Issue 02:18 - GRAND Lifestyle magazine

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Unexpected // An Downtown Oasis


And Bites // Wine Paired To This Place


Like // Train A Pro


REMEMBER ISSUE 2 2018 Printed in USA

Sought-after wedding and event expert Sadie Gardner explains the must-haves for any memorable gathering BBI INTERNATIONAL P U B L I C AT I O N

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ISSUE 2 //

features SHOP & STYLE //

10 POWER OF THE PURSE These women founders of a custom handbag company based in Grand Forks will leave you in awe of their can-do attitudes and impressive purse-linked visions.

52 SURROUNDED BY STYLE Sadie Gardner, the founder of a sought-after loral and event design company, explains the elements necessary for a great event.




18 PAIRED TO THE PLACE Mike Schepp has turned Helix Wine & Bites into an impressive place for wine, ine food and storytelling.

28 TRAIN LIKE A PRO Behind the scenes of the elite-level training facility serving Olympic athletes and the rest of us from the same facility.


36 INSIDE THE STUDIO John Campbell is a commercial photographer that’s found his way after embracing the region. He’s renovated a irehall into a unique studio as his creative reach continues to grow.

62 IN THE MOMENT WITH PAINT THE TOWN Technically savvy and uniquely talented. Day-jobs and kids. Studio sounds and the classics. Paint The Town plays pulls-off complex set lists that many confuse for the radio. Learn what inspires them, and what they can teach all of us.



From a live-edge wood slab to a custom table worthy of a high-end custom home, these modern-day wood experts are giving the region a new opportunity.

58 DOWNTOWN OASIS With the help of expert designers, carpenters and unexpected new family members, John Thelen has turned a long-time law of ice into a downtown Grand Forks dream space.




Details From The Issue What’s the best story you’ve ever heard or read?

If you are like me, you ind the question nearly impossible to answer. But, when you hear that question, you are also looded with images and smells and sounds and details from a handful of stories that have always stuck with you. You often remember little things, and sometimes, odd things. From this issue of GRAND, I’ll personally remember several story details: the pink butter ly iPhone case used by John Thelen, (Downtown Oasis, page 58), the feel of rough grain wood on live-edge slabs (Meet The Head Sawdust Makers, page 42), Meredith Larson's honesty (Train Like A Pro, page 28), and, the overwhelming sparkliness (I know it’s not a real word, but after being there you’d understand) of Sadie Gardner’s event business headquarters (Surrounded By Style, page 52). In this issue of GRAND, we worked hard to provide you with the type of images, descriptions and detail that makes for a story worth rereading or repeating. Our goal—in case this is your irst time reading our pages—is to provide the greater Grand Cities region (East, West, North and a little bit South) with memorable, meaningful and informative stories on any of the following: Home and Design, Eat and Drink, Shop and Style, Arts and Culture, Outdoors, and Health and Fitness. We are a lifestyle magazine at heart. We didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. We simply tried, and will continue to do so, to bring you inspiring content about your everyday life. People familiar with our team often ask if we fear that someday we’ll run out of content that will match our editorial focus. Although I do understand the question due to the geographic footprint that our focus is governed by, I would argue our answer will never be that, "Yes, we do fear we'll run out." Think of it like Paint The Town, the incredibly talented and inspiring band we pro iled for this issue. They are able to achieve pure music-infused self-fulillment by combining their talent, passion, work ethic and an internal need for a certain type of accomplishment they can only get from playing a gig—even if they have snow to shovel, day-jobs and other duties not conducive to rocking out. Most on our team can’t Luke Geiver play a lick of music, but when it comes to content, rest assured we EDITOR won’t run out of GRAND stories because we live for this and are GRAND Lifestyle magazine committed to inding and bringing you the next great piece. Enjoy the issue, share it with friends, and, let us know what your favorite images, smells, sounds or details from this issue were. 6

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GRAND LIFESTYLE TEAM CEO Joe Bryan President Tom Bryan

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Editor Luke Geiver Art Director Jaci Satterlund Marketing & Sales Director John Nelson Circulation Manager Copy Editor Jessica Tiller Marketing & Advertising Manager Marla DeFoe Account Manager Dayna Bastian

SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscriptions to GRAND Lifestyle magazine are free of charge to everyone, with the exception of a yearly shipping and handling charge. To subscribe, visit or you can send your mailing address and payment (checks made out to BBI International) to: GRAND Lifestyle magazine/Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203.

REPRINTS AND BACK ISSUES Select back issues are available for $3.95 each, plus shipping. Article reprints are also available for a fee. For more information, contact us at 866-746-8385 or

ADVERTISING GRAND Lifestyle magazine provides a specific topic delivered to a highly targeted audience. We are committed to editorial excellence and high-quality print production. To find out more about GRAND Lifestyle magazine advertising opportunities, please contact us at 866-746-8385 or

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR We welcome letters to the editor. If you write us, please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity and/or space. Send to GRAND Lifestyle magazine/Letters, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203 or email to


MANSTROM PHOTOGRAPHY Jeremy and Jaime Manstrom need little direction. That is a good thing. The talented and creative couple shot Surrounded By Style guided by their own vision for Sadie Gardner and her space. The images will make you smile, which is partly why we put one of them on the cover. //

MELQUIST PHOTOGRAPHY Sam Melquist worked with us again for Issue 2, outdoing his images from Issue 1. Melquist pulls out an undeniable richness in his shots and his subjects. //

RUSS HONS PHOTOGRAPHY We could not have found a better collaborator than Hons for the Train Like A Pro shoot. An experienced and gifted photographer with an ability to capture movement and emotion, Hons excelled. From his belly, he captured a unique shot for the Downtown Oasis story that shows John Thelen, former UND basketball player shooting hoops with his newly adopted grandkid. //

COPYRIGHT Š 2018 by BBI International


Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts or samples before recycling


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PURSE Meet the fearless founders of Pursey, a Grand Forksbased custom handbag design company that is working to change the way we view the world.


The Rebel labeled handbag retails for $350-plus and features high-end Italian leather, internal fabric and a unique chain design that allows for flexible use. PHOTO: MELQUIST PHOTOGRAPHY



“A woman carries her world in her handbag.�

Jeni Kurtyka (professional hair stylist), Randi Larson (business owner) and Holly Foltz (business manager and artist) pose for photos with their new purses at a shoot in Sky's Fine Dining. PHOTO: MELQUIST PHOTOGRAPHY



Those are the words shared by three lifelong friends from Grand Forks who have altered their lives forever by designing, manufacturing and bringing to market two unique products. One is called the March On. The other is known as the Rebel. Both products, plainly described as sleek yet sophisticated and simple but still edgy, are made at a specialty manufacturing shop in New York City that is linked to some of the biggest names in fashion. Earlier this year, the New York facility responsible for making the March On and the Rebel created other handbags for attendees of the Grammys (fully equipped with built-in speakers). Through their cleverly functional, yet uniquely stylish design, the Grand Forks-linked founders of Pursey (early on they used the name Pursey Posse) have created

Elements Of Pursey

Every style can be worn different ways. Each piece is constructed from Italian leather, has a fabric liner and is “sophisticated with a touch of edge,” Kurtyka says. The cat ears are a nod to the company’s name, their belief in personal empowerment and a shout-out to the three founders that made a dream a wearable reminder of a dream come true. Through talks with their New York City manufacturer, the team was able to add custom hardwear and zipper pulls. The chain is designed to be used multiple ways: around the waist, over the shoulder or across the chest.


Growing up working in her mother’s flower-shop, Larson always enjoyed pursuing creative elements. Inspired to always figure-out how things work, she helped spearhead the early prototypes. Working to build Pursey has helped her find a part of herself she only had when she was younger.

“I’ve always been creative and artistic,” Kurtyka says. A 16-year hair stylist by trade, she is a married Grand Forks mother of three that now finds it hard to leave her house without one of her handbags.




A business manager for a metalsmith and designer, Foltz has built a career in the arts after attending the University of North Dakota for art and art history. She’s sold paintings and other art installations, including shoes for Ms. North Dakota. “I always wanted to be a fashion designer,” she says.


a new existence within the fashion design world and transformed their general outlook on life. And, through the names of their irst two products, the March On and the Rebel, all three of the founders believe they’ve revealed in themselves an empowered, inspired and fearless attitude that they hope others will use—or wear.

Designing A New Life In their short span as an active company, Holly Foltz says what they’ve given up pursuing their creative aspirations with Pursey has been insigni icant in comparison to what they’ve gained. Each has built a successful career outside of fashion, but from the moment the trio irst began loosely talking about the Pursey concept, all three say they’ve felt and acted with a new energy they never want to be without again. Lifelong friends, all three have spent many nights brainstorming options that would allow the trio to work together on a creative business. In the past, the trio has explored other artistic business ventures, from shirt-making to custom art. “When the idea of Pursey came it was at a time when none of us were feeling strong or empowered,” Foltz says. “When we started doing this it just felt so good.” In early 2016, the three attended the Women’s March in part to support others there who had also survived or experienced sexual assault.



Standing amongst the crowd of women, each noted the need for a handbag that could be worn around the waist. Guided by a simple design concept and an unrelenting hint of purse enthusiasm, the trio returned intent on exploring the possibilities of creating a prototype. “We wanted to bridge high-end fashion into a waist handbag,” Jeni Kurtyka says. “None of us could shake the idea.” Larson spent a weekend reverse engineering a purse, inding fabric and sewing a purse to her own design at her Minneapolis home. Although she was happy with the end-result, she and the others knew they would be limited in their purse visions by their self-admitted sewing limitations. Holly Foltz, a professional artist by trade, pushed the others to ind a manufacturer. “It didn’t make sense to us to get a manufacturer,” Kurtyka says. “The idea just seemed impossible, but Foltz always knew we needed one.” After exploring regional options for their multifeature functional purse design, they settled on a New York-based maker. “We got the guts to call them up,” Larson says, “and then we got the guts to go visit them in New York.” Unlike other manufacturing facilities, the Pursey option provides product and material sourcing, has patterning options and helps in creating an ef icient and effective production construction process. The visit to NYC helped educate the team on the fashion manufacturing process, and, it inspired without deterring their vision, Kurtyka says. “We didn’t even know the names of the items we needed for the purses before we went there,” Foltz says. Following a two-and-a-half-hour session with the manufacturers learning about their services and capabilities, the team was quickly up to speed and had plans in place to start a production run. “They told us we were like a breath of fresh air,” Foltz says, adding that the NYC 16


crew asked if all North Dakotan’s were as pleasant, easy going and fun. Later that year, the team built a website, held a photoshoot to showcase their purses and ran a kickstarter campaign. To date, more than 50 purses have been pre-sold and the team has held pop-up-shop sessions and showcased their products throughout Minneapolis and the region. “People were stopping us to take pictures of the purses,” Larson says. Energized by the early success and growing following they’ve created on social media, the team is already considering the wholesale market and how they can distribute their products on a larger scale. The venture has been self-funded by the team, Foltz says, an element of their story they are proud of. “We didn’t think of starting this and pursuing it the way we did but we were able to igure it out.” In the future, the trio isn’t opposed to outside investment or collaboration. Regardless of how large the Pursey becomes, all three stress a takeaway they hope women or men can see from their venture. To hold a product designed with the help of her sister and friend, one that featured meaningful elements and purpose, Kurtyka says she only had to give up the notion that she wasn’t capable or quali ied or good enough to make something to the success and scale of Pursey. “Once I igured that out,” she says, “I’ve gained so much.” For Larson, the Pursey venture has had unintended consequences. “This is the irst time this past year that I’ve felt like me again. In fact, this is the new me and I really like her. She is not going away.” And like her co-founders, Foltz is wearing a new outlook on life even if she doesn’t have a Rebel at her side. “I’ve come alive and I didn’t know that this was possible,” she says. “Regardless of what happens or who buys a purse, this is beyond successful.” G



Paired to the Place 18


Once a 660-square-foot niche wine bar, Helix Wine & Bites has relocated, and evolved into a communityfocused space for highend food, world-class wine (you’ve probably never heard of) and a setting for great stories.



'I always wanted my wine selection to be the highlight of what we did at Helix.' Mike Schepp


Mike Schepp hosts a massive story library in his South Grand Forks commercial space. To acquire them, he’s

traveled the world, visiting Italy, France or California with friends and family. Titles in his collection range from, The Executioner, to, McBlack’s Concoction, to an offering simply called, 1,000 Stories. Schepp’s stories, as he often refers to them, are best experienced from the glass. Founder of a boutique restaurant and wine bar, Schepp is passionate about maintaining and growing a unique list of wines (and now food offerings) his patrons would most likely never recognize outside his walls. “I always wanted my wine selection to be the highlight of what we did at Helix,” he says. “I’ve always liked wine. It always seems like if you open a bottle it is with friends and you share stories.” Since opening, relocating and adding to his vision for Helix Wine & Bites, Schepp has always worked to infuse his understanding of wine—from a $10 bottle Article continued on page 23 //


The Art Of Suggesting Pairings The most frequent question Schepp encounters is what type of wine should be paired with the food options his chef concocts. Schepp follows a basic set of guidelines. 1. Don’t shock someone. Choosing or suggesting wine that is similar to what a wine patron already enjoys is the best place to start. 2. What goes together, grows together. Schepp always suggests choosing a wine based on the activities and agriculture of a region.



High-End Wine, Low Prices To give his patrons the ability to expand their wine pallets, Schepp has installed a wine station. “People want to try different wines but they don’t want to risk paying for a high-dollar bottle they don’t enjoy,” he says. Enter the wine station. For $1.50, a patron can choose from a variety of high-dollar wines. The wine station allows a user to select a wine and the volume (typically 1 to 6 ounces) to find out if they like the product. “With the station you can try what an $85 bottle tastes like for less than $5.” -Wines in the station are preserved for long periods using argon gas. The presence of the gas—which acts like a floating cork—eliminates the chance for oxygen to enter the bottle and turn the wine into vinegar. When activated, the wine enters the glass through a system that eliminates the floating cork gas from the liquid.


Meaning in the space To make the setting interesting and appealing, Schepp drew from his regional connections and global experiences. He wanted a space that mimicked the small, out-of-the way places he visited that left a lasting impression. Working with his family and designers, he was able to include multiple features that held significance. The bar was made from a Grand Forks woodworking venture. Barnwood on the North wall came from a location just outside of Gilby, North Dakota. Some of the lights in the facility were sourced from the Gilby City Hall. The massive, long dining table centered in the restaurant was a node to Schepp’s travels in Europe tasting wine. “Every place I went to there had a community table,” he says. A large vintage map highlights a back wall and a wine-based art installation helps to showcase the centerpiece of the space.



Food worthy of the wine Although Helix started as a wine bar and light-appetizers only facility back in 2015, much has changed. After relocating, Schepp listened to his loyal following and added a more expansive menu. To do it, Schepp brought in a friend and recognized chef. The chef has worked at the Aspen Food Festival and at finedining facilities in Milwaukee and Chicago. “He has a great idea of what people are looking for,” Schepp says. “He comes up with many new ideas that people have fallen in love with.” Like the wine list, the food menu is unique, sometimes pleasantly unrecognizable and always updated with new options. And, the presentation of the food is worthy of a high-end establishment. 24 GRAND LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE // ISSUE 2 2018


// Article continued from page 18

or a $100 bottle—into the ambience of his space. The goal is to help people experience and realize new possibilities in day-to-day living, a process that becomes possible, he says, with a great glass from a great label in a great setting.

Wine Stories Are Serious Business Although Schepp has always enjoyed travel and tasting trips, it wasn’t until he got serious about a wine-centric bar that he witnessed the importance of storytelling in the wine production and distribution business. He’s visited several winemaking operations and learned that to be a successful producer, or seller, details can make an economic difference. “The story behind the wine is meaningful,” he says. Small-run vineyards to high-production operations all agonize over the story behind their wines. Details of soil type, sun exposure or secret-production processes passed down from distant uncles are important to wine drinkers. In a space where competition is always increasing, standing out amongst peers is a crucial task. Schepp works with a distributor to choose new varieties based on type, cost and, of course, the story behind the wine. One of his most enjoyable monthly tasks comes during his Helix-organized wine club events. During the events, patrons can pay a small fee to taste ive wines and enjoy entrees. For each wine, the distributor who’s been on-site and visited with the actual winemaker attends the event. During a recent meeting, the club’s evening lasted over two hours because the distributor had so many unique and engaging stories to share about each of the ive wines. “A lot of what we do here is all about community,” he says of the events and his normal business operations. With a product portfolio that features bottles from around the world, Schepp enjoys time reviewing existing bottles or testing new options with his distributors. But, more than three years after irst opening, he still inds his best moments come when he’s at Helix in the evenings. He mingles with neighbors and guests, there to relax or rejoice. He makes and serves drinks or food. He answers questions about the taste and inishes of certain wines, how they pair with certain entrees and if he is lucky, he says, shares the stories of his collection. G



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TRAIN LIKE A PRO The elite training operation that trains NFL draft picks, Olympic-level hockey players, and from its south Grand Forks facility, you.

EXOS is a human performance company that has trained elite NFL athletes, professional tennis players, the entire German national soccer team and a Grand Forks mother of three with a high-pressure, demanding day job. Experts in the itness world have labeled the holistic performance approach developed by EXOS as an elite training operation. The company has major training facilities in L.A., San Diego, Dallas, Pensacola, Florida, and for the past two years, Grand Forks.

Through a partnership with Altru Advanced Orthopedics, EXOS and Altru have formed Sports Advantage—a program that puts performance specialists and sports dietitians into a 5,000-square foot facility illed with top-of-the-line equipment, dedicated training space and a synthetic turf ield. We sat down with participants active in the program (pro and non-pro) and the lead performance specialists to learn why an elite-level training partnership makes sense on the northern plains, why the average Joe should (or needs) to train the Sports Advantage way, and, why an Olympic gold-medal women’s hockey player calls the facility a diamond in the rough.



THE PRO PERSPECTIVE For Lamoureux-Morando, the results of the Sports Advantage system on her body and performance on the ice are easy to recognize. “The improvements I achieved in the last four years were the greatest I’ve ever seen” she says. Since she began training through the EXOS and Altru system, she has improved her vertical by ive inches and reduced her body fat percentage by ive percent. In four of the last ive major hockey tournaments she’s competed in, she has been the leading scorer from the defensive position, an achievement she makes a direct correlation to her training. “I never had an issue with going to the gym and working hard,” she says. Throughout her career in college, to now as a 28-year old three-time Olympian, she has always embraced her time spent off the ice training and conditioning. Shortly after embarking on the EXOS journey, many coaches asked her what she was doing due to the clear improvements she was displaying on and off the ice during training, practice or games. The credit goes to the trainers and the nutritionists that come with the Sports Advantage system, she says. Her breakthroughs were connected to her physical gains. A long-time sufferer from exercise-induced vomiting, she was also able to work with the Sports Advantage staff to help eliminate such issues. Danielle Rancourt, a performance dietitian, devised multiple dietary and training plans for her based on her schedule. During offseason, the workouts were longer (2 hours) and the dietary approach was different than if she was in preparation for a major tournament. Along with her sister, Rancourt was able to help them learn what to eliminate or add to their diets based on speci ic training goals. And, she says, “if the nutritionist didn’t have an answer, she would ind it.” Today, most of her family trains at Sports Advantage. In the 30 GRAND LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE // ISSUE 2 2018

future, she plans to continue utilizing the facility she helped establish. The only issue she does have stems from the reality that the world-class training center and system hasn’t received more attention. “What EXOS and Altru offer is a state-of-the-art system that treats and trains so many different types of people,” she says. “It really is still a diamond- in-the-rough.”

THE ORIGIN OF SPORTS ADVANTAGE The Sports Advantage story is linked to a familiar topic in the region: hockey. Prior to joining with EXOS, Altru offered training options for some of the region’s best professional athletes, including Monique Lamoureux-Morando, the former University of North Dakota Women’s Hockey star that has competed professionally in three Olympics and recently helped the U.S. Women’s team earn a gold medal. Along with her sister, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, also a North Dakota hockey legend and Olympic star from the gold medal winning team, LamoureuxMorando voiced a desire to create a larger training facility with greater capabilities to anyone who would listen. With a team

of Altru executives, the Lamoureux sisters traveled to Phoenix to meet with the EXOS team about the possibility of partnering on a facility in North Dakota. According to Lamoureux-Morando, the EXOS team saw a clear need for its presence in North Dakota after the meetings. The need is due to the area’s support and presence of high-talent hockey, combined with a growing population trending towards greater health and wellness commitments. Today, the Altru facility that is powered by EXOS is available to the region’s best athletes, professional players and anyone else looking to train like a pro thanks in large part to the homegrown world-class hockey athletes.



MOTIVATION THROUGH EDUCATION The Performance Specialists push participants to do the basics savagely well. That is how they describe their approach to basic body movements and the form used to complete basic to dif icult movements. Their goal is to upgrade lives. They put the same effort into their time with non-pros as they do with pros. “We care about our clients,” says Garrett Baker, performance specialist. “We hope they stop by and say hi any time. We aren’t just about a revenue stream.” Baker and Paul Ewbank, Performance Manager, each share a passion for helping people that motivates them to ind ways to communicate effectively with each client to ensure they understand how to improve. Ewbank is a lifelong athlete, coach and one-time drug rehab specialist. Baker is a former collegiate-level football player that suffered two ACL injuries. Each like to apply parts of their background to their communication efforts. For some people, simple cues or motivational prompts during a training session are effective. In other instances, a client needs to understand the mechanics of a move to buy-in to the sweat that comes from performing it. Their efforts in effective communication combined with their knowledge of itness marks the core of the advantage they give clients in training, they believe. “Our main positive is the expertise we have with movement,” Ewbanks says. “It’s not about the fancy tools or equipment we have in the gym.” The entire training staff understands that many non-pro athletes are dealing with physical issues prior to partaking in an EXOS session. “For a lot of adults, it’s not if you are injured, it’s what is injured,” Baker says. The team works with the clients to 32 GRAND LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE // ISSUE 2 2018


ind moves and plans that accommodate for pre-existing conditions. They also offer bridge sessions for new workout participants that aren’t comfortable yet with new movement styles or their immediate itness level. At a higher price tag than a traditional gym membership, the team is quick to point out that the price includes a holistic system that also provides education, insight and monitoring on how to supplement nutrition and how to recover post-workout. “You are investing in yourself if you join us,” the specialists say. “It’s not just about the workouts, you are training your body for a better life.”

THE NON-PRO EXPERIENCE Meredith Larson may not be a decorated, elite-level athlete, but she is inspiring in a different way. A high-energy, hardcore prosecutor that is also a married, mother of three kids and two dogs, Larson’s participation in the Sports Advantage program reveals the impact the program can have. Prior to joining, Larson admits she struggled with body image, eating pattern disorders and exercising at an unhealthy level. Following the birth of her children, Larson struggled with her body image and forced herself to cut her diet while she worked out to minimize any changes—real or otherwise— she had experienced post-pregnancy. The excessive workouts and dietary restrictions played a major role in Larson’s continued and heightened issues with back injuries and forced her to seek multiple treatments or options to alleviate her physical pain. When she turned to EXOS, Larson was interested in a comprehensive answer. “The overall health

piece is what I wanted,” she says, “not just a hard workout.” After joining the Sports Advantage regimen, everything for Larson changed, including her physical and unstated image issues. “EXOS helps you understand that your health is not linked to your physical dimensions,” she says. Working with the performance specialists, Larson was able to cater her pre-existing conditions to an effective training plan. “It is scary being injured,” she says, “but feeling safe at EXOS was awesome.” The physical results also came and continue for Larson. Pain-free and in the best shape of her life, Larson went from an initial three-month plan at the facility to a yearly plan. Now, Larson feels more invested in her health and community than ever before by training side-by-side during some of her early morning workouts at the facility with hockey players or other athletes there for different reasons. “Since going to EXOS,” she says, “I’ve gained a healthy body image.”



'We can train for one-hour per day, but you have 23 hours to mess that up.' Paul Ewbanks

READY TO WORK Meredith Larson warms up for her workout led by Garrett Baker, performance specialist. PHOTO: RUSS HONS PHOTOGRAPHY


WORKOUT PILLARS  Start with movement prep  Then move to medicine ball plyo work  Follow with strength and power movements  Add energy system conditioning development  End with stretching and a protein shake

THE TRAINING LIFE Sports Advantage participants have the option to attend sessions scheduled at various times during the week. Sessions start as early as 5:00 am while others happen after 5:00 pm. Most sessions last one-hour and include a recovery drink and dietary information. Depending on the training package, a participant can work out six times per week. According to Larson and Baker, the sessions are akin to individual training sessions in a group setting. Although the strategy of training is the same for each session, the movements differ each session. And, the strategy never isolates individual sections of the body but instead includes movements that engage the entire body. “I’m proud to work for this company,” Ewbanks says. “We are training adults like worldclass athletes.” G





Commercial photographer John Campbell (posing like Superman above) has turned skill and passion for images—and an old building—into a dream creative space that would make any community proud.

John Campbell is a gritty photographer by choice. You can see it in the composi-

tions and ine details of his favorite photos. A photo of his personal studio puts you in a corner of the building where you see a dusty desk topped with a pair of uber-old boots, plastic crates illed with incidental items and a shadowed, dark doorway centered in the frame that you can’t help but look towards because of the natural lines that move your eye to the door. The image was captured prior to the massive renovation project that Campbell started. The job was meant to turn a small-town building that was once a Fire Hall, a City Hall and a Museum (all at different times) into a creative, rentable space used by him and others. In the photo, like most of his work, there is a consistent undertone of rawness and a clear contrast of colors throughout the image. When you see a John Campbell photo like that or any of his others, you’ll smile, then say to yourself, “Wow, that is amazing,” inevitably followed by this comment, “And that has to be John’s.” Spend any time with him, and it’s apparent that the stunning light choices, sight lines and captured details of his photos are anything but coincidence. A surprisingly self-taught commercial photographer that is positively obsessive about the quality of his work and in love with the



creative power of a camera, Campbell is making a constructive impact on the region from both sides of the camera whether he steps out of his studio or not.

The Studio Is Calling For roughly $1,500, Campbell purchased the opportunity to create his dream space in Reynolds, North Dakota. On the main drag in Reynolds, a former Fire Hall turned City hall turned Museum turned abandoned building, was up for demo before Campbell threw out an offer to the city. Almost two years later, he has the time-lapse photos to prove that he put his blood, sweat and tears into the renovation of the space. The Studio, as it is called, is a space for creatives, other photographers (Campbell included), or groups to utilize and rent for their own needs. Campbell performed all the demo and much of the other renovation work where he could. He designed the interior with unique details. “I wanted little elements of the area to be represented in the space,” he says. An old sign from the front of the building was saved and put on display. An entire curved wall made of corrugated steel was formed to create the industrial ag mood of the area. The loor—which was totally busted out, supplied with in- loor heat and recast in concrete— features relief lines that mimic the same grid pattern on a camera lens. And, when you go there, you’ll see Campbell’s commitment to detail. Embedded into the concrete loor are randomly placed red glass specs that match the red tones throughout the interior. In the entire space, there might not be more than 50 small red specs. “Everything in here has a purpose,” he says. On the walls, a wi- i enabled television monitor is attached and a handful of his photos hang from small wire attached to the ceiling (photos his wife had to pick 38 GRAND LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE // ISSUE 2 2018


out because he wouldn’t). Later this year, Campbell will out it his space with art produced from the local schools. “I want them to see their art in a non-school setting,” he says. “Seeing art in a commercial space is just so different and exciting.” Since he began his studio venture, Campbell’s life has been a rollercoaster. Last year, after watching his Dad pass away after several months of in-home hospice-type care in his hometown of Oklahoma City, he didn’t have the amount of time or passion he once had to spend in his new studio or to be creative. He’d already left a commercial photographer job at a local advertising agency to pursue the work and renovation of the Studio. The travel time and amount of

care he spent for his father left him drained. But, as he spent more time in the Studio while back from OKC and away from the dif icult realities of the situation of watching his dad continually on the brink of passing, he realized that his happiness was directly linked to what he’s done with his family in Reynolds. Now, he insists he’s happy where the ride has taken him. This year he plans to run for of ice in the region. When he’s not at the studio working on editing projects or building things with wood, he’s trying to ind ways to get people to see, experience or utilize the space, no matter how old they are. He’s proud of what he’s done—with the space, in the space and for the space. “Having traveled the country and seen a lot of different places and people,” he says standing on the concrete loor of his Studio looking out to the south and the main drag of the city, “this is by far the best place I’ve seen.”

Follow His Lead Campbell emphasizes the natural lines in the frame created by light sources, physical structures and the placement of objects.



Welcome To The Darkside Lightplay is a popular strategy for Campbell. He often darkens a room before relighting it to control the mood in the frame. Landscape Love Along with gritty and unplanned settings, Campbell enjoys taking regional landscape images as a hobby. G







MAKERS From the rustic log to a wow-worthy piece in your living room, these prairie lumberjacks, saw millers and custom furniture makers have succeeded as modern-day makers and suppliers by harnessing the character in wood.



The showroom loor of Buffalo Coulee Wood Products is located within a weathered round metal Quonset building south of Grand Forks in the middle of the lat-horizon ag land of the Red River Valley where nearly every major timber stand was placed—or left—with an ag-purpose in mind. The tall sliding doors of the Quonset require both hands and leg power to move. The concrete loors could use another round of sweeping, even if they’ll never get clean. Except for a pair of single pane windows above the doors, there is no major source of light unless the doors are left open. Despite the weathered and worked condition of the setting, it is impossible not to venture into and get lost in the soft-lit space, moving in awe while trying to touch all of the wood products milled, accumulated and on display.


In 2017, Jared Johnson and Matt Weaver, each certi ied arborists with years of experience working in the timber and wood health industry, acted on a hunch and organized their Quonset-protected showroom. Less than one year later, the duo has created a growing following of talented furniture-makers, custom-home builders, designers and others drawn to the raw—and rare—beauty of a Buffalo live edge slab. With expansion plans already underway, Johnson and Weaver

believe they have tapped into a growing wood grain patterns that could double as market on the northern plains that de- a ine-art painting. The slabs are used for high-end coffee tables, shelves, bookcases, mands rough-cut hardwood products. tables and even countertops and kitchen Live Edge And islands. Each slab is unique and features Everything Else meandering grain lines that ebb and low Stacked in groups tall enough to sit across the width of the slab. Some are enon, the showroom is full of milled tree hanced by age or environment. Others slabs from Kansas, North Carolina, Min- have animal- or insect-induced characnesota and North Dakota. The slabs are ter. The slabs are the main attraction of created through the milling process and Buffalo Coulee, but Weaver and Johnson feature the outer bark layer and inner also sell hardwood dimensional lum-

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Surfaced Four Sides



Jacob Barney hasn’t parked in his garage since 2015 because of his passion for custom wood furniture and décor making. In place of a vehicle, Barney has turned his garage into a professional-esque shop with the required tools for the job. The founder of Grand Forks-based Timber and Ash Designs, Barney began using slabs and wood products sourced from Buffalo Coulee as soon as he learned of their existence. “My favorite projects always involve the slabs,” he says. “Anything you build with those are always unique. There will never be another piece like it.” Barney has built and sold everything from floating shelves to massive tables. At one point last year, Barney was sending wood products through Etsy all over the U.S. His wife has helped him with wood burning décor items and cutting board designs. “I’ve never told people I can’t build new things,” he says. A civil engineer by training, Barney acquired a large amount of tools following the passing of his father, a long-time construction boss who Barney says helped instill the eye for detail and work ethic required to work with wood. “A lot of people have trouble envisioning what a final product will look like,” he says, “So I work with clients to help them understand what is possible.” Part of Barney’s skill set includes communicating to clients the importance and value to using hardwood sourced from places like Buffalo Coulee. The issue with this region, he notes, is the changing climate and dry winterhumid summer combination. Wood doesn’t react well to such conditions, which is why wood best-suited for long-term flexibility (hardwood) built with technical jointery techniques creates a strong piece that can last for more than five years. Barney estimates that he does something wood related everyday in his shop. If he isn’t building something, he is sharpening tools or cleaning up dust. He is willing to work with people on collaborative projects which allows them to do part of the work. And, he is even considering wood building classes to help educate others on the techniques he uses. Stacked in his garage are new slabs and other pieces ready for tables, shelves and other items. Although he says his young family is content with their living quarters, he is certain the next property they call home will be driven by one major factor: a larger wood shop.


ber, cross-cut circular slabs and nearly every other portion of a tree. They’ve even stocked ship-lap and barnwood siding. “We want quality and we want unique,” Johnson says. To get what they want, the team travels as far as Kansas or North Carolina to acquire hardwood logs or pre-slabbed pieces ready for sale. According to Johnson, the diversity of timber in places like Kansas or North Carolina allows their North Dakota showroom to feature some of the most sought-after and unique pieces in the country. Available at the time of our visit were slabs and other pieces of Ash, Oak, Elm, Sycamore, Red Cedar, Pecan, Hackberry, Honey and even Osage Orange, the hardest and hottest burning wood product currently grown in the U.S. Johnson picked up the Osage Orange in Kansas. The tree was struck by lightning and portions of the faint-orange wood grain reveals the incident. Like all of the wood products the team offers, Weaver says the Osage is often used for a particular purpose. In the case of the hardest, hottest burning wood, bowmakers seek out the product.

work in the industry every day. After living in Kansas and working at a lumbermill in North Carolina, Johnson moved to North Dakota to continue his career as an arborist. From the move, he was left with a collection of hardwood lumber he stored in his garage rafters. On a whim, he posted the products for sale on Facebook and within an hour, he was sold out. Shortly after the sale, Johnson and Weaver began exploring the market for hardwood lumber in the region and learned it was undersupplied and needy in demand. Through a former lumberjack contact in North Carolina, Johnson thought he had secured a large order of hardwood and slab material that he and Weaver could resell from the Quonset. Prior to their trip south, they learned the hardwood had already been sold, along with any milling equipment they thought they might be able to pick up as well. “That didn’t stop us,” Weaver says, “because we had a vision and we knew Timber Historians we had to see it through.” Johnson and Weaver are both afThe team acquired a sawmill to cut iliated with sawmilling clubs, Facebook fresh logs into slabs onsite at the Quongroups devoted to timber products and set. They also took a loan from an uncle, The difference between the wood products available at Buffalo and large lumber yards is linked to selection and type. While most major suppliers are looking to source consistent pieces due to the product pricing abilities that consistency allows, Buffalo is able to provide different or custom dimensions with the type of character that makes you want to buy the wood piece without even knowing what you’ll do with it. Each slab or piece is priced individually and most can be custom cut. As certi ied arborists and full- ledged timber gurus now in the business of selling beautiful wood, the pair is constantly looking for, bringing in or inding ways to keep their showroom fresh with new product. When you visit, be prepared for sawdust, the aroma of fresh cut wood and long and entertaining yet informative answers about any wood-slab related question you bring up. Johnson and Weaver know their stuff.

'It's been exciting to take a love for something and do it for a living.' Jared Johnson



a Chevy Tahoe and a car trailer to Wichita, Kansas, to buy some slabs that would allow them to ill their showroom. To help them navigate their business operations and strategy planning, the team utilized the SCORE group from Grand Forks. Johnson says their time with the SCORE team was crucial to their early success. Less than one month after returning from Kansas, the pair says they made their money back and then some. Now, when they aren’t organizing their vast array of product, the team is building a solar-powered kiln and gas-powered kiln to allow them to dry slabs milled locally more quickly (every inch of thickness on a slab requires roughly one-year of natural drying time). Home design, and outdoor shows have helped the pair grow their Buffalo brand and kept their orders constant. Along with an expanded variety and a dedicated room to build their own slab-based products, Johnson says he hopes in the future he’ll be able to leave the Chevy Tahoe at home for a wood-hauling semi.

Milling Unique Moments Running their sawmill and opening a new log is their favorite part of the job. As they describe the milling procedures, their eyes ill with energy and their hand gestures increase. “You never know,” Weaver says as he talks about the process of opening up a log for the irst time, “what will happen.” Starting with an untouched log that could have come from a backyard, tree grove or large timber stand located anywhere they are willing to drive too, the team rolls a log onto the mill using the same hand tools that lumberjacks and millers from a century ago used. The dimensions are set to make a board the desired thickness. Safety orders are said. One last eye glance for reassurance is shared between the two before they begin. Then, the mill engine starts, the blade vibrates, the irst cut sends fresh clouds of dust into the air and in less than ive minutes, the history of the log is exposed for a new life. Like a pair of treasure seekers standing above a freshly exposed hole, Johnson and Weaver stop their duties and walk to the edge of the log after the irst slab is cut to lean over and see for the irst time what they’ve revealed. “It’s been exciting,” Johnson says, “to take a love for something and do it for a living.” G 48 GRAND LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE // ISSUE 2 2018

Caption here PHOTO: 918 PHOTOGRAPHY






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By Style

What makes a great event? We sat down with Sadie Gardner, founder of the sought-after couture oral and event service known for its impressive and memorable style.

STANDING IN AWE Sadie Gardner, founder of a couture floral and event styling business, purposely displays her decor to inspire clients and herself. PHOTO: MANSTROM PHOTOGRAPHY




Sadie Gardner is a soughtafter wedding and event planner headquartered in a former Grand Forks train depot. Her space (which was also once a dance practice facility) gives her a small oasis to display or store the vast array of décor she’s amassed from past or for future events. The hum from her walk-in loral storage cooler is constant, and from nearly every spot within the space, a soft light seems to sparkle across a unique decorative piece. Her work—and her passion—is on full display. We sat down with Gardner to learn about her ten-plus years in the ever-evolving event and wedding sector, which trends are coming or going and what she believes is crucial to putting on a great event.

Sadie Trusts Her Gut After taking loral design classes during her time in medical school, Gardner was inspired by the allure of arranging lowers for a living. She igured out the economics and realities required to do the job full-time and then started a website promoting her services. Only two months later, she quit her job. In Minneapolis, where her family lived at the time, she established an event and loral service that performed 80 weddings in its irst year. By year two, that number had doubled to 180 weddings. “I’ve always worked to pull a client’s ideas together and to bring them to life,” she says.

Before her husband and young family made a move to be closer to family in Grand Forks, she knew she would establish a new Sadie’s space for the region. With more than 1,000 weddings to her credit now, Gardner says she still has the same feelings about the career she has pursued ten years after taking those loral design classes. Clients and weddings or events in this region are different than those in Minneapolis. “Wedding’s here are signi icantly larger,” she says. In Minnesota guest counts would top out at 250 people. But here, guest counts typically start at 400 people. In this region, clients are also very willing to try new ideas or use new décor and themes as long as Gardner is able to help them visualize what she has for options. In her train depot headquarters, all of the décor is available for rent. Most was acquired for previous events, but Gardner also buys or acquires new items for her new clients. Admittedly, Gardner says she is borderline obsessed with inding new and unique items for her clients. For most events, she inds an item she likes and then builds from that. “I kind of know when I feel like all the pieces are put together right,” she says. “I can just feel it in my gut.” If she wasn’t looking for new events and wedding ideas or working with couples or organizers to help them reign-in and realize their vision, Gardner has a simple and quick answer to the other thing she would do that would be as ful illing: I don’t know.


Make Your Own Event Memorable

Sadie’s Signature Look

Wedding Trends -Of all portions of a wedding that are in luenced by trends, Gardner says themes are it. Themes always come and go and in some cases, she will spend an entire summer planning events that are all a take-off of the same idea.

Gardner works to maintain scale and proportion throughout her spaces. The overall asthetic matters, she says, adding that big and showy loral pieces help to de ine an event. Décor items or lower arrangements should all follow in a sizedright pattern throughout a space.

-For the past few years, wedding themes have trended towards glamourous or feminine styling that included gold and blush pink color options. Before that, rustic style weddings were popular. -In the future, modern style weddings with an eclectic feel will dominate. Think clean lines, unique textures and asymmetrical designs.


For anyone planning a large-scale event or wedding, Gardner offers a simple piece of advice. “You should think of it [the event] as if you were hosting it in your own house,” she says. “Make decisions on what you would want to do from the food and drinks to the table settings to the invitations. When people do that, events always feel more welcoming.”

Flowers Are Hard Work For every guest at a typical Sadie wedding, roughly 15 to 20 minutes is spent on lower arrangements. For a 300-person event, that equates to roughly 90 hours. For every event The Ultimate Re-Do If Gardner could re-do her own wedding, she would opt for fun. She would hire a live band, have food stations, activities for kids and all of it would be in a clear tent. Gardner hasn't styled a wedding with a clear tent, but someday she hopes to.

that features lowers, Gardner begins working on the arrangements on Tuesday if the event is on Saturday. “Floral work takes an understanding of timing and what will or won’t last,” she says. “I want the lowers to be big and full on the day of the wedding. I don’t care about the other days.” Most lowers come from wholesalers. She loves tropical varieties, wishes people would use more tulips and knows most brides don’t understand how inicky certain lowers can be. For most weddings, Gardner believes roses, hydrangeas and peonies work well. In a 2,000 square foot space, buckets of low-

For a 400-person wedding, Gardner will use 1,000 hydrangeas and 1,500 roses.

ers will normally ill half a space.

Post-event, clients are free to take any lowers they can. In most cases, remaining lowers are rearraigned and donated to the hospital or other organizations. G




A law office owned by John Thelen since 1986, the space has been transformed into a high-end living space tucked away in downtown Grand Forks. PHOTO: RUSS HONS PHOTOGRAPHY



OASIS John Thelen turned unique life circumstances and a long-time vision into a downtown Grand Forks residential space that rivals any new dream home.

John Thelen sits at his new dining table across from his stunning new kitchen, scrolling through his pink, butter ly-encased iPhone looking for old pictures of his law of ice before the renovations started. His new dining table and kitchen are actually in what used to be the old law of ice. Six years ago, Thelen began a massive renovation project to turn the downtown Grand Forks building he acquired in 1986 for use as a multi-lawyer commercial space into a residential setting that he always believed could become a quiet oasis in the heart of the city. Six years after carrying the irst load of debris to the dumpster behind the building, Thelen now believes he’s achieved a bucket-list type accomplishment with the completion of his dream space—even if the oasis he now calls home includes several unique features he never could have imagined when he started.


MEET THE RESIDENTS John and Tammy Thelen adopted their grandchildren during the middle of the massive renovation process. PHOTO: RUSS HONS PHOTOGRAPHY

Power of the Pros Six years after embarking on a major renovation project in an unlikely place, Thelen has advice for those considering a similar endeavor: Find professionals that can help you understand the possibilities: Thelen worked extensively with Sterling Carpet One’s Greg Martin, a design consultant for the Grand Forks-based company. Martin was amazing, Thelen says. He helped the space take on the life they wanted it to. “The details that Martin was able to pull-out is what made this place look so good.” Work with those committed to your project: To lead the general contracting portion of the renovation, Thelen found Rick Cadreau, an experienced renovator and skilled carpenter. Cadreau often worked nights, weekends and mornings because as Thelen says, “he was committed to more than what he was earning.”

Once a funeral home, the building has been standing for more than a century. During demo, Thelen found a newspaper dated from 1910 in the walls. The two-story building has more than 3,400 square feet of space on the main level and the equivalent in the basement and garage space. Since 1986, Thelen and his law associates used the space for their of ices. At one time, the building was also broken into separate living quarters. Now, all of that has changed. “I’ve always been interested in old spaces and I wanted to live downtown,” Thelen says. Nearly every element of the space has been altered. Thelen says the renovations required him and the contractors to create walls within walls and a loor on top of a loor. Thelen worked at 5 am most mornings during the entire process to help where he could. When his day-duties at the courthouse were over (Thelen is a District Judge), he was right back in his space working or cleaning or thinking about what it would look like. 60 GRAND LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE // ISSUE 2 2018

The interior was eventually reframed and a new, level loor was placed over the existing structure. New windows replaced existing windows and in some places, windows were added. A massive I-beam was added above the large kitchen space. A freight elevator space was turned into a walk-in closet. A ireplace in the rear of the building is the centerpiece of what has become the master bedroom, the bricks cleaned but left untouched. White trim and crown molding encases the entire space and sliding style barn doors or pocket doors keep the natural rhythm of the halls and walking areas unhindered. In the back, a large deck was added on to an existing deck. The addition has created a large, quiet outdoor spot with an unrivaled view of downtown. On summer nights, Thelen says he can hear the music from downtown in the distance and after 5 pm during the week, the entire area around the building is void of any activity. After entering the space for the irst time, it is hard not to spin in circles, trying to take in all of the charm and change. When you tell Thelen and his wife, Tammy, that you would have never known such a space in such a place could exist, they will most likely respond with a smile. “It is fun to see people’s reactions to this place,” Thelen says. Below the deck, there is also a piece of décor you wouldn’t expect at such a downtown gem: a basketball hoop. Roughly halfway through the project Thelen thought would be his crowning residential-space-achievement (he isn’t interested in taking on another project like this ever again), he was presented a set of circumstances that were even more unique than his building plans. In his 60s, Thelen adopted three of his wife’s grandchildren to remove them from a dif icult situation. “It was an easy choice,” Thelen says. “We wanted to do whatever we could to help them.”


THE WHOLE PICTURE Don't confuse the untouched exterior with the beautifiul interior transformations. Nearly every aspect of the main space has been redone. PHOTO: RUSS HONS PHOTOGRAPHY

Although the place is certainly a beautiful downtown oasis, it can’t be described with the term quiet anymore, his wife says. Thelen’s former of ice in the front of the building was going to be retained for a library and desk setting. Instead, the desk in the room has legos on top of it and it is now considered a play room. Time spent in the back isn’t reserved for quiet reading sessions or a glass of wine, but instead for shooting hoops or playing baseball in the courthouse parking lot. The guest room—at least that was what it was supposed to be—is now a young teenager’s room. The family additions have certainly added a massive different dimension to the dynamics of the space, but both Thelen and his wife say they wouldn’t change a thing. Thelen still remembers sitting, exhausted, in a worn chair near the main kitchen area during construction. The walls were just going up and there was dust and debris everywhere. Today, with the renovations mostly complete (Tammy still has some honey-do’s and wishes)

Thelen is sitting at the dining table where that chair he described used to sit. With our team there, he is trying to ind photos of the construction phase to show us. “I remember thinking about what it would look like during that time,” he says. He is looking out through the soft light pouring through the kitchen windows in between phone swipes almost as if there is more in that space than anyone else can see or understand. In his view, there is a beautiful island in the kitchen lanked by a chef-worthy range top and a huge space for baking. “This was always a project we knew we had to commit too,” he says, turning his gaze back to his phone, his hand wrapped around the pink, butter ly decorated phone case that he was forced to use after one of his new family members caused his regular phone to stop working. Then he stops and puts the phone down. He seems to forget about the photos and once again moves his gaze to the kitchen and then to Tammy. “It’s all been worth it.” G



THROW YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR Paint The Town's challenging yet current play list allows them to keep the audience engaged with sounds that are often confused with something from the radio. PHOTO: MELQUIST PHOTOGRAPHY



IN THE MOMENT WITH singer that can lat-out belt, the group’s relevance to the region isn’t about their out-of-the-ordinary technical skills or their challenging modern-meetsclassics set-list (including songs that most bands only wish they could play but never attempt). Paint The Town is a group that reminds us that despite the immediate realities we all face, there is always time, and it is always possible, for any of us to achieve that same type of moment and ful illment every member of the group says they play for. It may not be a stage at a hip bar or big event like it is for them, but the more you listen, or spend time with the band, and you hear the reasons they play, and what they go through to make it happen, it all makes sense and comes across as clear as your favorite line in your favorite song. We all have a choice, as Paint The Town reminds us, to seek out our moments and just let go.

You Have To Hear It To Believe It

There is a moment during every gig when they all just let go.

They stop fretting about the couple standing near the stage and how much the pair is—or isn’t—dancing and singing along. They forget about their pitch, their earpieces and the droplets of sweat that keep slithering down their brows, past their nose or down their eye sockets. The 2 AM drive back home and the morning responsibilities that follow don’t register. It’s that moment, when the necessary everyday elements required of all of us fade out of impending reality for them, and the anxious agonizing they feel over the crowd’s level of enjoyment disappears, that makes it worth it and de ines their moment. The moment is not about escaping or forgetting, but instead, about achieving a sense of ful illment that only comes when you know that the thing you are doing right then and there is the one thing (or at least one of the few) you would have chosen if given a choice. Paint The Town is a six-person band that has little league baseball practice, school assignments and mortgages to worry about before, during and after the music plays. Made-up of educated and undeniably talented musicians that found a rookie lead

Anna Larson, the band’s rookie all-star lead singer, (that is how the group describes her), says they love it when audience members confuse their live sounds for recorded music from the speaker system. They also enjoy it when people tell them they can't believe the band is playing such unique and recent songs. The compliments speak directly to the bands aspirations. Danny Mof itt, guitar player, teaches music. Steve Carriere, bass, teaches music. John Nelson, drums, has a minor in music and once owned and operated his own recording studio in Denver. Matt Strand, keys, and Larson, are also experienced in playing or being involved with music since they were kids. Strand was ive when he started playing and Larson sang at talent shows, in church worship bands and the anthem for every volleyball game she played in during college. “We all want to be challenged from a music standpoint,” Nelson says. “Because of that, the music we choose to play is like putting together a puzzle, it’s stylistically complicated but we love it.” The band’s ability to play layered music has helped them grow a strong following and big future-gig demand less than a year after forming. The group can certainly play the classics like “Jessie’s Girl” or “I Want You To Want Me,” but they can also offer the audience a closer link to their modern-day playlists. At a show in downtown Grand Forks this winter, the group played, “Can’t Stop The


Feeling,” by Justin Timberlake, “24K Magic,” by Bruno Mars and, “Ain’t It Fun” by Paramore. All of those songs are layered tunes with synthetic sounds that are created through in-studio production. They are not songs typically performed by most cover groups and they are always dif icult to pull-off live. But as Strand and Mof itt say, they aren’t typical cover-band musicians. “There are songs you don’t play and songs everybody plays,” Mof itt says. “We want to take our own approach.” The songs they’ve mastered thus far in their short existence are what Strand has always wanted to play, he says. “We feed off the energy of the songs as much as the audience does.”

Technical Advantage According to Strand, the group uses a variety of pedals and synthesizers that allows the group to emulate the sounds from the original recording. “However, instead of using pre-recorded tracks and a lot of samples like you might hear from a major touring pop group, we play everything live, which is much more challenging,” Strand says, “but it gives us a more organic feel.” The group’s stage set-up relies on all electrical instruments fed directly into a mixer. On the stage, there is barely any sound. The band can talk to each other

during a song. The electronic make-up allows Cory "CJ" Johnson, the skilled and trusted audio engineer of the band, to give the audience only the sounds the group wants them to hear. As a bene it to the band, the set-up doesn’t leave their ears ringing post-gig.

Playing For Today’s Audience The quick success of Paint The Town (Carriere came up with the name and it was the hardest task the band has completed to date) isn’t just connected to their ability to offer a unique setlist. Strand and Carriere both believe the band is now playing to listeners who each have their own radio-esque playlist and those listeners want to hear elements from their lists. The goal of the group is to unite the individual listeners in a group setting in a memorable way. “We try to igure out how to get individual listeners to igure out the social experience,” he says. The task can be a challenge. Larson says fronting the band isn’t always natural


despite the praise she receives from her experienced bandmates. Strand’s worst fear is when the audience doesn’t appear to care (a situation that hasn’t happened with his current bandmates). With full-time day-jobs, kids and the weekly duties that come for everyone living in the greater Grand Forks region, the team doesn’t have the luxury to practice nightly or weekly and perfect their style. “We are still inding our way,” Nelson says. Their competitive nature helps, Mofitt believes. “We self-criticize and take this very serious,” he adds. Despite the challenges of leaving after a day-job for a gig that night located hours away, leaving loved ones at home or ago-

CREATING THE PERFECT SET-LIST Paint The Town will change up their song order mid-gig, but to start they form a plan that hinges on basic concepts. 1. Make a big entrance that engages the audiences from the ďŹ rst note. 2. Don’t be afraid to call an audible. If the audience is singing, keep them singing. If they are swaying and dancing, keep them moving. 3. When you close, leave them in the moment singing along with the entire band. 4. Repeat every gig you get.

RUGS THEN EQUIPMENT THEN ROCK After setting their playing space up with electronic keyboards, computers and other unique technical equipment, the band typically opens with songs that engage the audience from the first note. PHOTO: MELQUIST PHOTOGRAPHY



The Challenge Of Modern Songs Talented enough to play synth-infused music or complex classics, the group is constantly updating their set-list.

FAN FAVORITES Not the complete set list





Shut Up and Dance

Walk the Moon



Cake by the Ocean


Disco, Pop


Reba McEntire


z z

Take On Me




Raise Your Glass





Chris Stapleton







Livin' on a Prayer

Bon Jovi


Like I'm Gonna Lose You

Meghan Trainor, John Legend Pop

z z

I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) The Proclaimers


Jessie's Girl

Rick Springfield


Uptown Funk

Bruno Mars

Funk, Pop

Don't Stop Believing


Classic Rock

Proud Mary

Tina Turner, Ike Turner


Callin Baton Rouge

Garth Brooks



Still Into You




Can't Stop the Feeling

Justin Timberlake



Feel It Still




I Can't Feel my Face

The Weeknd



No Doubt

Alternative, Pop

z z z z


Rock, Pop

nizing over the mood of a crowd consisting of people they’ll most likely never talk with in-person, there is no hesitancy amongst any in the band when you ask them why they do what they do, or, if it is worth it. “When you can feel your actions engaging people in a positive way,” Nelson says, “that is why we do this.” Strand feels the same. “It is the best, just letting go.” “I love that people want to spend their Friday or Saturday nights with us,” Larson says. “We don’t take that for granted because we understand that everything you want to do requires sacri ice.” The group doesn’t grind, as Nelson says, for the money. “There is just a piece of me that isn’t ful illed if I’m not in a band and playing,” he says. This summer, they are scheduled to headline multiple events within a short drive through town or just out of town. They are also lined-up to lead line-ups in far-away locations in every direction. They know there will be issues because there always are. Sometimes earpieces click, instruments get out of tune or kids get sick. Sometimes more serious things happen. But, if you get a chance to sit with the band over some food and a beverage or two, the reason they do it all comes out and make so much sense. You can see it in their eyes when they talk about adding new songs. Excitement ills their faces. When they talk about the future of their group and why they want to play more together, it is all so clear and inspiring, sort of like that moment when you are listening to your favorite song, and you start to sing along, and you just let go. G


Matt Strand Keys

John Nelson Drums

Danny Moffitt

Anna Larson

Lead Guitar

Steve Carriere

Lead Singer





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Sakura Japanese Steakhouse

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Lighting Gallery

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Sakura showcases a variety of Japanese cuisine for guests in a contemporary and aesthetically pleasing atmosphere. While their hibachi food is being cooked, guests can be entertained by skilled Hibachi Chefs, or enjoy dining sushi and entrees like teriyaki, bento boxes, fried rice, or noodle dishes. Our unique cocktails can be paired perfectly with any of our dishes.

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The Lighting Gallery

At Budget Blinds, our goal is to provide you with the best products and services in order to enrich your home environment. We offer FREE In-Home Consultations, Professional Measure and Installation, and the Best Warranty in the Industry. Call us today to schedule your Free In-Home Consultation. Style and Service for Every Budget.

The Lighting Gallery strives to bring uniqueness to the market by carrying lighting a dĂŠcor not found in other retail in Grand Forks. We offer boutique style shopping, small town service and best price. We pride ourselves on the service that has built our company. We want all customers to feel that we are truly here to make their shopping experience fun and relaxing. 701-213-0254

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701 .746.279 0 | Choic e HF. c o m 72 GRAND LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE // ISSUE 2 2018