Twenty-five years at Norsk Hstfest have brought more than just good times for Gordy "Crazy Fingers" Lindquist and his music fans.
Lind-quist credits Hstfest with giving him the opportunities of a lifetime.
Because of Hstfest, the Bottineau pianist has performed throughout Norway, performed with entertainers such as Myron Floren and Bob Hope and gained exposure that's opened the door to numerous other engagements in the United States and Canada.
Jill Schramm/MDN •
Gordon Lindquist stands in Millennium Hall at Norsk Høstfest Friday.
"I just consider myself lucky to have those chances very lucky and very grateful," he said. "It's been a lot of fun for me."
A Lindquist performance can seem a little zany with his stunts such as playing while sitting on the floor or with a sheet thrown over the piano. His sense of humor as well as his piano antics have earned him a large fan following.
Victor Borge, a Danish comedian and pianist who once performed at Hstfest, is among his role models. A scene in a movie about the life of Mozart that features the composer playing piano while suspended upside down gave Lindquist another idea for his shows.
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"I went home and tried it," he said. "It came kind of natural."
Along with his solo engagements, Lindquist performs with Country Blend, a classic country group in Canada.
"They lost their regular piano player and they called me and asked me if I wanted to play. I said no. I wanted to take it easy for a while. When they called again, I said no. The third time they called, I thought it would be neat to travel throughout Canada," he said.
That's how he came to be part of the group about a year and a half ago. The group's female vocalists are cousins to Neil Young, a Canadian singer and song writer who's been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Country Blend has a busy schedule, playing 10 of the 11 days prior to Hstfest. Lindquist let his bandmates know not to book over Hstfest because he's not going to miss the festival. He performed two shows a day there this year.
He also plans to spend six weeks early in 2010 in the Phoenix area, where he already has a number of engagements scheduled.
Last winter on his way to Phoenix, he had a chance to play at the Boulder Station Casino in Las Vegas for three days. Although the casino might not be big-time Vegas, it's still Vegas, and Lindquist considers it one of the memorable experiences that he's had in the entertainment business.
Another highlight was a trip to Norway in 1985 with Myron Floren's band. They performed in Oslo, Skien, Lillehammer and other cities over the course of 2-1/2 weeks.
Lindquist, with two sons and six grandchildren, still keeps Bottineau as his base as he travels with his piano.
"I just love to entertain," he said. "I am kind of surprised that people think I am that good. I just think of myself as an average piano player."
Lindquist, the youngest of 10 children, showed an ear for music at an early age and began taking piano lessons at age 10.
"All my brothers were good in basketball. I was a little bit too short. I think the piano became sort of a compensation for me," he said.
He went on to Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., to get a degree in music education in 1959. He also has a master's degree from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and has taken additional graduate work at the University of California.
He taught high school music for a total of 13 years in his hometown of Max, Westhope and in California before coming to what is now Dakota College at Bottineau. He taught 34 years there before retiring four years ago. He co-directed musical comedies and taught private and group piano lessons at the college.
These days, he spends much of his time on the road. Country Blend has 40 shows scheduled between Hstfest and Dec. 1.
"I think I am happiest when I am sitting at a piano," Lindquist said. "My day becomes happy when I have entertained other people through music and made them happy."