The two lead singers of local party ensemble Incognito can look back and laugh today over their early music experie
“I started singing in public when I was about 5. I sang ‘Delta Dawn’ with Dottie West at our county fair,” Mary Lieser muses.
“At around 5 or 6 years old, I sang in front of my church and looked at my feet the whole time,” says Dianna Parks. She motions beneath her chin and pushes it upwards. “My mother sat in front of me and did this.”
A duo begins
Dianna and Mary both hail from outside of Minnesota, with roots in Virginia and Wisconsin. Mary moved to Minnesota in 1989 to work at IBM, eventually growing into the role of vice president of user experience at Precisely. Dianna moved to Minnesota in 2006 and currently is the executive director of Good Earth Village.
The women met while Mary was performing for Incognito, an ensemble of southeast Minnesota pop performers that has opened for big-name acts such as Journey, Loverboy and Three Dog Night. Dianna was in other bands and would substitute for Mary, and eventually they started doing tribute groups together–first Heart, then Abba and finally Aretha Franklin.
Music for grownups
“We love new material, especially songs that make us want to dance,” Mary laughs. They succinctly categorize their performance genre as music for grownups—music popular in its day, current hits and plenty of disco. “There are other songs that Dianna and I sing only when we’ve had some tequila at home.” Unfortunately, those songs weren’t disclosed.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, they performed virtually from Mary’s living room, on the rooftop of old City Hall for Thursdays Downtown, and out on the street as part of Rochester Downtown’s Sidewalk Sessions. As regulations continue to lift and social gatherings increase with the warm weather, the pair is making up for lost time. “We’re fitting two years’ worth of gigs into one summer.”
One hundred percent of 10
Five years ago, Dianna and Mary had a chance to perform their Heart tribute at Down by the Riverside, opening for Creedence Clearwater Revisited, to a crowd of 26,000. On the day of the performance, the bass player’s wife called to break the news that he had had a heart attack and wasn’t able to perform. They asked one of the production crew, Incognito’s current bass player Scott Kee, to step in. “His reputation is that he knows 90% of every song,” Mary says. “We told him that he needed to learn 100% of about 10 in the next few hours.” And he did.
“The production part is no joke,” Dianna notes. A performance requires many checkpoints for how the show will pan out: Which:: get connected To keep up-to-date with or book Mary and Dianna’s group Incognito, visit incognitoband.net or the Incognito Rochester MN Facebook page for more information. musicians can handle and enjoy the material, and be fun to work with? Who’s going to cover background vocals? Who is needed for composition? Are schedules good to go? How about choreography? Side note: The highest record the duo holds for costume changes is four, during a Heart tribute performance at the former Wicked Moose.
As temperatures rise, Dianna and Mary have a few suggestions for those AC-blasting car trips. Dianna enjoys the pop-rock band Panic! at the Disco, especially their song “High Hopes.” Mary grooves to “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez.
CATCH THEM LIVE
Mark these area performances on your calendar:
- JULY 21: Incognito at Berne Wood-Fired Pizza in Berne, MN
- JULY 29: Aretha Franklin tribute with Incognito (also with Lasonya Natividad) at Thursdays Downtown in Rochester
- AUGUST 25:fABBAulous (ABBA tribute) at Berne Wood-Fired Pizza
- OCTOBER 2: Crazy on You (Heart tribute) at Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault
- OCTOBER 23: Crazy on You (Heart tribute) at Chatfield Center for the Art
To keep up-to-date with or book Mary and Dianna’s group Incognito,
visit incognitoband.net or the Incognito Rochester MN Facebook page for more information.