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North Dakota Museum of art to host 'Concerts on the Coulee'

Two-day festival to feature nationally touring headlining musicians, along with opening bands, west of the museum on the UND campus

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William Elliott Whitmore, who has played many times for the Concerts in the Garden at the North Dakota Museum of Art, will perform Saturday, as part of the Concerts on the Coulee festival on the UND campus. (Photo courtesy of the North Dakota Museum of Art)

The North Dakota Museum of Art will hold its first “Concerts on the Coulee” on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 3 and 4, on the UND campus.

Each evening’s performance will feature two opening bands, followed by a nationally touring headliner. On Sept. 3, special guest artists Mandalynne and David Allen will open for Christopher Paul Stelling, and on Sept. 4, Kwaician and The Sardine Brothers open for William Elliott Whitmore.

Gates will open at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for a single day admission and $35 for two-day admission. UND students with ID and children 12 years and younger will be admitted free of charge. Tickets, which are non-refundable, are available online at www.ndmoa.com or at the gate. For more information, call (701) 777-4195 or visit www.ndmoa.com .

The festival will take place west of the museum, across the English Coulee. Guests can park in the Hughes Fine Arts Center parking lot and take the sidewalk on the south side of the building, or park west of the Burtness Theatre and take the bridge by the Celebration wall. Parking is free after 4:30 p.m.

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Attendees are welcome to bring a lawn chair or blanket to place along the coulee bank or stand in front of the stage.

Food trucks will offer a wide selection of food, and Judy’s Tavern is providing a cash bar.

Christopher Paul Stelling, who is from North Carolina, has been “a feverish and itinerant troubadour, spilling guts and blood and sweat in soul-scraping solo sets,” according to a promotional news release from the NDMOA. “He lived up to the lifestyle, too, hydrating for the stage with booze.”

By late 2017 Stelling had embraced sobriety, after realizing that chunks of life had disappeared and, in 2018, recorded his third album, “Best of Luck,” which “seemed poised to push him to new audiences, its mix of wistful acoustic ballads and stomp-around-the-room rock somehow both polished and primal.”

Last year seemed to promise transformational potential for Stelling’s career -- his show schedule was so full he had planned to have barely one day off in all of 2020.

This year, he’s back on the road with his newest release, “Forgiving It All,” described as “(his) most intimate, and most settled record yet, and his first self-released LP in eight years” by publicists.

William Elliott Whitmore, who has played for the NDMOA concerts in the Garden many times, is an American blues musician from Lee County, Iowa.

“He has been building a reputation as an absolutely stirring live performer, able to convert crowds with just his banjo and voice,” according to a news release from NDMOA.

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An alternative publication, Creative Loafing, has stated that “Whitmore has written songs as honest as Abe Lincoln, takes to the road to share these songs with rooms full of people who’ve likely never heard of them, and turns these strangers into fanatics nightly.”

The Seattle Times has observed, “You hear the diesel engine growl of his voice, the century of blue and folk tradition behind his banjo-driven stomps, the everyday relevance of his lyrics, and you succumb.”

This weekend’s two-day Concerts on the Coulee festival is a condensed version of the Concerts in the Garden series, which has been held annually on Tuesday evenings in the summer -- except last year, due to COVID. The series could not be presented this year because of road construction that surrounded the museum grounds, said Matthew Wallace, NDMOA deputy director.

At this weekend’s festival, no outside food, drinks or coolers are allowed, and smoking is not permitted on campus, Wallace said.

The concerts will take place rain or shine, but will be canceled if conditions do not allow for an outdoor performance. The concerts will not be moved indoors.

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Christopher Paul Stelling is scheduled to headline the first night of the "Concerts on the Coulee," a two-day event that starts Friday, Sept. 3, on the UND campus. The event, which is open to the public, is hosted by the North Dakota Museum of Art. (Photo courtesy of the North Dakota Museum of Art)

Related Topics: MUSIC
Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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