It’s a gorgeous day in northern Wisconsin. I am the drummer for Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua, and I get to drink my locally roasted, Puerto Rican coffee and do two school shows and an evening show in that big, beautiful, blue-and-grey canvas tent.
I’ll drive along the lake, admire its indigo sparkle and say out loud, “Here you are, Mitchell, going to work.” Lucky? I don’t know. Fortunate? Yes! To be driving that shore line for 25 years, to go play music for friends and strangers is a blessing. And I get to be with friends on stage: five of my fellow performers have, like myself, been at “The Tent” since the very first day so long ago: 1986. Before cell phones, cd’s, pc’s, before . . . well . . . a lot of things.
We are still here, we have persevered, we have survived. That in itself is a wonder. But the biggest wonder of all is the tent itself. At the top of Wisconsin– go any further north and you’ll get wet! – and, at the peak of the list of places to go and things to do in this state. There’s no place like it anywhere. Come on up, and I’ll pour you a cup of coffee.
Tom Mitchell is the drummer for Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua, a year round non profit performing arts organization. They operate from an intimate 900-seat, all-canvas, state-of-the-art tent theater, producing and presenting a fifty-plus night summer season of concerts, plays, lectures, and a highly acclaimed professional local troupe which performs original multi-media musicals in the tent and on tour. Their Ten Radio Show airs weekly and showcases live performances from the Big Top stage, is aired on public radio stations throughout the country. Big Top Chautauqua celebrates their 25th Anniversary in 2011.