On the road: Erik Koskinen brings Grand Oak Opry to Rochester

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The Grand Oak Opry is hitting the road with Erik Koskinen.

The backyard concert series is leaving its namesake home venue in St. Paul for an outdoor, backyard concert in Rochester Saturday.

Koskinen, on the heels of a well-received new album, is headlining the concert.

"He was just a perfect combination," said Sean Kershaw, who booked Koskinen for the event. "He knew us, he’s a great performer, he wants this model to work."

The singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has released four of his own albums, but has also recorded with artists ranging from Trampled By Turtles to The Waifs, The Lowest Pair, The 4ontheFloor, and other projects.


His Americana and blues rock album "Big Plane" has garnered favorable reviews nationwide.

Dave Wilson, frontman of Root River Jam, is playing double duty as opener and concert host on the night of music.

Kershaw established the Grand Oak Opry backyard concert series in 2014. Sponsors cover some of the costs while all proceeds from the shows go to the artists. More than 6,300 people have attended the shows. They’ve also contributed $55,000 in support to the musicians playing them.

The model is much like a house concert — a popular and growing trend of hosting small concerts in private homes. The venue is welcoming and laid-back, and the performances are more intimate.

"Bars can get loud and people talk over stuff," Kershaw said.

Kershaw and his husband, Tim Hawkins, decided the area under a 225-year-old oak tree in the backyard of their home in the West Seventh neighborhood of St. Paul would be a good concert spot – hence the name.

"There’s this weird thing that happens when people experience music together in an outside venue," Kershaw said.

The concert series has received support from sponsors, artists and their neighbors, Kershaw said.


"Part of the model that’s surprised us is how it’s become a community event," he said.

Mother nature has also cooperated so far.

"We haven’t had to cancel a show due to weather," Kershaw said. "We never take the neighbors or the weather for granted."

Wilson’s home also has an oak tree in the backyard. Kershaw said that’s a coincidence, and wasn’t a prerequisite for hosting the show.

Kershaw said he hopes to expand the series into other Minnesota towns and cities. He said Rochester was a good first choice. The Jive Mill, Root River Jam and sponsors Thesis Beer Project, Minnwest Bank and the Solar Connection made it possible.

However, so did Rochester’s music scene, Kershaw added.

"There’s a great music scene in Rochester," he said. "There are some really unique artists, musicians and people there."


What: Grand Oak Opry Presents Erik Koskinen in Rochester

When: 7-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31

Where: 6513 W River Rd. NW, Rochester

Cost: $10 donation/adult requested

Erik Koskinen

Related Topics: MUSIC
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