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Michael Vosburg, Published September 05 2011

Portraits: Brian McGraw

Brian McGraw, a licensed street performer from New Rockford, N.D., plays Thursday on Broadway in downtown Fargo. “I play all over the state,” McGraw says. “I play out in the oil fields and towns all over central North Dakota, mostly – sometimes in Fargo. Fargo’s the nicest opportunity to play on the street.” He says that during the summer, he drives to Fargo to perform a couple of days a week. “I’ve played in Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, New York a large chunk of my life, and those cities are still struggling with an accommodation for street performers. I think the flat-fee license (Fargo has) makes a lot of sense.” McGraw has been a street performer for roughly 30 years as well as playing in bars and acting in theater and film in his hometown of Baltimore. But he’s been a North Dakota resident for the last five years. “My wife and I were looking for a safe place to raise our kids. We were in Baltimore at the time we started having children. We decided that was not a children-friendly place.” They both grew up on farms and were looking for an agrarian place to live. After a lot of research, “we picked North Dakota as a good place to come.” McGraw says that the winters don’t bother them much either. He says winter is just “a down payment on summer.” He is very happy with the choice they made. “The communities we grew up in are no longer there, so for us, this was really almost a homecoming. Coming to New Rockford, especially. It’s just one of the greatest places we’ve ever been. We love the people in New Rockford. We love living in central North Dakota ... We just think it’s a huge blessing.”

Portraits is a weekly photo column by The Forum’s photo staff