Category Archives: Writing

The Tavern of Northfield – 30 Year Promotion

This fall marks the Tavern of Northfield‘s 30th anniversary. The historic restaurant offers exceptional from-scratch cooking and is located in the Archer House River Inn, a landmark in downtown Northfield, Minnesota.

Acheson Creative worked with the Tavern’s management and staff to develop their 30th celebration through various communications and promotions – written content, t-shirt design, a series of social media menu posts with custom artwork profiling new menu entrees, and video scene direction and testimonials. The Tavern contracted with Spreire (a Twin Cities based video company) and Acheson Creative to produce this short 3-minute promo video. Take a look!













Preservation Alliance of Minnesota – brochure design

Acheson Creative recently designed a capabilities brochure for the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. Their organization works to preserve our state’s historic resources. To learn more about their important mission, go to

PAM_brochure_1_Page_1[nggallery id=7]

Several articles have been written by Amy Acheson for the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. They can be found at or through the links below:

Recalling history through its sights and sounds

Building a city from within

Thinking beyond the boundaries – creating heritage networks

Rabideau CCC Camp – Yesterday and Today

Big Woods – Yesterday and Today

Greetings from Northfield





Jazz session in Northfield

[This article ran in the Star Tribune south metro edition. Read the full article here.]

Jazz guitarist Samuel Miltich said he has always loved acoustic string music.

“As a young person, Duke Ellington and George Gershwin were two of my favorite musicians, but the music I was surrounded by tended more toward bluegrass and acoustic folk music,” he said. When he heard Django Reinhardt, the legendary jazz guitarist from Europe credited for originating Gypsy jazz, for the first time at age 15, it changed his life.

“It was my first introduction to jazz being played on acoustic string instruments, and I immediately fell in love with this melding of musical influences, and since then I’ve dedicated myself to this music,” he said.

Miltich, a childhood prodigy and now a world-renowned jazz guitarist, plays original compositions and tunes from a variety of different genres and even different cultures — Brazilian choro music, French musette, American jazz standards — but through it all he’s maintained the style and technique of Gypsy jazz.

Miltich performs with the Clearwater Hot Club and is one of four featured musicians performing in Northfield this spring as part of a Gypsy Jazz Jam Series. Miltich plays April 17, Mark Kreitzer of the Mark Kreitzer Band on April 30, Robert Bell of the Twin Cities Hot Club on May 15, and Reynold Philipsek of the Sidewalk Cafe Trio on May 29.

The public is welcome to take part in the series at the Eagles Club, 304 Water St. S. in Northfield. The shows start at 7 p.m. Attendees can just listen, or they can bring instruments and join in the jam session.

“The atmosphere for musicians will be very open and supportive,” said Martha Larson, a cellist and the founder of the Gypsy Jazz Jam Series, who also plays with Miltich and Kreitzer on occasion. “The featured musicians are all terrific teachers as well as players; they’ll share some tips and tricks throughout the session. We’ll project music charts on the wall so everyone can follow along. Those who want to solo can test out their chops in a supportive environment. Those who want to play along with the chords can sit back and relax.”

Martha Larson was first immersed in the Gypsy jazz live music circuit in Chicago, where she and her husband lived before moving to Northfield. “It’s not only the visceral music that drew me in, but also the culture,” said Larson, who describes Gypsy jazz as an open and inviting form where virtuosic players and newcomers intermingle with ease.

Musician Robert Bell of the Twin Cities Hot Club explained how Gypsy jazz evolved.

“To satisfy the enthusiasm and excitement that many Parisians had for the American art form known as jazz, a group of the finest musicians was assembled,” he said. “Enter Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli.”

The practice of “jamming” was how the two eventually formed the Quintette du Hot Club of France. While “jamming” is an integral part of jazz, it is actually an entire cornerstone of Gypsy culture, he said — it’s is how the music of the Roma [Gypsies] is passed along.

When the Gypsy music combined with American jazz, many new compositions were introduced. But the music is still learned in the same way: by jamming.

Larson explains how the music infuses modern sounds through improv on top of the traditional French bistro jazz melodies of the 1930s and that the guitar emulates the swing drum beat — the down strokes being the beat and the up strokes as ornamentation.

“There’s something about this sound that is both sentimental and modern,” Larson said. “The use of acoustic string instruments gives it a warmth and a distinction; the swing repertoire is fun, uplifting and danceable … while the ballads are beautifully melodic.”

Why has Gypsy jazz retained its currency from when Reinhardt and Grappelli made it popular in Paris during the 1930s? Maybe because it’s a style that’s always reinventing itself — its roots are in improv­isation, an approach where no two artists can express a tune in quite the same way.

“The Gypsy element adds something exotic to the music being it’s European,” said Jazz guitarist and composer Reynold Philipsek, whose music is strongly influenced by Django Reinhardt. “I traveled to Europe and spent some time in France — that got me more interest in Gyspy jazz. My grandparents also came from Eastern Europe and those roots are part of the strong connection,” Philipsek said.


– Amy Acheson is a Northfield writer.


Note: Acheson Creative also custom designed a poster for the 2014 jazz series – to view it, go here.



Ole Store Restaurant – food blog

I’ve enjoyed writing about the Ole Store Restaurant in Northfield, MN. Read my latest blog post profiling their seasonal entrees. (Photos and written content by Amy Acheson.) 

As the brisk autumn air turns to winter, the Ole Store Restaurant is busy preparing some warm and oh-so-good seasonal dishes inside.

Harvest time displays a color-rich palette of our region’s bounty that ripens into vibrant tones of mustard gold, deep apricot, crimson berry and toasted walnut hues.

The Ole Store, an upscale neighborly establishment, celebrates the season with an appetizing menu colored by locally produced ingredients. Chef Chris Basina and the Ole Store’s talented culinary team bring fresh insight to create a tasteful selection of fine foods that can be paired with wine and craft beers.

As we enter the cold weather season, warm up to these delicious thoughts —


The Roasted Garlic Plate is an appetizer to share. Build your own bites from an assortment of delectable fare — caramelized, mild roasted garlic atop toasted baguettes with a taste of award-winning St. Pete’s Select blue cheese. Try the country-style coarse dark ale mustard for a hearty spread. Fresh pear slices and homemade pear butter, created by the Ole Store’s own sous-chef, adds another layer to this palate-pleasing, savory-meets-sweet sensation.


Another favorite served family style is the Crab Louie. A classic in its own right, this one is piled high in goodness.  Chef Basina adds his own twist to the traditional dish by dressing up the East Coast jumbo lump crab with a slash of color. “We took it a step further by composing it with a salad to build a flavor profile that’s exciting,” said Basina. Added to the 1000 Island dressing option is a new smoked-tomato vinaigrette created right in their kitchen using a four-hour smoking process. Hard-boiled eggs, red onion, kalamata olives, avocado, artichokes, feta cheese, capers and carrots stack up to make you feel like a king served at a table of white linen.


Along the lines of seafood is the Cedar-Planked Salmon. Again, it’s about the overall experience at the Ole Store. The aroma of the salmon smoked on a red-wine soaked cedar plank is just one of the elements. The salmon itself is carefully sourced from a researched and reputable supplier in the Faroe Islands that believes in environmental stewardship and best practices when it comes to ocean food. This entrée is served with butternut squash risotto with caramelized walnuts, pear butter sauce and chef’s vegetable.


Locally procured grass-fed beef from 1000 Hills Cattle Company in Cannon Falls is on the Ole Store’s select menu. The aged NY strip is a choice piece that has been hand-cut and is charbroiled to perfection. This tender and juicy entrée is served with your choice of potato — Yukon mashed, au gratin, twice baked sweet potato or french fries plus a chef’s vegetable. For the cheese connoisseur, you can opt to add local award-winning St. Pete’s Select cheese to your steak.


Pizza never sounded so good. This rustic flatbread is presented with a 16-hour smoked spiced pulled pork and caramelized butternut squash. House made rolled crust is drizzled with olive oil; the garlic bakes in with the melting bubbly mozzarella and chevre while fresh sage is chopped and tossed on top.


Why have plain old pumpkin pie when you can have Pumpkin Tiramisu? This dessert dappled in layers of airy silkiness and smoothness is similar to the original recipe which paddles in whipped cream, mascarpone cheese with accents of liquor and coffee, but the Ole Store’s version offers a unique autumn edge. Basina turns the leaf with this light pumpkin-filled dessert by sprinkling in crushed gingersnaps and folding in aromatic autumn spices reminiscent of fall’s finest moments … leaving a lasting impression, as the delicate taste-full texture is really an experience worth having.

 — written by Amy Acheson




Recalling History through its Sights and Sounds

The following is a blog post written for the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota.

If you’re an avid music lover and have a high interest in history, you’re going to want to take a trip to southern Minnesota, August 1-4, for the Vintage Band Festival as it relives the sights and sounds of past eras in a variety of genres, heritage influences and period-style performances.

Over 100 concerts will take place in the town of Northfield — from parks, to pavilions to pubs — music will resonate in our state. Several surrounding cities have also joined in as festival satellite concert sites creating an exciting music & history tour of the towns.

Over 30 brass and wind bands are invited, ranging from international performers to nationally recognized vintage bands to Midwestern vintage ensembles to Minnesota-based bands. Listen to community bands such as the Sheldon Theatre Brass Band,  Lake Wobegon© Brass Band and the official band of the our state, the Minnesota State Band. Other Twin Cities ensembles such as the Brass Messengers, Copper Street Brass Quintet and Jack Brass Band will also take to the stage. Hear the distinct sounds of heritages, as with the music of the Mariachi Mi Terra Band, Ameriikan Poijat, Klezmerica, Matterhorn Alphorns and the Bavarian Musiklmeisters to name a few.

Enjoy the works of famous composers from centuries ago and the mellow sounds of vintage instruments restored from past eras. Sheet music passed down through the generations or discovered in the archives at the New York Library of Congress are played, while others are transcribed into modern notation from distant lands. Each live rendition is a glimpse into the history of our world as music preserves and recalls a sense of time, place, and culture.

According to the Festival’s Artistic Director Dr. Paul Niemisto, “Music is one of the most engaging and emotional ways to relive history. Each of us has many personal experiences with this. A whole festival devoted to memories through music is a fantastic opportunity.”

Between the different genres, artistic renditions, ethnic influences and collections of music over the ages, the repertoire for this festival is one you will not want to miss.

Amy Acheson is a volunteer with the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and is also a promoter of the Vintage Band Festival in Northfield where she lives and works as an independent communications consultant.

Vintage Band Festival Delivers a Blast From the Past

Screen shot 2013-04-06 at 8.47.41 AMTravel through time — compliments of the Vintage Band Festival — as it takes you on a whirlwind musical extravaganza August 1-4 in southern Minnesota.

This notable event will be the highlight of the summer – welcoming 30 US and international bands as they perform an astonishing 100 concerts over four days! The festival is located in the historic river town of Northfield, just south of the Twin Cities, known for its Defeat of Jesse James Days, esteemed private colleges of St. Olaf and Carleton and Ames Mill, home to Malt-O-Meal® cereal.

History is in the making as this exciting musical event offers a wide range of genres, heritage influences, and period-inspired performances — with a whole host of event attractions and entertainment, sure to please any modern day history buff.

The resounding pulse of the festival is through its musicians and their expression toward the remembrance of historic accounts, cultural authenticity, and the movement music has made over the years.

Vintage Band Festival, Matterhorn Alphorn Trio – Photo by David Perez Photography

What constitutes vintage you might ask? It’s music from around the world dating back from approximately the mid 1700s up until the mid 1900s for this festival. Many of the reenactment bands use actual antique instruments and dress in period clothes. (Some take great care to be authentic down to their buttons and shoelaces for the shows.) The songs come from old sheet music or handwritten part books. Unique, old instruments have been restored, tuned and scored — to create an outstanding repertoire of unforgettable music that has made its mark in history.

AlphornExperience the sounds of Baroque, Balkan, Klezmer, Mariachi, Jazz, Civil War, German, New Orleans, Austrian, and Swedish tunes — all in one weekend, as a variety of ensembles participate in the Vintage Band Festival, including international bands, nationally recognized vintage bands, Midwestern vintage ensembles and a number of Minnesota-based brass bands and community bands.

The Festival concerts run back-to-back as the four-day weekend is jammed packed with the finest of brass and wind music. Concerts are held at various indoor and outdoor venues throughout Northfield. Vintage Band Festival satellite concerts are also available in nearby communities, as optional daytrips, to experience the richness of this cultural area.

Beyond the scheduled concerts, cameo appearances take place as strolling musicians tool through shops, the riverfront market, and along Northfield’s downtown main street to add to the flavor of this nostalgic scene. You might hear the sounds of an ophecleide trio, sackbut duo, helicon quartet, or clarino trio to name a few.

Surrounding the festival are numerous auxiliary events: a historic horn exhibit, Battle of the Bands, vintage “base ball”, ballroom-style dance, vaudeville entertainment, Lunch Listen & Learn concerts, massed concert, Sunday music in area churches, and the annual gathering of the Historic Brass Society.

For a full list of the festival’s bands, performance concert schedule, events and attractions and suggested itineraries, visit

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts & cultural heritage fund.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Advertorial written for Leisure Group Travel by Amy Acheson. To view the article online, go to