Last updated on August 6th, 2023 at 02:10 pm
36.2 miles from my house sits a barn that’s 142 years old.
The Rieder Homestead sits in Delano, MN and hosts concerts throughout the year, inside and outside of the family barn.
What makes this barn a destination music venue is stems with the location itself. The sizeable red barn overlooks a steep slope that is covered with handmade benches, a massive deck, and a stage glittered with a curtain of lights and letters hosting the band.
The intangibles that make the setting extra special is the carefully curation of booking by David Dennison and the dedicated environment of listeners that fill the hill each and every time. As Chris Koza of Rogue Valley even shared last night, it’s “The Garden of Live Music.” There is nothing like a setting when the audience and musicians share a high regard of their environment.
When introducing the band, Dennison shared that Rogue Valley was a bucket list band to book at the Rieder Homestead. Personally, I had a bucket list hope of hearing two of my favorite songs live for the first time, but more on that later.
From the moment “Rope Swing Over Rogue Valley” kicked off the evening, the attentive audience hung on every lyric from Chris Koza, while keyboardist Linnea Mohn and guitarist Peter Sieve combined for lush textures and heavenly harmonies. In anticipation of their sixth Rogue Valley album release on October 6th, we were gifted plenty of new songs and exclusive tastes.
“Fabric” matches the lyrical magic that Koza has continually had in discussing the ‘threads of us’ in a heartfelt tune. “I Owe You” and “Veiled Wings” built upon that next, while “Twin Parallel” kicked off the second set with Mohn taking lead. The promising new songs felt right at home weaved between the older material. As mentioned twice from host Dennison, Rogue Valley is a fine wine that has matured well.
Standouts from a packed double set include “Breathe” from their 2016 release Radiate/Dissolve, involving a blazing solo by Sieve, and “Cleaning Slates” with the sheen of vocals and iconic melodies from guitar and bassist Cody McKinney. “Onward and Over” closed out the first half of the show with lyrics that poignantly urged us to stay.
“Stay until the mourning shows
After all the people go I won’t deny
When you leave the winter rushes in
Through the holes in the sky
Like lonely islands”
At one point as I sat next to Dennison on the lawn, he mimed that it felt like the music was a great big hug surrounding him. There are physics behind that when you incorporate a natural slope keeping the sound around you and speakers strategically pointed for coverage.
But the ‘hug’ last night came from the poised performance of Rogue Valley and emotional intelligence of their lyrics. Combine that with a stable of songs that talk about rivers, animals, and trees, all while playing a venue surrounded by nature with the Crow River running through town, and it makes for a deeply satisfying listening experience.
In a former life, I was a recording engineer and had the opportunity to work with Koza on some parts in False Floors. When you record music all day long, getting out to shows doesn’t happen. Coming to the Reider Homestead was a hopeful bucket list of hearing two of my favorite songs finally performed live after all these years.
So when both “The Bottom of the Riverbed” and their massive hit “The Wolves and the Ravens” were performed, I fell in love with those songs all over again. Music has that power to re-emerge anew and remind you of chapters of your life. There’s an even higher chance of having that experience happen in a place like the Rieder Homestead, where music transcends space.