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Chatfield hosts intimate performance


Fri, Feb 7th, 2014
Posted in Chatfield Arts & Culture

Area residents were privileged guests at an intimate evening with artists Billy Dean and Dan Mahar on Saturday, February 1, 2014. The performance was for the most part acoustic with Dan playing some electric guitar during the show.

While spending time with the artists on the stage of the empty Potter Auditorium the afternoon of their concert, we reflected on family, life on the road, and inspiration, among other things.

As Billy Dean sat Indian-style in his stocking feet, he opened up about how important his family is and how proud he is of them. His wife, Stephanie, runs Dean Acres, which is their home as well as where concerts and special events are held throughout the year. Dean Acres is located one hour east of Nashville, Tenn.

He is also very proud of his children, Hannah, age 19, who is attending college to be a nurse and son Eli, age 20, who is also in college studying business marketing. Both Eli and Hannah play music, but only for fun.

When asked what kind of music Dean and Mahar listen to during their time off, they both stated that they don’t really listen to a lot of music as they are busy doing other things. Dan said that if he wants to write a certain type of song, he may listen to songs in that genre to put him in the mood to write.

“Inspiration for writing songs can come from anywhere,” stated Mahar, saying he can get inspired even from a line he hears on television. Dan stated, “You kind of have to be a voyeur and watch people and then write something that makes sense to everyone.” Both men have been able to do this successfully. Billy Dean laughed and said his inspiration comes from “college tuition” showing his ever present sense of humor.

The two artists draw the audiences in with their meaningful ballads, fun tunes, and some blues thrown in as well. There are heartfelt moments during the show in between funny stories and jokes that both of the men share. During one particular song Billy Dean pretended to be a man on the phone with his wife saying, “I promise I was only out ice fishing” and of course, “There is no phone reception on the lake,” which ties the joke to our area and caused chuckles and outright laughter throughout the crowd.

With no large band backing them up and all of the production that encompasses many concerts, the smaller, more personal setting of the Potter Auditorium is perfect for enjoying the pure talent of the duo without the typical fanfare.

The emotion poured out to those attending as songs such as “If There Hadn’t Been You” and “It’s What I Do” by Billy Dean warmed hearts and Dan Mahar’s tune “Ruthless” got people fired up.

When asked if the crowds have changed over the years, Billy Dean said that the audiences are a mixture of young and old. Mahar stated that he doesn’t feel that the media has as large of an influence as it used to, explaining that in the past people listened to what the radio told them was good. With modern technology people can decide for themselves what is good and “the audiences are there because they want to be there.”

After years of touring together with Mahar being lead guitar player in Dean’s band “The Regulators,” Mahar left the band in 1995. The two artists missed playing music together and Billy said “It’s become an annual trip up here for us.” Until January 17, 2014 they hadn’t played together for a year.

The two played in Luverne, Minn. the night before arriving in Chatfield and then were moving on to St. Paul, to perform at Creek House Concerts in St. Paul, Minn. on February 2, 2014. According to its website, Creek House Concerts is “part art gallery and part sonically wonderful listening room,” which is excellent for many types of entertainment. More information can be found about Creek House Concerts at www.creekhouseconcerts.com and on facebook.com/Creek-House-Concerts.

Both artists enjoy the beauty of the Fillmore County area during all times of the year. Mahar enjoys pheasant hunting and fishing in the area and when asked if he had any good local fishing holes, he replied, “None I’m going to share.”

As we talked, I mentioned that there are quite a few Norwegians in this area and asked if either of them had ever tried lefse. Mahar said, “I married a Norwegian girl from South Dakota” and stated he has lefse at Christmas and tops it with cream cheese and strawberry preserves, “kind of like a crepe” he explained. Billy Dean stated he had never tried lefse before.

As Mahar and I continued talking, Dean laid down on the stage on his back, playing guitar and said, “I’m writing a song right now while you guys are talking.” I asked, “Is the song about lefse?” to which Mahar replied, “He has to try it before he can write a song about it.” Then asked, “Can you find some for us?” With many thanks to Dick and Camille Jeffers, of Chatfield, I delivered lefse with butter and brown sugar to Billy and Dan. Possibly next time they are in town they will sing a song about lefse!

When not on the road Billy Dean stays busy with Dean Acres where Billy’s Birthday Bash will take place April 25, and 26, 2014. Tickets can be purchased on www.deanacres.com. Dean will then be performing 106 concerts this summer at the Starlite Theatre in Branson, Miss.

Mahar gives guitar lessons to children and adults when he is home in South Dakota, which he finds very rewarding. One of his students, a 19 year-old girl, is also a very good singer and has put out a record and video and has people interested in working with her. Mahar is happy to have a small part in that.

The concert was a fundraiser for the Chatfield Center for the Arts (CCA), and with very few empty seats in Chatfield’s Potter Auditorium the residents of Fillmore County have shown their appreciation for both of these talented down to earth performers and songwriters as well as showing their support for the Chatfield Center for the Arts (CCA) and the impressive talent brought to Potter Auditorium.

For more information on the Chatfield Center for the Arts go to chatfieldcfa.com.

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