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Summer outdoor concert series at LeDuc estate begins Sunday

Blues, bluegrass, and Top 40 hits from the 60s and 70s will be among the selections when the Blue Drifters perform in concert at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4, on the lawn at the LeDuc Historic Estate. The Hastings Concert Association sponsors the outdoor concerts.

The Blue Drifters Acoustic Quartet is an American roots/variety musical ensemble on guitar, banjo, upright bass and fiddle. Members include Gary Schulte, Andrew Bergmann, Steven Earl Howard and Phil Nusbaum. Their music includes songs by John Denver, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Robert Johnson and others which they craft into interesting, exciting arrangements with trio harmonies and prodigious soloing on all four instruments.

Gary Schulte is a violinist and performance composer to whom Stephane Grappelli gave his most sincere blessing. Art Walsh of the Twin Cities Jazz Society writes, “Gary Schulte carries the Grappelli verve and vivacity like few others.” Considered a master of improvisation in all genres, he is a veteran of A Prairie Home Companion and has done everything from classical improvisation with harpsichord master Layton James to the avant garde with David Byrne, and extensive collaborative work with groups such as Ancestor Energy poetry-jazz with Louis Alemayehu. Sought after as a jazz violinist, he has collaborated with some of the greatest artists of the Gypsy Jazz genre, including guitarist legend Dorado Schmitt, and more straight-ahead jazz with Billy Peterson of the famous Peterson family of musicians, pianist Peter Schimke, and guitarist Dean Magraw. He is also known for his work in the Black Gospel tradition, and for his unaccompanied solo violin performances, in which he takes a story or image and creates a spontaneous composition in front of a live audience. A performance graduate of Indiana University School of Music, he studied with Paganini master Rugierro Ricci and Josef Gingold.

Andrew Bergmann moved to the Twin Cities to begin a doctoral program in music composition. He was raised in Massachusetts. He has been a professional bassist for 15 years, specializing in jazz, rock, folk, and experimental/original music, among others. He has traveled around the country playing with Frank Morey, Dana Falconberry, Tameca Jones and the Troglodytes. The Ghorar Deem Express, the 10-piece band he started in Amsterdam, is probably the world’s only band that features an Italian/Bengali rapper.

A native of New York City, Phil Nusbaum’s most recent bluegrass experience before the Blue Drifters has been 10 years performing with Urban Renewal with his wife, Karen, and Ed Munafo. His playing and singing styles are the result of both intense study of the original bluegrass masters and his own experiments. He is an expert in the styles of seminal banjoists Eddie Adcock and Don Reno. He is a flexible player, at home with traditional banjo instrumentals, his own multi-chord and episodic compositions, as well as tunes that one would never expect to hear on the banjo. He earned a Ph.D. in Folklore at Indiana University, and is the author of published articles about bluegrass music. He has presented bluegrass music on radio since 1966.

Steven Earl Howard founded the Blue Drifters in 1990. Guitarist, banjoist and lead singer, Howard has performed a full schedule each year with the group since its inception. Howard is also busy as an accomplished soloist as “Hillbilly Music for the Soul” in neighborhood and college bars as well as community celebrations, playing blues, bluegrass and variety. Schulte, Howard and Nusbaum released an album in 2004 entitled, “Better Luck Next Time.”

Bring your own chair or blanket. Pie and ice cream plus beverages will be served by various church and civic groups for a minimal cost. A special 5:30 p.m. tour (at regular rates) of the LeDuc House will be offered each Sunday.

The remainder of the schedule is:

Aug. 11 – Hank Thunder – accordion and drums. All kinds of music are performed.

Aug.18 – Steve Clark & the Working Stiffs – Variety of selections.

Aug. 25 – The New Pearl Buttons & Friends – Civil War music and lost LeDuc compositions.