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Dessa, Charlie Parr, Chastity Brown, Porcupine, and more to play second annual Big Turn Music Fest in Red Wing

by Colleen Cowie

November 23, 2018

Last year, Red Wing opened the doors of its theaters, bookstores, and wine shops for the first year of Big Turn Music Fest. Today, Big Turn announced its headliners for the 2019 festival, which will take place Feb. 22 and 23.

Over 100 bands will perform over the festival's two days. Similar to last year, Big Turn is featuring mainly local acts like Dessa, Charlie Parr, Chastity Brown, Gaelynn Lea, and Toki Wright.


Many of the acts on the bill performed at the festival last year, and are artists who Big Turn founder Sam Brown (who's also the founder of the Mid West Music Fest) has built relationships with through his work organizing festivals. In addition to bringing back familiar faces, Brown is also exciting about getting new names on the lineup.

One of this year's performers is local "urban, organic, neo-classical" trio Saltee. The group, which consists of a beatboxer, guitarist, and cellist, used to regularly perform in the Twin Cities, but haven't played a show in over five years. Greg Norton (of Porcupine and Hüsker Dü) recommended that Brown reach out to the band to ask if they would play the festival, and now, Saltee are "officially getting back together for Big Turn," says Brown.

For its first year, Big Turn utilized a multitude of venues, and Brown says that capacity was reached at nearly every one. To create more space, Big Turn is adding a number of new spaces including Red's Savoy Pizza, hair salon Shear Perfection, and nonprofit art organization ArtReach.

Seeing performances in small, intimate spaces is an important aspect of Big Turn, says Brown. However, he also wants to provide larger venues for big-draw acts. Big Turn will once again hold performances at Red Wing's Sheldon Theatre, which Brown says is the "crown gem of the city and the crown gem of the Big Turn experience too."

For Brown, Big Turn isn't just another festival, it is a chance to celebrate his hometown and unite his community. After founding the Mid West Music Fest in Winona (now expanded to also include La Crosse, Wisc.), Brown decided to organize a festival in Red Wing for visitors and natives alike. This year, he anticipates a mix of people from Red Wing, the Twin Cities, and neighboring town to attend the festival, and he says that he can still feel the effect of last year's event in the town.

"To this day, when I'm out and about in Red Wing, people come up to me and they talk about their experience with Big Turn last year as if it were yesterday," said Brown. "They are so excited that something like this is happening in town."

A full lineup of Big Turn Music Fest 2019 can be found on the festival website.

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.