BLUE EARTH - Those who love concert band music are in for a treat - the Midwest All-Star Band is back.
The 50-piece group will play at 7 p.m. Saturday at Blue Earth Area High School's Performing Arts Center. The hour-long family-friendly show is free and open to the public.
"We play because it's fun, but we'd love to have a nice-sized audience," said Sue Ellingsen of Blue Earth, who plays clarinet.
Above: Debbie Ankeny will sing with the Midwest All-Star Band when it performs Saturday at Blue Earth Area High School. The All-Star Band is made up of musicians from all over southern Minnesota, including Sue and Mike Ellingsen of Blue Earth and their children.
In addition to the musicians, Debbie Ankeny will sing "Someone To Watch Over Me." Ankeny performed for years with country music star Anne Murray.
"She just brings a touch of class to anything she touches," said Sue.
Other familiar names, including Sue's husband, Mike Ellingsen, and their children, will also perform.
The Midwest All-Star Band was formed in April 1995 from "area musicians and friends and relatives," said Sue.
The group played together "as inspiration determined," Mike said.
"Every few years," clarified Sue. "The last time they played in Blue Earth was as part of the Sesquicentennial celebration.
"We haven't had the opportunity to perform in a while," she said, so she suggested the gang get together again.
"Being retired, there's more opportunity to organize," Mike said.
The Ellingsens gave a lot of credit to trombonist Larry Vogel of Fairmont, saying he knows a lot of musicians.
"His network of band friends is incredible," Mike said. "If there's something going on in south central Minnesota with a band, he's got a part in it."
The directors, Barry Fox and Nick Van Duzee, are retired from Chaska's school district. Fox is also the director of the Chaska Community Band.
Many of the All-Star band's members hail from Fairmont, Blue Earth and Mankato. Some come from as far north as Minneapolis, others as far south as Decorah, Iowa, and from Pipestone in the west, to Winona in the east.
Some are professional musicians, former all-state band members and current Mankato Sympony members. Others are family and friends.
"Our kids are in it and lots of our friends," Sue said.
The Ellingsens' son, Andrew, plays clarinet; Eric plays baritone sax; and daughter, Kate, plays horn. Sue's cousins, Frank and Ruth Bures, play clarinet.
The Bowdens of Fairmont also make it a family affair. June plays horn, her husband Dick plays trombone and their daughter Linda plays oboe.