Rays and the Mary Everest Band. The Prairie Fire Lady’s Choir will be singing up a storm throughout the night as well, along with some auxiliary instruments including Karen Townsend on the accordion and Mary Mack on the mandolin. Mack notes some of the songs will be singalongs. “There will be traditional carols in a way you might not have heard them. We’re not changing any of the words. It might include Rudolph bashing that might get us in trouble with more people.”
Mack says they’ll also have a projector rigged up in order to show a film about Christmas tree safety by Tim Harmston.
It’s hard to find time to pursue your hobbies when you have a job and a family as well, but the women of the Prairie Fire Lady Choir do just that. Annette Schiebout, one of the choir’s founding members, had not been in a choir since college and was looking for a place to sing again. She found a group of like-minded women and established the Prairie Fire Lady Choir in 2010.
“We all wanted to be rock stars, but knew we couldn’t pursue that,” Schiebout said. The group started small, meeting in each other’s living rooms to rehearse at first. Their first performance was on the Mississippi Megalops, as part of the May 2011 Northern Spark Festival. In the spring of 2012, the Prairie Fire Lady Choir hosted open auditions which led to the choir almost tripling in size. Today, the choir has more than 45 active members and performs at venues and events all over the Twin Cities.
Schiebout said that she has loved the opportunity to perform at “so many stages in the Twin Cities.” The choir also took part in “Absolutely Cuckoo: Minnesota Covers the ’69 Love Songs,” and Schiebout said that their performance at First Avenue as a part of that series was among her most memorable moments with the choir. The Prairie Fire Lady Choir truly has been on every stage, from performing the national anthem at Lynx games to marching in the Twin Cities’ Pride Parade.
The Prairie Fire Lady Choir is a non-profit organization, and is fiscally sponsored by Springboard for the Arts. In addition, the members of the choir formed the Red Hot Coals committee to lead and manage the choir. The choir also works with businesses in the Twin Cities, such as Bibelot Shops, to secure sponsorship for the choir.
The choir uses a democratic process in determining which songs to sing. There is a designated time for song pitching, where any member of the choir can suggest a piece, and the women will vote on which ones they want to perform. The Prairie Fire Lady Choir tries to vary their repertoire, performing pieces of all genres and frequently creating song mash-ups that span several decades. One example is their piece “Enter Mr. Sandman,” which is a blend of the 1950s song “Mr. Sandman” and the Metallica song “Enter Sandman.”
Schiebout said that the choir has far exceeded her expectations. She was looking for a place to sing with friends, and she helped to create a choir that is now a fixture in the Twin Cities community. The Prairie Fire Lady Choir’s final show of the season was December 4 at the Cedar Cultural Center.
A group that refers to itself as “enthusiastic amateurs” shines its brightest tonight, with a holiday show and illustrious musical guests. Donning warm colors and warmer boots, the Prairie Fire Lady Choir takes the stage at the Cedar in all their 50-woman-strong a capella glory (because who decided it was just for college kids, anyway?!) It’s sure to be a mix of reverently performed covers and riotous sing-a-longs in the intimate Cedar. Joining the PFLC as MC is Quillan Roe of the Roe Family Singers, and watch for fellow performers Haley Bonar and Zoo Animal guitarist Matt Latterell (who’s a singer/songwriter in his own right) joining them onstage. Get down with the Prairie Fire Ladies once and you’ll surely be hooked. 7:30 p.m. $12. —EK
Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Ave., Mpls., 612-338-2674, thecedar.org
The Prairie Fire Lady Choir is a Twin Cities-based singing group open to ladies of all levels of musical skill. Our mission is to create a space where ladies can come together to sing, take risks, stretch skills and share our collective talent with the world.
We operate on a volunteer basis using a consensus decision-making process to guide the artistic direction of the choir. Guided by a small leadership committee, our more than 40 active members vote on song selection, artistic decisions and administrative issues. We’re building a creative community one song at a time.
Together, we sing new songs written and arranged by members of the choir, as well as original arrangements of popular songs by artists such as Fiona Apple, Prince, TLC, Buddy Holly, Jeremy Messersmith, and many more.
Your support will help PFLC with the costs for our end of season concert as well as pay for an upgrade and redesign to our website.