There are many wonderful things going on this time of year: concerts, festivals, musicals, live nativities, parties, school programs. I’d go to everything if I could but there aren’t enough nights in a week
So I must pick and choose.
Jim and I hit the jackpot on Dec. 12, when we went to “Misti and Maury” night at Fire Hall Theatre in Grand Forks. When I saw that two of my favorite local musicians would be together on stage, it was a given that we would go.
M&M peanut candies have long been a favorite of mine, but they’ve been bumped by my new favorite M&M – Misti Koop and Maury Finney.
We have loved Misti’s music and acting since first seeing her on stage at East Grand Forks Senior High School in the 1990s. We followed her to Red River High School’s stage when she transferred there. Misti went on for a BA in Music from Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., and also earned an MA in Theatre Arts from the University of North Dakota.
After a few years as a band teacher, Misti moved to New York City for a time and had an ensemble role in the national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. Last year, she entertained on the Norwegian “EPIC” cruise ship.
Oh Happy Day – Misti has come home and now teaches music at South Point School in East Grand Forks. I hope her students and their parents realize how blessed they are to have her in their midst.
And then there’s Maury. We’ve been huge fans of this saxophone virtuoso ever since moving here 38 years ago. We can hardly stand it when Maury plays his big hit, “Maiden’s Prayer,” and there’s no dance floor – which was the case at Fire Hall Theatre.
That night we learned Misti and Maury are related. Maury’s wife, Faith, and Misti’s mother are cousins. Besides having a beautiful voice, Misti plays several instruments including the saxophone. Now and again, M&M have jammed together in such places as – the deck at the lake.
On the night of which I speak, M&M’s performance was part of a fundraiser for Grand Forks Community Theatre.
Along with a backup band comprised of Gary Emerson on keyboard; Al Finney (Maury’s brother) on guitar, Steven Finney (Maury’s son) on bass, and Karen Braaten on piano, the evening rolled merrily along – song after song. Jeff Kinney was on sound and Kathy King, Executive Director of Grand Forks Community Theatre, produced the show.
Besides “Mainden’s Prayer,” we heard, “Silver Bells,” “Jingle Bells,” “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,” ”Deck the Halls,” “Mr. Sandman.”
We heard,” “Whispering,” “Soul Serenade,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Summertime,” “Yakety Sax,” and Tequila.”
And when Misti began to softly sing, “Misty,” as she hugged her sax – well if there’d been a snowman in the house he would have melted for sure.
Also on the song list were: “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Everyone joined in singing, “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Silent Night.” Misti wore such a beautiful countenance as she sang one “Silent Night” verse in German.
All in all, this event tops them all for me this Christmas season. In every which way the night was a huge success. The admission price along with a silent auction of many lovely things, netted $1,897 for Grand Forks Community Theatre. Fire Hall Theatre’s furnace recently went out and Economy Plumbing donated and installed a new one.
“We will be able to pay for the installation of the new furnace as well as the replacement of our fire exit door,” Kathy King said. “We are back to ‘go,’ now meaning we will continue our efforts to raise money for our Brick-by-Brick campaign. Our 108-year old building is in dire need of what is called “tuck pointing.” The mortar is disintegrating between the bricks, and the estimate we were given was $100,000. So far we have raised about $8500.
Kathy is confident the goal will be reached. “For 66 seasons, the community seems to have embraced our little Fire Hall Theatre and the many opportunities it affords people of all ages to express themselves and see live performances,” she said.
I do hope M&M will share more of their saxophone love with us – sometime next summer would be nice.