A year after the event was forced indoors by the Souris River flood, Rock the Leaves is back in the great outdoors.
In its sixth year, the annual benefit concert will take place Saturday, Aug. 25, at Scandinavian Heritage Park, located at 1020 S. Broadway, from 2 to 11 p.m.
Dan Hansen, founder and organizer of Rock the Leaves, said the event was moved from its usual Oak Park venue because nobody was sure if the park, which was devastated by the flood last year, would be ready.
The Joel Janikowski Band performs at Rock the Leaves last year. The annual benefit concert was held indoors at the Grand International Inn last year due to the Souris River flood.
Ace in Armour plays during Rock the Leaves 2011.
"When we set the date we just weren't sure if Oak Park was going to be ready in time. So just to be cautious we chose the Scandinavian Heritage Park," Hansen said. "They're very good to work with with lining it up and they're more than eager to work with us and have us at the park. So we're really looking forward to being there because it's a really beautiful and awesome-looking park."
Last year the concert was pushed back a couple months to October and held at the Grand International Inn. Hansen said those factors produced a low year for Rock the Leaves, with about $2,000 collected. Still, he said they were able to buy some Sheetrock for the "I Helped Rebuild Minot" fund, so it wasn't all bad.
"Having it in a different month and indoors hurt our attendance. People are definitely used to being outside in August," Hansen said. "The concert-in-the-park experience is one-of-a-kind and people just didn't respond as well."
One of the featured performers this year will be DJ Phillips of Nashville, Tenn. Phillips is a 10-year veteran guitarist of the Medora Musical and has also had his music on MTV's "The Real World" and Oxygen's "Bad Girl's Club." He has toured all over the U.S. and United Kingdom with his blend of indie blues-funk pop/rock.
"He's coming back to North Dakota to show his support and love toward the North Dakota people with the flood happening and all," Hansen said. "This is kind of like (his) second home. He's coming back to play some music and share a good message."
Another artist Hansen is excited to bring to Minot for the first time is Spoken, a Christian hard rock band with Tooth and Nail Records, which Hansen said is pretty much the biggest Christian rock label out there.
Hansen said Spoken's lead singer, Matt Baird, has friends in Minot who were affected by the flood, which is why the band might be volunteering with Hope Village while they're here.
"They're pretty pumped to come up," Hansen said. "We're excited to have them."
Spoken is touring with Righteous Vendetta, an up-and-coming hard rock band that also might volunteer some time when they're not playing.
On a related note, Hansen said Rock the Leaves is part of the Summer of Hope series this year, which he feels very fortunate to be affiliated with.
There will be many other first-time bands at Rock the Leaves as well, something which Hansen said he's "stoked" about.
"Actually we've got quite a few new ones and we're just really excited, really optimistic about this year," Hansen said. "We're really looking to come back bigger and better, kind of like the Magic City."
He also mentioned The Cascade Sun, a local favorite from past years, will be playing again this year.
For more information about the concert and the bands playing this year, check out Rock the Leaves on Facebook. Rock the Leaves is also on Twitter @rock_the_leaves.
While the concert is usually held to benefit a person in need, for the second consecutive year it will benefit many people. Last year it payed for Sheetrock for rebuilding residents, and this year all proceeds will go toward building a new band shell in Oak Park, Rock the Leaves' traditional home.
"They rebuilt the other one just enough to be able to use it, but it's really outdated. We kind of want to build something that will stand forever," Hansen said. "So when the flood happened, we decided that what we were going to do is help build a new band shell because that was our home."
There will once again be free food, as Rock the Leaves' signature hot dogs will be making a return. Hansen also said there will be beverages in the form of water and hopefully some other things. Children's games, inflatable jousting, door prizes such as gift cards and several vendors round out the activities during the event.
Needless to say, Hansen is thrilled to be back outside in a park, where there will be actual leaves to rock.
"We're really excited to get back outdoors and get back to work," Hansen said. "Rock concerts are supposed to be outside."
"Hopefully being on Broadway will catch quite a few extra people. We'll be a little more exposed, I feel like," he added. "Lots of new music, got lots of new bands and hopefully lots of new faces."