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Mike Gordon @ The Fineline Music Cafe

Author: Chris Shaffner November 21st, 2010

On a break from touring with Phish, bassist Mike Gordon and his band graced the stage at The Fineline Music Café Tuesday, November 16.  Starting out with “Can’t Stand Still,” the opening track on his new album, they sounded slightly disjointed, but by the end of the song the band found it’s stride.  Going into “Susskind Hotel,” Gordon got the crowd involved in a way I’ve never seen. He had a wireless drum sampler that he messed around with for a minute or two and after finding the desired effect; gave it to the crowd.  It was passed around for the duration of the song and each person who had it was coming through the PA with the rest of the musicians.  It was this connection with the audience that almost overshadowed what proved to be a tight and bass-driven rock show.

Gordon regularly plays for anywhere between ten and one hundred thousand people.  The separation on those massive stages may add to what appeared to be a bit of stage fright or hesitancy at first.  But, you could tell that once he warmed up he did truly enjoy the closeness, intimacy, warmth, the ability to make eye contact, etc., things that existed more when he played smaller venues with Phish in the eighties and early nineties.  He was also out front before the show, and the previous night hung out at a local bar, Downtime, chatting it up with fans and indulging patiently many requests for photos.  These experiences that many famous rock stars avoid added to the total package and the crowd was very appreciative and grateful for them.

The second set featured Alanis Morisette’s “Hand In My Pocket” that left people debating whether the song’s truly great performance outweighed the fact that it was kind of a cheesy cover!  And the bust out of “Funky Bitch,” a classic Phish song written by Son Seals, had everyone jamming.  They encored with “Sugar Shack,” a Gordon original recorded with Phish on the album Joy.

It was a successful stop in the Twin Cities as the house was nearly full on a cold Tuesday night and everyone left satisfied.  Not all knew the tracks yet off Gordon’s new album Moss, but the band performed them well and Gordon shined on the bass all night.  With some road sharpening and a healthy dose of water, the new songs will grow and come to form, like moss.

posted November 21st, 2010 at 1:33 am Reviews , ,

Ma, Will Someone Break The Rockford Mules?

Author: Skelly November 11th, 2010

rockfordmules4 Ma, Will Someone Break The Rockford Mules?

On Saturday night The Rockford Mules will officially drop their new album on the Twin Cities in what is sure to be a crushing blow at Cause Spirits and Sound Bar in Minneapolis.  The title of the new Rockford Mules album, Ma They Broke Me, sounds sort of like an ironic non-reality that would be if only someone, somewhere out there possessed the power to take a great band and elevate them to greatness.  This band is that good, and judging by the sound, look, and lyrical tone of Ma They Broke Me, I’d put my bet on their mothers being the first to know if they did, in fact, break!

I’m not saying The Rockford Mules are a bunch of momma’s boys (in truth, to say so would likely be to my own peril).  Far from it, these guys are the current standard bearers (and inheritors) of the hardest side of early 90’s grunge.  Think Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots.  Others have pointed out that a certain southern element is found in the music of The Rockford Mules, but bah; as far as I’m concerned these guys rock for everything that is Grain Belt beer, hot dish, and snow blowers.  That’s right – snow blowers.  Forget tater salad.

Just thought I’d share since this record has been getting me through a long and arduous day.  Now, will someone please break The Rockford Mules already?  C’mon ma!

Mudfoot Barker – The Rockford Mules

The Rockford Mules play Cause Spirits and Sound Bar this Saturday night at 9:30PM.  Concert is 21+, cover is $6.

Rockford Mules Ma, Will Someone Break The Rockford Mules?


The Rockford Mules – Website / Myspace /Facebook / CD Baby

posted November 11th, 2010 at 6:54 pm Concert Announcements, Reviews ,

Lost Shepherds Make Music for Transitions

Author: Skelly October 18th, 2010

Lost Shepherds 225 x 225 Lost Shepherds Make Music for TransitionsWell, Indian summer is gone and here comes the cold.  You didn’t seriously think it could last forever did you?  Hopefully you have your frigid gear ready to go.  I’m not one of those people that experiences cold depression at the outset of winter, but I’m also not one of those people who enthusiastically welcomes it either.  Usually at this time of year I find some sort of soundtrack to navigate my way through the rapid changes going on outside, and usually that involves an old Smashing Pumpkins album or something similar.  This season though I have something new.

I’ve been cooped up a lot recently, and unlike others who may feel like tearing confining walls down, I instead get driven toward introspection and self-inflicted seclusion.  It’s just not the best time for rock ‘n roll.  A couple months ago I received an album from a local Minnesota alt-folk band named Lost Shepherds.  Through no force outside of my own somber preference (and perhaps a small bit of laziness) this album has maintained a long tenure in the CD player.

You heard me right – CD player.  Indeed, some of us still use them!

“Unwanted” – Lost Shepherds

When the leaves were green I liked Lost Shepherds’ self-titled record, and as the leaves turned brown I loved it.  Sometimes we take to records for a singular purpose.  Some music is party music, other music is driving music.  Still other music is used as background filler, while others yet capture an instantaneous memory of the first time heard.  Lost Shepherds’ music has been transitional music this season.  While everything outside changes their record stays constant beginning to end.  It’s relaxing, comforting, and holds an elegance that not too many records that cross my desk can translate.  Each song is unique and finely crafted, but all seem at their best when listened to one after the other in the order their makers intended them to be received in.

So if the onslaught of winter has you at the shakes, then pick up a copy of Lost Shepherds, curl up in a blanket, and cut out the worrying!  After all, you’re a Minnesotan, right?  You have the constitution to make it to next summer, and you have Lost Shepherds.

Lost Shepherds’ next show will be at the Kitty Cat Klub on Saturday, October 23 at 9:00PM.

“Calling from the Valley” – Lost Shepherds


Lost Shepherds – Myspace / Facebook / Bandcamp / iTunes

posted October 18th, 2010 at 5:21 pm MN Rock, Reviews

John Prine and Emmitt Nershi Minneapolis Reviews

Author: Chris Shaffner October 12th, 2010

Editor’s Note: Chris Shaffner is a local freelance photographer and newest contributor to the Borangutan blog. We’re thrilled to have him on board, and more of Chris’ work can be viewed over at his website http://cshaffner.com and at his own blog http://cshaffner.blogspot.com.  The photos below were taken at John Prine’s Orpheum Theater show on September 25 and Emmitt Nershi’s performance at The Cabooze on September 30.

John Prine John Prine and Emmitt Nershi Minneapolis Reviews

John Prine at The Orpheum Theater - 9/25/2010

John Prine 1 John Prine and Emmitt Nershi Minneapolis Reviews

John Prine at The Orpheum Theater - 9/25/2010

Read the review of the John Prine show!

Emmitt Nershi John Prine and Emmitt Nershi Minneapolis Reviews

Emmitt Nershi at The Cabooze - 9/30/2010

Read the review of the Emmitt Nershi show!

Read more…

posted October 12th, 2010 at 2:14 pm Reviews ,

Swallows Wrote Some Songs For Strippers

Author: Skelly August 20th, 2010

songs for strippers Swallows Wrote Some Songs For Strippers

Songs For Strippers; you read me right!  This is probably also the first time you’ve read about this despite the album’s release in 2008.  Whenever I receive a new record I always assume its newness in more ways than one.  This makes sense since bands, artists, and labels typically don’t bother pimping out old material.  Yet as I so often tell artist friends of mine – “just because it’s flippin old to you doesn’t mean it’s not brand new to anyone (everyone?) else.”

Here we have such a case.  Who is/are Swallows?  Had I not visited a couple of their haunts online I might never have been made aware of Songs for Strippers‘ release two years ago.  In fact, a little googlebot indicated that this local band stood altogether unrewarded and unnoticed by local outlets when Songs for Strippers dropped.  Hmm… that’s puzzling, considering this record is one of the best beginning-to-end creative efforts I’ve heard out of a local outfit in the last couple years.  Did no one care?  Was there no promotion?  From out of nowhere – where did these guys come from!?

Now are the days of singles and five songs, where music might often be written as much for people’s attention spans as for their tastes.  So perhaps now more than ever is the time to revisit some memories.  Once upon a time singles reminded me of kisses, and albums reminded me of plans (alright, who caught that one?).  The name Swallows might disincline your thinking of kisses (for obvious reasons), but Songs for Strippers should certainly incline you to make plans for swinging into the Fine Line Music Cafe Saturday night.

Rumor has it these guys are working hard in the studio on the follow-up to Songs for Strippers.  Hot stuff, now swallow this!

The Craven King – Swallows

I Won’t Let You Down – Swallows

Who: Swallows
What: Live Show
When: Saturday, August 21 @9PM
Where: Fine Line Music Cafe


Swallows – Website / Myspace / Buy the Record

posted August 20th, 2010 at 1:51 am MN Rock, Reviews

Space Land and Time

Author: Skelly August 17th, 2010

space land and time cover1 Space Land and Time

Space Land and Time – those things we cross every day of our lives, and outside of an incidental episodic melt down, never seem to pay much attention to.  You know what I mean, a mid-life crisis, a drive to nowhere, the throes of shock.  Such unpleasant things, but without them we always seem to just take space land and time for granted!

Several days ago I was driving around the Twin Cities making errands here and there.  Suddenly it hit me as a moment – my world had grown so much bigger.  I was driving near Larpenteur Avenue in Roseville, and I recalled being 17 and getting lost trying to find a party near Hamline.  I’m now aware of so much more space, have crossed so much land, and where had my time gone?  Nowadays I can drive just about anywhere in Minnesota without getting lost, and often without directions.

As I drove by Gibbs Farm I listened to some Space Land and Time.  The Big Star sounding “Playing With Disease,” the folky Midwestern “On Parole,” and the eastern sounding but puzzlingly named “Wade Boggs.”  Space Land and Time are a band after my classic rock heart, and during a year that has experienced the passing of one of rock’s most underappreciated legends (here’s looking at you Alex Chilton), this new album is comfort food.

Some might think Minneapolis’ Space Land and Time are classic rock anachronists hellbent on attaining some sort of cosmic nostalgia (hence, their name).  I just say they have strong memories of the good ole days when rock needed no parsing.

Pick up a copy of Space Land and Time.  You might just have a moment too! 😉

Playing With Disease – Space Land and Time

P.S. I used to own 14 Wade Boggs baseball cards as a kid.


Space Land and Time – Myspace / Buy the Album /

posted August 17th, 2010 at 2:39 pm MN Rock, Reviews