FARGO — While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is keeping The Blenders off the road and away from their fans, the quartet is still in the giving mood this holiday season.
The vocal group will release the first of seven seasonal videos today, Nov. 20, with another new clip coming out each Friday. The shots are from live, in-studio performances, backed by the group’s touring band to give fans a taste of the concert experience they’ll be missing.
“It feels great to feel like we’re giving people something,” co-founder Tim Kasper says.
The quartet — Kasper, Ryan Lance, and brothers Darren and Allan Rust — started in Fargo 31 years ago and released its first album of Christmas tunes, “Nog,” in 1997. Since then, the friends have toured most Decembers and every year since 2000.
This year, that wasn’t an option, so they partnered with Bell Bank and Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum and InForum.com, and started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000 to produce the video series. As of Wednesday morning, the campaign had raised over $43,000 with over two days remaining.
“We feel fortunate to have fans that miss us,” says Kasper. “We’re always amazed that when we record something, there’s interest in it.”
He likens the videos to a televised holiday special, broken up into individual numbers. He won’t reveal which songs were recorded, adding that’s a holiday surprise, but says the selections resemble a best-of list fans will look forward to.
One thing missing that the concerts usually featured will be the comedy bits and for the most part choreography, as the group chose to focus on the music.
Kasper says he’ll miss the fans, but also miss being on the road with the other three members, but he knows everyone will be marking the holidays differently this year.
“We’re trying to find a positive in it,” Kasper says of the disruption to the group’s routine. “It’s a chance to take a step back and reassess what’s important and still find ways to celebrate the holidays.”
As the foursome really only tours during the holidays, usually including a string of six or so sold-out shows at the Fargo Theatre, Kasper acknowledges that the loss of touring also means a loss of income.
“It’s a hit, but that’s the least of our concerns is the financial hit,” he says. “We’ll make a little bit of money, but it’s a fraction of what we make touring.”
He adds that the group will be donating to a food bank.
“It’s really getting through 2020,” he says. “I don’t know if we’ll be back next year. We have every intention of doing that, but we want to make sure we get through it and get to a point where we can come back and play. We’re very fortunate to do anything this year.”