Monday night’s Music in the Park heated up at Minnehaha Park with performances by the School of Rock’s elite Road Crew band, Student Records featured artist F.A., IPR students collaborating to create Midwest-Konnect, and headliner Rhymesayers recording artist, Toki Wright. Special guest performances included faculty member Walter Chancellor (saxophone), as well as current students: Will Hensley (guest DJ), and Louis Byrd (co-emcee) rounded out the night. Student Advisory Board members worked hard to keep the energy up and the crowd cool. Free water and granola bars were given out courtesy of IPR to all who attended as well as chips and guacamole, provided by courtesy of Chipotle.
The School of Rock opened the show with a bang; covering everything from Heart to Janis Joplin. A round-robin of performances showcased all 17 members of the Road Crew (ages 12 – 18) who form a special group of musicians selected to perform on the road – including a female bass guitarist, several vocalists and ample rockers. Their stage presence and enthusiasm was a great kick-off to the event!
Mid-west Konnect’s performance by IPR’s very own Elliot LeMons and Mychal Fisher with DJ Mello J, Jackson Thompson, proved they are up-and-comers to the hip-hop scene with their Cali-meets-Indiana vibe. Mychal’s beats and remixes (ala Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) never let the crowd down and there is always much anticipation for what he will offer up from one performance to the next. The lyrical content of this dynamic duo kept the audience captivated from beginning to end.
Keeping the energy going between sets, Student Advisory Board member Will Hensley (guest Deejay) dropped some beats for the crowd throughout the event. Three local ACME Comedy Club comedians (Kurt, Eric and Joe) worked the crowd for laughs while the Student Advisory Board members continued to pass out ice cold water to keep everyone cool and hydrated. Emcee Erica West announced the evening’s Twitter contest winner, Luke Young (first quarter student) who went home with a $100 IPR café gift card! Next up on stage was Student Run Record’s 2008 Liberian Artist of the Year award recipient, F.A. The group’s fusion of urban and R&B influences showcased the diverse range of talents from band members Matthew Brannigan on drums (Valedictorian, 2010 spring quarter), Ryan Kulka on keys (IPR Admissions Rep), Ry Dill on bass, (IPR student) and F.A. The soulful lyrics and melodies were well-deserving of the crowd’s praise.
The evening’s headliner, Toki Wright (Rhymesayers Entertainment), captivated and connected with the audience through his socially charged lyrics, fist-pumping beats and high-energy performance. His stage presence and social activism shined through to the crowd. His following among the Twin Cities urban music scene was evident as the event drew to a close and the crowd rushed to the stage to join Toki for the final countdown of his performance. Certainly, this won’t be the last we hear from Toki…
IPR’s Music in the Park was a huge success thanks to all those who attended. From Chipotle’s donation of fresh chips and guacamole, to Minnehaha Park and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation for hosting the evening, it was a great night for music. The event ran seamlessly thanks to the hard work of the Student Advisory Board. Thanks as well to the talented Tom Colvin (sound engineer and IPR alumni) of the Minneapolis Parks and Rec Staff for all of his live sound expertise! Finally, a special thank you goes out to all the night’s performances by all the artists of School of Rock, F.A., Midwest Konnect, and Toki Wright; it proved to be a memorable event for all!