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House Shows Panel 3.12.2013

8 Mar

Jesse Schuster and Caroline Smith at the Cake Shop in 2012

Jesse Schuster and Caroline Smith at the Cake Shop in 2012

Have you ever wondered why we put on the Cake Shop shows, how we go about doing it and what other house show options there are out there in the Twin Cities? We’ll now’s your chance to jump in on that conversation! This Tuesday, March 12th at 6:30pm at Republic Seven Corners, Springboard for the Arts (c.a.s.’ daytime employer) is hosting a panel discussion on house shows! The event is Pay-What-You-Can and you can register here.

c.a.s. will be talking, as well as Colin Wilkinson of the band The Mystery Train, Sara Montour of the LIVE LETTERS project and Johnny Solomon of Communist Daughter, who recently played the Cake Shop. Drop by for a drink and bring your questions! You can read more about house shows in this article from Local Current last year.

Communist Daughter – “Soundtrack to the End” from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

Mandolin Orange TONIGHT at the Cedar Cultural Center

5 Jul

by Natalie Gallagher

Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz have been performing together as Mandolin Orange since 2009, when the self-taught Marlin (who is the duo’s lead guitarist and vocalist) and Frantz (fiddle, harmonies, and rhythm guitar) discovered that they were stronger musicians together. Since then, the North Carolina-based duo have released two full-length albums that capitalize their talents for blending bluegrass and old-fashioned country with delicate lyrics and a new-fashioned taste for emotion and harmony.

In support of their recent sophomore double album, Haste Make/Hard Hearted Stranger, Mandolin Orange have been touring pretty much relentlessly since the release in November 2011. The duo will be sharing their sound with Minneapolis on Thursday night, July 5, at a free outdoor indoor, air-conditioned show at the Cedar Cultural Center. Cake in 15 caught up with Andrew Marlin to chat about the North Carolina music scene and what’s next for the band.

Photo by DL Anderson


So, Haste Make/Hard Hearted Stranger was released in November 2011. Catch me up on what Mandolin Orange has been up to since the release.

Well, we’ve been touring a lot. We made our way up the East Coast to support the record and we’ve just playing a bunch of shows… we haven’t really been home since March.

I just watched the live recording you made of one of your new songs, “House Of Stone.” New album in the works?

Yes. We’re going to the studio at the end of July to start working on a new record, so we’re really excited for all the new material. If we’re gonna release a new record next year, we really need to get to work. I think we go back in the studio July 27.

When have you been writing? Any particular subjects inspiring you this time around?

We’ve been doing a lot of writing on the road. The new stuff is kind of a closet thing, kind of hinting at religion in a questionable way… back in August, I fell out of a moving van, and it shook me up, kind of made me question my own mortality a little bit and reflect on that.

I see. What was the motivation for your summer tour?

We’re still trying to support the record. We just love being out on the road and seeing all these different cities, and we know that to keep doing this we need to keep going. We’d rather be on the road than not.

Are you guys touring as just a duo, or with a full band? What was the decision surrounding that?

It’s been a mix so far. We haven’t been with a band for most of it. We have Josh Oliver on guitar and keys, so we’ve been doing a three-piece for some of it.

You’re based out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and you have a gorgeous sound that is really on par with some music coming out of North Carolina right now—I’m thinking of Delta Rae specifically, a band that’s getting a lot of attention at the moment. Bluegrass and folk is pretty big in the Midwest and Minneapolis in particular—we’re crazy about our Trampled by Turtles, the Pines, etc. Tell me about the music scene in North Carolina.

There is a great music scene here. Everybody we hang out with plays. It’s a great creative environment. Especially with as much travelling as we do, we love it here. It’s nice to have a small town to come home to filled with great friends. The North Carolina scene is just a really supportive scene. It’s not a really competitive vibe. I think folk music lends to playing with people and not excluding people; this music kind of lends itself to being inclusive. I think it’s a great place to grow musically because you don’t have to feel the weight of somebody bigger than you. You kind of get the support of people who have been where you are and are beyond that point.

You’re playing a free outdoor show at the Cedar Cultural Center next week. Have you ever played Minneapolis before? What was the motivation for the free show? What are you most looking forward to about coming to our city?

This is our first time in Minneapolis, the first time in the Midwest. We’re nervous… I don’t know what to expect. I’ve heard it’s a good scene. I hope to play for a good crowd that’s excited to hear our music.

Mandolin Orange will be playing a free show on the Cedar Cultural Center’s outdoor patio indoor, air-conditioned stage TONIGHT – Thursday, July 5, at 7 p.m.

Cory Chisel Talks About Why Times Aren’t Changing

27 Jun

 By: Natalie Gallagher

The first time I saw Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons play, it was the 3 p.m. opening set on the main stage at last year’s Soundtown. There were a few dozen audience members who stood watching the Appleton, Wisconsin native deliver a performance that was effortlessly impeccable.

I remember being absolutely taken with Chisel, a tall-dark-handsome type with a voice that sounds like watching a sunset from a rooftop, and being so deeply disappointed that there weren’t more people watching him perform. There was something so entirely unassuming about Chisel’s presence, so gracious and honest, and when he sang, it was like you could feel plant roots stretching deeper.

Chisel has come a long way since then. His latest album, Old Believers, comes three years after his full-length debut Death Won’t Send A Letter. As far as folk and roots music go these days (which is pretty far), there’s absolutely nothing like it. It’s a stunning arrangement of deft guitar strings with haunting harmonies added by backing vocalist Adriel Harris, and Chisel’s grainy voice has a way of lifting his lyrics to heights other singer-songwriters will never know. Old Believers is a beautiful bruise of an album, something that fits right in a listener’s catalog between Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison and Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever.

Speaking over the phone, Chisel has a soft, slow voice, a little scratchy Nashville lilt to it (he’s based there now), and listening to him talk is almost as good as hearing him sing. The artist took the time to answer some questions for Cake in 15 about the new album and what’s next for the band.

The last time I saw you, you had just played a chill midday set at SoundTown in Somerset, Wisconsin. Catch me up. Where have you been since then?

Well, we’ve provably traveled the country six times over since I saw you last.  and I got a bunch of songs that I recorded… We were at an all-analog studio at United Press recording our second EP, and it kind of led to recording our second LP, actually.

Tell me about Old Believers. Part of the Wandering Sons backing group includes back-up singer Adriel Harris. How long has she been with you?

We’ve been playing together for about five years. She is by far my favorite singer, and there’s something about the quality of a performer she is and the type of person she is… it’s inspiring for me to work with her.

Really? I don’t really remember her from your previous work…

On our last record, we weren’t really sure how to utilize our collaboration quite yet. I’ve had a lot of people with this new record be like, “I don’t remember there being a strong female presence [before].” I think that was a mistake on our part. This time, it was like, “Let’s just record an album as her and I and Brenden [Benson].” Like, we’re three friends, and how would we do this as friends, just making music together? Before, I always had control of my record but there were always voices of influence and I just felt more pressure.

I’m really turned on by the song “Times Won’t Change.” It’s got this old war gritty-ditty feel to it, like setting a scene in the Civil War, but the lyrics can be interpreted for Vietnam or, especially, the warring in the Middle East. How do you begin to write so politically?

I fought against even putting that song out on the record, actually. No matter what you do, if you start talking about that stuff, you alienate people… But I was listening to old protest songs, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan’s “Masters Of War.” I tried as best as I could to voice the frustration of a world that despite all these radical, beautiful things, it still looks the same. The great thing about folk music is that release, that feeling that it’s still possible to change things even though some shit still isn’t moving forward. I think it’s the job of an artist to somewhat mirror the times. Right now, Madison doesn’t look much different from Ohio State in the 1960s.

In the song, you ask the listener to tell you why the times won’t change. Why do you feel they won’t change?

I think it’s due to the social conscious of what we accept as a society and what we accept as moral and okay. I think that it’s coming around. People keep saying that the Occupy Movement didn’t have a direction or a voice, but I think it did. It said “Fuck you.”  Things don’t have to be the way are just because the people above us say they do. I think we have the right to say that corporations don’t control the majority of the wealth while half of America lives below the poverty line. That’s happened in our lifetime. We’re being galvanized into these two groups of Democrats or Republicans, and we’re arguing about things that the actual president doesn’t even have the right to control… I try not to sound cynical, but I am hopeful that the social conscious is shifting away from the biases people have about being Democrats or Republicans.

[Pause, deep breath.] I’m normally not the type of person to start talking about this. I don’t like causing scenes, but sometimes you can’t be quiet.

Yeah, you definitely don’t sound like someone who is unwilling to get political. I think it’s great—I think your lyrics are powerful and definitely on par with what’s happening right now. To switch tracks a little bit, I read recently that you were collaborating with Roseanne Cash—something that’s been in the works since the last time we talked. Can you tell me about how that evolved?

We have a really valuable friendship. She’s one of my guiders in this whole world of songwriting. She’s a really important presence, one of those people I send my records to first, and in being able to write together—in writing with a legend, and hearing beautiful stories about people I’ve respected my whole life—I’ve learned so much. As far as writing with her… we’d talked enough, and then you kind of go to a song to say the next thing.

How did you meet her?

It’s funny. She was traveling in Stockholm, Sweden and someone gave her the record [Death Won’t Send A Letter] and told her she should listen to it, and I started getting calls from friends that Roseanne Cash was tweeting about my record. I didn’t have a Twitter account, and I quickly opened one up to sort of respond and thank her for her interest, and we started corresponding through that and started a friendship. It was one of those striking friendships, like when you meet someone that you’ve been missing in an artistic sense.

Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons are playing tomorrow night, June 28th, at the Turf  Club in St. Paul. 8 p.m. $14. 21+. Farewell Milwaukee is opening.

You can read Natalie’s review of Chisel’s show at Soundtown here.

Concert to Defeat the Marriage Amendment

28 Mar

Say we here at CakeIn15 really hated classical music (for the record, we don’t). We could use our platform to tell you reasons why you shouldn’t listen to classical music, why you should hate classical music, deny the value of classical music and otherwise influence you to loathe Mozart, Chopin and Stravinsky. What would be unethical, immoral and inequitable for us to do would be actually physically stop you from listening to classical music, block you from Orchestra Hall, smash records and burn librettos. It would diminish your own individual rights, preferences and judgments, not to mention cut out a huge swath of human culture and history.

That is, in a much more serious sense, what is shaping up in a proposed amendment to the Minnesota constitution that will be on the ballot this fall. The so called “marriage amendment” would define define marriage as solely between one man and one woman, a definition that, like our supposed hatred of classical music, diminishes the lives, liberties and happiness of others. Similarly discriminatory moves have passed in other states and been famously overturned in California, and with political forces massing on both sides of the issue, CakeIn15 caught up with Andrew LaValle, local music impresario and man-about-town who has organized a Concert to Defeat the Marriage Amendment. Happening this Friday at Hell’s Kitchen, the concert is a fundraiser for Minnesotans United for All Families with performances by Dream Crusher, Tramps Like Us, a tribute to Bruce Springsteen featuring members of Gospel Gossip, The Pinsch and Teenage Moods, with planned appearances by Mayor R.T. Rybak and Councilman Gary Schiff.

Free buttons for the first 50 people!

CakeIn15: What are the issues around this proposed constitutional amendment and what makes it so important that the amendment doesn’t pass?

Andrew LaValle: Basically, its just discriminatory, it’s going to put hate into the constitution, especially at a time when the rest of the country and Minnesota are moving in the opposite direction. It’s just going to be a huge step backwards, and it doesn’t solve anything – [same-sex marriage] is already illegal, and that’s an important thing for people to understand that [the amendment] is not going to change anything, they just want to make it harder to overturn and it that’s going to set us back years. Something that’s important to emphasize too is that this isn’t an abstract issue, this isn’t tax policy or stadium issues, this affects a lot of people’s lives directly. This is an intensely personal issue for a lot of people and I think young people are more turned on to the issue, they are engaged and care more, so hopefully things are moving in the right the direction. They got this in as soon as they could knowing that time is on our side and not on theirs.

C15: Tell us a bit about the “Concert to Defeat the Marriage Amendment“. Why are you putting it on?

AL: I’m doing this show because polls show, obviously it’s an important issue especially for younger people, but polls show that its going to be a really close vote, most polls are within the margin of error and it’s going to be particularly important that young people get out and are engaged and turned on. So we’re hoping to reach an audience that normal political fundraisers don’t reach. Wealthy people can easily contribute a hundred dollars but the cover here is eight dollars because we want to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t be active or wouldn’t otherwise contribute.

Dream Crusher from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

C15: How did the project come about?

AL: Part of the deal with this event and one of the reasons we’re doing it so early is to get people paying attention, get some momentum going. I just started this event on my own because I was getting irritated with the way things were going, so I got the idea and started talking to Hell’s Kitchen who were willing to give us the space for free. All the bands are playing for free, so all the door proceeds are going to go to the cause and a portion of the drink proceeds as well, so Hell’s Kitchen are being very, very generous. People are really passionate about this issue.

C15: It’s one thing to do these shows in the Twin Cities, but what kind of outreach can artists have out-metro and in other parts of Minnesota?

AL: That’s something that I’ve also wondered about because I’m sort of living in my Minneapolis bubble, I don’t really get out of the Twin Cities all that much, so I’m hoping that people will take it upon themselves to have their friends in the suburbs, talk to them, get involved and make them aware somehow. If artists want to be involved and get ideas from this, more power to them, I absolutely encourage them. There’s an event at the Varsity in April that Chastity Brown is playing, so hopefully this is just the start. I’m not selfish enough to want all the glory, it’s not about me, it’s about the issues.

The Pinsch – “Boom Boom” from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

C15: What is your take on the overturn of Proposition 8 in California and where that is headed?

AL: It’s interesting because it is probably headed to the Supreme Court, people have been saying that for a while. My current impression is that if they do rule it might only be applied to California so I’m not sure how much of an impact a Supreme Court case would have but honestly if the vote on Prop 8 was this year, it probably wouldn’t have passed, that’s how fast things are moving.

C15: Looking forward, what does it mean to defeat this amendment in the long term?

AL: What it would mean for Minnesota is that we would be the first state to vote this down and I think we have a good chance at doing so. It would completely change the debate and people could no longer say, “Oh, every time the public has the chance to vote, they vote no [on same-sex marriage].” It would completely shift the direction, and that’s another thing to talk about, how awful this is, that you are putting a civil right up for a vote. People draw the analogy all the time, that if we put civil rights up for a vote in the 50s or the 60s, what would the outcome have been? It’s just a fundamental American thing that you don’t put minorities, you don’t put their rights on the ballot because more often than not, the outcome is already determined. Hopefully we’re getting smart enough, wise enough to not do that.

SuperHappyMelancholy- expialidocious

21 Mar

One of the highlights of last year’s Fringe Festival was not a show itself, but standing in line, waiting for a show and making friends with Seth Lepore. What started as a joke about a lighter turned into a gonzo plan for making it through the end of the world in the space of about 10 sentences, fueled my Lepore’s antic imagination and willingness to say inspired and silly things out loud. It’s that same hilarious and insightful quality that he brings to his barbed one-man shows, dissecting self-help groups, religious dogma, New-Age wisdom, our quest for happiness and the industrial complex built around all that. Based in Massachusetts and always on the road, Lepore is in town this weekend to perform his new show, SuperHappyMelancholyexpialidocious on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at the Bryant-Lake Bowl. CakeIn15 caught up with Lepore via e-mail to talk about being a magnet for crazy people, falling on his head as a child, working the touring hustle and started it off with a challenge – Can he say “SuperHappyMelancholyexpialidocious” ten times fast?

CakeIn15: Your shows are packed with these wild, hilarious characterizations – what kind of training and skill does it take to keep them all separate and distinct in a show? Barring training and skill, what was the essential trauma in your childhood that split your psyche into all these characters?

Seth Lepore: Yeah I’ve been doing this shit since I was a kid, constantly dressing up, pretending to be different people. In high school I started to do theater seriously. I went to Naropa University in Boulder and studied performance studies with this contemplative bent which basically means I can stand in place for a long time and stare into space and people are like “Wow, that’s heavy.”

I’m incredibly interested in how people move through space, gestures and facial expressions are especially fascinating to me. I notice that if I raise my brow ever so much or smile crookedly it completely changes the accent of the character, of how they hold their arms closer or further away from their sides. It all feeds into itself.

I’ve also lived in a lot of places where pretty crazy people end up. I once had a guy who was on the other end of a bus yell to me “Hey you know Sai Baba?” “Sure, I know who Sai Baba is. The guru with the afro who levitates and shit.” “No man you know Sai Baba.” I used to be a magnet for those types. Now I know how to become slightly more invisible in public but being an extrovert doesn’t help me much.

As far as childhood trauma I fell on my head a lot. I wasn’t even a big risk-taker like my friends were. It just happened constantly. This explains a lot. Now I hate you.

C15: When you are in a group of people, do you watch them talk and interact and think to yourself, “I could do that?” Should we all be worried in your presence?

SL: Yes I think that quite often especially of people I’m not too fond of. Part of my understanding others and finding empathy for them is by trying to figure out why they always look up to the left every three seconds or chew gum with their mouth hanging open.

My tendency is to jam three or four people into a character so it dilutes my impersonating them directly. There is one guy, however, in the new show based on a pastor who is so perfect as he is that I do my best to be as like him as possible.

C15: SuperHappyMelancholyexpialidocious is about the happiness industry and the “farcical ideology of the positive thinking movement” and your previous show, Losing My Religion: Confessions of a New Age Refugee, well, attacked religion. Why do you feel motivated to tear these social systems down? Why is theater the way you choose to do that?

SL: Well, Losing My Religion was very much focused on dissecting the New Age from my observations and mirroring that back to the audience. I don’t really want to attack religion per se but rather show the shadow of it. Growing up Catholic, becoming Buddhist and abandoning that and then finding myself drawn to a plethora of new age/self-help traditions has led to years of ridiculousness under my belt. Now I’m as agnostic as you an get.

The inherent problem for me is taking a personal, internal belief and urge to experience community and making it into commodified dogma. I don’t think that all spiritual and wisdom traditions are manipulative by any means, but I find that the power and ego-trips that come from many of the higher-ups or supposed gurus and “experts” are incredibly dangerous. You’re messing with people’s emotional state of well-being.

We don’t allow critical thinking to be a part of our desire to understand the mystery of why we exist. Either that or we flip it and become eggheads about our origins. I think we need a balance. For me the Secular Humanism movement is the closest thing to organized sanity I’ve come across in the past two decades but again nothing is perfect, that’s for sure.

C15: Do you ever get into confrontations with believers? How do you deal with that?

SL: Occasionally. I was worried about that initially but most of the time the self-helpers have had a good sense of humor about themselves. I have gotten into some interesting conversations with some people on the street who are wondering what my show is about when I’m flyering.

I got into a really weird back and forth with some people who took the Bible literally to the point of not having their own identity. That scares me. The Bible is a sacred text to a broad range of people and I don’t’ mind having a dialogue with someone who is able to have an intellectual debate but when it’s someone who thinks whatever the Pope says goes, then I wonder if I’m just wasting my time.

I have no interest in making any kind of extremist change their views. That’s me just proselytizing to them. It’s the same thing that drives me crazy about them. All I know is that someone like Santorum scares me beyond all measure as far as someone who is in any kind of political position.

C15: You tour a lot with your shows, what are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in doing that? What are some of the benefits or unexpected bonuses of touring?

SL: Challenges include doing everything and working 12 hour days marketing, networking, fundraising and doing outreach to get press and attention so that people are aware of the show’s existence. I wear way too many hats and I work at home so I spend a lot of time alone which can be great sometimes and shitty other times. Also the cash flow fluctuates more than I’d like.

Last year at the Capital Fringe I marketed all day for 10 hours face to face with audience members running around to venues across the city and then performed at 10:30 at night. That’s kinda nuts.

Benefits: I get to meet people like you. Seriously, we met waiting in line to get into a show and totally hit it off just laughing and developing this immediate schtick with each other. I meet so many amazing people that I absolutely love while I’m touring. So the friendships and networking with other amazing theater artists and audience members I meet is completely worth it.

MPLS has become one of my favorite places in the States and last summer is the first time I ever even went there. It’s just such a supportive, engaged and excited community of theater lovers. Now I just want to keep building my audiences in the places I love to go to and slowly spread out from there.

C15: What is something that you would love to see happen for the arts in this country?

SL: The grants-as-sustainability has to go out the window. Artists and art orgs shouldn’t be competing with each other for money. We need to find more creative ways to bridge the gap between creating art and finding worthwhile sources of funding.

I think these Give to the Max days that are happening in MN and other states is a brilliant seed idea. So how do we expand that vision so that it is a continual stream of income that isn’t reliant on ticket sales, fundraising (whether crowdfunding or traditional) or other forms of creative begging.

I think it’s true that artists need to be responsible for how they put themselves out there and raise awareness but it’s really exhausting to to be an artist entrepreneur. We need more people who are creative advocates for the arts both in public policy, the nonprofit sector and the for-profit sector. It doesn’t need to be complicated either. Other cool things like FEASTS that happen for micro-funding are again great examples of communities coming together to fund amazing projects but how do we do this on a major level and trust that the art created is going to be one of the most beneficial parts of our economy.

People don’t think about the fact that if musicians stopped making music, filmmakers became accountants out of fear of job security, visual artists put their tools down and theater folks took a 10 year vow of silence that our creative economy would not only die but the economy that everyone’s been talking about for the last three years so intensely would become a stale, inhuman silence. Who wants that?

Brute Heart

8 Mar

If you were at the packed Poliça show in the Mainroom on Valentine’s Day, hopefully you showed up early enough for the openers Brute Heart. The trio of Crystal Myslajek, Jackie Beckey and Crystal Brinkman filled the room with pulsating, other-worldly and architectural sound, the drums and bass providing sinewy intertwined rhythms punctuated by the plucked and hummed viola, all wrapped up in vocal harmonies that channeled church and nature. It was an impressive, engaging display and one that has not gone unnoticed – City Pages included their last full-length, Lonely Hunter in their best records of 2011. Brute Heart has a 7″ release this week, putting out “Fever” b/w “In Limbo” on M’Lady’s Records at the Kitty Cat Klub on Saturday night. Before the event, CakeIn15 caught up with the band’s collective voice via e-mail to talk about what sets them apart, labels and the need for more venues that aren’t bars.

CakeIn15: Your instrumentation definitely sets you apart – it’s not every band that has a viola, bass and drums – what are the challenges of your collaborative or working process?

Brute Heart: We find a lot of freedom in our instrumentation. There is a lot of space to work with when there are no chords being strummed/keyed constantly. That said, without a solid chordal foundation there can also be challenges to writing melody lines and keeping track of rhythms. Our sound is defined by that space, though.

C15: You’ve put out two full records, self-releasing Brass Beads in 2009 and then Lonely Hunter in 2011 on Soft Abuse. The 7″ for “Fever” b/w “In Limbo” in on M’lady’s records – how are you hooking up with your labels and what’s the biggest advantage/benefit for you in having label support? I’m curious about this mostly relative to the ardent DIY work ethic here.

BH: Self-releasing Brass Beads was a really fun experience for us. It’s also, as most musicians know, a lot of work. The Soft Abuse label founder Chris Berry was a friend of a friend and approached us about wanting to put out a full-length for us. We were excited to have some help with a record, but also to have that help come in the form of a one-person, local friend. Soft Abuse allowed a wider audience to hear our music. Folks around the world bought our album because of an established distributor and a network of radio stations, something that takes so much time establish. When we first released Brass Beads in 2009, we immediately sent it to M’Lady’s Records. They were kind of a dream label for us. We felt a connection to the unique bands that they have been putting out. Turns out they liked what we were doing!

C15: Where do you see yourself going after the 7″? Is it a stepping-stone to future recordings and how does it differ or build on your past work?

BH: After the 7″ we would love to focus on writing. We want to put out another full length hopefully next year and would love to collaborate more on artistic and multi-media projects. Touring is always on our minds, too. Europe would be dreamy.

C15: For your past cover art, that looks like the work of Eric Carlson and Andrew Mazerol & Tynan Kerr there (and if it’s not, please correct me!) who are some great visual artists, and you’ve described your music in visual arts terms like “spatial parameters” and paintings. What is the relationship between art and music for you as a band? Who are some of your favorite artists?

BH: The Brass Beads and 7″ cover art were done by Andie Mazorol and Tynan Kerr, while Lonely Hunter was the work of Crystal Quinn (C15 note: Quinn was part of the Hardland/Heartland collective with Carlson). We had an EP that came out in 2008 that Jess Seamans did the art for as well. She has also helped us out with some amazing posters. Jackie has done her fair share of inserts and posters, too! We feel honored to have such visionary artists to work with, artists that reflects the mood and esthetic that we seek to express in our music. We value art tremendously and put a lot of time into thinking about our covers. Music for us is very much an artistic experience. We try and compose pieces that evoke emotion, illustrate scenes, and create dialogue. Much of our work is inspired by other artist’s work.

C15: You’ve done some touring, what are the best and worst things about it? If you were setting up your dream tour lineup, what bands would be on the bill and where would you play?

BH: The best thing about tour is getting to spend time together! Seeing new cities and getting to explre our huge country is really great, too. We have a lot of fun and generally travel well together. All three of us value water, good coffee, healthy eating and getting sleep. We usually have a cooler with salad fixings and tons of other produce in it. Coolers are a big space commitment, but it’s essential for us. The worst part about tour is how one’s body feels when you are packed and sitting in a vehicle for the majority of the day for weeks. Also booking a tour is also a challenge. Dream tour band line up would be too long to list here, there are so many dream bands on that list but we will mention a few here: White Magic, the Talking Heads, Brian Eno, tUnE-yArDs, Selda, The Roots…

C15: What is something that the Twin Cities needs more of, or could do more of to support its artists and musicians?

BH: The Twin Cities could use more venues that aren’t bars where music has to start late and end late. There are tons of people out there that would go out and see music like they see a play. Crystal B got to see Dark Dark Dark at Cafe de la Danse in Paris and the show was packed and started at 7:30 and ended at 10 with three bands. Getting more all ages that venues aren’t centered around consuming and partying. Don’t get us wrong, we all drink, but having a balance and more choices would be nice.

It would be awesome to see more cross collaboration between artistic modalities, too.

The Pinch, Cadette, Hot Rash

5 Feb

“Punk Rock Girls” was the watchword at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall last night as a trio of (relatively new) female-fronted bands brought out some sweet sounds for a good time downtown. Opening the night were the Hot Rash, either brilliantly or terribly named depending on your tolerance for some scuzzy innuendo. We’ll go for brilliant right now, with their throwback sound full of sweet, strong power chord simplicity such that they may have been Jane Queer singing about “Punk Rock Guys”. The heavier Cadette followed, with a 10-piece two-tone red-and-black drumkit that was put well to work with a pounding grind to fill the room and spur on pair of hard dancing fans up front.

Closing up the night was new quartet The Pinch, who had a fun interview posted over at the Local Current blog in the run-up to the show. The live experience brought by frontwoman Georgia Conley Ramin and keyboardist Sheela Namakkal was evident as they joked back and forth and dealt handily with some over-zealous Winterfest refugees, who, to their credit, were definitely having a good time for themselves. (Choice exchange: “Live it up, motherfuckers!” “I fucked your mother!” Right.) It wouldn’t be punk rock without some drinks and some sexiness, and without some, as The Pinch played it, of the “Boom Boom”.

Fairfax, AK

17 Jan

The Twin Cities prides itself as a musical cauldron, where styles blend together to form something grander, more interesting than simply the sum of their parts. Punk-rock rappers? Got ‘em. Blues-inflected hip-hop? Yep. Country-soul roots singers? Right here.

Enter singer-songwriter Pat Dougherty and his project, Fairfax, AK. Starting off on the West Bank and recording in an attic in Frogtown, Dougherty talks about the group as a folk act with punk rock energy. Dougherty plays guitar and sings, Dave Afdahl kicks in piano and vocals, Tim Binger plays cello, Joe Finstrom plays bass and Andy Myers takes percussion and their first record, Love Stories and Picture Shows is out today. Instead of being a loose anarchic mix of a disc, Love Stories and Picture Shows is a sweet, cohesive collection of tunes that owe as much to the singer-songwriters of the mid-90s as the folky 60s and punk 70s. It’s a record that slips in an surprises you, like a polished up, lyrically focused take on Spirits of the Red City, or a Hootenanny with an orchestral band. Their appropriately eclectic CD release is this Friday at the Nomad World Pub along with Ghostmouth, Silverback Colony and Sans Aura.

CakeIn15: Tell us a little about yourself. How do you come to find yourself making a record in a house in Frogtown?

Pat Daugherty: I moved to Minneapolis from the Philly area. I stayed in the West Bank for a few years, but then moved to an apartment in Lowertown. One day I bought a Hammond organ on impulse and then realized I had no way of getting that thing back to Saint Paul, so I asked Dave if I could keep it in his storage closet [on the West Bank]. Andy already kept his drum kit in there, so I ended up hanging out in that storage unit a lot, writing songs and adding drums with a loop pedal I had. Eventually we had band practices in that tiny, little space. I forget how the five of us even fit in there.

As for the record, a while back my buddy John Peters and I were looking to start a pirate radio station in Saint Paul. He found this house in Frogtown and built an awesome studio in the attic. We set up an internet stream and named it Radio Noir after the radio show I had in college, and for about a year we would record and broadcast house shows every Sunday. That got kind of crazy. After a few months we had bands from all over the country and even Europe playing and sleeping in that house week after week, but that’s another story entirely…

Eventually Radio Noir wound down and we had a perfectly good studio just sitting there, so we took the songs out of the storage closet and into the attic.

C15: Is Fairfax, AK down the highway from Halloween, Alaska? Where did the name come from?

PD: Haha yeah, Halloween is a few exits down on the Alaska Highway. There’s a rest stop about halfway with a great diner! I guess I didn’t realize that connection. Perhaps in the distant future someone will curate a festival consisting of acts named after fictional towns in Alaska.

I wish I had some sort of crazy story involving a bottle of whiskey and a moose with a snow blower, but the name came from a much more anticlimactic place. About a year ago I was going through one of those “What does it all mean?” kind of things. I had always been drawn to Alaska, and I figured I had already moved halfway across the country once, so doing it again couldn’t be that scary.

Before I pulled a Chris McCandless, I wanted to do a little research. In my head I wanted to go to Fairfax. No idea why that town popped up but it seemed like the perfect solution, except for the fact it doesn’t exist. I could have sworn there was a Fairfax, Alaska. It seemed so real! I knew I heard it before. At least I thought I did.

The whole ordeal was funny to me. Probably because the concept of something feeling so familiar and real but nonexistent summed up a lot of things in my life at that point, so rather than abruptly ending a relationship of three years and abandoning my post as a teacher to flee to Alaska, I thought I’d name a band after it instead.

C15: Steve McClellan said you might be “the loudest folk act” he has ever heard. Do you consider yourself a folk act? What does that mean to you? Who are your folk?

PD: Steve is a good guy. There’s a funny story about that quote. Steve got me my first gigs in the Twin Cities, and one night he was looking for a last minute fill-in for an acoustic show. The band and I had already been working on stuff, so I said I had a folk act that could play. We didn’t even have a name at that point. In fact I think the flyer he made said something to the tune of “And Pat Dougherty’s Project.”

The bill was 3 singer-songwriters and us. We played first. After our set, he came up to us and said, “That might have been the loudest folk act I have ever heard.” I replied, “Ya know, Steve, we might just use that in our press kit.”

I don’t know why we’re so loud. We don’t use amps. I suppose we just play really hard, but what’s the point of playing if you’re not going to play hard?

I still consider us a folk act, despite our loud tendencies. I deeply respect the traditions of folk music. It’s why I wrote “This Machine Still Kills Fascists” on my guitar, but folk music isn’t limited to a certain set of chords or cadences.

Folk music has always been something much bigger than that. It’s a vehicle for people to say something they need to say. It’s telling a story the only way you know how to. It’s very personal music not unlike punk or hip hop. It’s music for the folks by the folks, hence the name.

C15: You are releasing Love Stories and Picture Shows this week, what are your hopes and dreams for the record?

PD: I feel like you can’t really know if you like or dislike a record without listening to it a few times, so I just hope people give it a good three listens. If you like what you hear, I’d love to see you at a show sometime.

C15: Who, local or national, live or dead, would be on your dream bill?

PD: Oh, this is a tough question. For current artists, I’d say anything Jeff Tweedy is involved in. Out of the songwriters in the world, I probably steal from him the most, haha! As for artists of the past, I would have loved to be involved with the Last Waltz, but then again I might have to say GG Allin just so I’d have a story to tell later.

C15: What is something that you see, artistically or personally, that the Twin Cities needs more of?

PD: A bigger respect for the DIY scene. There is so much amazing art being made in the Cities, and a lot of it gets overlooked because it doesn’t get played on a certain radio station or get written about in a certain paper. Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled. Go to a house show. See a band you’ve never heard of, and if you like it don’t be afraid to support it. It’s your opinion. You’re the one whose right not everybody else. Don’t let someone else’s opinion influence your own. Especially mine.

A Slice of 2011

26 Dec

It is the end of the year and to mark the passing, we’ve compiled a slice of some of our top CakeIn15 posts. That means some of our most commented and most shared posts as well as some that were really just fun to write. We hope you have enjoyed what we’ve been able to bring you, and we look forward to serving it up even more in 2012.


Max Lohrbach with accessories by Bionic Unicorn and Pink Mink behind

Beirut: “Beirut is a band that fills a room not because they are wild showmen like Gogol Bordello or have the gritty weariness of DeVotchKa, but because Condon’s orchestration, and the musicians he gets to perform with him, feel like a dreamy wanderlust, a bygone courtesy and a stumbled-upon love note.”

St. Vincent at the Walker: “Clark giggled, and we in the audience ate it right up, “I like your spirit Minneapolis. I’ve always liked your spirit.””

Paul Simon: “Simon hasn’t stood still in his time here, and neither should we.”

Voltage 2011: “Strength like that doesn’t pop up overnight and if things are going to change for the fashion industry here in Minnesota, the foundation and momentum of Voltage is a huge gift.”

SXSW coverage from Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday Part I & Part II & Saturday: ““I haven’t done this song in five years,” Cecil joked, “And I was like, lets do it. Just throw some Budweiser on it.” If that’s not the South by Southwest spirit, I don’t know what is.”

Chapel Club: ““We’re a very nervous, self-conscious band. I probably shouldn’t admit that. I’m drunk.””


Little Man photo by Emily Utne, Styling by UpSix.

Aloha Dustin Thomas: “If there is anything short of catastrophe that could get people on the same page, it’s gotta be music.”

Oriel: “When you’re not working with other people in a studio and you have your space, you have so much more freedom to experiment and try things and think outside the box.”

Tristen: “…I’m interested in people saying something. I might be the minority in that respect.”

Even If We Never Look Forward: “Making less art. Not kidding. Like really, taking time to make, stop putting a show out because you want to do five a year. That’s a really sassy answer.”

Dan Israel: “Wow. Best question I’ve ever been asked, possibly. No, seriously, kudos!”

Little Man: “…[W]ith this album at this point, I’m up for working my ass off to try and pay for it. I did, but I’m in debt, you know?”

No Bird Sing: “I think the number one thing and one of the things I am going to take on as a personal quest for myself is to use my platform for the greater good.”

Das Racist: “TED: SUCK MY DICK!”


New York City, September 2001

John Lennon: ““Love is the answer, and you know that for sure.” That’s a wild idea for a kid to get into his head. I didn’t even know that John was dead then. I know that now. I know that his body is gone. I know that his songs live on.”

Occupy August Wilson: “What is good to know that the conflict and ambiguity of moments of change, which theatre lets us explore in a systematic way, remain omnipresent and are not to be feared.”

September 11, 2001: “Today I think about how it changed our country. How we live in fear, with crazy body scanners at our airports & red, orange & yellow warning levels. How people of a peaceful religion were changed & made out to be some horrible monsters trying to kill us all.”

OK Go & the Muppets: “…[D]ribbling out of the unenthused mouths of OK Go, it just becomes self-fulfilling: “Why do we always come here? I guess we’ll never know. It’s like a kind of torture to have to watch this show.””

Czeslaw’s Loop: “So if the conceit goes away, the show was free to be it’s own thing; a group of serious-looking hipsters standing on a rickety dock staring at an excellent drumline performing with dance party projections and electronic loops on a pontoon under a re-purposed McDonald’s billboard held up by 2x4s as brittle and bowed as fish ribs.”

Save the Southern: “In the end, we can’t be petty and say, “Well, it serves them right”, just to prove a capitalist, free-market point. As others have pointed out, if the Southern were a bank, it would have gotten a bailout, and the process of making art is not a solely an economic function…”

1001 Chairs: “Because we are all in the total animal soup, and it is our time.”


Wandering Stars: “…if you hit play on both videos simultaneously, you get POLIÇA IN STEREO!”

Espresso Showdown: “Give me my espresso concentrated and explosive, and I’ll go to bat for that any day.”

White House Correspondent’s Dinner: “Ryan wasn’t in attendance, Obama explained, because “his budget has no room for laughter.””

“Whirring” and the Foo Fighters: “In the end, I just like the positivity shown by Grohl in throwing that initial tweet out there. Even @joyformidable’s response was perfect: “Thanks Dave. Means a lot.””

Doomtree on The Current

9 Dec

It has been Doomtree week in the Twin Cities, with the epic Blowout VII events coming fast and furious from the 7th Street Entry, and now, tonight and Saturday, from the Mainroom at First Avenue. If you haven’t been cramming into the Entry to get the sold-out feeling live, then the recaps and media around it has been fairly inescapable – Gimme Noise, Star Tribune,, Shuttersmack, Meredith Westin, MPLS.TV and innumerable tweets and facebook status updates. Point is, people are loving it and it is a triumph for Doomtree, First Avenue and the Twin Cities music scene.

Before all the real live madness kicked off though, the Wings & Teeth crew stopped by the UBS Forum at Minnesota Public Radio last Thursday to record a session for 89.3 The Current, which will air tonight at 7pm for your listening pleasure. Don’t worry about bursting your real-time bubble about it being “live” radio, if you listen in, Dessa will also do that for you. When she accidentally talked about “next week”, host and interviewer Mark Wheat first reacted in mock horror, then the crew turned it into a running joke, showing off that even if time closes in on them, they remain loose and funny.

Between performing five songs off No Kings – “The Grand Experiment”, “Beacon”, “Little Mercy”, “Bolt Cutter”, and”Bangarang” – time was one of the themes of the interview portion, specifically, how fast No Kings came together. Originally spearheaded by Lazerbeak and Cecil Otter, the record was pitched in March and written, recorded, produced, mastered and released in time for the December 4th date that Lazerbeak had set, to his own admitted amazement, with Dessa quipping, “Name one other miracle that happens in nine months.” Credit for the miracle was given to Lazerbeak for rounding everyone up, and then also to Cecil Otter for acting, in essence, as executive producer for the record, streamlining the sounds and building the record into a cohesive set of songs.

That cohesion was also aided by the fact that as opposed to making sure that all members of the collective got equal time on the record, as they did with the 2008 Doomtree, the verses and time was allowed to organically develop and overlap, making No Kings in P.O.S.’s words, “a suite of music,” and more of a collaboration than a compilation. When talking about that collaborative aspect, all the members of the now 10-year-old project put their success down to being friends first and after that, not taking anything too personally. Dessa put the Doomtree ethos eloquently when she said that the working model for the group was to, “Seek not to suppress and don’t tolerate any oppression,” which fits nicely into the No Kings title.

And what if, as an aspiring artist, you want the same level of success as Doomtree? Sims added that he didn’t feel that there was anything that Doomtree could do for aspiring artists that they couldn’t do for themselves. Doomtree is the proof and for more (plus the music) tune in to The Current at 7pm to hear them tell it for themselves.