Annual Winter Solstice Celebration of Local Musicians + Community
Thursday, December 21, 2023
Begins @ 7pm
FREE to attend & open to ALL!

All are welcome to join us for our winter solstice celebration of local musicians and community connections held annually on the LONGEST NIGHT of the year!

This concert is FREE to attend and ALL are welcome! The night begins at 7:00. Doors open at 6:30. Refreshments and cash bar available.

The current 2023 lineup of musicians includes:

  • Kevin Mastel (NYM)
  • Elizabeth Gade (Ely)
  • Day Gun (Michael Dagen) (Hewitt)
  • Crystal Cavalier & Nicholas Schizzano (Fergus Falls / Ottertail)
  • Skarlett Woods (Brainerd)
  • Dave Virnala (NYM)
  • Amanda Standalone (Sabin)
  • Ben Ranson (Sandstone)
  • Dan Whitehead & Sarah Munson (Ottertail)
  • Elliot Frost (NYM)

Are you a musician interested in performing? Contact

Don’t miss your chance to see and hear all of these talented local musicians live in concert on December 21st at the Cultural Center!


An eclectic group of local, beloved artists will share their gifts of musical talent with the community. This year’s line-up currently includes:

Kevin Mastel

Kevin taught himself how to play guitar at age 7 and began piano lessons at age 9. He has been in various choirs most of his life, and he grew up listening to John Denver, Carol King, James Taylor, The Eagles, Chicago, and many other great artists from the 1970s.  Music Kevin listens to today includes rock, pop, blues, bluegrass, Americana, folk, musicals, and gospel. Kevin is happy to be performing at the Longest Night Festival this year.

Crystal Cavalier & Nicholas Schizzano

Crystal Cavalier has a deep passion for sharing her music. She began formal training at the age of seven, but even before then, she was sitting at her grandmother’s piano playing the keys. In her 20s she began composing her own music and now enjoys playing intuitively. In 2005, she earned her degree in Piano Performance, as well as Music Education. In 2016, she began her journey with the Native American flute. In this, she is self-taught and finds the music flows through her from God, Source, Spirit. She will be joined by her partner, Nicholas Schizzano, on guitar. The two of them will share together in a spontaneous rhapsody.

Dave Virnala

Dave Virnala began playing guitar at the age of eight. His influences include John Prine and Guy Clark. Dave has performed at every Longest Night Music Festival held at the Cultural Center over the years.


Day Gun (Michael Dagen)

Michael Dagen aka “Day Gun” has performed in many bands over the years including; Stene Racing, Shastatown, and Dorthy Fix.  Having both an exalted Venus and Mars in his birth chart, Day Gun oscillates between writing love and revolution songs.

For this year’s Longest Night, Day Gun will lean into love tunes from an upcoming album titled; “Songs From Heaven” with help from friend and musical ally Casey Borchert.

Slip down Michael Dagen’s rabbit hole of an open diary at:

Skarlett Woods

Known for her unique way of entwining mesmerizing vocal passages with a 7-string classical guitar groove far advanced beyond your average singer/songwriter, Skarlett Woods brings folk and West Coast Jazz to the same dinner table. Skarlett is gaining a loyal fan base through her melodic and rhythmic style writings that she pairs with Americana & Blue-Eyed Soul. At the heart of it all is a 7-sting Nylon guitar and an unforgettable voice.

Elizabeth Gade 

Elizabeth Gade is a rural Northern Minnesota-based poet and human trafficking survivor. She was recently an Artist-in-Residence here in NYM, and we are pleased to have her return to share her poetry during the Longest Night Music Festival!

Writing is Elizabeth’s radical way to connect with fellow survivors. Her poems appear in View Magazine, The Elevation Review, 300 Days Of Sun, Other Worldly Women Press, Sober Girls Yoga Magazine, Exist Otherwise & more. Her self-published debut poetry collection “Fawn and Freeze” is available on Amazon. Elizabeth created LEO Literary Journal, an online journal dedicated to women writers affected by incarceration, addiction, and/or domestic violence. She is also the creator and host of Survived To Write, a survivor-led writing circle online for human trafficking survivors.

Learn more and connect with Elizabeth:  and connect on Instagram @ElizabethGadeThePoet and @SurvivedToWrite

Amanda Standalone

Amanda Standalone is a writer and folk musician from Minnesota who has become a fan favorite at the Cultural Center, performing at many Longest Night Music Festivals as well as several solo shows. Standalone’s music is a soulful blend of acoustic folk and blues strongly influenced by American Roots music. She skillfully attacks the guitar, banjo, and her single-stringed washtub, while packing an extra punch with her rich vocals.

Standalone has released three albums, one of which bears the title track Bird Flew Hard for the HBO documentary Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert.  Learn more at

Ben Ranson

Ben Ranson returns as another fan favorite for the 2023 Longest Night Music Festival! Ben is a nylon-string, finger-style guitarist and humorous singer-songwriter from Sebeka, Minnesota. His songs are distinguished by their irreverent attitude, realism, and rural mid-western subject matter such as potato inspectors, love, taxidermists, garbage men, grasshoppers, local rodeo accidents, and the cuisine of the town of Barnesville, MN. His rhyme and wordplay make the imagery in his songs vivid, lifelike, and funny.


Dan Whitehead & Sarah Munson

Dan Whitehead and Sarah Munson have been playing shows together at the Williams Company Store for a year.

Dan is a singer/songwriter who plays guitar for his solo acoustic set and Sarah sings for their portion of the set.

Elliot Frost

Elliot’s Longest Night debut was in 2022 and we are excited to welcome him back this year.

“Hi, my name’s Elliot! I am 16 going on 60, and I’ve been playing since the age of 12. I play just about everything, I hope you enjoy :)!”



We hope you can join us for this free community event, the last Cultural Center concert of 2023, and a wonderful chance to PAUSE + CONNECT with neighbors and friends amidst the flurry of holiday activities.

This event is our way of celebrating local artists and community, and saying THANKS for all the support all year long. We are so grateful for all of our donors, volunteers, and supporters that make our work possible!

The night begins at 7:00. Doors open at 6:30. Refreshments and cash bar available.  ALL are welcome!

While the Longest Night has always been free in order to be most accessible to all, it is not without cost. If you would like to sponsor a Longest Night artist, click below.

Click to sponsor a Longest Night artist >


NOTE: This letterpress print image pictured in this post is designed by local artist and print-maker, Nikki Thompson. Thanks to Nikki for creating several years of Longest Night designs!




The 2023 Longest Night Music Festival is supported by Lake Region Electric Cooperative’s Operation Round Up (ORU) Program. Thanks to LREC and all who support Operation Round Up!




This activity is made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through an operating support grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.