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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Run Boy Run, a favorite of Garrison Keillor, to perform in Rochester

Run Boy Run, a favorite of Garrison Keillor, to perform in Rochester

The Tuscon-based quintet Run Boy Run will cap off a week-long residency in southeast Minnesota with a performance on Saturday, March 4 at the Rochester Art Center.

The group — with sounds rooted in traditional American folk, bluegrass and jazz — is the second installment in the 2016-17 Riverside Concerts indoor series.

Prior to taking the stage, members of Run Boy Run will spend the week playing for and inspiring children at schools and libraries across the region. The residency is made possible through a grant from the state of Minnesota's Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

"Our goal is to engage with the kids, give them a taste of what we do, and talk about why we play," said Matt Rolland, a guitarist and fiddler for Run Boy Run. "But our biggest focus is helping them see music as a form of self expression — no matter the genre — and a way to tell a story and tell others' stories."

Formed in 2009, Run Boy Run pairs traditional American music with contemporary and emotionally-relevant lyrics and harmonies. The group counts Alison Krauss and Union Station, Nickel Creek, and Crooked Still as some of its biggest inspirations.

With songs relying on strings and three-part harmonies, Run Boy Run aims to stay upbeat and positive so listeners can come away feeling more hopeful than they did before the performance. 

"We try to get people tapping their toes and enjoying themselves," Matt said in a recent phone interview.

The band consists of two pairs of siblings: Matt Rolland and Grace Rolland, and sisters Bekah Sandoval Rolland and Jen Sandoval (Matt and Behak are married). Jesse Allen plays the bass.

"We feel lucky to share road experiences with family members," Matt told me. "It has always just been a way of life for us."

While Saturday will be the group's first time in Rochester, they already enjoy a strong tie to Minnesota. They have twice performed on the iconic radio program, A Prairie Home Companion, including once at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. "It was one of those career highlights," Matt said. "It opened up a lot of doors for us."

Garrison Keillor was so impressed with the Run Boy Run that he even wrote the liner notes for the band's debut album. "When I hear Run Boy Run, it all comes back to me, why I started doing that show back then," Keillor once said. "I hope they go on forever."

Their two-hour Rochester concert will include songs from their four albums, along with some familiar cover songs from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and the late Leonard Cohen.

Saturday's show begins at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $25 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

Cover photo courtesy Run Boy Run

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