Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

The Fitger’s complex has something for everyone on any given evening. Upstairs last Friday (Oct. 7) were acoustic folk/bluesmen Stel & Lefty, playing a peaceful set to the relaxed Brewhouse audience. Downstairs at the Tap Room was the opposite, a rowdy college crowd dancing to The Root City Band.

The Brewhouse is a fine place to begin an evening; a calm, inviting atmosphere permeates the room. Stel & Lefty played quietly to let the crowd talk, but they were skilled enough to grab attention. There was a gentle exploration to their finger-picking as they followed each other musically. One song that stood out was about performing to an empty house, though they were actually playing it to a full house.

As it turned out this calm was short-lived, as we headed downstairs to check out the Tap Room. When it gets packed, getting served a drink is a bit time consuming (why people use a credit-card at the bar is beyond me).

Most bars (especially sports venues) have ample stalls in the men’s bathroom but usually a shortage in the women’s. The Tap is fair and provides two stalls to each, but it still doesn’t seem to be enough. While I was waiting my turn, the line quickly grew behind me. There were maybe 10 guys in a row when one walked/budged up front. He was giving the usual joke about how lines only form in the girls’ bathroom and was moving up to cut in line. Someone said, “Does someone know or vouch for this guy?"

Next thing I knew, the two guys behind me in line moved into the bathroom and there were noises of a scuffle. Shortly afterwards they were escorted out of the bar. That’s why men’s bathrooms usually have the troughs or ample stalls, men are willing to get into a fight when they have to pee. The women’s room is more civil, but late in the evening I often see guys go in there. Maybe they couldn’t wait, or maybe they think that’s the best place to pick up a girl.

The restroom traffic is just another sign of the Root City Band’s popularity. They are a mix of funk, blues, with bits of soul and hiphop rapping. They don’t shy away from throwing in cover tunes to keep the crowd dancing.

They recently released a new album, A Many Too Few. Songs like “Backyard Boogie" have a healthy mix of funk and 70s guitar, with a danceable beat. Alex Rossi (guitar & lead vocals) has a uniquely soulful kind of sound live, but on “Boogie" and “Six Days Of Rain" he almost sounds like Dave Matthews. A bit different, “Burning it Down" is more raw and bangs away with a drum intro. It gets slick when Alex sings some jazzy lyrics about “burning it down to midnight." They also throw in some record spinning in the chorus. “Cool Cool Water" opens with the drums before the rest of the band comes in. With an island beat, this song has a side-to-side swaying feel while preaching to a woman about “dangerous love." “Twice" is a slow number on the disc, but speeds up after the singer vows to call his girl no more.

The band also has percussion/vocalist/cowbell Heatbox, drummer Peter Day Elledge, and Shane McCullough on bass. When playing live the whole band contributes on the vocals.

The Root City Band has built a loyal following up here; their crowd grows every time they make the trip from the Twin Cities. As they gain more of a following, the Tap Room may need to add a few more bathroom stalls, or at least a sign over the door: No Butting In Line!