Doane on the Street
Wednesday 10 December @ 12:17:11
Pulse’s rock ’n’ roll soldier patrols the local scene for your own good
by Donny Doane
Well, here I sit on Thanksgiving Day night thinking of everything I have to be thankful for, which would easily fill volumes if I had to make a list. After spending the day with all the different sides of my family, I’m more than satisfied, being gorged if not quite sodden. Yet, that is. Usually, I get together with a couple of my cousins and hit the pubs after dinner, but being the occasional victim of foresight, I managed to fill my fridge with a few cases of beer.
Earlier in the day, I wished my girlfriend Tina a safe and pleasant trip to join her kinfolk in Sioux Falls, S.D., so now I have the perfect opportunity to get a little jump on my upcoming assignments.
As most of us know, Thanksgiving Eve is the biggest night out of the year, with tons of cool happenings, er…happening. Tina and I opted for the always warm and inviting Turf Club where one of my band mates, the ubiquitous Jeff Johnson, was throwing down the rock with one of his other bands, Popcycle. As always, the guys juked out a rollicking set of their twangy tunes—predominantly new ones from their up and comer, and closed with one of my personal faves “Keep it Simple” from their last album. Next up, John Ewing, brothers Steve and Pat Brantseg, and bassist Dale Kallman of the headlining Ol’ Yeller kept the hearth glowing.
Whether solo or with Steve, John always puts on a solidly pleasing and heartfelt show, but it’s great to see him with a good rockin’ band behind him, too.
Highlights of their set include John’s own “Hollywood” and Ronnie Lane’s “Roll On,” which always gets me a little choked up. Both can be found on Blue Violets Sun Fried Dreams, and I would highly encourage folks to get their gravy stained hands on a copy.
When Ol’ Yeller got up there, I was fading fast, but still stuck around for a few tunes before bailing.
Once, years ago, when I was in what seemed like a hundred bands, Rich Mattson asked me if I thought there was such a thing as too much music, and we both easily agreed that yes, that can be true regardless of it being our passion. And lately, there’s been quite a bit of it for yours truly. But that’s not such a bad thing, is it? In fact, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank one of my esteemed editors, Rob Van Alstyne, for presenting me with the new Motorhead box set, which in speaking of too much, prompts the question, “Does any one person really need 99 Motorhead songs?” Well, I’ll let you decide. And with that said, I’ll move on to the next point of interest.
I’ll begin with the provisional assumption that local pop/rock trio Milhaus is probably named in honor of the Simpsons’ character rather than late former president Nixon’s middle name. Made up of singer/guitarist Chuck Miller, formerly of Ten Ton Bridge, and husband and wife rhythm section Heather and Pat McKenna, both ex-Pushbacks, their debut LP Fit (Veto) is yet another member of the profuse brood of new releases squeezed from the loins of Mike Wisti’s Albatross Studio.
While not necessarily striking off into uncharted waters by adhering to a time-tested formula, they do it proudly and professionally enough to warrant genuine accolades as they genuflect in the aisles of “l’eglise de le Velvet Underground.” Fit is a calm, cool collection propelled by a penchant for barbless hooks and bubbly melodies. If Mike Wisti calls it a “nice living room record,” I’ll call it “comfort food,” making it more of a “nice dining room record.”
It’s a delicious serving of insidiously catchy songs that I can’t help but hum when shoveling my mom’s sidewalk, shuffling through the streets or even upon waking up, as if my dreams have somnambulant soundtracks. Bomp-chicka-bomp-chicka-bomp.
Another fair comparison could be to Tobin Sprout-era Guided By Voices, with episcopal reverence to the Fab Four. It’s also more than fitting that Miller shares a last name with the Joker responsible for “Jet Airliner,” but that’s not to say that Milhaus gets carried too far away. Har, har. In fact, the band is confident enough to let the songs carry themselves with a countenance of effortlessness that eschews any sense of having something to prove other than penning and playing quality pop music. Miller’s airy lead vocals hover with just a touch of shaky vulnerability as he finds the support he needs in bassist Heather’s virtually angelic backing harmonies. Expect something more extensive in the future, where hopefully, we‘ll hear from the band itself.
Hit That Street A’ Runnin’
With the majority of national touring acts doing their best to avoid the bitter maelstrom of the Midwestern winter, here are a few upcoming events featuring our hometown homeys: Saturday the 13th offers a slew of choices depending on one’s tastes. Haley Bonar, Duluth’s next big thing, shares the stage at the 400 Bar with Sixth on the Bill and Channels. At the Uptown Bar the Melismatics will be doing their thing, while the Bryant Lake Bowl will host the CD release of Halloween Alaska, a collaboration of 12 Rods and Love Cars members. And finally, the 7th Street Entry becomes the soapbox of perverse pentecostalists Gee as in Jesus featuring The Cousins Gee, John “Caveman” Knowles and long lost drummer, cousin Donny Gee with Drag the River, Old Canes and Anchorhead. If that isn’t enough religion for you, the might-as-well-be-deified Ryan Adams will deliver his liturgy in the 1st Avenue main room Sunday the 14th.
So with those hosannas said, don’t forget to do a little something nice for someone less fortunate during this season of giving. And remember, all I want for Christmas is the overthrow of the empire. Before I go, all my love to fellow Pulse raver Tom Hallett and his girlfriend Jess, as they’ll be taking an extended vacation for a couple months. Until next time, smooches to all, and yet again, thanky.