LITTLE FALLS — Former Little Falls High School band director Dwight Nelson will return to the stage for the summer music festival Rock the Park from 7-10 p.m. Saturday at Maple Island Park in Little Falls.
An annual event presented by Great River Arts Association, Rock the Park will go old school this year with The Upper Mississippi Rhythm and Soul Revue, featuring a variety of rhythm and soul-inspired music, including Motown, reggae, blues and pop.
“This type of music spans from generation to generation,” Nelson said. “Rhythm and soul is still very popular. A lot of today’s music still models itself after it.”
A trumpet player, Nelson will lead the horn section that will accompany local band Brothers Tone. Nelson will be joined by 2012 Pierz High School graduate Preston Weber on tenor saxophone and 2012 Little Falls High School graduate Jocelynn Moran on trombone.
Nelson’s horn section also will include an old college friend of his, Craig Mesenbring, on trumpet. Mesenbring attended St. Cloud State University with Nelson during the 1970s. Like Nelson, Mesenbring also went to direct a high school band.
Rock the Park will mark the first time the pair has shared the stage since college. Nelson says he looks forward to collaborating with his friend and fellow trumpet player again.
Nelson’s reputation as a fun-loving musician goes back to his days as band director at Little Falls High School, where he left a lasting legacy during his 33-year tenure.
“I always told my students we would work hard, but we would have fun doing it. That was something I tried to instill in them,” he said.
The Upper Mississippi Rhythm and Soul Revue will include headliners and back-up singers, which will include a 15-piece group up on stage. Special guests will include Great River Arts executive director Jill Moore and community members Jeff Anderson, John Fedor, Jim Norwood, Andy Spofford, Elene Tonder and Terri Verkuilen.
In case of rain, the location will be moved to the Crestliner Warehouse.
Rock the Park is a highlight of the Arts in the Park summer concert series presented by Great River Arts. Donations are appreciated, as the concert is a major fundraising event for the organization.