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In the past we have always posted “Alice’s Restaurant Masacree” on Thanksgiving day, but this year we thought we’d post something new.

We hope you have a good holiday, and that you enjoy “The Turkey Song.” We’ll see ya tomorrow!

turkey song


The latest release from the Hymie’s Records label is a debut LP by a band who have been playing here for years. Lonesome, Stoned and Drunk by Whiskey Jeff and the Beer Back Band is in stores now, available online here and through the label page on this website. This album was lovingly produced by Brian Herb, who has been mixing the music at our annual block party for a few years now — in fact, the entire project is very close to us because so many good friends have been working on it together.

The Beer Back Band sounds like an updated version of the classic Bakersfield sound of Merle Haggard and the Strangers or Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, with hints of Dwight Yoakam thrown into the mix. Lead guitarist Ross Fellrath adds the spark to burners like “Whiskey” and “Asshole,” and also honky tonk flavor to the ballads with his pedal steel and baritone guitars. Bassist Marc Cohen and drummer Joe Klingelhutz have a natural knack for country, and the band has been playing these songs together for years now. Joe played with Whiskey Jeff in Amen and the Hell Yeahs, Annandale’s premier lounge act, before forming this group to focus on Jeff’s songwriting.

We’ve been singing along with Jeff’s songs here at Hymie’s, at the Hexagon or the Triple Rock for years. Jeff’s songs are funny and irreverent one moment, and heartbreakingly sincere the next. His misadventures in life and love are laid out without shame, so you can laugh ’til you cry in your glass of Templeton rye.

12003863_10153800178189445_855026252704498853_nThe LPs are packaged in a classic Folkways style jacket, complete with liner notes by Twin Cities promoter and country DJ Craig Drehmel (DJ Truchstache), and country music legend Sherwin Linton. The cover photograph was taken by our friend Aimée Pjipers — check out some of her art here. Our goal was for this record to look as good as it sounds!

We have a few releases in the works for 2016, including a Live at Hymie’s compilation, but we are especially excited to add these awesome guys to our catalog! We hope everyone will enjoy Jeff’s songs as much as we have.


Whiskey Jeff and the Beer Back Band’s record release show for their debut LP is this Saturday night at the Eagles Club #34 at 10pm. Also performing are Gabe Barnett and Chokecherry. Facebook event is here.

French officials ordered security measures in the wake of the ISIL terrorist attack in Paris last Friday, which included the cancellation of all concerts. As just about everyone around the world has read or heard by now, the largest massacre was at a show by an American band, Eagles of Death Metal, at the Bataclan Theater. Included in the eighty-nine victims was Nick Alexander of Colchester, England, who was serving as their merch manager. This all hits close to home for anyone who loves live music, and like us spends a lot of evenings in clubs and theaters.

The restrictions have since been eased as the city seems safer, although efforts to capture the possible mastermind of the attack led to a shootout late last night in the suburb of Saint-Denis. The legendary Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers didn’t cancel a show last night at a Paris venue, Backstage at the Mill. In this BBC story, lead singer Jake Burns expressed their condolences to the victims. “For us, we’re musicians, we’ve just come to do what we do. Hopefully the people who come tonight can manage to forget about their troubles for an hour and a half,” he said. “That would be our job done as we see it.”

Burns and the band grew up in Belfast during the worst of what were called the Troubles, the long and bloody conflict in Northern Ireland which deterred touring bands from visiting the capital city for much of the seventies.

“As a youngster, it was frustrating to be deprived of such a normal part of life. For us as a band, our performances were sometimes delayed because of disturbances and road blocks, nothing serious. But we do have an appreciation of just how difficult these situations can be.

Obviously, in Northern Ireland, conflict became very much the normal state of affairs. Here, it isn’t. It’s a huge shock to the system for people here. Unfortunately, we can’t do a lot to help, we’re just here to do our job.”


After their encore, lead singer Jake Burns told the crowd, “The world has you in its heart.”


Before French officials eased the restrictions, another Irish group with roots in the Troubles, U2, was forced to cancel a concert which was to be televised on Saturday. They had been rehearsing in Paris, just three miles from the Bataclan, when the attacks began on Friday night. Bono spoke with an Irish radio station in the morning, offering his reaction. “Our first thoughts at this point are with the Eagles of Death Metal fans,” he said.

If you think about it, the majority of victims last night are music fans. This is the first direct hit on music that we’ve had in this so-called War on Terror or whatever it’s called. It’s very upsetting. These are our people. This could be me at a show. You at a show, in that venue. It’s a very recognizable situation for you and for me and the coldblooded aspect of this slaughter is deeply disturbing and that’s what I can’t get out of my head.

All four members of U2 visited the Bataclan Theater on Saturday, laying flowers on the sidewalk with others.


There is a lyric in the bridge of Stiff Little Finger’s first single, “Alternative Ulster,” which seemed like a fitting response to the Islamic terrorists like ISIL, even though the song was originally about the conflict in Ireland.

They say they’re a part of you
But that’s not true you know
They say they’ve got control of you
And that’s a lie you know

pop wagner

Pop Wagner’s 1988 album Disco on the Bayou might look like a novelty along the lines of Saturday Night Fiedler, but it’s actually a great combination of his familiar cowboy stylings and cajun classics like Clifton Chenier’s “I Yi Yi.”

Pop has about ten albums dating back to 1977, and on them he performs with lots of favorite local musicians: Peter Ostroushko, Butch Thompson, Tony Glover, Charlie Maguire and Bob Bovee, to name a few.

A genuine, old fashioned cowboy, Pop is also known for his rope tricks and tall tales, as well as his hand-made mohair cinches for you equestrians out there. You can find out more about that from his website (here).

Pop is next performing on Saturday November 28th at Patty and the Button‘s annual vaudeville show at the Heights Theater (details, on Facebook, here). Other performers include the awesome Adam Kiesling, the Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers, Christina Baldwin and master of the mighty Wurlitzer organ, Harvey Gustafson. Other special guest include tap dancer Miss Molly and puppeteer Liz Schacterle. It’s an afternoon matinee, and last year we had a fantastic time with the kids!


Paris Blues

“Paris Blues” is the theme from a 1961 soundtrack album by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra. The film stars Sydney Poitier (still one of our favorites) and Paul Newman as American jazz musicians working in the City of Lights, playing in clubs perhaps like La Belle Equippe or Comtoir Voltaire.

We are, like most of the world, at a loss for words after the events in Paris on Friday night. Fortunately, this song has no words.

Photo on 11-15-15 at 11.42 AM

rank strangers the box

Celebrating their silver anniversary, Rank Strangers have released not one, not two, but three albums this year. The third of these, The Box, is the subject of a release show/25th anniversary party tonight at 7th Street Entry. While producing a vinyl tryptic isn’t an unprecedented undertaking (the endearing and inventive folk duo Sudden Lovelys released three LPs in 2012, which we featured here), it is undeniably an impressive accomplishment. Few bands last twenty-five years, and fewer still hit their stride entering that second quarter century. Rank Strangers might have been a darling during those years when Minneapolis might have been Seattle, but that was a long time ago and today the band is better today for its unencumbered independence. The Star Tribune‘s reliable Chris Reimenschneider, who Thursday featured The Box by pointing out the band didn’t make one of the best local rock records of the year. “They released three of them,” he wrote on Thursday.

We’ve already featured the first two records (Lady President here and Ringtones here) and we’ve spent nearly a year speculating on how the trilogy would be resolved, and whether its recurring themes — royalty, power, revolution, the end of the world — would be connected. If there really had been “a Rosetta stone or map key” as we speculated when Ringtones was released, we’re too slow-witted to find it. We called Mike Wisti’s typed lyric sheets “maddeningly dense” in that post, and we’ve pored over them as we have played these albums over and over. Once again the lyric sheet reads like Theodore Kaczynski’s manifesto if it had been edited by Tom Robbins, and while we get tangled trying to connect dots which may not be there, we enjoy the albums even more knowing the words (we are famous for making up words when we don’t know the actual lyrics — you should hear our impression of “Lady Marmalade”).


There is nothing on the third album as dramatic as the reworking of “The Last Piranha” which appears as the penultimate track on Ringtones and first set us towards the theory it would all lead to a grand conclusion. Instead, after an hour and a half of anxiety over the end of times and everything leading up to it, Mike Wisti ends the trilogy with an assurance that “paupers and teachers reach out for preachers” and a simple flourish. T.S. Elliot told us this is the way the world would end.

Honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Like its predecessors, The Box is filled with catchy, inventive pop tunes, often in the vein of those late-era new wave records which found aging punkers exploring new directions and running out contracts. “Global Warming” is a brief interlude which approaches a genuinely serious topic without commentary, but provides one of the most enjoyable melodies in the trilogy, and on the other end “Bird Flu Blues” actually embodies a sense of anxious dread.

The straight ahead rockers on The Box, a couple reappearing reworked from the previous albums (“The Lone Piranha” and “Halloween Arrives”), are worlds better than the middle-of-the-road stuff praised as presentably pious in the church of pop mediocrity. “The Empire of Dresses,” with an awesome sounding bass line played by Davin Odegaard, is one of our favorite songs of the year. And “Lone Piranha” here is presented with more energy than on the first album.

Over the past few years Mike Wisti has engineered some uniquely mad records in Albatross Studio, most notably Grant Hart’s epic The Argument, which portrayed Milton’s “Paradise Lost” with aching intimacy at times (put Hart’s “I Will Never See My Home Again” in the context of the 2011 fire in his childhood home, and yes this is a subject which hits close to the heart here at Hymie’s). The Fuck Knights’ labored psych- rock sophomore statement Puke All Over Themselves (feature on our blog here) was recorded in Wisti’s studio at the same time. Its seems like these projects and others have bled into Rank Strangers’ willingness to try new things in this trilogy of albums. The result through three albums has been extremely successful without falling into the pitfalls of Sandinista!, which even for fans like us has overlong moments of indulgence. The three albums by Rank Strangers this year are pleasantly compact and cohesive, and it’s been a real pleasure to finally be able to listen to the three together. We expect all three are albums which will be favorites of ours for a long time.



Rank Strangers release show for The Box (and 25th anniversary celebration) is tonight at 7th Street Entry. They will also be playing here at Hymie’s along with J.W. Schuller tomorrow night at 6pm.

Today is Veteran’s Day, a national day of recognition which began in commemoration of the end of World War I, sadly once called “the war to end all wars.” Our deepest thanks to those who have served our country, especially the more than 350 men and women from the upper midwest who have sacrificed their lives to protect us from Islamic terrorism since September 11, 2001.

On a lighter note, here is “Army Blues,” a 1941 single by Hank Penny and his Radio Cowboys.

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