Monday, March 26, 2012

Earworm Of The Week: Chastity Brown

Chastity Brown is a Tennessee-raised, Minneapolis-based soul songstress with an alluring tendency to turn heads and hold audiences captive with her jazz-tinged folk compositions, mesmerizing voice and expressive musicianship. Brown's fourth album, Back-Road Highways, features stellar backing from long-time bandmates Michael X. (percussion) and Adam Wozniak (of Tarlton, upright bass), plus the talents of Robert Mulrennan (of No Bird Sing, guitar), deVon Gray (of Heiruspecs, keyboards), and Jef Sundquist (of Hildur Victoria, bass) as well as The Hummingbirds (backing vocals) for a tighter, more impressive collection of tunes than ever before. On this album, Brown weaves a gritty, groove-based sonic tapestry that pulls from rhythm, blues, rock, and country sounds. Read an extended Q&A with the artist here and listen to our live in-studio session with Chastity Brown on April 25!

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" every Wednesday from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio.

- Erica Rivera

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On Deck: Blue Soul Caravan

Alex Goldfarb and Leela Bergerud are Blue Soul Caravan, an Americana bluegrass outfit from Minneapolis. Their music is unique in that it uses mantras "to elevate one's heart and spirit."

Goldfarb’s musical interests developed early on, beginning with the violin. Goldfarb has since added guitar, banjo, sitar, flutes, harmonica, percussion, and imbira/kalimba to his instrumental arsenal. Goldfarb’s solo career resulted in two albums: Magnifying Glass and Keys for Locks.

Bergerud began her singing career as a pre-teen and went on to perform throughout North, South and Central America.

Together, Goldfarb and Bergeud create soothing tunes that calm the mind, body, and spirit. They have shared their creative gifts with spiritual communities, yogis, and other alternative groups and gatherings throughout the Twin Cities.

Blue Soul Caravan's latest release is Pioneer The Light, from which we will hear material tonight!

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" every Wednesday from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio. Listen in on 90.3 FM in Minneapolis, 106.7 in St. Paul, or stream online at

- Erica Rivera

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Brick Gets Bashed

Word on the street is that The Brick, the latest music club to open in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis, is a bust. We didn't attend the packed-to-the-max inaugural event last night that featured Jane's Addiction, but you'd have to be living a social media-free existence not to notice the amount of criticism the new venue drew on Facebook and Twitter. The bash fest continues today on The Current's, City Pages', and Minnesota Daily's websites, as well as the LOL/OMG blog. Our favorite critique, however, comes from The Tangential, where local writer Jay Gabler proposes "Ten Things AEG Could Have Done To Make Minneapolis Music Fans Hate The Brick Even More".

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" every Wednesday from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio for more local music news.

- Erica Rivera

Monday, March 19, 2012

Earworm Of The Week: Astronautalis

Astronautalis (a.k.a. Andy Bothwell) is a former battle rapper who learned early on to wow crowds with only a microphone and a laptop. Originally from Florida, this hip hop wordsmith recently relocated to the Twin Cities and released his fourth full-length This Is Our Science, a highly stylized mash-up of indie rock and rap that intoxicates listeners with body thumping beats and clever lyricism.

This video, for the tune "Contrails", features Tegan Quin of the popular Canadian twin sisters duo Tegan and Sara. While an unlikely pairing on paper, in practice Astronautalis and Quin have crafted an irresistibly catchy song that’ll be stuck in your head all day long.

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" every Wednesday from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio for more on local artists participating in quirky collaborations.

- Erica Rivera

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On Deck: Anthony Ihrig

Our guest tonight on “Live From Studio 5!” is Anthony Ihrig, a Twin Cities acoustic musician and composer. Ihrig’s musical career began in 1999, when he co-founded a string band called Free Range Pickin’, which introduced “newgrass” music to the Midwest. Ihrig went on to play with award-winning The High 48s Bluegrass Band, followed by stints in the Mark Kreitzer Band and Walker Fields. Most recently, Ihrig recruited fiddler Eric Christopher, mandolin and pedal steel player Jed Germond, and upright bassist Dan Christensen-Cowan to form Anthony and his Almost Acoustic Ensemble. The quartet released their first studio album, Missing Ghosts in 2011. When Ihrig isn’t onstage, he’s teaching the next generation of music lovers how to play the banjo.

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" tonight from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio to hear Ihrig's unique musical talents.

- Erica Rivera

Monday, March 12, 2012

Earworm Of The Week: Andrew Bird

Though technically not a Minnesotan, the Windy City's Andrew Bird spends enough time in the Twin Cities to considered an honorary resident. Bird's delightful hybrid of string instrumentation, wistful vocals, and intermittent whistling lend an old-world sound to lyrics that are wise beyond Bird's 38 years.

Bird, who has released previous albums on both Fat Possum and Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe labels, was recently signed to Mom+Pop, with whom he scored the soundtrack for the indie film Norman and released his latest full-length Break It Yourself.

This video, for Bird's song Danse Caribe, was filmed by MPLS.TV at The Sound Gallery, which is owned by Jacob Grun, a forthcoming guest on our show!

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" on Wednesdays from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio for more exceptional local-ish acts!

- Erica Rivera

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Howler vs. 4onthefloor: Whose Side Are You On?

Note: The views expressed in this post are my own and do not necessarily represent those of "Live From Studio 5!", KFAI, or any other human being on the planet...though I wager some of you will agree.

I was hoping to avoid chiming in on the recent Howler uproar, but it's gotten so out of control at this point, I figured, why not add another voice to the cacophony?

The beef, in brief: Jordan Gatesmith, the frontman of Howler, a band so stereotypically hipster it was bound to be snatched up and mass-produced by a record label, recently trashed his hometown music scene in an interview with The Guardian.

"They'll build up these bands -- no offense, Minneapolis -- that I will hate. I will completely hate. But they'll like sell out the biggest room in Minneapolis," Gatesmith said, citing 4onthefloor, a stomping blues band that includes four members who play four kick drums in 4-4 time, as an example of what's wrong with the Twin Cities' music scene.

 "They're like Mumford & Sons crap," Gatesmith continued.  "I'm sorry. But that will get huge. They'll do like crazy big venues, then everyone will be like, 'Yeah! 4onthefloor is the band to watch! Everyone get ready!' And then, of course, nothing will happen outside of Minneapolis for them. And I think a lot of bands that kind of do the punk rock thing, or kind of the underground thing are the really good acts that will just never see the light of day. So I have a hard time with Minneapolis."

I don't necessarily disagree with Gatesmith. Minnesotans love their hometown bands, gag-inducing gimmicks and all. We find a favorite and over-expose it to the point where you wish the band would self-destruct already. Personally, I thought 4onthefloor was a bore from the get-go. They're a band made to sell beer. No surprise, of course, that they quickly partnered with Pabst after walking away with first place at last year's "Are You Local?" competition.

I'll stand by the Facebook statement I made that night as the rowdy winners took the stage: "There are artists and there are entertainers." 4onthefloor is the latter. That's not necessarily a bad thing; we all need a frothy sonic escape sometimes, but let's just be honest about what a band is.'s "Are You Local?" competition, like its City Pages counterpart, "Picked2Click", is not about talent anyway; they are popularity contests. The trouble with attaching so much clout to those titles is that our musical lust is momentary, and Twin Citians have an especially short attention span. Our preferences are as fickle as the weather forecasts; wait a minute and they will change. And why shouldn't they? This is the land of 10,000 musicians! And in a pond this itty bitty, it doesn't take much to look like a big fish.

Perhaps the only thing that riled me up about Gatesmith's statements is the idea that Howler is any better--or any different--from 4onthefloor. Both bands received excessive media attention and fan adoration long before they'd proven themselves worthy. Both bands are one-trick ponies. I'd dare say that 4onthefloor's horse is already dead; Howler's will soon follow. A year from now, no one will remember either of these outfits beyond this petty argument about which of them is more authentic.

If I must choose sides, well...I won't. I don't particularly like the music either buzz band is producing. I certainly wouldn't pay to have their tunes on my iPod or to see either act live. The one thing 4onthefloor does have going for it is a good-hearted frontman, Gabriel Douglas, who is a known supporter of, and collaborator with, musicians in the Twin Cities.

Douglas has donated his talents and time to Rock the Cause, an organization that can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. And if we must bring this bickering down to a superficial level, Douglas is as passionate about hoodies as I am, while Gatesmith seems like the kind of guy who'd willingly wear eyeliner and skinny jeans, two things I've successfully eschewed for my 30 years on this planet. Based on those personality traits alone, I'm siding with Douglas.  (He also grows impressive facial hair.  Let's see you do that, Howler!)

Thankfully, what Howler boasts in ego, 4onthefloor has in humor. Here's their musical retort to the controversy, a cover of another bloated-beyond-belief band, Mumford & Sons.

If I know anything about the Twin Cities' scene, it's that you don't want to piss off the wrong person. Enjoy your record label asphyxiation and Brit love, Howler.  Heck, you may as well relocate. Minnesotans may be "nice", but they can hold a grudge like nobody's business. Consider your bridges here burned.

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" on Wednesdays from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio for more unsolicited opinions on what's hot and what's not on the local music scene!

- Erica Rivera

Monday, March 5, 2012

Earworm Of The Week: The Honeydogs

Most Minnesotans hardly need an introduction to The Honeydogs. Fronted by local icon Adam Levy and backed by the musical talents of Peter J. Sands, Stephen Kung, Trent Norton, Matt Darling and Peter Anderson, The Honeydogs have 18 years of onstage performances under their belts. Though best known for their single "I Miss You", this sometimes-twangy, always pleasing, pop-rock-Americana outfit is on the brink of releasing their 10th studio album, What Comes After. Join the band at First Avenue on March 10 to hear "Aubben" and all their other radio-ready tunes live. Rogue Valley and Farewell Milwaukee open the show.

Tune into "Live From Studio 5!" on Wednesdays from 10 PM to Midnight on KFAI radio for more local music movers and shakers!

- Erica Rivera

Sunday, March 4, 2012

On Deck: José James

José James originally was a part of Wain McFarlane’s JAHZ group entertaining us on our very first show of 2012.   José just returned from a European tour and will be soloing accompanied by his latest CD.  Born and raised in Minneapolis, José James came of age with the sounds of Prince, hip-hop and modern jazz.

Discovering an early passion for both music and creative writing, José combined these through performance – singing jazz standards, originals, and the works of John Coltrane with his quartet throughout the Twin Cites. Becoming a member of the groundbreaking avant-garde performance poetry and jazz ensemble Ancestor Energy, José was determined to devote his life to music, community, and spiritual unity. 

Don’t miss this unique performance this Wednesday night at 10 PM on KFAI Radio, 90.3 or 106.7 FM or online at  If you miss it live you can hear it for two weeks on our archives.