Mandan Music Man to perform in Kiester

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 27, 2001

KIESTER -&160;Chuck Suchy, a farmer from North Dakota who bills himself as the Mandan Music Man, will perform a live concert at 7:30 p.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

KIESTER -&160;Chuck Suchy, a farmer from North Dakota who bills himself as the Mandan Music Man, will perform a live concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, at the Kee Theatre in Kiester.

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A special pre-concert ticket sale for the concert is under way, with a dinner and concert package available for $10. That includes dinner at the Maple Cafe prior to the concert and priority seating at the Kee for his performance. Tickets may be purchased at This ‘n’ That Hobbies of the Courier-Sentinel office or by contacting theatre worker Mary Heaney at 294-3711. Tickets for the concert alone will be sold at the door Nov. 30 if they are still available.

Heaney said part of the Kee Theatre’s mission statement is to bring arts into the community, and thus the reason for bringing Suchy to town.

&uot;We are the entertainment center of the community,&uot; Heaney said of the non-profit organization formed in 1990.

Suchy is one of the foremost musical voices of the American Great Plains. A working farmer, born and raised at home in the blue hills along the Missouri River south of Mandan, N.D., Suchy has a love for making music that goes back to his childhood. Throughout his youth and adult life, he found time to perform in the area’s halls, clubs and lounges, singing and playing guitar and accordion.

In 1982, a major event occurred when an acquaintance gave him a tape of Canadian troubadour Stan Rogers singing his classic, &uot;Field Behind the Plow.&uot;

&uot;It was at that moment,&uot; Suchy recalled, &uot;that I realized that the life I was immersed in was worthy of song.&uot; He began writing his own ballads and songs, slipping them into his performances, and it was soon obvious that he was onto something unique -&160;sensitive and honest portrayals of contemporary American farm life, but from an insider’s point of view.

In the decade since, Suchy has continued to write, sing and record songs evoking and extolling the Great Plains region and lifestyle. His themes have expanded to include songs about human relationships, spirituality, motorcycles and even sailing.

About Suchy, Crossroads Magazine has called Suchy, &uot;One of the shining lights of the Upper Great Plains.&uot; His music and stories speak to everyone – urban and rural -&160;because laughter, love, gain and loss are common human property.

Suchy has been a regular guest at the Stories of the Heartland Festival in Albert Lea and Austin.

Heaney said the Kee Theatre, which was built in 1939, had several owners over the years. By the late 1980s, it theatre was open only during the summer because the heating didn’t work. And it was getting tougher for anyone to make a living by showing movies. A group of community members interested in revitalizing the town, both economically and culturally, set up the non-profit organization with an eye on getting help from the public and possibly receiving some government grants. They also came up with seed money and others who wanted to be involved.

The purchase was negotiated early in 1990, and got busy making a list of needed improvements. Because of community support, that original list of 20-some needed projects was finished in four years.

The theatre holds a membership campaign each summer, and has also received a grant from the Minnesota State Legislature through the arts council and matching funds from the city. It has also received support from the Minnesota Historical Society, the United South Central school district community education fund, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A local group is still involved in all aspects of the theatre.

&uot;There’s someone there, every week, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday,&uot; Heaney said.