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Welcome to the online home of Warren Nelson - Songwriter, Musician, Entertainer, Poet, Historian, Radio Host and a Tent-show "Man of the Cloth" with a career in show business lasting over 40 years.

A Fairmont, Minnesota native, Warren is the founder of Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua and has led a team of talented musicians, actors, researchers and technicians in the creation of numerous large-scale, historical musicals since the 1970's. 

The story of how the Hornpipe came to be is included in my book Ballyhoo Big Top. Here it is-

THE HORNPIPE 1976 (10 B.C.)

The year was 1976, and I was putting together a show for a celebration of my hometown in Minnesota: Selections From Lost and Found Fairmont Histories: A Martin County Hornpipe. Original songs, readings, illustrating historical photographs projected on a large screen. Sound familiar?

The Hornpipe is really the start of Big Top Chautauqua. Nine years before the tent show rose, the equation of our original shows was born. I was running on blind faith writing the songs and script. I had in mind members of my former group, The Tenth Story Window, most of the performers originally from Fairmont.

Betty and I had moved to the mountains for a year along with Don Pavel and my sister whom he had married. We lived two cabins away and thus he was up to the minute on the Hornpipe's progress. I was traveling back and forth from the mountains to Fairmont doing research, collecting stories and photographs from the Martin County Historical Society. Betty was day to day with the project. In the final months she traveled with me. John Larsen, an old Fairmont pal did the photocopying in the old time way, copying photos to slides with close-up lenses that were screwed on and off. It was a time consuming effort.

There were many miracles in the coming together of this show, including finding Bruce Bowers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The show was a grand success. The Angels came down that weekend.

After the show, we all said our good byes and went our separate ways. I can't believe it did not come to me to pursue a career in producing more of these types of shows until seven years later when Ann Christensen and Gary Holman heard the LP of The Hornpipe and struck on the idea that Betty and I should produce a show for Washburn's Centennial.




Performance Schedule

Play Ball's Chautauqua Debut Was A Grand Slam!

Now Booking Tour Dates: info@warrennelson.com

"Warren Nelson is at the top of his game. Play Ball Is fabulous and well worth traveling to see!" - Dayle Quigley

For full information regarding upcoming performances, be sure to visit the Media page for times and contact information. If you would like to be informed of my future appearances and plans, please send your email address to: info@warrennelson.com

June 23 - Bayfield, WI
June 25 - Drummond, WI
July 2 - Bayfield, WI
July 4 - Bayfield, WI
July 29 - Washburn, WI
August 19 - Washburn, WI


From Warren

May 22

Wide Awake Citizens!

Greetings from the Sioux River Song Farm. 2017 is my 50th year in professional show business… my my how the time do fly. I started with Nellie’s Folk, a ten piece folk group in my hometown of Fairmont MN.  In the summer of 1967 we were booked to perform 10 weeks in Medora, North Dakota in a beautiful outdoor theatre in the badlands.  In college we changed our name to The 10th Story Window and travelled the country for 3 years playing clubs and concerts.  The highlight was playing Vegas warming up for The Ike and Tina Turner Revue in summer 1969 (Elvis in the next showroom).

It is also the 50th year of performing with my great friend Jack Gunderson. We are celebrating all that with a concert at Big Top Chautuaqua, the tent show I founded.  June 23rd.

Love to see you there!




Warren Nelson Speaking © Sophia Hantzes