Big Turn Music Fest Inaugural Year a Success

A Photographer’s Recap

Bob Good, photos by Bob Good

I recently took my cameras up to Red Wing, Minn. for a weekend to capture images of the first ever Big Turn Music Fest. This two-day fest held endless photo opportunities with a total of 18 venues and 105 bands. While I didn’t even come close to seeing half the bands, I did manage to visit every venue including the legendary Sheldon Theatre, the historic St. James Hotel, Amtrak Depot, several bars, Elks Club, bookstores, and even watched a drum circle in the public library.

I was a little skeptical about how well a walking-tour music fest would do in February in the Midwest, especially in its inaugural year. Yet, this event was clearly a success, as several acts had no problem filling rooms to capacity. Everything was in a three-block area so walking from one venue to another wasn’t a problem.

There were a variety of acts from folk to rock to reggae, and from bands to solo acts like that of Sam Brown. Brown provided some groovy tunes on a unique rectangular guitar to accompany a full room of yogis at the YMCA on Saturday afternoon. His performance was one of my favorites from the fest. I got to see a few familiar favorites from La Crosse – TUGG, Porcupine, Midwest Voltage, and the Old Fashioneds. Porcupine headlined at Sheldon Theatre Friday night where I got a few snaps of Caroline Smith earlier that day.


I captured a few creative shots with the cool guys of TUGG before their set at the St. James Hotel. We did one by the front desk that provided a nostalgic background with all the mail slots for every room behind the desk and another with them all peeking out of an elevator. Of course, they put on a great show that night.

A band I hadn’t seen before, Busey, had the metal intensity I’d expect to hear at the Warehouse Alliance, Brickhouse, or Cavalier Theater in La Crosse, yet they killed it onstage at the Elks Club where I’d had pancakes for breakfast earlier that day. I suspect there were several amazing acts I never got to see.

Sam Brown is the dreamer of this event who worked with a close crew for about six months and had about 120 volunteers involved. Sam was also a key originator of the Mid West Music Fest in Winona. It was quite clear Red Wing wanted this event with so many establishments that typically never have live music such as Red Wing Bicycle Co. & Outfitter, Red Wing Framing and Fine Art Printing, 17th Street (which is actually a clothing and home store on 3rd Street), and Rivertown Comics and Games. Throughout the downtown area, the town capitalized on 1,600 folks in attendance by offering discounts to anyone wearing fest wristbands.

I had a blast taking some snaps and look forward to returning to this cool event next year!
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Sam Brown stands center in red.
Sam Brown stands center in red.