Tomorrow is Open Streets East Lake — from 45nd Avenue to Elliot Avenue the street will be closed to auto traffic and free for walking and biking. The street will be closed from 11am to 5pm. Businesses along the way will have fun activities for everyone! You can find out more about the event on its website here.
Here at Hymies we’ll be setting up the giant 20′ tent in the morning, courtesy of our neighbors at Nortern Sun, and hosting two of our favorite bands. Come by and hear Tabah at 12:30pm and The Southside Aces at 2:30pm! Here are some Bandcamp players where you can hear the latest recordings from each of these bands!
We’ll also be clearing out the storage space and have a few tables of FREE RECORDS for you to dig through, and also a couple boxes of FREE CDs. It’s gonna be a hot day so remember to bring a water bottle! We hope we’ll see lots of familiar faces on this second annual Open Streets East Lake.
We’ve had a hard time feeling inspired to post some new songs here on the Hymies blog lately because the news is so overwhelmingly depressing that we’re afraid to unroll the paper on our porch every morning. Still, we want to share a couple of songs from Circle Round the Signs with you. It’s the latest album by Al Scorch and the Country Soul Ensemble, and they’ll be performing here at Hymie’s this evening at 5pm before their show at the Turf Club along with Tin Can Gin.
Circle Round the Signs has been on rotation here in the shop all summer, in part because Al Scorch’s songs are suited to the times. It’s surprising how much folk music isn’t really about anything anymore these days, but not so with Scorch and his band. Also, we appreciate any guy who would organize a bicycle tour of record stores in his hometown.
The Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest begins today and runs through July 23rd. In addition to a series of great concerts, there will be a variety of free programs in the lobby including some hands-on things they’re calling “Experience Cafe.” One of those is a listening lounge put together by your friendly neighborhood record shop!
The Orchestra provided us with some very comfy chairs, and we provided some portable record players and headphones, and a whole browser full of albums to enjoy before or after a performance. We selected a wide variety of music with a specific focus on Minnesota, both current local music and classic favorites. We were also allowed to raid their library and add a bunch of really awesome records by the Minneapolis Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra which span nearly a half a century.
We’re honored they asked us to be a part of this year’s Sommerfest at Orchestra Hall, and we’re really proud of what we put together for them. We’re also looking forward to several of the performances on the calendar between now and the 23rd — tonight’s show includes Copland’s Rodeo ballet and the bacchanale from Saint-Saen’s Samson and Delilah. One we’re most excited about is Brahm’s double concerto later this month.
A few years ago we were pleased as punch to find a single by the Ridgetop Westeraires, an early band featuring Wayne “The Train” Hancock. While we reckon its a rarity, we started spinning it whenever we’d DJ rockabilly 45s with our friends the Cactus Blossoms during their long Monday night residency at the Turf Club (and we shared it here on the blog).
Every once in a while we still dust off the ol’ turntable coffin and DJ a show or a wedding, but its not often enough we get to dig into our collection of singles by the likes of Eddie Cochran, Wanda Jackson, or lesser known rockabilly cats like Wayne Walker (check out this awesome cut with Grady Martin tearin’ it up on lead guitar). And we sure never thought we’d be asked to DJ at one of Wayne Hancock’s shows, but that’s just what has happened! We’ll be playing some of our favorite rockabilly and blues songs before his set at the Minneapolis Eagles Club #34 on Thursday.
Hancock calls his killer sound Juke Joint Swing, and that’s a term we like. A little country, a little rockabilly, and a bit of western swing rounds up to some good music. Here’s the title track from his latest album, Ride.
A passage from one of our favorite histories of the United States – This is from Samuel Elliot Morrison’s lively and opinionated 1965 Oxford History of the United States:
It was America’s busy age, or one of them Eighteenth-century travelers scolded Americans for their indolence; nineteenth-century travelers criticized their activity. Each Northern community was an anthill, intensely active within and constantly exchanging with other hills. Every man worked, or at least made a semblance of it; the few who wished to be idle and could afford it, fled to Europe and dabbled in the arts or pursued some pallid branch of scholarship – the type of American expatriate immortalized by Henry James. Nothing struck European travelers more forcibly than the total want of public parks and pleasure resorts, of games and sports, or of simple pleasures like country walking. For the Northern American had no learned how to employ leisure. His pleasure came from doing; and as almost everyone worked for long hours six days of the week, and (except in New Orleans) the Puritan sabbath prevailed, there was not much time for recreation, and very few holidays other than Thanksgiving (still confined to the Yankee area), Christmas, and the Glorious Fourth.
So here’s a track from Night People, a late 70s Lee Dorsey produced by Allen Toussaint – It’s a good fit for this election year: a little bit cynical, a little bit jaded, but not downtrodden at all. Let’s leave all that hostility to the angry folks on the fringes so those of us with real shit to do can go on with our lives.
We first heard Minnesota troubadour Larry Long‘s song “Living in a Rich Man’s World” years ago, when we found a copy of the 1979 album of the same name in the local section of the old Hymie’s, back when Jim was still behind the counter.
Since then, of course, a lot of things have changed, but not so much the opportunities afforded working people around the world and here in our home state. We moved the record shop years ago, and once in a while Larry stops by to talk about what he’s up to these days. Several months ago he sent us a link to hear a few songs he was recorded with his cousin, Melvin James, and we were blown away by this new version of that favorite old song.
He’s releasing a new album, Walking Like Rain, later this year, and Bob Trench of Fahrenheit Films produced this video of “Living in a Rich Man’s World” to get the word out.
Tonight, Piñata Records presents the vinyl reissue of Dealer by Red Daughters, a band whose first album received a review which used the words “ballsy” and “countrified” not only in the same sentence but in succesion (that’s some ballsy writing!), and also a band commonly called “down home” and compared to The Band. (You can find details about the show at the Uptown VFW below or here on Facebook)
With empathy to a writer’s impulse to offer a more or less universal touchpoint, we don’t think being a little seventies steeped really defines the Daughters, even though we’d love to hear their take on a chestnut like “When You Awake.” There’s a level on which its easy to understand how something undeniably very contemporary could be so quickly described as derived from a group whose debut is now almost exactly forty-two years old, but on a second level its frustrating because, again, forty-two years old. We’ll venture not a member of the Red Daughters was even a twinkle in an eye when Music From Big Pink became a sleeper success in 1968, and that all five of them have listened to something else since the fall of ’98, which was the last time the Band released a new album.
Like any band in the Piñata Records catalog, there’s retro in Red Daughters, but also an original approach to the sound of an era. Here, Southside Desire’s “littered alleyways of south Minneapolis” are replaced by the ramblers and water towers of Coon Rapids, and we think the gaze backwards is a good deal less distant. Dealer is the 90s alt-country album you’ve been looking for. The lyrics are better than the best Old 97s songs, the arrangements are miles more inventive than anything the Bottle Rockets recorded, and unlike every Wilco album there’s not a moment that’s so wrenchingly awful you have to move the needle.
The sound of that era’s indie country is ripe for reinvention. It, too, has roots in the early 70s but also the reverberating post-punk explorations of the Mekons, the Meat Puppets, American Music Club, or a dozen other bands. Few of those bands held fast to the 70s emphasis on vocal harmony (sang Ryan Adams on some Whiskeytown record, “So I started this country band, because punk rock was too hard to sing”) and here’s where Red Daughters offer something entirely new. Where Brewer & Shipley or Bad Company harmonized like hell, arrangements so rich were left at a rest stop somewhere along country-rock’s journey to be discovered by the Daugthers. We can’t think of another recent record along these lines which uses ensemble vocal for such stunning pop hooks (“Big Love”) or dramatic effect (“Protest” or “War Nam Nikhada”).
And the keys which cause those comparisons to the Band (in our estimation) are so tactfully employed. There’s no “Chest Fever” moment on Dealer, though no doubt Hix is up to the task. The same for the guitarists, Charles Murlowski and Ryan Zickermann. Red Daughters’ jam band sound doesn’t translate to extended introspection. Instead there’s some Old 97s-ish riffs, like the opening of “In Love Without You” and some inventive lead/rhythm counterpoints throughout. The brilliant solo on “Black Ice” is a bright spot, re-appropriating the sound Nils Cline brought to Wilco. “Protest,” meanwhile, recalls the epic rural gloom of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club without extending to ceremonial drama. Remarkably, while nearly all eleven tunes sound like they could be extended to “Dark Star” territory, they are strikingly concise, adding to the album’s captivating appeal. There’s no doubt this distillation of the Daughters’ distinct sound is in part owed to the unique approach of producer and engineer Jacques Wait, who reliably gets the best out of bands which need that sort of focus.
You can, incidentally, hear the entire album and order copies if you’re out of town, on Red Daughters’ Bandcamp page here.
We’ve always written that it doesn’t matter the format music is released, but rather what is heard after you drop the needle, press play or command the palace minstrels to perform (this last is less common than the others). Still, there is something very special about the long-playing record. We’ve held the word “album” over from the time 78s were collected in bound albums the same way we once kept our photographs, and the good ones still tell a story or paint a picture. Dealer is one damn great album, due a release on vinyl and overdue praise. This is why people collect records.
Red Daughters have a show tonight to celebrate the re-release of their album Dealer on vinyl tonight at the James Ballentine “Uptown” VFW tonight. Opening is Black Market Brass, who are themselves one of the most must-see bands in the Twin Cities. Details for the show can be found on Facebook here.