Northern Shoveler at Big Turn Music Fest

Friday | February 16 | 6:00-6:45pm
Seventeen Street | Red Wing

Jim Armstrong grew up hearing Burl Ives, Harry Belafonte and Simon and Garfunkel on the family record player. He briefly played in a high school bluegrass trio (which required him to learn four chords on a cheap guitar) and sang occasionally in coffee house gigs during college. Decades later, he inherited a Gibson guitar from his Kentucky grandfather and found himself singing the folk songs he grew up with to his children. As a poet and teacher of creative writing, he grew interested in the craft of song writing, and in 2016 received a Southeast MN Arts Council grant to write a song cycle about his grandfather’s hard times in pre-war America. The resulting new songs debuted last spring in a successful “Ohio Blues” concert with his daughter Pippa and other guest musicians. Since then, he says, “the songs just keep on coming.”

As a young kid, Scott Lowery tagged along with his grandpa to a going-out-of-business sale at a neighborhood record store, and came home with piles of dusty 78 rpm albums: Kid Ory, Art Tatum, Spike Jones, Duke Ellington. Scott’s been digging among the roots of American music ever since. Besides early country and blues, he loves Appalachian ballads, Irish tunes, and New Orleans second line and R&B. Scott is a charter member of the Beef Slough Boys and Turkey Creek, a former DJ at Fresh Air Radio KFAI in the Twin Cities, and coordinator for the monthly Second Sunday Acoustic Jam in Winona.

Jim and Scott first played music together when Turkey Creek helped out on a community event that Jim was curating in support of endangered pollinators. Their duo work solidified when Scott signed on to help out with Jim’s “Ohio Blues” song-writing grant. Working on the project, Jim and Scott noticed that their Gibson guitars (vintage 1946 and 1963 respectively) seemed to speak the same language. Moving forward as Northern Shovelers, they plan to keep digging deeply into the everyday muck of life, looking for truth, justice and a bite to eat.

Scott Lowery is a member of the River Arts Alliance. To learn more about the benefits of membership, please visit:


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