Arts Downtown Park Rapids this Thursday from 5 – 6:30 p.m.

Author Judy Merritt to read from her recent novel, Ghost Dancer.

The Arts Downtown PR series continues from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 17 in downtown Park Rapids.

Brian Skinness will entertain from 5 to 5:30 and 6 to 6:30 p.m. at Bella Caffè, 116 3rd Street West. He plays and sings a wide range of music he describes as “improvisational psychedelic country in the tradition of jazz.” One could also say he puts a new twist on a lot of favorites. Skinness owns Terrapin Station, Music, Art and Wellness Centre in Nevis.

Judy Merritt, who is also from Nevis, will be signing and reading from her new novel, Ghost Dancer, from 5 to 5:30 and 6 to 6:30 p.m. at Beagle Books, 112 3rd Street West. Three and a half years in the writing, the book chronicles the extraordinary dream journey of Spotted Weasel, the ghost of a Lakota Ghost Dancer, whose dreams include the present (1986) landscape of rural South Dakota and the people who lived there, the timeless and mysterious world of the Great Spirits, and the stone temples and people from an ancient past. Part of the research for this novel was made possible through a grant from the Region 2 Arts Council which funded a trip to South Dakota, where Judy met with historian Chuck Rambow, author of the book, Bear Butte: Journeys to the Sacred Mountain.

Chasing Clarence, a friendly international folk jazz trio, will play from 5 to 5:30 and 6 to 6:30 p.m. at The Good Life Cafe, 220 South Main Ave. This group finds its soul deeply rooted in the forests of Minnesota and Malaysia. With musical influences as wide ranging as the Mississippi River, their tenacious blend of vocal harmony and acoustical wittiness provide a true feeling of fresh. Prone to wander into territories uncharted, they offer toe-tapping tunes with authentic backwoods lyrical depth. The participants are Eric Bervig, Ezra Overly, Phoebe Mathius. Joining the trio for 3rd Thursday will be professional violinist Jeff Menten.

From 5 to 5:30 and 6 to 6:30 p.m. Park Rapids students will share their speeches from this year’s round of contests at Blank Canvas Gallery & Education Center, 311 South Main Ave. Students participating are: Olivia Fischer – drama, Rachel Konshok – storytelling, Noah Schulz and Madi Griffith – duo interpretation (participated in state speech), Sarah Schultz – storytelling (participated in state speech), Myah Schultz – humor, Tori Campbell – poetry and Kalee Holland – extemporaneous reading.

The Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council’s 3rd Thursdays will suspended for the summer and resume Sept. 20. Until then, you’re invited to 2nd Street Stage events from 6-8 pm Thursdays, June 21-Aug. 16.

This activity is funded in whole or in part by a Region 2 Arts Council Grant through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund passed by Minnesota voters on Nov. 4, 2008.