Back 2 School

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Another freshman move-in day occurred last week and the best sign on Woodland Ave. was one that invited dads to come in for a free beer. Good to know that as a father drops off his young daughter that the upperclassmen can offer some refreshment. Now that the collegiate partiers have returned what is there to do this year?

First off, The Little Black Books are releasing a 7” record with a harder version of their Duluth hit “They’re Never Wrong.” For those of you who have not heard of this song check out their new album Black Out available at the Electric Fetus. Imagine Dinosaur Jr. playing an acoustic song in the note of The White Stripes or Blind Melon’s “Skinned”. The CD is filled with great Books tunes, and is one of the best local albums recently released. Keep your eyes peeled for shows coming up soon, including one at the Varsity Theater in Dinky Town this September. Then in November LBB return to the studio to do another brand new album. Lead singer/guitar player Mark Lindquist also recently published a little sports magazine called All Bets Off that is available in limited release at Pizza Luce.

Speaking of locals being highly publicized, Trampled By Turtles got their names in Rolling Stone Magazine over the summer. In the back section of the magazine they always venture to different parts of the country and list off what albums are top sellers. Well, a few weeks ago they listed The Electric Fetus inDuluth, MN. The top CDs were all national bands except for number 10, Trampled By Turtles’s Blue Sky and The Devil.

"Methhead police chase music", that is what Gomez of The Acceleratii overheard some fans describing the band’s sound recently. This group is the buzz around town right now for tippin’ back some stringers (6-packs) of Pabst and dancing the redneck slide all night long. Lead singer Chad Lyons is a character on stage and memorizes the crowd with his mix of one part Larry The Cable Guy and another part the late Elvis Presley. Forget Root City Band and have a fun time dressing down and getting down for The Acceleratii. They have several shows coming up on the Superior Strip: (Saturday) September 9th Carmody’s, (Wednesday) September 13th Red Lion, (Friday) Sept. 22nd Pizza Luce', and (Saturday) October 14th Pizza Luce'. If you loved Trampled By Turtles, The Black Labels, or Root City Band this one is for you! Trucker cover band with beer swilling delight to be had by everyone!

Speaking of TBT, Hondo of The White Iron Band wrote about how the Log Jam went this year. He said, “We had a great festival down at Harmony Park with Trampled By Turtles and many Minnesota and Wisconsin (regional) bands. Hopefully we can get more folk out next year.” Log Jam highlights the Northland’s greatest bands and takes place up North on the Range in Geneva. Go to for more info. If you have never heard the White Iron Band, you can catch them with local folk fav Charlie Parr at the Tap Room on Friday, September 22nd. Make sure you have a full drink for when they play their hit tune, “Drunk In Duluth.”

Also playing at the Log Jam was local band The Black Eyed Snakes. They have grown and play less and less in the Duluth area, but are returning soon. Brad Nelson writes, “Our next show is September 9th at the Varsity Theater inMinneapolis. We don't have any Duluth shows booked at the moment. The Snakes have been playing a smattering of shows (most recently Luce's "Rock Out with your Block Out" Party in Minneapolis and Log Jam in Geneva) and we have begun to work on some new material. We're not sure exactly WHAT we will record next, but we plan to start recording new music this fall. The band has been trying to catch its breath this past year on many levels; creatively and energy wise. Our last major trip was over a year ago now (to theUK and Belgium). Nothing that large is planned at the moment.” The Snakes are biting blues with a slithering feedback bravado that electrifies the audience. Keep looking for The Snakes as you never know when they pop out for a show.

One band that is really taking off this year is Cloud Cult. Recently a music video to their hit song “Transistor Radio” emerged on Go to watch it, very impressive. While on tour Craig Minowa got back to me about what is up with the band, he wrote: I’m writing to you from a coffee shop in Portland. It’s getting more and more typical that it’s the only place I can get to my email. I think it’s creating a coffee addiction in me at the same time. We’re still out touring and things have been going great. The press has been really good to us, and the crowds have grown quickly. During our recent trip through New York City we sold out three of the four shows we had there. A lot of other great markets are selling out too (Chicago, Mpls, Missoula,Portland, Seattle, San Francisco…). That’s probably the best

news right now.

It feels really good to be touring and finally be able to pay bills at the same time vs. the first couple of years of touring. Back then it was a matter of going into serious debt in order to afford being on the road. We also have stage painters with us full time now (Connie Minowa and Scott West). With the bigger crowd sizes, they are able to sell the

paintings at shows and make a decent income from them.

We also have the recording gear with us and are taking care of the finishing touches on the new album. We’ll be recording tracks in our hotel room later tonight here in Portland, for example. The album should be done by the time we hit CMJ Music Marathon in New York City in October. The release date is not confirmed yet, but it's coming soon.

We’ve had some good record label interest, including both smaller and bigger labels, like Virgin and Universal. At this point we still plan to stay independent and release on Earthology Records. I think staying independent may limit our growth a little bit more (as far as net CD sales goes), but it’s important for us to have control over doing everything as environmentally ethical as possible, and so far there has not been a label offer that can meet all of our demands on that level. So we’re staying independent right now and feeling confident in our abilities to pull this off with our own extra efforts in the realms of managing our own music business related stuff (in contrast to having an external label do that for us).

Our last van (the one with the solar panels) had a serious breakdown inMontana (and Nevada and Oregon), so we just purchased a diesel van, which we will convert to run on veggie oil or biodiesel when we get back from the touring in mid November. We will be hitting Duluth a couple times in the fall: Tuesday 9/26 - Duluth, MN: UMD Late Night Kirby (all ages) 10:45pm and Saturday Oct. 21 at the UFO Convention at Lakeview Castle (10 or 11ish).”

We cannot forget about our funky side of Duluth and Boku Frequency. They recently wrote about their success saying, “Our new CD is being mastered now and will be out this month at Psycho Kapone's birthday party. We play (Friday) September 15th at Quinlan's and (Saturday) September 16th at the NorShor with strippers. Terry & Thomas have written & composed all this music which includes “Bean The Lesbian Queen”, “Erotic Narcotic”, “Street People”, “Party Down”, “Red Light”, “Purples”, “Your Body”, “She Rocks”, “Fantasy”, “Handlebars”, “Evil Man”, “Dream Dream”. This music is like no other and different then the last CD. People just freak when they enjoy this new music because it’s so good! The band plans on doing major shows this fall or shows for fun because they have a lot of great music to work on and sell. Duluth 4th fest was a blast this year for Boku who played with The Black Labels to a sell out crowd at Bayfront Fest Park as well as the end of summer party last Wednesday at the Red Lion Lounge. The Band played at the NorShor August 11th & 12th with strippers, which was a big blast as the band played “Bean the lesbian queen”.” Get funky with Boku Frequency this fall.

Last but not least we must talk about the band that continues to grow in popularity, The Alrights. Toby, Chavo, and Danny are kicking off the North American Tour on (Thursday) September 14th at Pizza Luce’. With a vast repertoire of new material this band can songwriter itself out of any paper bag. They then will triumphantly return to Duluth at the end of September for a two night engagement at the Reef Bar (not on our Superior Strip, but on swinging London Road). The Alrights have a serious buzz around town and are the workingman’s band of Duluth. So modest in their approach, they aim to entertain. With how many shows they play locally it is a wonder why they have not been stolen from us. They are releasing their album High School on City Cannon Records as they were signed by that label last year. It is the same High School we all know and love, but with new cover work and a flashy new contract. Toby Churchill is at his peak songwriting, and the band has completely shed the Crazy Betty vibes of so long ago. They continue to rein supreme over the Twin Ports bar scene.

Lastly, let me give a short plug to the happy hour that runs at the main Grandma’s Resturant (Downstairs) in Canal Park. There are many happy hours that offer drink specials, but Monday through Friday from 3pm to 6pm they are the best I have found. HALF PRICE on ALL drinks! That includes the upper-shelf stuff, so get your drink on for a very low price!

Any other bands that were not mentioned, feel free to email me with upcoming news you want to get out there. Email me @ or contact me through,