Luther College Chips

Music bonds father-son duo

Nelson Morlock plays guitar in Marty’s.

Nelson Morlock plays guitar in Marty’s.

Shannon Baker (‘20) | Chips

Shannon Baker (‘20) | Chips

Nelson Morlock plays guitar in Marty’s.

Shannon Baker, Staff Writer

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Luther alum Hans Peterson (‘90) and his son Nelson Morlock performed in a recital on March 2 in Marty’s. The recital showcased many songs written by Peterson and throughout the 90-minute concert the father-son duo exhibited a diverse set of compositions with a variety of instruments.

During the performance Peterson played piano and guitar, Morlock played fiddle and guitar, and both contributed vocals. Approximately 50 people attended the event.

The repertoire included music ranging from soft and soulful to strong and upbeat, and many of the pieces had a personal connection to Peterson. In terms of genre, Peterson characterizes the majority of his music as “acoustic rock,” but also enjoys playing slower songs with greater depth.

“I deeply appreciate [music] that one might call spiritual without being religious,” Peterson said. “So often we talk about service in the world but rarely do I see a church radically welcoming the stranger, and feeding the hungry. Show me the church that is living out the radical call to discipleship. That is the song I want to be singing.”

When introducing the song titled “Arise,” Peterson explained the inspiration for the song came from his pastor who had depression. The song was a call to lift up one’s spirit in times of tribulation.

Another song, entitled “Munching Apples,” a piano and vocal solo performed by Peterson,  recalled the connections Peterson felt to his grandfather and his farm during Peterson’s youth. For Peterson, a song does not need to be spiritual in order to help a person find peace amidst pain.

“I would much rather play a concert in someone’s living room—never mention God or at least Jesus—and have someone walk away opened to something beautiful, something beyond, and be challenged to strive for justice in a world so much in need of healing,” Peterson said.

Peterson and Morlock also had several upbeat pieces that featured Morlock on the fiddle and Peterson on guitar and vocals. During one song, Morlock began on piano but midway through quickly switched from piano to fiddle while Peterson took over the piano part. In another instance of versatility, Peterson and Morlock taught the audience a song with Spanish lyrics, including hand motions, and invited the audience to participate in several verses.

Sam Poppen (‘19) and Pastor Mike Blair also intermittently showcased their musical talents. Poppen and Morlock performed violin duets including the Scottish-style song “Ashokan Farewell.” Peterson, Morlock, and Blair performed a Celtic song entitled “Wayfaring Stranger” with Blair on guitar, Morlock on violin, and Peterson on piano.

Attendee Alex Aakre (‘19) enjoyed the substance behind the music.

“I appreciated the depth,” Aakre said. “Every single song had a meaning and story behind it.”

Peterson was excited to return to Luther for this performance, as he was last on campus in 2011 for a musical and liturgical collaboration with Luther College Ministries. Peterson teaches music at a parochial school; runs a publishing-performance company called Dakota Road Music; and performs in church gigs, house concerts, and community concerts with his son.

“I do gigs with him because he puts up with hanging out with his dad and because he is an incredibly creative, passionate musician,” Peterson said. “Nelson thinks we have good chemistry. He believes it’s desirable for an audience to see a close bond between band members.”

Peterson is looking to complete a recording project with Morlock and has already started booking gigs for the duo from January to May of 2018.

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