Willie’s Guitars 20th anni hoot @ Cabooze

Posted on September 10th, 2009 – 2:15 AM
By Jon Bream

What a lineup, what free-wheeling fun, what a night. The stars — local and national — aligned Wednesday at the Cabooze to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Willie’s American Guitars, the St. Paul must-stop for pickers of persuasions and skill.

The big names, of course, were Joe Ely and Dos Lobos, i.e. David Hidalgo and Louie Perez of Los Lobos. Supported by his longtime lead guitarist Rob Gjersoe (who also plays with the Flatlanders), Ely rocked the house, ending with the always rollicking “The Road Goes on Forever.”

In a rambling 80-minute set, Dos Lobos worked in various combinations and permutations (including with two local drummers and bassist Jim Anton) and with a variety of instruments (including Willie’s specially built electric ukulele and both Louie and David played drums on one song).

Hidalgo and Perez did Los Lobos tunes, Latin Playboys numbers, a Neil Young cover (with Molly Maher harmonizing) and a couple of unreleased tunes due on a winter rareties disc entitled “The Long Goodbye.” (see set list below).

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman read a proclamation declaring it Willie’s Guitars Day in the Capital City, citing various Willie’s customers including the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and himself. Coleman later joined show coordinator extraordinaire Maher, local guitar hero Chris Osgood, singers Andra Suchy and Dana Thompson, drummer Dave Ahl and others for the John Prine/Nanci Griffith number “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.” In introducing the song, acoustic guitarist Coleman (bagpipes are his main instrument) said: ”This is not for musical posterity.”

Many other locals followed, including Jack Knife & the Sharps (nicely spiced up by 2007 addition Erin McCawley) and Phil Solem of Rembrandts fame.

I tried to leave early but it took me nearly 45 minutes to get out of there because I ran into Osgood, promoter Gene Hollister, State Fair booker/Trailer Trash frontman Nate Dungan, Cities 97 club crawler Greg Burke, Cabooze booker Taco Martin, drummer Stan Kipper and the inevitable Paul Metsa.

Big props to Willie’s owner Nate Westgor (who played a mean guitar with Dos Lobos on “Mas y Mas”) and Willie’s ace employee and superstar in waiting Molly Maher, who, in an opening set, proved that she is Lucinda Williams without the baggage.

Dos Lobos set list:

How Will the Wolf Survive/????/Saint Behind the Glass/The Valley/A Matter of Time/Big August Moon (unrecorded oldie due on “The Long Goodbye” in January)/Chinese Surprise (Latin Playboys)/Tony Y Maria/Take My Hand/Ten Believers (Latin Playboys)/???/Cuca’s Blues (Latin Playboys)/The Long Goodbye (unrecorded)/Mas y Mas (with Nate Westgor sitting in)  ENCORE Cinnamon Girl (with Molly Maher sitting in on the Neil Young song)

More tragedy for Killer Hayseeds

Posted on September 9th, 2009 – 2:29 PM
By Chris Riemenschneider

darinessery.jpgOne of the Cities’ hardest-working and best-loved country bands, the Killer Hayseeds, are having a truly horrendous year. First, bassist Ross Florand passed away in July from heart failure. Now comes word that singer/fiddler Darin Essery fell from scaffolding on a job last Friday and suffered a brain injury that has left him in the ICU at North Memorial Hospital. According to the CaringBridge site set up for Essery’s friends, he is scheduled to have more surgery this afternoon. Check the CaringBridge site for updates, and leave your well wishes there.

Another &#*$! Beatles List: Over/Under Songs

Posted on September 7th, 2009 – 10:47 AM
By Chris Riemenschneider


In case you aren’t getting enough Beatles mania this week, here’s a list I devised to go with a review of all the newly remastered albums. Of course, the word “underrated” is extremely relative and slippery in the case of the most recognized and enduring pop group of the world. I’m thinking of songs that are missing from radioplay, anthology/best-of collections, cover-song renditions … and other lists.


1. Baby You’re a Rich Man   2. And Your Bird Can Sing  3. I’ve Just Seen a Face   4. Happiness Is a Warm Gun   5. I Fell   6. No Reply   7. Hey Bulldog   8. Dig a Pony   9. Savoy Truffle   10. I’m Looking Through You


1. Strawberry Fields Forever (a landmark recording/studio achievement, sure, but the song itself is pretty flat and insipid).    2. The Long and Winding Road  (the “Naked” cleanup helped a little, but not much)   3. Love Me Do    4. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Dum   5. Drive My Car    6. All You Need Is Love    7. The Benefit of Mr. Kite (overhyped along with about half of Sgt. Pepper’s)   8. I Want You (She’s So Heavy)   9. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (sorry George, I love ya, but this song has always sorta bugged me … too much whining and wanking)   10. Birthday

Prairie Home @ State Fair

Posted on September 5th, 2009 – 11:29 AM
By Jon Bream

Spoiler alert. Friday’s performance of “A Prairie Home Companion” at the State Fair will be edited for broadcast this evening at 5 p.m. Of course, Garrison Keillor and company were on stage for 3 1/2 hours, which will be trimmed into a two-hour broadcast.

The musical highlights: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver with their marvelous gospel-tinged bluegrass. Stay tuned for their “Blue Train,” which closes the program. Andra Suchy, a local singer originally from North Dakota, sparkles on several duets with Keillor. They do “Unchained Melody,” which I once saw the Righteous Brothers lip sync in concert; there is never any doubt that Keillor is singing live — or trying to. 

Long Island/Nashville warbler Mindy Smith does memorable turns on her own “Come to Jesus” and a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” but her other two selections are marred by unassertive vocals and ham-fisted drumming. And don’t overlook “Woulda Coulda,” a nifty instrumental written by Prairie Home bandleader/pianist Rich Dworsky.

Comedic highlights: Of course, there are plenty of State Fair-themed bits. How bout a Spam Off, in which a judge from Prior Lake evaluates three different creative Spam recipes. But you can’t top the Moo Off, featuring two Californians and St. Louis Park’s Brian Ruhl making cow noises. I was pulling for the homeboy because he’s a big music fan (and his wife, Barbara, works in the Star Tribune’s advertising department). Keillor is quick and witty with ad libs during these contests. He also does a typically intellectually funny bit with cast member Sue Scott about flirting with an English major at the fair.

Last call for Har Mar at Uptown (Sept. 13)

Posted on September 4th, 2009 – 1:22 PM
By Chris Riemenschneider

He took his name from a crappy old local mall, and now he’s returning to town to play the Uptown Bar one last time before it’s paved for another retail development that we could probably live without: Har Mar Superstar lands at the soon-to-be-toppled club on Sept. 13, just a couple dates into his tour behind the Oct. 13 album, “Dark Touches” (dig the cover art below … oh my!). Tickets are $14. Mystery Palace and MC/VL are also on the bill. This is apparently just the warm-up to his tour finale and official release party at the Varsity Theater on Nov. 6, preceded by a gig with Kool Keith at the Triple Rock a night earlier.


Rest of the fests (Storyhill, WookieFoot)

Posted on September 3rd, 2009 – 4:29 PM
By Chris Riemenschneider

festposter.gifThe outdoor music fest season is far from over. Acoustic folk duo Storyhill (John Hermanson and Chris Cunningham) is hosting an in-state version of its successful Montana camp-outs called Storyhill Fest Midwest this weekend at a lakeside campground in Deerwood, two hours from the Cities. Other performers include Cliff Eberhardt, Romantica, Brenda Weiler and Justin Roth.

Closer to home this weekend, the 11th annual Laughing Waters Bluegrass Fest is once again taking place Sunday from 1-6:30 p.m. at the great gazebo in Minnehaha Falls park (by Sea Salt…. mmm). This one’s free and a lot of fun, with Free Range Pickin’, the Platte Valley Boys, Middle Spunk Creek Boys and some girls, too.

Next weekend (Sept. 10-12) is WookieFoot’s Harvest Fest down at Harmony Park, with Trampled by Turtles, That 1 Guy, Pert Near Sandstone, Fat Maw Rooney and almost 30 more acts.