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Dakota Blonde in concert

April 17, 2013

Learn what it means to become a 'Blonde-head.' Dakota Blonde's loyal fan base, which can be found at most of the band's performances, coined this name. Fans know most of the band's song lyrics and bring special props to their shows.

Dakota Blonde band members Don Pinnella, Mary Huckins, and Tony Raddell.Thursday, April 18
7:30 p.m.
Organ Recital Hall
University Center of the Arts
1400 Remington Street

The new Contemporary Artist Music Series will feature Dakota Blonde, a lively acoustic trio; the series is sponsored by Bohemian Foundation and Colorado State.  


  • $7/CSU students
  • $1/youth (under 18)
  • $12/ public

Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts (UCA) Ticket Office in the UCA Griffin Lobby, by phone at (970) 491-2787, or online. Youth tickets must be purchased in person at the Ticket Office. Advance purchase is recommended to avoid at-the-door fees.

Trio's music touches something deep

Dakota Blonde is made up of CSU alum Mary Huckins ‘91, Don Pinnella, and Tony Raddell. The trio met through their careers in music therapy, working with children and adolescents who are emotionally troubled. Their experiences in this field play a big role in their music.
Mary Huckins of Dakota Blonde.
“We’ve been told our music and performances have a special element that is hard to describe,” says band mate and CSU alum Mary Huckins. “Our music has the ability to touch something deep inside of the listener.

Our backgrounds in music therapy play a big part in the songs we write as a group and the songs we choose to write and perform with others. Music moves us so much, and it has always been important to us to let it move through us to others.”

Skills with multiple instruments

Aside from the connection the band has with their audiences, Huckins also attributes their music therapy backgrounds to helping each of them pick up skills with different instruments.

“As music therapists we all sang and had to play a variety of instruments,” she said. “We can move from guitar to piano and bass to accordion, and we’re always willing to pick up new instruments we’ve never played before.”

Dakota Blonde performs originals as well as covers with a unique blend of heart, humor, authenticity and spirit. Though all their music is acoustic, they play songs from a variety of genres, performing folk, bluegrass, rock, and even a little Celtic. The band categorizes their sound as “Acoustic Americana” or “Progressive Folk.”Don Pinnella of Dakota Blonde.

Relax, laugh, and walk away as friends

When asked what audience can expect from a Dakota Blonde show, Huckins described a unique and moving experience.

“The audience can expect to laugh, relax, and walk away feeling like we are long-time friends,” Huckins said. “Their souls will be soothed, the music will move them, and they’ll leave feeling better than they did when they walked in.”

Audience members may also leave as a “Blonde Head,” a title coined by the band’s loyal fan base.

Avid fans dubbed Blonde Heads

“Blonde Heads know all our lyrics, bring special props to the show (i.e. yellow gloves), brownies for Tony, and attend as many shows as they possibly can,” Huckins explained. “We absolutely love them.”

Dakota Blonde is looking forward to sharing their music on the CSU stage. This performance is especially exciting to Mary Huckins who graduated from CSU’s music therapy program in 1991.
Tony Raddell of Dakota Blonde.
“It is a huge honor to be asked to play at CSU,” she said. “I loved attending college there and am very excited to see the new music facilities.”

Dakota Blonde will be joined by Ernie Martinez on mandolin, banjo, and dobra; and Kristi Bartleson, harp, for this special performance. The band will feature new music from their newly released album, The Love We Build.

Don’t miss your chance to become a Blonde Head and experience the soulful and powerful music of Dakota Blonde.

Final performance of series

This is the final performance in the Contemporary Artist Music Series, a five-concert series made possible by the generous support of Bohemian Foundation. The series aims to increase the amount of live contemporary music performances in Fort Collins and encourage audience and community support of local musicians.

Additionally, the series exposes students to different models of success in the music world, celebrates CSU alumni who have had success in the contemporary music industry, and helps to bridge the gap between classical and contemporary music for audiences.

Contact: Carrie Care
Phone: (970) 491-5891