Ely Public Library

“Ross & Bart Sutter mesmerized our patrons with well chosen words and songs that you don’t hear on the radio anymore. This duo was easy to work with, and our audience was laughing and joining in on the songs throughout the entire program. The Sutter Brothers are a couple of great ‘North Country Characters’ to bring to your library.”

Grand Marais Public Library

“The Sutter Brothers were a dream act! From set-up, through the performance, to take-down, they were professional and polished. Their performance was one of the best I've ever hosted in a library, and the audience loved them. The combination of poetry, music & Minnestalgia really hit our audience sweet spot. I would take a return performance in a heartbeat! Truly, one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve spent in years!”

Two Harbors Public Library

“‘North Country Characters’ with The Sutter Brothers was the most popular program we have had at Two Harbors Public Library so far this year. The people who came really liked the combination of humor and appreciation of Scandinavian culture. I heard comments about what a good voice Ross has, and also someone who said she doesn’t usually read poetry but really liked hearing Bart’s. They were easy to work with, arrived early and helped put out chairs and had minimal requirements for their set-up. Several people asked if we can have them come back again, and I hope that is possible.”

West Duluth Branch Library

“Boy, where do I start with The Sutter Brothers! It is rare for a group to call ahead to make sure everything is in place. That was very much appreciated. The show was deep and silly, wise and foolish. The like of it has not been seen in these parts before! The audience loved singing along. Some of the poems have already entered into rotations in family storytelling. We are so grateful to have been able to have such a great show in West Duluth. Our patrons loved it.”

Duluth News Tribune

A cow call sounds like a she-wolf's howl, a bellowed moo, some whip-poor-will or a sob. It rises, it descends, it unfurls, according to poet-playwright, and in this case narrator, Bart Sutter, who stood on a stage during a rehearsal with his hand against his chest.In the back of the room, four women dressed in aprons, shawls, head kerchiefs, black boots and decorated with cowbells and horns practiced their calls: one was a yodel, another a more sing-songy sound. Each call was unique.


Sutter's play "Cow Calls in Dalarna" is about these calls and the siren-esque women who yodeled in the summer pasture camps in Swedish villages, a practice that dates back centuries, but began to wane in the 20th century. The play, told in verse and in the voices of the women, kicks off the Swedish Cultural Society's two-day Midsommar celebration. The premiere, done in a slightly more decorated version of the reader's theater style, is at 7 p.m. today at Peace United Church of Christ."Cow Calls in Dalarna" will also be performed July 22-23 at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.


"I've been writing it all my life," said Sutter, who based the play on his new collection of poetry of the same name, published by Red Dragonfly Press.Sutter has returned three times to the village in Dalarna near Lake Siljan, where his grandfather was raised. The province, he said, is thought of as the heart of the folk district."It seemed to me that the summer pasture camps were the heart of the heart of the folk district," he added.Back in the day, women took their cows to pastures in the hills for the summer, where they produced cheese and whey for the winter. The calls were used to summon the cows or send signals or warnings to the other women in the pastures.Sutter said the first time he heard the cow calls, it brought tears to his eyes."It made me feel like the hide was going to peel off my back," he said. "That went deep."The sound and the stories of the women stuck with him. He wrote a few poems about them — he tends to write about Scandinavian themes — but they lingered."The ghosts of these women who used to spend their summers up there started to speak to me," he said.As he was writing, Sutter said he began to feel like the poems wanted to get up and move around and dance."I thought OK, theater is tough, but these women will get me if I don't do something about this," he said.A play was born.


"It's very exciting," he said. "And a great relief. You hold these things in your head for months at a time and then the tension builds as you start working toward a play. You have all these ideals and ideas, and are we going to be able to pull this off or not?"Sutter approached Sheryl Jensen, who semi-retired from the theater biz this past summer after her annual musical production. She had taught Sutter's poetry in her AP English classes at Duluth East. She liked the idea of a small-scale project and the chance to work with the writer, she said.Plus, there was this community of women:"I was intrigued by the mythology of it all," she said."Cow Calls" is a reader's theater production, which means minimal staging and scripts in hand. Jensen, who joked that she is 100 percent Norwegian and has never spent time around cows, added some simple costumes, gestures and a bit of folk dance and fiddling.For the program, Sutter said he imagined recorded cow calls. But Jensen suggested that each woman in the cast — Mary Jo Uhlenkott, Rose Arrowsmith DeCoux, Heidi Lyle and Mary Lee — come in with her own sound."YouTube is pretty magical for research," said DeCoux of Grand Marais, who has spent her life steeped in Swedish culture. She grew up in a "Swedish nerd kind of family," she said. Holidays are traditional, her mother has taught at a Swedish day-camp for years, and DeCoux has been a Swedish teacher.DeCoux spends a lot of time at Swedish festivals and said the sound is distinct. She created her own call by altering a Swedish folk song."They have that high, haunting, minor key feel," she said.

Unlimited Learning, Crosby MN

 “The Sutter Brothers were fantastic and greatly enjoyed by all. Because of them, we had the biggest turnout ever (around 125; usually around 50). Many people called me and others on our program committee to thank us for inviting The Sutter Brothers. People will remember their performance for years to come.”

Historic Holmes Theatre, Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center

“Working with the Sutter Brothers is quality through and through. Ross and Bart are extremely easy to work with, offer great outreach activities with students and seniors, are extremely personable with their audience and put on a wonderful show!”

Warroad Public Library

“The Sutter Brothers, Ross and Barton, performed at the Warroad Public Library and presented their audience with a grand experience of music and poetry. They are a class act and guaranteed to please your audience.”

Heimsyn Lodge, Sons of Norway Cloquet, MN

“The Sutter Brothers entertained us for an hour with poetry, songs, stories. We had a standing-room-only audience that was enthusiastic, welcoming and engaged. We sang along, laughed and enjoyed nostalgic moments.”

Headwaters School of Music & Arts, Bemidji, MN

“One of the comments I received after The Sutter Brothers’ performance at Lake Bemidji State Park was the following: ‘That was the best show you have had all summer!’ Ross and Bart are so well prepared for their presentations whether they are for small children or for adults. As an organization, you can be sure the quality of the presentation is of utmost concern to each of them. Their ability to play off of each other’s words and actions is a natural for them. They present with ease and the audience can find humor and great pleasure in each performance.”

Hallock Public Library

“What a fun evening we all had when The Sutter Brothers, Ross and Bart, performed for an audience in the Hallock Public Library. Our audience was made up of all age groups and everyone was totally engaged in the performance. Bart and Ross were so relaxed and comfortable with the audience. They had everyone singing and clapping along to the music. The reviews from the audience were all very positive with many asking to have them back.”

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