Barb Ryman will perform in the final concert of the 2011-2012 series on Friday, April 20, at the Chatfield Center for the Arts. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Barb Ryman will perform in the final concert of the 2011-2012 series on Friday, April 20, at the Chatfield Center for the Arts. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Good music will be brewing this spring as Chatfield once again presents the Chosen Bean Concert Series. Two performances will be held within the next few months, featuring a double feature of sorts with two young men on March 31 and then a female vocalist on April 20.

The "Chosen Bean Concert Series" was started in the summer of 2011 when a couple of ex-patrons of the Chosen Bean Coffee House decided it was time to bring folk music back to Chatfield, explained Tom Hilgren, one of the concert series organizers.

"The Chosen Bean Coffee House, formerly located on Main Street and owned by Doug and Rita Connolly, provided high quality folk music for several years in the late 1990s," he added.

Now, the collection of folk music concerts brewing are held at the Chatfield Center for the Arts, the former Chosen Valley Elementary School building on Main Street in Chatfield.

"When the American Legion Room in the Chatfield Center for the Arts was suggested as a possible venue for a new venture into folk music, it seemed that the time was right to start the series," Hilgren continued.

The concert series features artists well known on the folk music circuits, encompassing all tenets of the musical genre.

"Our first concert series included three musicians that were familiar to past patrons of the Chosen Bean Coffee House. Karl Burke filled the room with his rich baritone for our inaugural concert in September. Laurie McClain's sweet but edgy voice commanded the audience's attention in October. In November, street musician extraordinaire Jerry Rau, accompanied by a fiddle and guitar - in addition to playing guitar himself - mesmerized the crowd with his tales of nearly 50 years of playing folk music."

Audiences had the option of purchasing a membership to the three-concert series, though Hilgren related that "anyone can attend the concerts and purchase a ticket on the evening of the performance."

Memberships cover the costs of all three concerts, provide free coffee to members and allow people the opportunity to support folk music, the arts in general and the Center for the Arts, he explained.

"Using a phrase from Karl Burke, one of our early musicians, we are 'building community through folk music'."

He continued, "The audience slowly grew throughout the fall series. Our winter series started with a bang in January when the folk trio BLT played on the Saturday evening of Chill Fest. Nearly 70 people filled the American Legion Room to hear the entertaining trio playing both covers and originals. Then, in early March, Neal and Leandra captivated the crowd with their wit and beautiful harmonies. This was the first of what we hope are many sold-out concerts. Most of the 90 members of the audience left that evening with a grin a mile wide and humming their most memorable song of the evening."

Before the summer arrives and fills the art center's calendar, the organizers have planned a final concert set for the venue, beginning the end of this month with local entertainers. "A special concert has been added to our series on Saturday, March 31. Two young musicians with a connection to the Chatfield community, Patrick Finnegan and Ben Mesick, will each play an hour-long set beginning at 7:30," noted Hilgren.

According to the Chosen Bean Concert Series website, "Mesick is a Chatfield native and progressive melodic metal instrumentalist. Finnegan is an amateur Indie, folk-rock, progressive rock musician and songwriter working out of a small sonic laboratory that doubles as a bedroom."

Hilgren stated, "A large crowd is expected, so if you plan on attending, come early - doors open at 6:45 p.m., and they'll play from 7:30 until 9:30."

He added, "Tickets for this show are only $5 and Chosen Bean members are admitted free as part of their memberships. There'll be snacks and beverages available."

The final regular concert of the 2011-2012 series will be held on Friday, April 20, noted Hilgren.

"Barb Ryman's beautiful voice will grace our presence with original songs about family, social issues and her journey through life," he explained. "This concert is replacing the previously scheduled April 28 concert of Johnsmith. John's business partner passed away, so John was forced to cancel and focus his attention on his tours to Ireland. He assured us, however, he would make every effort to play here next spring."

Hilgren added that the area residents are very fortunate to have been able to bring in someone with songs and a voice as beautiful as Barb Ryman's. Reviews of Ryman's music include those from Dirty Linen magazine, which stated, "Barb Ryman proves herself a strong vocalist, talented composer and an astutely irreverent student of the human condition."

The Sioux Falls, S.D., Argus Leader, cited, "Her voice is like a soft haunt from a ghost just stopping by to give you a gentle massage. But while the spirit may visit only temporarily, the feel stays with you for days."

Ryman will perform from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., and tickets for her show are $15, available at the door, if one does not have a Bean membership. Coffeehouse concessions will be available for purchase. More information and music are available on Ryman's website at

The Bean series already has an impressive queue of musicians set to take the stage this fall.

"Next fall, Karl Burke will return to begin our second season," Hilgren continued. "With a significant increase in membership and some turnover, only a handful of members had the chance to see Karl last fall. Our October concert features Bill and Kate Isles, who hail from the North Shore of Minnesota. Their repertoire will include numerous songs about the cabin 'up north' and what is quintessentially Minnesotan. Finally, our November concert figures to be a hot ticket when Peter Mayer, a fabulous finger-style guitarist and singer, poet and philosopher takes the stage. Peter travels nation-wide and we are quite pleased that he would choose to play one of his concerts in Chatfield."

The series' creators are pleased to have to make just a little extra room for more people in each audience. "Our crowds have continued to grow throughout the five concerts that we have had, culminating with the full house for Neal and Leandra. We intend on keeping the concerts in the American Legion Room because of the intimate setting and lively acoustics that would be lost in the much larger venue of Potter Auditorium. Our memberships and subscriptions grew by 50 percent from the fall to the winter and spring concert series, so each concert is more than half sold out before we even put tickets on sale to the general public - we encourage anyone who would like a fall 2012 membership to go to our website for more information."

Best yet, the Bean's folk music happens thanks to volunteers, according to Hilgren, who said, "All work that goes into setting up, marketing, maintaining our webpage, selling tickets, concessions and breaking down the room is done by volunteers. All profits go back into bringing high quality folk musicians to our stage."

He concluded, "Participation in the concert series is a great way to spend an evening. Concerts begin at 7:30 and generally end around 9:30. Come early and enjoy the concessions and good conversation!"

More information about upcoming concerts and series memberships can be found at, or to ask questions, one may email Tom Hilgren at Chatfield Center for the Arts is located at 405 Main St. S., Chatfield.