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Meet the Board 


Nic Henges

President 

 Do you play an instrument? If so, what is it and how long have you played?

I play mandolin and started in 2005. My current instrument is a Breedlove Premier FF built in 2009 that I named Spruce Almighty. I bought the mandolin used from within our community. In addition to really enjoying the instrument, Breedlove has been really great to me. I have interacted with them over some repair work, and they very truly care about their instruments and the people who own them.

What excites you about MBOTMA right now?

It feels like we have found solid ground that not only is rooted in our mission but also very forward looking. As a community we’ve been doing some incredibly hard work, both in leadership circles but also on the ground level, and it feels like it is paying off. The ship is really sailing forward. I am so optimistic about our future and so excited to be a member of this community

How long have you been on the Board and what’s your position? I was appointed to the Board in November of 2016 due to a vacancy and began my current role as Vice President in 2017.

What’s your occupation or what type of work did you do? I am a Project Manager and audio engineer for a live event production company called Audio Logic Systems.

What are some of your hobbies or interests?

Mandolin and everything else to do with music, audio recording, snowboarding, motorcycles, and being with my family

Tell us about your family.

I married my wife Melissa in 2012 and we have a 3 year old daughter named Edith and a 1 year old son named Gabe.

How long have you been part of MBOTMA and what brought you into the organization?

The first event I attended was the Winter Weekend, maybe in 2010. I was immediately interested in connecting with the community. My band, No Man’s String Band, became a member in 2012. I was and still am so fascinated with the role of musical traditions in our modern lives. At those first events I attended I saw people from various walks of life connecting over old songs and I had to know more. Before I knew it, I couldn’t get those ancient tones out of my head.

Do you have a favorite festival or activity at a festival?

I love the Winter Weekend. For as big as the hotel is, all the activities seem just packed in around each other. The event has such an immersive feel. Since having kids, hanging out in the family area at the August Festival has also become one of my favorite activities.





Jason Juran (Jay)

Vice President 


Do you play an instrument? If so, what is it and how long have you played? Mostly I play guitar and sing; I’ve played guitar for about twenty years. My first instrument was trumpet (although it’s harder to get that in around the campfire). I can also play a little of the other bluegrass instruments, but fiddling in anything other than G, D and A gets above my pay grade. 


How long have you been on the Board and what’s your position?

I was elected a Member at Large in December of 2019.

What’s your occupation or what type of work did you do?

I am an attorney practicing primarily in civil litigation, business counseling and contracts.

What are some of your hobbies or interests?

When I’m not playing bluegrass and old-time music? You can usually find me boating and fishing on the frozen or non-frozen lakes in my neighborhood. I’m very into live music, travel, camping and am known to make a few homebrews to get through the winter

Tell us about your family.

I grew up around my mom’s side in New England. They were all Italian, so I ate well and had to learn carb management later in life. My dad’s side was spread between hell and breakfast, but I still spend a great deal of time around them. On that side we’re usually singing and picking tunes when we’re all together.

How long have you been part of MBOTMA and what brought you into the organization?

I’ve been coming to MBOTMA events since I moved to town a little over 4 years ago and my friend/ bandmate Adam invited me to Winter Weekend. I’ve been a member since the moment I found out I could join.

Do you have a favorite festival or activity at a festival?

It’s usually pretty hard to pull me away from the jams, but we’ve been bringing in some fantastic sets lately (you see Cleveland?!)

What excites you about MBOTMA right now?

It’s great seeing some new faces at the festivals and attendance growing. The best part of the organization for me is watching new friends and generations meeting and learning to share music with each other. Everybody learns and communicates in their own way, but when it comes together, there’s nothing better. 




Robbie Podrug

Treasurer


Do you have a favorite festival or activity at a festival?

I don’t think I have a favorite. I think the committees do a stellar job of organizing the various festivals, giving each a personality of its own. It’s a monumental task to coordinate each of the festivals we put on, and hats off to the committees, and other volunteers, who invest countless hours doing so. The festivals just keep getting better and better!

Do you play an instrument? If so, what is it and how long have you played?

I play fiddle and sing. I have been playing for *ahem* 83% of my life.

What excites you about MBOTMA right now?

I moved to Minnesota 13 years ago and was drawn to the organization by the financial and sustainability challenges it was facing. Much of my career has involved adapting to new realities of financial landscapes, and I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing organizations think differently and thrive. More and more, MBOTMA is attracting new volunteers with new ideas that fulfill the mission of the organization in new ways and will help ensure it’s around for a long time to come.


How long have you been on the Board and what’s your position?

Treasurer – four years

What’s your occupation or what type of work did you do?

I am a CPA, and Tax Director for Best Buy.

What are some of your hobbies or interests? I do mosaics, and love art festivals and museums, cooking, and playing music

Tell us about your family.

I have one son, who is about to finish his Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology, at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. As for extended family, I have 25 first cousins, just like in the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” although I am not of Greek descent.

How long have you been part of MBOTMA and what brought you into the organization? What attracts me to the organization is seeing what it means to its members. It is a community of people from all over the state, some rural, some urban, of various ages and other demographics. I am not aware of other types of organizations that pull the variety of people together the way MBOTMA does.

Do you have a favorite festival or activity at a festival?

I don’t think I have a favorite. I think the committees do a stellar job of organizing the various festivals, giving each a personality of its own. It’s a monumental task to coordinate each of the festivals we put on, and hats off to the committees, and other volunteers, who invest countless hours doing so. The festivals just keep getting better and better!

Do you play an instrument? If so, what is it and how long have you played?

I play fiddle and sing. I have been playing for *ahem* 83% of my life.

What excites you about MBOTMA right now?

I moved to Minnesota 13 years ago and was drawn to the organization by the financial and sustainability challenges it was facing. Much of my career has involved adapting to new realities of financial landscapes, and I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing organizations think differently and thrive. More and more, MBOTMA is attracting new volunteers with new ideas that fulfill the mission of the organization in new ways and will help ensure it’s around for a long time to come.




Shane Zack 

Secretary 


Do you have a favorite festival or activity at a festival?

Jamming. There is a part of me that thinks I should attend more stage shows or workshops, but in the end, I can't resist a jam.

What's a fun fact about you?

I have a two-year-old daughter and a five-year-old daughter who don't seem to be catching on to bluegrass at the pace I would prefer. I am thinking about re-recording the Frozen 2 soundtrack as a bluegrass album to see if that does the trick.

How has being a board member impacted you?

As a board member, you really get to see the amount of work, effort, love and care volunteers and members pour into this organization. You hear more stories, more perspectives, and see so clearly the relationship the community has to the music but also the people who make up MBOTMA. It is harder to see that as the average person going to a few festivals a year.



How long have you been on the Board and what position(s) have you held?

I have been on the board since the Fall of 2017.

What MBOTMA volunteer role(s) have you held in the past?

I have worked the ticket table, information tables, facilitated board retreats and offered mandolin workshops.

What occupation did you have or do you have now?

Currently I am that director of Enrollment and Tuition Aid for a small, independent school in St. Paul.

What are some of your hobblies and interests?

I like playing music, mostly bluegrass, in my band King Wilkie's Dream. I also like to bake, mostly bread, but cake and cookies too when the mood strikes.

How long have you been part of MBOTMA and what brought you into the organization?

I am not sure exactly when I started attending MBOTMA events. It was at some point in highschool, either sophomore or junior year. I started playing bluegrass because I had a mandolin and didn't really know what to do with it. Everything just sort of went downhill from there.

What excites you about MBOTMA right now?

At the moment I am both excited worried about the pandemic and its impact on the music. I worry about the loss of revenue and laying opportunities for our bands, but at the same time I am pretty excited by the new and creative ways people have leveraged social media and technology to bring bluegrass and old-time music to larger and more diverse audiences. Really, this music was made by and meant for people going through hard times. The music was built for times like this and I am excited to see what it all looks like on the other side of this pandemic.

What would you tell a new MBOTMA member/volunteer?

Thank you for joining and thank you for your support. This music and organization provides meaning and connection for so many people. It can be life-changing and I am not sure where I would be without it. Thank you for making this possible.





At-Large Board Members: 


Penny Hillemann

What excites you about MBOTMA right now?

Building back post-pandemic. I think it'll be a real time of opportunity as people will be so excited to get back together and have been reminded of how important this is to their lives. At the same time, we know that some have really been impacted and may not be in a position to support the organization for a while.

What's a fun fact about you?

I had a blog about birding and nature that I really loved working on for about 10 years: penelopedia.com (my first name is really Penelope).

How has being a board member impacted you?

TBD, but I'm looking forward to getting to know the other board members and offering a newbie's perspectives and energy to the organization.



How long have you been on the Board and what position(s) have you held?

Brand new -- coming onto the board in January 2021. No positions yet other than member-at-large.

What MBOTMA volunteer role(s) have you held in the past?

I'm newer, so I haven't done too much yet. I helped check people in at the front gate at El Rancho in August 2019. I've checked wristbands and helped with load-in at a couple of the other festivals.

What occupation did you have or do you have now?

I am the Executive Director of Rice County Area United Way, which is a small nonprofit. I previously worked in strategic communications and public relations (involved with writing, websites, advertising, brochures, annual reports, social media, publicity, planning, advising clients, etc.).

How long have you been part of MBOTMA and what brought you into the organization?

I've been a member for about three years (since 2018 or so), pretty much as soon as I started attending festivals thanks to a friend who told me I'd love them, and she was right. Supporting the organization that puts on these festivals totally made sense. And member discounts are nice, right?

Do you have a favorite festival or activity at a festival?

Seeing my favorite local bands, gradually becoming more comfortable in jams, and just hanging out with great people who have become friends.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

Learning to play bluegrass banjo (very much a work in progress), getting out into nature, and birding.

What would you tell a new MBOTMA member/volunteer?

Jump in -- it feels good to help when you know the festivals can't happen without volunteers, and it's fun working with others to get something worthwhile done.





Mabel Houle 

What excites you about MBOTMA right now?

The people, the community, and of course the music! It’s the only organization I’m aware of that is so family friendly and encouraging and supportive of musical ability at any level

Do you have a favorite festival or activity at a festival?

I love late night outdoor jamming at the August Fest.

What's a fun fact about you?

I’m the sixth born child out of seven, and grew up singing a cappella gospel with my siblings.



How long have you been on the Board and what position(s) have you held? I just joined the Board in 2021 as a member at large.

What MBOTMA volunteer role(s) have you held in the past?

I’ve volunteered for a few different roles. Currently I’m the Vendor Coordinator for all festivals, have served on the Winter Weekend Committee for many years, lead the Saturday morning Kids Craft Activities at Winter Weekend Festival, load-in helper, and volunteer at the August Fest Family Area

What occupation did you have or do you have now?

I’m retired now, but worked as a project manager, and a business manager during my career.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

I love to play music, hike, camp, and hang out with my family and friends.

How long have you been part of MBOTMA and what brought you into the organization?

I first heard of MBOTMA in the late 1990s when a friend invited to join her family at the August Festival when it was held near Zimmerman MN. I’ve been enjoying this great community ever since.

How has being a board member impacted you?

I’ve just joined the Board, and am impressed with the warm welcome I’ve received.

What would you tell a new MBOTMA member/volunteer?

Just jump in and commit to a volunteer activity that interests you. It’s a great way to get to know other members better.






Mark Anderson

What excites you about MBOTMA right now?

MBOTMA has been rescued from its dire straits of three years ago, but there is much to do, and we face a challenging world in which to do it. I hope to encourage volunteerism among the younger crowd, because many of my favorite MBOTMA moments came from helping others. It’s not a chore or a burden, volunteering is the payoff.

How long have you been on the Board and what’s your position?

I was on the board in ‘95 or ‘96 for a couple of years and rejoined this January.

What’s your occupation or what type of work did you do?

I’ve played with Monroe Crossing for the last twenty years and am a computer consultant on the side.

What are some of your hobbies or interests?

Music, computers, long walks on the beach at sunset.

Tell us about your family.

My wife, Lisa Fuglie, plays in the band with me. My boys are now 18, with one in college and one preparing to join the plumbers union.

How long have you been part of MBOTMA and what brought you into the organization?

I joined MBOTMA in 1995. I had just turned 30 and a friend recommended I learn string bass. I loved the community.

Do you have a favorite festival or activity at a festival?

I love the late night jams and helping out where I can.

Do you play an instrument? If so, what is it and how long have you played?

Like most Bluegrass musicians, I’ll play around with whatever’s around. 




Dale Gruber 

Do you have a favorite festival or activity at a festival?

The August festival is my favorite, and I love volunteering with reserved camping. Throughout the years different things were my favorite. Jamming until the early morning hours with others, the shows at the Main Stage, and meeting the entertainers were some of my favorites. Camping with friends while hearing good music at almost every hour was great. Now I also love Ranch House Live on Saturday Nights. I look forward all year to playing and singing with all my friends as Dale and the Nobodies.

Do you play an instrument? If so, what is it and how long have you played?

I play guitar and have played since I was 14 years old. I love playing bluegrass, but my favorites are old country classics. I also play Dobro. The festivals are the perfect place to jam and learn from others. 



How long have you been on the board and what’s your position?

I have been on the board for over three years and am a board member at large. I have also been volunteering in reserved camping for about 20 years. I have always tried to help in whatever ways I could.

What is your occupation and what type of work did you do?

I own a pallet company. I started it in 1985, along with my family, out of our garage with a hammer and nail. Everyone pitched in. We have grown quite a bit and now have 40 great employees. We have seen good times and bad times and weathered the storms. I have learned a lot through the years. I love what I do.

Tell us about your family.

I have a wonderful wife that I have been married to for 44 years. I love her more today than the first day I met her. We have 5 children, three girls and two boys. We have ten grandchildren with one on the way. My two sons work with me in the pallet business. Everyone lives locally and we are very close. Three of our children have a band named Blue Hazard.

How long have you been part of MBOTMA and what brought you to the organization?

We went to our first festival in Zimmerman MN around 1992. We came with our friends Gene and Joy Johnson and are very grateful they introduced us to this community. Quality bands and the family area were what kept bringing us back. The fact that the festivals were very family-oriented and our whole family had things to do made it fun for everyone. Barbara and Gary Carlson were great at the family stage and helped instill a love for the music in our kids. The talent show is what kept them practicing all year long. It was their dream to one day win the contest and play a tweener on the big stage.

What excites you about MBOTMA right now? The organization is much better financially than when I came aboard. I look forward to the future and getting more known national bands. I also love seeing the young kids at the festival. They are the future of Bluegrass. 






Bill LIndroos

Do you have a favorite festival or activity at a festival? Jamming is my favorite festival activity – and it applies to all of our festivals.

Do you play an instrument? If so, what is it and how long have you played?

I play fiddle and guitar. I started playing when I was a kid but took decades off while concentrating on working and raising kids. I discovered the joys of jamming in my 50s and the rest is, as they say, history. I do get occasional requests -- but I keep on playing and singing anyway.

What excites you about MBOTMA right now?

The coronavirus pandemic is an existential threat to organizations large and small, and MBOTMA is not --dare I say-- immune. Fortunately, MBOTMA is currently stronger organizationally and financially than it has been in recent years. All of our 2019 events were successful. The August Festival had the largest crowd I have ever seen at a MBOTMA event. More recently, both the Fall Jam and Winter Bluegrass Weekend were great successes. We have strong and committed leadership. The MBOTMA community is strong and extraordinarily talented. The board has recently approved a new strategic plan, and I am excited to begin working that plan.


How long have you been on the Board and what’s your position?

I was appointed to the board in 2016, elected in 2017 and reelected in 2019. I serve as a member at large, and as a member of the Program Planning Committee.

What’s your occupation or what type of work did you do? Before retiring in 2012, I worked in healthcare research at 3M Company for 31 years. I worked on a variety of medical devices over the years, but spent much of my time doing wound care research.

What are some of your hobbies or interests? In addition to music, I enjoy golf, pickleball, flyfishing, hiking in the desert and playing with my granddaughter.

Tell us about your family.

My wife, Becka, and I have two daughters who are both teachers. One teaches middle school science in Missouri, and the other one teaches 3rd grade in the Twin Cities. We have one granddaughter, age five, who is the light of our lives. My wife and I met on Mackinac Island where we had summer jobs. We didn’t make much money, but it turned out to be a productive summer nonetheless.

How long have you been part of MBOTMA and what brought you into the organization?

The music brought me into the organization. My love of bluegrass began in college when I heard the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Circle album. After moving to Minnesota I discovered Bluegrass Saturday Morning on KBEM, where I learned about MBOTMA. I don’t remember the exact years, but I attended a couple of festivals at Zimmerman. After the festival moved to El Rancho, I started attending regularly and eventually participated in a jam camp. Getting to know a few folks opened up a whole new world to me. I started volunteering at the festival, which further broadened the MBOTMA community to me. In 2014, I joined the Kick-off committee, and in 2015 joined the August Festival Committee. It’s still about the music, but the community formed around this music is what I value most.



Rudy Marti 

How long have you been on the Board and what’s your position?

I was appointed to the BoD in 2017 and again in 2018. The membership elected me to a 2 year term starting in 2020.

What’s your occupation or what type of work did you do?

My wife and I own two Domino’s Pizza stores in Anoka County. I also am a carpenter by trade.

What are some of your hobbies or interests?

Working with wood has been a life- long passion of mine. Hunting, fishing

and travel are my hobbies.



Tell us about your family.

My wife of 40 years is also my business partner. We share the same love for pizza. We have two sons who have become an integral part of our business and it’s a pleasure to work with them on a daily basis. Our 12 year old granddaughter is a true blessing.

How long have you been part of MBOTMA and what brought you into

the organization?

About 15 years ago my wife and her sister heard about a bluegrass festival at a ranch near Richmond, Minnesota. They dragged me out to festival with a rented camper. I wasn’t going to stay but decided to hear a few bands. I couldn’t believe how good the music was and how talented the musicians were. I was hooked and started volunteering.

Do you have a favorite festival or activity at a festival?

The August Festival is my favorite. El Rancho Manana is a great venue to hold our late summer festival. I also volunteer as your Reserve Campground Coordinator for the festival. It can be challenging to assign 130 or more campers to the correct campsites, but I do enjoy it. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people (volunteers and campers) along the way as I help escort them to their campsites.

Do you play an instrument? If so, what is it and how long have you played?

I wish I did but I don’t. Woodworking is my passion.

What excites you about MBOTMA right now?

I enjoy going to board meetings knowing that the Board of Directors and Staff are working together to provide the membership the best possible bluegrass festivals we can afford and also provide venues for our musicians to show off

their talents. (jams, stages, etc.)



Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Association
P.O. Box 16408, Minneapolis, MN 55416

info@minnesotabluegrass.org

651-456-8919     

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