Circadian Nations at Bev’s Jook Joint

Circadian Nations at Bev’s Jook Joint

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Circadian Nations, Flying Marsupials, Yeltons Cab Ride and Leo performed at the Samedi Gras (Fat Saturday) Party at Bev’s Jook Joint in Superior.

Located on Tower Ave in Superior, Bev’s has been around since 1998 and is a staple of the live music scene. It is always a fun atmosphere when she is behind the bar too.

When Bill Graham started putting on happenings in 1966 at the Fillmore in San Francisco he did the little things that insured a high level of success and created the ultimate scene. He handed out apples to patrons, had balloons on the floor, made sure that everything was safe and organized, and planned a bill with a variety of bands so the audience would feel “full”.

With streamers hung from the ceiling, a potluck of excellent dishes and desserts provided by the bands performing and their supporters, it was an impressive event for a Saturday in the Twin Ports. It was like being invited to join a family and made me better understand Graham’s philosophy.

The headlining band, Circadian Nations, consists of Rob Fernquist, Joshua Jordan, David Aldridge and Luke Olson. It was originally described to me as “goth-a-billy” and was one the most unique sounding mixtures of music that I have ever heard. My impression was that they sounded like a well-oiled acoustic Led Zeppelin fronted by the voice of Jim Morrison or Serj Tankian of System of a Down. The lead singer had on a cowboy hat with very long, straight black hair. He also was dressed all in black and had on Morrison aviator shades. Nations’ singer was much tougher and taller than Morrison and had a bit lower of a voice.

The Samedi Gras show had one band play for a bit, then a different band performed, and later the night ended with a jam session of various band members and other artists. The evening was full, and when Fernquist’s girlfriend Spring took the stage to sing with the jammers it was the pinnacle. Her voice and bond with Fernquist on guitar was mesmerizing and their connection opened up her voice. Once they got going it was exciting.

It is always difficult to find a singer for a band, yet karaoke and American Idol have no shortage. I have known a lot of bands who could never replace their singer, let alone the laundry list of national acts dying without their singers. The next band that performed, The Flying Marsupials, had no singer, but man they could rock.

At one point they even had a couple of rappers join them on a few songs and it worked really well. They are jazzy and young, but they also have a bluesy side. Later in their set the bass player had this cool pedal that made him sound like he just walked onstage at a 1970s funk concert. Dressed casually and with a cigarette hanging from his mouth while playing, he was a character. It was great music, and they left you wondering what they would sound like with a singer or rapper fronting them. I thought I heard that they perform on Wednesdays at Bev’s, but you might have to go and check it out.

Circadian Nations plays on Mondays and have been working out their sound for several months now. The mandolin player had a total Led Zep thing going on, which I really liked. It was really impressive watching Luke Olson play an acoustic bass, and he added to the band’s sound. All of the band members were dressed all in black and Fernquist had a spaghetti-string top and super long hair, so I suppose they were somewhat goth looking. Fernquist also rolled his own cigarettes out of a Top tobacco can, and was an extremely cool individual. Many of the band’s well wishers and fans also had black hair, tattoos, and piercings. The cool thing was that these people were much more inviting and supportive than most fans you will see at shows. It was an encouraging family that really made an effort to entertain and celebrate the evening.

Superior is really growing on me with its nightlife lately. I am sick of the pretentious attitude of a handful of outspoken Duluthians, especially the dark-rimmed, Uptown-wannabe, granola-eating, biking-in-traffic, neo-green-yuppies. It all becomes corny after awhile and though it is a “scene”, it is too exclusive. Superior is refreshing and has a kind of old school charm that is more authentic than the polished rebuilt attitude of Duluth. I still love Duluth though, which is why it is so great to live in the Twin Ports. There is something here for everyone.

While talking to a few fans and band members we ended up discussing the late 1990s and early 2000s when local bands were what everyone was into. The nights of following bands and sleeping with 10 people on a floor after they played some out-of-town place like Stewartville, Rochester, Winona, or Inver Grove Heights have passed for me. While that scene and the people who supported it have ended up elsewhere, these days there are still people out there trying to keep the music alive. It seems like everything has went back to where it started with National bands like Wilco or The White Stripes controlling our ear. We are all still rockstars, but the bands we hung around who were surely going to be signed by a big record company never were.

It is great that Bev continues to support the local arts. Her bar is where I went to watch a band for the first review I did for the Reader over 6 years ago. The place has not changed much over the years, and neither has its inviting atmosphere. Back then I was amazed at how she made it feel like a family, and last Saturday I felt invited back home.