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Ipso Facto returning to its roots for Regatta show

Submitted Photo Ipso Facto members are shown in a promotional photo for a previous show. The group will play at 8 p.m. Friday at the Unvarnished Music Festival.

WORTHINGTON -- They've rocked the Worthington community before, and that's what Wain McFarlane and his family intend to do again. Ipso Facto, the Twin Cities-based reggae-funk band fronted by Wain, will headline the Unvarnished Music Festival Friday night on Sailboard Beach.

Ipso Facto has played the festival before, in 2003 and 2004, but the McFarlanes' connection to Worthington extends much further back. Their family moved to Worthington in the 1960s with the first wave of African-Americans who came here to work at the then-Armour pork producing plant.

A 1970 graduate of Worthington High School, Wain founded Ipso Facto after he left Worthington, eventually incorporating his siblings into its ranks and touring the world with renowned musicians such as UB40 and Tracy Chapman. The McFarlane siblings have since gone on to other endeavors, but have periodically reunited under the name Ipso Facto, and the Worthington concert will be such an event.

"The whole clan is going to be there -- Greg, JuJu, my sister Kathy is coming up from Kansas City. Micah is coming from L.A., it's his class reunion (WHS Class of 1977)," said Wain during a telephone interview as he was en route to lead a mentorship program at the New City School in Minneapolis. "And my mom, Maxine McFarlane -- they call her the Queen Mother, Queen Mother Maxine McFarlane, will be here, too. She's gone from a corporal to a general to the queen mother."

Maxine has become a recording artist in her own right in Kansas City, Wain explained, and will join her family onstage Friday at some point.

"She's got three records out," he said. "She got tired of waiting for her sons to do it, so she found a preacher down there and they put out a record, straight-up gospel. We'll do some of it live."

The McFarlanes' return fits in perfectly with the festival's theme of "Bring It On Home," highlighting musicians who have hometown roots. Wain has taken that theme to heart, recruiting other local musicians to join Ipso Facto for the evening.

"Randy Evensen will be there," said Wain, referring to another WHS Class of '77 member who has played with Ipso Facto before. "He's working on getting a couple of trumpet players, trying to dig up some people to help us."

For Wain, who has conquered several major health problems in recent years, including kidney failure and transplant and cancer, the reunion of family, friends and fans in the city that he considers his hometown is a momentous occasion.

"I'm so excited," he said. "I tell stories about this town. This is where I am from. I think people think we're from Jamaica or something. I tell them we're Jamerican, but if they want the details, then I tell them the Worthington story. I play in a country-western junk band up here, and people are amazed when I tell them that I grew up playing that, in these little bars in Reading, Wilmont."

While Ipso Facto will play some of their tried-and-true favorites, the Unvarnished Music Festival will also give the group a chance to hone some newer material, too.

"We're working on a new Ipso Facto record," said Wain. "We don't have a release date yet, but if we're lucky we'll get to play a couple songs from that."

The opening ceremony for the Worthington Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Lehto, Wright & Jacobs, a Celtic rock band, will perform at 6 p.m., followed by Ipso Facto at 8 p.m. The Shoreline Jam, an informal time of music-making, will follow the performances at approximately 10:30 p.m. at venues along Sailboard Beach.

Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers may be reached at 376-7327.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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