Sunday, March 22, 2009

A&E FYI: The Buckinghams will celebrate 100 years of Coleraine, Minn., April 17

Music, Minnesota and a city designed as a model village, which a famous soldier had the honor of naming for a giant in the mining industry, are set to have an unforgettable birthday bash. On April 17, everyone from northern Minnesota will have the chance to go back to high school with the music of the Buckinghams, one night only, in the auditorium of Greenway High School and remember when life was simple, when music was easy to dance to and when anyone who wanted to work had their choice of jobs.

Not long after President Teddy Roosevelt’s famed Rough Riders had completed their famous battle of San Juan Hill, one of his favorite soldiers, John Greenway, entered civilian life and came to Minnesota to develop a new iron ore district. The area Greenway helped develop in northern Minnesota became known as the Mesabi iron ore range. As the man who was “first behind enemy lines and the second man to the top of San Juan Hill,” Greenway was a likely choice to lead the development of the western Mesabi.

The town of Coleraine, which turns 100 April 17, was designed to be a town for miners who worked the Mesabi range, and their families, to enjoy an exceptional quality of life. John Greenway was given the honor of naming the town, which he did for Thomas F. Cole, then the president of the Oliver Mining Company. According to local historian, Brad Hall, it was not coincidental that in addition to helping name the town, Greenway had a hand in naming the major streets in that town. Not surprising, then, that Coleraine’s main street was named Roosevelt Avenue, for Greenway’s leader in battle.

The centennial celebration begins at 7:30 p.m. April 17at the Greenway High School auditorium with a kickoff concert by the Buckinghams, who began their national career as musicians while finishing high school in Chicago. Carl Giammarese of the Buckinghams said, “We are honored to be invited to celebrate Coleraine’s centennial celebration and perform in the high school named for John Greenway, and it’s fitting that the school is located on Roosevelt Avenue.”

The Buckinghams are celebrating more than 40 years as a performing group. The band first became known to national audiences in the 1960s for its distinctive pop rock horn sounds. Bass player Nick Fortuna notes, “The Buckinghams began our career playing in many great high school auditoriums back in the 1960s, and now we get to enjoy playing reunion concerts in those auditoriums.”

The band’s youthful look and great sound reminds the audience that “60 really is the new 40” and you’re as young as you feel, even if your town is 100 years old.

The Buckinghams are best known for Top 10 hits like “Kind of a Drag,” “Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song,” “Don’t You Care” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” and “Susan.” In the 1960s they were featured on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “American Bandstand” and the “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.” The million-selling recording artists for Columbia Records will perform solid gold ’60s favorites, plus new songs from their latest release, “Reaching Back,” available on Fuel Records.

The concert is the first of a year-long celebration for Coleraine’s centennial, with future local events scheduled for July. Reserved seating is $30 per ticket, with a centennial special of 4 tickets available for only $100. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

For tickets, contact the Reif Center Box Office, 720 Conifer Drive, Grand Rapids, MN 55744. Call (218) 327-5780 for more information or visit online at

For more information on the Buckinghams, visit or

~Information courtesy West Communications / Image from

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