by Amber Roerick
There is something about sitting outside among friends and listening to great music that really makes a person relax and forget about the world. Now add comfortable seating, a picnic dinner and meeting the musicians themselves and you have a wonderful evening July 14 at the Tree House Studio Pavilion with Jackie Leedahl of Sartell and Mark Reum of Albany.
Leedahl and Reum are married and both live in Avon at their home, which is right next to the Tree House Studio where Leedahl works. Reum was celebrating his birthday at their home.
“We wanted to have an event at the Tree House Studio for some family fun,” said Leedahl, “and it was also close to Mark’s birthday, so having this concert was kind of his gift.”
At 5 p.m., guests began to arrive at the pavilion and take their seats to enjoy the concert. Although the air was humid, and as the evening went on, mosquitos came out for their dinner, nothing stopped Gentry Bronson from performing his concert where he grew up, right here in central Minnesota, just outside of St. Joseph.
“It feels so good to be back home to perform to such a great bunch of people,” Bronson said just before his first song, “I think it’s going to be a great night.”
Being back for his concert gave Bronson a chance to tell some of his story. Bronson’s life has been filled with music and performing. Born in Bemidji, Bronson spent the first few years of his life living out of a Volkswagen van with his mother and father, a Vietnam veteran. Eventually the family settled into an old farm house just outside of St. Joseph.
When Bronson was 5, he began playing piano and making up his own songs. “I could just sit down and write songs all day,” said Bronson.
Both of Bronson’s grandmothers played the piano, and his grandfather was a swing dancer. Even with the family talent, however, Bronson’s musical skills were a surprise to his parents, so they decided to move an old upright bar piano into the house for him to play.
Before the age of 15, Bronson won five statewide MMTA awards and performed in front of thousands of people on several occasions. After he finished high school, Bronson worked and traveled through many areas until he ended up in Seattle and later relocated to San Francisco. Later, Bronson moved to Prague in the Czech Republic and became involved with the Prague music and art scene.
After returning to San Francisco, Bronson finished his Bachelor of Arts degree at New College of California. He still lives in San Francisco, performing for large audiences. Bronson writes and performs his own songs of the indie rock genre, and he is known for his moving ballads and photographic epics in which he performs about the places he has been and the things he has experienced.
“You can be controlled by a lot of things,” said Bronson, “I believe it is important to overcome the demons in your life, and that is the main theme of my music.”
Some of the songs performed by Bronson included works about his life in Minnesota, as well as the things he experienced while working in the music scene in Prague. Along with Bronson, some of the other performers on Saturday night included Bruce Kurnow, from Minneapolis, who flew in from California; and Mike Sharp, Gary Dockendorf and Christopher Laumb of the Minnesota band, “Cannery Row.”
Besides Bronson’s concert, The Tree House Studio has not had any other major events. However, there are many other things offered at the Tree House Studio. Located in Avon at Mark and Jackie’s home, the studio offers classes on the arts, creativity, the outdoors, human well-being and family education. Leedahl herself even teaches classes in the studio, and many other people around the Avon and St. Joseph area also teach classes with Leedahl.
“We aren’t sure yet if there will be any more events at the Tree House Studio Pavilion,” said Leedahl, “This was mostly a present for Mark, but there may be more events.”