BEMIDJI – Monroe Crossing will be the headliner, but an up-and-coming local band of three talented teenagers will kick things off at the Chief Theater on Saturday, May 7.
No Rest for the Pickers will open the show at 7 p.m. with a 30-minute set. The event is a major fundraiser for Headwaters Music and Arts, providing funds for its music scholarship program.
A limited number of tickets priced at $25 may be available at the door or by calling Headwaters at (218) 444-5606.
No Rest for the Pickers features teenagers Sawyer Corcoran on fiddle, Johnny Pfaff on bass and Aidan Larson on mandolin. They met at Headwaters Fiddle Camp a few years ago and became friends.
Joining them are a pair of 33-year-olds, Joel Verschay on guitar and Corey Campbell on banjo. The band formed three years ago.
Verschay, a teacher at Leech Lake Tribal College, said he and Campbell were happy to be around as the youngsters develop their skills.
“They’re just very talented and they’re getting better and better,” Verschay said. “It’s cool to see them grow as musicians and individuals. Corey and I view our role in the band as supportive. The young guys keep us honest too, because we have to pick up our instruments and practice just to keep up.
The band was supposed to open for Monroe Crossing in Bemidji two years ago, but that gig was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, No Rest for the Pickers played a variety of gigs in the area, including a John Prine tribute event at Headwaters in April.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity,” Verschay said. “It’s about two years of preparation. It’s a bit like a good bookend, to be able to do it two years later. We are a different and tighter group now.
Headwaters executive director Tricia Andrews remembers the young musicians who met at fiddle camp and bonded over a shared love of music.
“That connection to fiddle camp and that good experience is special,” Andrews said. “It’s our oldest summer program. It makes me happy to know that this kind of thing happened. They formed a friendship and it became this. I saw them grow and become more confident as performers.
Leah Corcoran, who leads the band, said her son wanted to start a bluegrass-style band he could play in regularly.
“We kind of spotted people,” she said. “Johnny and Aidan went naturally together, of course. At the time, however, Aidan didn’t play the mandolin at all. He played the viola. But since then he’s learned and mastered the mandolin, so it’s been a really cool thing to watch.
They also sought to find a banjo player and a guitarist to complete the band.
Campbell, who works as a forestry technician for Beltrami County, heard Sawyer playing with a Celtic band at Brigid’s Pub, where Leah was a waitress. Verschay is a family friend.
“They hit it off right away,” Leah said. “It started very informally. But as their individual skills developed, they grew musically as a unit, and they really evolved as a group.
“They started with mostly bluegrass with a bit of folk-rock mixed in, but they kind of have their own groove now that people expect to hear from them. They’re very lively. They really rock people. people.”