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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

March 10 & 11 - Washburn, WI
April 13 & 14 - Washburn, WI

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


From Warren

February 2018
Greetings Wide Awake Citizens!

Thanks for coming to my website.  We just played a concert at our venue The Harbor View Event Center in Washburn - good crowd, good show. Our upcoming schedule at the Harbor View includes a brand new show of mine entitled South Shore Chronicles- six vignettes with songs telling and singing bygone stories of Lake Superior.  It debuts the evening of March 10th followed by  a Sunday Matinee at 2 pm. I was inspired by the journals of people who settled here as early as 1855.

On April 13th and 14th, we present the first annual “Brokedown Blues Fest” led by Otis McLennon & the Alligators.  His well known band played throughout the Midwest for many years and included the Brokedown Palace in Washburn. The two festival days feature five  blues bands and promises to be a packed house.  There will be a limited number of tickets available, with prices:

April 13 (two bands): $20
April 14 (three bands): $35
April 13 & 14 together: $45

Tickets are now being sold in Washburn at the Washburn Chamber of Commerce and at the Washburn Inn:  715-373-5671; email:  washburninnonthelake@gmail.com.

Check out my media page for more details and other coming events.  Hope to see you soon, Warren Nelson.



Warren Nelson Speaking © Sophia Hantzes