Thursday, July 30, 2009

Health Care Reform: Making Sausage

by Gordon Prickett

Hearing DFLer Colleen Nardone & Republican Chuck Marohn tackling healthcare reform Thursday morning today leads me to add some facts to the opinions that were expressed.
Chuck talked about "Free Goods" - like covered elder health care and roads. And he complained about the employer's 50% share of employee payroll taxes.

Possibly, the idea is just that we don't know the precise cost of these goods, so we treat them like they are free. That used to be the case with air and water, but no more.
The payroll tax on income is now 6.20% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare - to be withheld every pay period, so the employer sends a combined 15.30% to the federal government. This is how money is gathered to send out the social security and medicare payments.

As for our roads, with every gallon of Minnesota gasoline, drivers now pay a tax of 43.9 cents per gallon.
This includes a federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, which goes into the highway trust fund, for Interstate and U.S. highway and bridge construction and maintenance.Since October 2008, our state gasoline tax is 25.5 cents per gallon, for state highways and bridges and County State-Assisted Highways. Our roadways are not free to drivers.
My township has a line item on the local property tax for roads and bridges - plowing, gravel, mowing shoulders. There are no free roads or driveways here.

As a Medicare-covered geezer since 2001, I can confirm Colleen's report of successful Medicare experience from her friend. In 2009 my wife and I will pay combined fees of $2,313.60 for Medicare Parts A and B. Add to that $258, in deductibles. These fees are deducted our Social Security monthly payments. Our payroll contributions for Social Security began back in the 1950s and continue for our part-time employment.

Medicare is not free to us.

My employer's retirement health care package has had steep annual cost increases for the last five years.
Currently my corporate pension - not indexed for cost of living - is reduced by $4,176 in 2009 to pay for our basic supplemental coverage to Medicare, including prescription drugs with a co-pay.
When all the contributions are totalled up, there is a lot of money in the U.S. healthcare system. We can do a much better job of allocating these funds.
Profit-taking insurance companies, who tell us what procedures "They will cover," is the best place to start when reforming and cutting health care costs.

Gordon Pricket lives on Nord Lake in Aitkin County

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

From Peace Lovin' Hippies to Tattoo'd Freaks...

by Doug MacRostie

Variety is the spice of life, so let's heat things up shall we? How about going from early 70's folk rock to modern metal? You might think it can't be done, but on Centerstage MN Thursday nights at 6 on KAXE everything is possible :D

To start, I'll be talking with Steve Downing from Grand Rapids. He is one of the original members of Jericho Harp, a late 60's and 70's folk-rock band out of the St. Cloud area. From the humble beginnings of a couple guys playing their favorite tunes around the college circuit, to being produced by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary and then the strangest twist-of-an-ending you can imagine for a 70's rock musician...

Then I will be talking with JJ Snell, a local musician and promoter from Marcell, now in Grand Rapids. JJ will bring in a snapshot of the current MN metal scene, and it's guaranteed to get loud. JJ has played in various bands across northern MN and brings local and national artist to the Ground Floor and other area venues and I can't wait to hear his perspective on the MN metal scene.

To fill in around these conversations I'll play a couple of my fav performers from last weekends 10,000 Lakes Festival in Detroit Lakes. There were many excellent MN bands in the line-up; hmmm...which will I play...

Centerstage MN is Thursday evenings at 6, streaming live online at; or 91.7 Grand Rapids, 89.9 Brainerd and 105.3 Bemidji. All interviews are archived at and the show is rebroadcast Sunday mornings at 6.

Cream of the Crop

On All Things Equine, Bobbie talked with Cheryl Bacon about an American breed of draft horse called the Cream Drafts. Bobbie met Cheryl while at the Carriage Association of America conference in Leesberg, Virginia, last month. Check out more pix in our Online Photo Album. Click here to listen to Bobbie's talk w Cheryl.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blue Interlude

by Scott Hall

If there was any doubt about the difference between fresh locally grown food and trucked-in store-bought varieties, consider the difference between the u-pick strawberries and the ones bred to survive the time from farm to market. The locals are juicier with better color and flavor. Even better tasting were the wild raspberries Jennifer brought in for our pancakes last Friday morning.

The u-pick strawberry season is about over so I asked one of our local strawberry growers, Stu LaValiere, when the blueberries would be ready. He said they are late too - maybe ten days to two weeks, but the crop looks good. Marshall Helmberger at The Timberjay reports the wild bloobs are coming in up in Lake Vermilion country, though not at peak yet. I appreciate the science, energy and infrastructure it takes to get fruits and veggies to market from far away producers, and I'm glad the store-bought varieties are there, but the local difference is no lie. Get to those local farmer's fields and markets while the time is ripe. Here's a link to the Minnesota Grown Directory and you can still stop by KAXE and pick one up.

*thanks to Kevin McCoy for his citizen journalism in the berry patch! Way to hunt down Scott Hall!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Money in Sports

by Scott Hall

I've been closely following the Tour de France for almost three weeks. Most days I follow the race on-line, and this morning I finally got weary of all the on-line and television commercial action packed and packaged around the Tour - and all professional sports for that matter. Even the colorful uniforms and stock cars are covered with sponsor ads. Usually it's easy to block all the commercial hype, enjoy the event, and appreciate the talent and tactics.

It's no secret that all forms of media must have stars - Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, the quarterback. The media need good stories and will not let ordinary facts get in the way of making melodrama around the stars. Then they have something to sell to advertisers who have something to sell to us.

When our favorite ten million dollar outfielder strikes out in the bottom of the 9th with the winning run on third base, many knowledgeable, life long fans say something like "he makes all that money, he's gotta do better than that!" I share the frustration and deep disappointment, but the money does not guarantee or even help the prospects of success on the field. And, in another living room, someone rooting for the other team is celebrating the clutch performance of the ten million dollar pitcher who struck him out.

If the athlete didn't get the big money, we'd still probably think he's overpaid and complain about the price of a ticket, hot dog or cable subscription.

Here's a great spoof of sports and commercialism that aired on NPR's Morning Edition program about five or ten years ago.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Between Changing Diapers and Introducing Bands...

by Doug MacRostie

While it looked potentially rainy that morning and the sun didn't shine (steady) until the last band, the 5th Annual 91.7 KAXE Mississippi River Festival was a huge success. I don't actually know the final numbers (I think we had around 200 people at the amphitheater), but the main goal was to break even, and I feel confident we did. But, that's not my job to figure out; I view this from a musical perspective and what fun it was!!! You can see a Highlight Video here and check out the pix in our Online Photo Album. Thanks to everyone who came out and spent the day enjoying MN music in our backyard :D

I heard a lot of feedback during the event from the crowd, 99% positive. I have to say, while Hans Blix and Hobo Nephews are more 'traditional' KAXE crowd-pleasers, most were very open to the high energy rockin' sounds of Clawthroat and Sick of Sarah, which was encouraging to see. Also, the crowd had a lot of new (and younger) faces than a typical KAXE event and youth is the future, so that was great to see too!

Hans Blix and Weapons Inspectors put on a great set of traditional old-time and fiddle tunes with duo fiddles, duo guitars, mandolin and stand-up base with 3+ part harmonies and excellent instrumental pieces. It was the perfect beginning for the concert as they got toes tappin' with old-time rhythms along with some great Old Crow Medicine Show interpretations.

I had pretty high expectations for each band, and none of them disappointed. But, I have to say that The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank blew my expectations out of the water - the music and performance was excellent, their musicianship shined and their drummer was phenomenal! Everything about them is so unique - from the singing voices of Ian and Teague, the sound and style of the tunes and excellent chemistry the band had pulled everyone into their top-notch performance.

Clawthroat came out and nailed it. Seriously, they were so tight and spot on! With complex music matched by flowing melodies and clever lyrics they put out more energy than MN power (snap...). Kris was so much fun to watch on drums; my highlight being when one of his sticks shattered and went flying and he kept rockin' with just one hand - it was awesome, he kept not just the rhythm going, but did the fills and rolls too (video highlight of that coming up later).

Sick of Sarah rocked out and while everyone would have liked to see them play for another half hour, the set the put on was high energy and highly entertaining. The onstage antics and personality of singer Abisha added the right amount of humor and entertainment to an in-your-face rockin' band. But, I have to say I enjoyed Brooke's drumming the most - she was just FLYING and ended the evening with a rousing drum solo. When the band first kicked in and I was up front recording some video highlights, a nice 50+ gentleman was standing next to me doing the same. When we went and sat down I heard him say, "Wow, what a voice and such energy! Amazing" to which his companion responded, "It's not really my kind of music." He replied, "it isn't my kind of music either, but WOW" (which is, to me, the ideal KAXE listener: open-minded to different kinds of music beyond your fav).

Each of the bands brought a different sound and style to the stage, and the progression from traditional, to interpretive roots, to crazy folk-rock and in your face rock-n-roll was definitely worth the ride, and I think everyone had a high appreciation for local radio supporting local MN musicians.

Also, a BIG thanks to Penny Holcumb (who was working on her birthday!) and Jennifer Poenix who took care of volunteer organization and more of the business end of managing the event, including the Green Room for the artists which was a beautiful spread. As the Hobo Nephews said, "We're going to write down everything you guys have on this table and use it to come up with our Rider...this is excellent." Penny did say this years festival was the best b-day party a girl could ask for, and Sick of Sarah even wished her a happy 22nd b-day :D Also thanks to John Bauer for lining up our sponsors U Care and Hawkinson Redi-mix, who truly made this event possible and thanks to Dan Houg who managed the onsite set-up and technical issues. And another BIG thanks to all the volunteers who helped with the box office, merch sales, security and more.

What's next? Well, I'm heading off to 10KLF and I intend to do some video highlights (like the video for the MRF) which should be fun - stay tuned for more info on that.

Mississippi River Festival Highlight Reel

The 5th Annual 91.7 KAXE Mississippi River Festival featured MN musicians on July, 18th 2009 w Hans Blix and the Weapons Inspectors, The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, Clawthroat and Sick of Sarah. It was an excellent afternoon/evening of's just a taste of the fun...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hüsker Whü? Ask Nicole!

This week volunteer programmer Nicole Hoops will be hosting Centerstage MN, 6pm Thursday night featuring the talents of MN musicians. Says Nicole, "I will be playing mostly mid 80's to early 90's Minneapolis 'sound'....think Replacements, Paul Westerberg, Soul Asylum, Prince, Gear Daddies, etc. and doing a more intimate look at Bob Mould's music history from Hüsker Dü to present." Sounds like it will be a rockin' good show!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


By Steve Downing

Lyric Center for the Arts/Virginia: through 8/29, “From The Woods”, paintings & drawings by Bonnie DeFresne. First Stage, first Mondays of the month: live open-stage reading/writing @ 6:30. More @ www.lyriccenterforthearts.blogspot

Minnesota Discovery Center/Chisholm: “The Scoop on Poop” still rules, through 9/7; Iron Range History Players daily through 8/30; Lake Superior Zoo Zoomobile/Poopmobile joins “The Scoop” on 8/8; All Slav Days 8/9; The Dweebs 8/14. Details @

Range Creative Art Center/Hibbing: Summer Art Camp 8/24-8/28 for grades 3-7. Range Artists Association will be ‘superintending’ the Fine Arts Division at the St. Louis County Fair again this year.

Brainerd neighborhood: in Nisswa tomorrow (7/17) & Sat. (7/18) from 9-4, the Annual Majestic Pines Art Festival, a juried show w/more than 100 artists, live music, food. Wed. (7/22) @ 8 @ Gull Lake Conference Center in Nisswa: a free concert by pianist Mary Beth Carlson & vocalist Mark David Williams. The Crosslake Outdoor Music Series continues every Sat. through 9/5 @ 6:30 @ Town Square. Visit & watch artists @ work in their studios during the North Crow Wing Studio Tour Fri. 7/31 8-5. For details on this and other Brainerd area happenings:

Ripple River Gallery near Deerwood: through 8/9 carved ceramics by Deb LeAir, reception Sat. 7/18 @ 3. Beautiful vessels & tiles, functional & not. Next month: woodcuts by Charles Beck, on whom Bob & Amy have a lock---a must-see exhibit.

Jaques Art Center/Aitkin: tomorrow (7/17) @ 2, the Annual Plein Air Awards & Reception; that show will be up through 8/22. Sat. (7/18) is also the “Art in Bloom” event, 11-4, when the Lakes & Woods Horticultural Club will design floral arrangements to mirror/complement the Plein Air paintings.

The Edge Center/Bigfork: this Sat. (7/18) @ 5 & Sun. (7/19) @ 2, magic, w/Reza the Illusionist. “Art on the Edge”, the 5th Annual Juried Show, is up in the lobby through 8/1. Next month: the “Piano Bar Event” on the 15th, “Wine in the Wilderness” on the 21st. Details @

Bemidji: this weekend (7/18-7/19) it’s the 42nd Annual Art in the Park Art Fair & Centennial Celebration. “In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre” is in town for performances both days. At BCAC through 8/1: “New Work”, a group show w/Vivienne Morgan, Marlon Davidson, Don Knudson, Butch Holden, Jay Jones, and Marley Kaul.

MacRostie Art Center: more Bemidji art, in another group exhibit, and Butch Holden & Vivienne Morgan are in this one, too, w/Jason Clark, Terry Garrett, Linda Brown, Steve Sundahl, and Natalia Himmirska, in the Minnesota Gallery. In the MacRostie Gallery: Nathan Bray, functional & decorative ceramics. More @

Mississippi Melodie Showboat tonight (7/16) through Sat. (7/18) this week and again next week.

Brewed Awakenings: tomorrow (7/17) @ 5:30, a CD release party for singer/songwriter Robi Meyerson. Next Wed. (7/22) jazz w/Sam Miltich & friends. First Fridays are open mike nights. Art on the walls this month by Keith Thompson & Helen MacDonnell.

Reif Center: next Tuesday (7/21) in the ‘Indies on Tuesdays’ series, “Men at Work”, a very (darkly) funny film about manly mid-life crisis, in which a blatantly long tall rock at the center of the narrative & the setting is really the main character. Thanks to the Grand Rapids Area Library for the films & Rivers Italian for underwriting.

Also at Reif: the Itasca Orchestra’s Summer Youth Program is in concert Thurs. 8/13 @ 7.

Out of town? How about Duluth: the Smithsonian’s travelling photography exhibit “Beyond: Visions of Planetary Landscapes” at the Duluth Art Institute, which fills both the George Morrison & John Steffl Galleries w/fantastical images, some 5’ wide, literally otherworldly: i.e., other planets & their moons & rings & sunsets, spacey photography in every way, through 8/9.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Concert Event of the Summer is THIS Saturday!!!

by Doug MacRostie

From inventive roots music to straight-up rock, the Mississippi River Festival is going to ROCK this year!!! For our 5th Annual MRF comin' up THIS Saturday we're featuring MN musicians under the Rotary Tent at KAXE's amphitheater on the North bank of the Mississippi River in downtown Grand Rapids, and seriously - I can't decide which band I am most excited to see. Plus, the forecast for Saturday is Mostly Sunny and 75 (has held steady since last weekend, w000t :D).

As part of our preperation for Saturday, this week on Centerstage MN I'll be featuring highlights of music and conversation with each of the bands; Hans Blix and the Weapons Inspectors, The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, Clawthroat and Sick of Sarah.

I'll start off with some bits and pieces of my conversation w Joseph Downing of Clawthroat, talking about the new EP "Know Yr Roots," AND, Joseph brought along his guitar and debuted a BRAND NEW SONG which we'll also hear.

While I haven't had the opportunity to get Hans Blix and Weapons Inspectors on for an interview, I do have a secret demo recording from a few years back to play. This 6 piece traditional acoustic string band has been hanging out in Brainerd waiting for the next call from the United Nations.... :D

Then we'll hear highlights from my conversation w Ian and Teague Alexy of the Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank. I talked with them about their latest experimental EP 'One for the Time Capsule," and they each announce their top Dylan album.

And we'll hear Abisha Uhl and Jamie Holm talking about the self-titled debut CD "Sick of Sarah." Abisha grew up in Japan (east of China) and is lead-singer and guitarist, Jamie Holm grew up in Clearbrook (west of Bemidji) and plays bass and sings backup vocals.

Again, the MRF this Saturday is going to be a great time! Tix are $25, 19 and under is just $15, and KAXE members get a $10 discount, 12 and under are free, and bring your own chairs and coolers. You can order tickets online HERE, or call KAXE at 218-326-1234. Oh, and did you see the cover story from Scenes and Screens in the Grand Rapids Herald?

Centerstage MN is Thursday evening's at 6, streaming live online at; or 91.7 Grand Rapids, 89.9 Brainerd and 105.3 Bemidji. All interviews are archived at and the show is rebroadcast Sunday mornings at 6.

Mercedes Rules!

If you are on the air at KAXE there's a strange phenomena that can sometime occur: you forget you are on the radio. My tale to tell is not one of F-bombs flying and handcuffs in FCC jail. It is a tale of the environment of the north bank of the Mississippi River in Grand Rapids, MN.

Let me set the scene: Friday Morning Show, early, on the air. We are so fortunate to get to see the birds and the bunnies and trees and the plants right outside our studio window. On this particular morning, John Bauer and I were talking and weather-ing and doing our bickersons shtick. I see, out the window - far, far, away - an odd sight that my eyes don't really know how to interpret. There are about 5 older-ish women in various forms of workout wear. You know... white tennis shoes, visors and caps, blue jeans and t-shirts. Amidst the cloud of whites and reds I see something darker. Not necessarily sinister-darker. But like leather and chains and tattoos darker.

And then I do it, without thinking. I announce what I am seeing, on THE RADIO.

As I found out a few hours later after answering the phone, I had indeed publicly witnessed Itasca County YMCA personal trainer and leader of the walking club, MERCEDES.

Luckily, Mercedes got a kick out of it. And Mercedes apparently wants to get a kick out of me and John.

Good to meet you Mercedes, and bring your walking ladies back to the KAXE studios, anytime! And about that personal training session you suggested? My people will call your people....


As Heard This Week on KAXE

All kinds of topics are discussed by all kinds of people each week on KAXE (top highlight this week: the story about John Bauer on All Things Equine, included below). We archive many of the programs you hear (or missed) in the Audio Highlights at Here are just a couple recent examples:

Tamarack and Larch Trees Stressed and Dying:
DNR Forest Health Specialist Jana Albers talks to John and Harry about insects, diseases and drought that affect our forests. Also, the cycle of the Forest Tent Caterpillar is on the rise. Jana says we may have another big outbreak of those leaf-eaters in two or three years.

Returning Shorelands to Their Natural State
...and protecting water quality and fish habitat too: Shoreline specialist, Kelly Condiff, from Cass County Environmental Services talks about the upcoming "Shoreline Buffer Expo" at Deep Portage, Saturday, August 1st.

James Frenzel of Golden Willow Farm
James Frenzel grows organic, grass-fed beef on his 400-acre Golden Willow Farm in the Kelliher area. On national “Cow Appreciation Day” he described his substantial experience in farming, how he raises Red Angus Crossbred cattle and rotates their pasture. He also explains why green grass makes superior feed before seed heads appear. James said that his grazing techniques lead to higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids in the fatty parts of the beef than in cattle raised by more typical agribusiness methods. He sells beef by appointment: 218/766-7916

All Things Equine
Bobbie talked about some training methods Mary Hamilton taught her in a recent clinic. Also an update on what is going on in Jack's life. And a CRAZY story about John Bauer!

More highlights and archives are at

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Charley Bender and Other Wednesday Morning Highlights

by Scott Hall

Regular listeners know that Charles Bender is one of my favorite characters in baseball history. He was born in Crow Wing County, spent his early years on the White Earth Reservation, and went on to be a star pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1903 to 1914. In 1953, Bender became the first Native American in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Now MN author, Tom Swift, has a new biography of Bender. Swift is on the Morning Show Wednesday. His book, "Chief Benden: The Silent Struggle of a Baseball Star", is about how Bender quietly survived - sometimes thrived and often struggled - in the non-Indian world of boarding schools and professional baseball, and endured the hardships of poverty and the grinding racism of his day.

Not since Larwrence Ritter's 1966 book, "The Glory of Their Times", has there been a better book about baseball at the turn of the century (the 20th century that is).

Also, Wednesday is Cow Appreciation Day. We'll appreciate cows on the local food beat tomorrow. Maggie talks to James Frenzel. He raises grass-fed Red-Angus beef cows on his 400 acre Golden Willow Farm near Kelliher...

And Don Boese with another installment of The Mighty Five. Don tell s the story and plays the music of the five 19th century Russian composers that created the foundation of Russian Classical music. Tomorrow it's Alexander Borodin (right), part 2...

Like Santana in Hawaii

This Saturday on Between You and Me we're getting ready for the 5th Annual 91.7 KAXE Mississippi River Festival and we want you tell us your stories of your favorite concerts! Could be the original line-up of Black Sabbath at Ozzfest, could be Ringo at the State Capital, Mason Jennings in San Fran... Email your stories to, or leave us a message on our Talkback line at 218-999-9876 and tune in (and call) Saturday between 10 and Noon for our Saturday morning get-together; a mix of music and conversation.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What Do Turtles and Winter Roads Have in Common?

You've probably seen a turtle or two on the side of the road this summer, and we talked about Turtles this Saturday on Between You and Me w Heidi Holtan. Topics ranged from an "Adopt a Turtle" idea similar to "Adopt a Highway" to motorcycle turtle-rescue crews. Of course, no Turtle-Talk would be complete without some Trampled by Turtles, and bass player Tim Saxhaug called in and talked to Heidi. Afterwards, Heidi played "The Darkness and the Light" from their latest CD "Duluth," which prompted Nancy to send us this picture with the note:

"I took this picture of the Gunflint Trail last February..and immediately thought of that song."

What a good reminder to enjoy the weather this week!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Now you can SEE KAXE

I bet you've heard of YouTube, a website where people can share video with the whole wide world, but did you know that there are channels on YouTube? People can create their own channels, and well known organizations, such as ABC News also have channels, and now KAXE is proud to have a YouTube channel.

It's at

So far, we've uploaded four videos. Our first one features John Latimer talking about and showing the Cananda Anemone. Then there are a few visits into the studio and the proper way to adhere your KAXE bumper sticker. Our hope is to get better at this as we go along.

What kinds of things at KAXE would you like to see?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More Authentic Than a Leather Football Helmet

by Doug MacRostie

There is something to be said for authentic that hasn't been uber-produced beyond recognition, leaving you feeling like a computer just tried singing you to sleep. Authentic is a word I use to describe the music of Duluth and the Iron Range with musicians like Charlie Parr, The Tisdales, Trampled by Turtles...real music by real musicians. A perfect example of this authentic sound on the Iron Range is Matt Ray, and he'll be my guest this Thursday night at 6 on Centerstage MN.

Matt Ray is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Embarrass. His new album 'Old Crow' mixes elements of blues, folk, jug band and rock into his own unique sound. The music ranges from rockin' roots music on songs like 'Old Time Band' which sings about dancing all night, to sincerely serious tunes like 'Ranger's Lament,' a song about the trials and challenges of miners on the Range. I'll be talking with Matt about the CD, and he's bringing his guitar along to play a song live for us as well :D

Another very authentic Northern, MN band is The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank from Holyoke (who will be at the upcoming 5th Annual 91.7 KAXE Mississippi River Festival on Sat. July 18th). With a solid foundation of roots and blues music, Ian and Teague Alexy take their music to new places, even mixing traditional styles with looped electronic beats on their limited edition EP 'One for the Time Capsule.' Beyond The Hobo Nephews, we'll hear from Broken Billy, a project of Ian's that branches into alt-country and alternative pop mixing rock n roll w bluegrass stomps and country licks. And we'll hear Teague Alexy and the Feelin' Band, they're CD is called 'The New Folklore' and is a mix of folk, rock, blues and jazz into an original blend of Americana. Good stuff, and be sure to come out and enjoy Ian and Teague w The Hobo Nephews at the Mississippi River Festival!!!

We'll also here some music out of Minneapolis with the internationally recognized indie pop-rock of Tapes 'N Tapes, and an emerging band on the scene called The Idle Hands, also with an edgy pop-rock sound. They have done a limited release of their new album 'The Hearts We Broke on the Way to the Show' in the Minneapolis area and will be doing a national release later this summer.

Centerstage MN is Thursday evening's at 6, streaming live online at; or 91.7 Grand Rapids, 89.9 Brainerd and 105.3 Bemidji. All interviews are archived at and the show is rebroadcast Sunday mornings at 6.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How to Build a Tripod Pole Bean Fence

by Maggie Montgomery

Pole beans are fascinating. They are delicious and indeterminate and have long tentacles. Indeterminate plants produce beans all year, unlike bush beans that produce just one main crop. Pole beans also mature later than bush varieties and for that reason don’t always produce well in northern Minnesota. They need scaffolding to support their vines, which can grow to 10 feet or more! Nevertheless, they are fun to experiment with in the garden, and this year I built a pretty nifty scaffold for our Kentucky Wonders.

This scaffold consists of three tripods made of popple (aspen) saplings and two top poles. I tied each tripod as shown, and stood it up. Standing up a tripod correctly is a little tricky. The outer two poles have to form a Vee to hold the third pole in the crotch for stability. Don’t force the tripod into formation too hard, or you’ll break a pole and have to re-tie the whole thing with a new post (voice of experience). The idea is for the Vee to hold the third stick rather than letting any pole hang by the ropes.

An upright pole attached to the middle tripod provides a center post to tie to. I used scavenged twine from hay bales to create the net and tie the tripods together. Someone said a bean scaffold is a garden sculpture! It sure is kind of neat to look at, and should get better as the beans grow.

The photo above was taken on July 4th. The beans are just coming up. The sprinkler somehow edged its way into the picture too (maybe because it also is a tripod)!

Spread the Word Before the Word Spreads You!!!

by Doug MacRostie

The 5th Annual 91.7 KAXE Mississippi River Festival is going to be AWESOME this year - July 18th, at the KAXE Amphitheater, featuring MN bands. Everyone is getting SO excited, even the Grand Rapids Herald-Review contacted KAXE for info about the Mississippi River Festival for the cover of "Scene & Screen" in this Sunday's paper! So I did a quick write-up about the event & it seems only fair if I tell them the word to spread, I should tell you you go, please help get the word out:

Dear GR Herald-Review,

Hi! This is Doug from KAXE; I host Centerstage MN, our program featuring the talents of MN musicians Thursday nights at 6. I helped line-up the bands for the 5th Annual 91.7 KAXE Mississippi River Festival on July 18th under The Rotary Tent at KAXE's Amphitheater. It's going to be an exciting afternoon/evening of great music ranging from traditional folk to the new sound of rock.

This year we're featuring all Minnesota Musicians and things kick off at 1pm with Hans Blix and the Weapons Inspectors from Brainerd, a 6-piece acoustic string band playing a mix of bluegrass, old-time and Irish fiddle tunes.

Then we have the inventive roots music of The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank from Holyoke. Fronted by brothers Ian and Teague Alexy, The Hobo Nephews have established a foundation of roots, blues and folk music they build on and take in new exciting directions.

Next is the high energy trio Clawthroat, fronted by Joseph Downing from Grand Rapids. They play a new breed of folk-rock with catchy melodies, flying drums and music that will get you moving.

We rock out the evening with Sick of Sarah from Minneapolis. Their bass player Jamie Holm is from Clearbrook and these 5 ladies play an edgy form of pop-rock with beautiful melodies and harmonies, rockin' hooks, and a little bit of attitude.

Again, I am very excited to have so much amazing young Minnesota talent coming to the 5th Annual 91.7 KAXE Mississippi River Festival this year. It's great living in a state with such fine musical history that continues to this day; this is one more way for us to celebrate and perpetuate that tradition right on the north bank of the Mississippi River in downtown Grand Rapids.

To see these 4 excellent bands is just $25, students 19 and under are $15. KAXE members get a $10 discount, 12 and under are free. Tickets can be ordered online at, or by calling 218-326-1234. This community event is made possible with the generous support of Hawkinson Redi-Mix and U-Care. Food & Beverage will be provided by Kiwanis at the event.

Have a great day and thanks so much for covering this event, we REALLY appreciate it!!!

So, anything you can do to help spread the word is greatly appreciated! If you happen to know of any newspapers in Northern MN, ask them to take this info and do a cover story too!!!

Rock on and SEE YOU THERE!!!!!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Good Luck Sweatshirt

On the first day of King fishing season on the Kenai river, Jane Matthies-Holtan landed this 148 lbs monster (or was it 48 lbs?). Keith, her husband who took the picture (and Heidi's older brother), talked with Scott about how his salmon fishing-guide season has been on the Morning Show, click here to listen! Looks like things are going pretty good.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Volunteer Run Library in Pequot Lakes!

Pequot lakes is a small town in Minnesota, population 1956. It's a little over 20 miles north of Brainerd. You'll notice it because of the bobber water tower right in the middle of town. Another thing you should know about Pequot Lakes is their cool library. It's a volunteer library, run by 30 volunteers. There are over 1800 card holders in the library, and they average 50 patrons a day!

They are in the process of change at the Pequot Lakes library! Soon they'll be moving to a new location and this weekend, to raise money for this move, they are holding a book sale.

It'll take place Friday July 3rd from 7:30-4pm and Sunday July 5th from 7:30am-3pm. They are located in the Pequot Lakes city hall at 4638 County Rd. 11. (It's the big white house with the pillars!)

Chuck Marohn on The Coleman-Franken Recount

On the air we’ve discussed the Coleman/Franken recount process on many occasions. Those conversations include frequent suggestions that we develop a different process for elections, adopting a new approach like an “instant runoff” or “top-two runoff” to determine the victor. My contention has been that neither of those approaches would have helped us avoid the current dilemma, which is that the election was too close for us to determine a winner.

Before Franken supporters start hurling curses my way, understand that I am not questioning the legitimacy of his victory. This is our system and, going through the process we have established, he won. The same goes for George Bush in Florida in 2000. In both instances, the elections were too close to call and recognizing that would have allowed us to pursue a clearer result.

What I am talking about is math. This may matter to me more because of my days in engineering school, where they drilled the concept of “significant digits” into my head. The idea of “significant digits” goes something like this:

A road lane is 12 feet wide. If we have two lanes, that makes the surface 24 feet wide. It is not, as our calculators like to tell us, 24.000 feet wide. In other words, our ability to measure in that instance is in feet, not the thousandths of a foot.

If we wanted to measure the distance between my home north of Brainerd and the KAXE studio in Grand Rapids, we might get out a map and count the miles as listed in red. That would be around 80 miles. We could also go to Google Maps, which says it is 81.6 miles. We could get a surveyor to run a loop between our locations, and if they were extremely meticulous they might be able to say that it is 81.57 miles. We could get a highly accurate laser measuring device and that might be able to tell us the distance is 81.57234 miles.

Our method of counting ballots is somewhere between Google Maps and our meticulous surveyor in terms of precision. That is actually quite impressive for a human endeavor involving literally hundreds of unpaid volunteers. And it is a good system. In nearly every election held, this method works very well. I would not change it today, largely because the extremely high cost to achieve laser-measuring precision would be unjustified in nearly every instance. Why would we spend billions on a laser measuring the distance to Grand Rapids when Google Maps will get us the precision we need at no cost?

Consider that the final official count was 1,212,206 for Coleman and 1,212,431 for Franken, a difference of 225 votes. That is a difference of 0.0093%. We all saw how people marked their ballots in crazy ways, ballots were (I believe innocently) misplaced, recounts varied from original counts, etc…. Understand that if we did a third count, we would get a different number. That number would be 1,212,xxx, with the xxx being where our precision fails us.

So what do we do about elections like Coleman/Franken 2008, where the result is too close to accurately measure? We simply rerun them. We agree ahead of time that our system has limitations, we have a reasonable degree of accuracy that we can have confidence in, we establish that degree of accuracy in a bipartisan way prior to the election and, if the election results wind up to be too close to call, the remedy will be a do-over.

With that approach, we would have saved ourselves seven months, millions of dollars and we would not have the acrimony we have today, where partisans bristle over the legitimacy of one outcome or another. To me, that is not only Minnesota Nice, it is Minnesota Smart.

Chuck Marohn is the President of The Community Growth Institute in Brainerd a regular commentator on KAXE's Morning Show

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

You Gotta Have Faith...Boblett

by Doug MacRostie

It's a pretty good deal, hosting a MN music program; not only do I have access to some excellent tunes, but the creators of the music come and join me in studio from time to time. This Thursday night at 6 on Centerstage MN I'll be joined in-studio by singer/songwriter Faith Boblett from Outing. Just out of High School, Faith has a beautiful voice and she'll bring her guitar along for some live music! She is in a continuous process of writing music, releasing new material to her fans by posting home-recorded videos of new songs on her YouTube channel. I'm really excited to have Faith on and hear her sing in person, and I'll try to get inside the head of an 18 year old songwriter.

I'll also be talking with Janiva Magness, a Blues and R&B singer with a rich and soulful voice that can lead an audience from deep sorrow to overwhelming joy. Originally from Detroit, she spent much of her youth in the Twin Cities area after both her parents commited suicide (there is a lot of tragedy in her past, you can read more about it here - she definitely has the "street-cred" to sing the blues...). While in MN, she got to spend some time in the great blues clubs of the era, which is when she hitchhicked across Minneapolis to see Otis Rush, an experience that opened her eyes to being a singer and performer. Janiva now has 7 full length albums to her credit and at the Blues Music Awards last month she recieved both Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year & B.B. King Entertainer of the Year awards. Janiva is also National Spokesperson for Casey Family Programs, promoting National Foster Care Month, and I'm honored to have her on the show.

I'll be playing some new music from Russ Brown, a singer/songwriter out of Minneapolis who just released his debut CD "The Fugitive Peace," and Marcy Playground's new CD "Leaving a Fit of Rage," another excellent release from the New York/Minneapolis trio.

Last week my guest was Jason Edmonds of The Magic Castles, a highly creative and wonderfully unique psych-pop band out of Minneapolis. I had Jason back on the show to talk about their excellent new sophomore release "Dreams of Dreams of Dreams;" you can hear our conversation and some of the tunes by clicking here. It's like Jason said, "I've taken so much from the art community [in MN]...all my life I feel like I've been surrounded by awesome artist and I had a real desire to give back to that pool of art in a meaningful way and it's a real blessing to be able to do it w the Magic Castles."

Centerstage MN is Thursday evening's at 6, streaming live online at; or 91.7 Grand Rapids, 89.9 Brainerd and 105.3 Bemidji. All interviews are archived at and the show is rebroadcast Sunday mornings at 6.

Hibbing Community College's Theater Program at Risk!

The benefit for the Hibbing Community College Theater is Thursday July 2nd at 7:30 at the Hibbing High School auditorium.