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Olson brothers: Making music and connections in the north woods

Andy and Spencer Olson of Emily, Minn., have been playing music professionally for over five years. Now they’re starting a recording company.

The Olson brothers in front of their general store home in Emily, Minn.

This marks the final week of MinnPost’s yearlong series, Rural Minnesota: A Generation at the Crossroads. The project was made possible by the Otto Bremer Foundation.

RuralMN a generation at the crossroadsOriginal image by msalmi78

EMILY, Minn. — Andy Olson, 21, and his brother Spencer, 17, live in the general store their parents bought a couple of years ago near Emily. The boys have been playing music professionally for over five years. They’ve done more than 500 gigs in bars and other venues, beginning when Spencer was just 12. Spencer also has had some success in recent years with computer animation.

They are now creating their own recording company, teaming up with veteran music producer John Pribyl to form Amerimine Records, hoping to showcase local talent and original music of central and northern Minnesota.

Olson brothers in studioMinnPost photo by Steve DateSpencer Olson, left, and his brother, Andy, in their recording studio

The Olson brothers’ story embodies many of the themes that have emerged from the “Rural Minnesota: Generation at the Crossroads project.” Andy and Spencer talk about decisions facing young people in rural areas, among them whether to stay or migrate to a bigger city.

While they are finding a niche by using throwback recording equipment for their music, they are making the most of modern technology— especially the Internet — to the point where they can run a music production business with international connections in the Minnesota north woods in a way that would not have been possible a few years ago. They also talk about education, the economy, job and career options for their peers, and the changing music business.

In this video you’ll meet two bright, articulate and enterprising young men who are building careers by combining old ideas with new technology and creating a new business model for people of their generation.

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