Hoot Review from Harriet Brewing, July 23, 2015
By all accounts, Thursday evening at the Hoot was HOT, tropical even. The audience members, usually so cool and collected, were sweating as much as those onstage. Even this Finnish woman found it a bit too reminiscent of a sauna. Everyone kept his or her clothes on, though Jim Walsh did at one point suggest visiting a local watering hole, sans wardrobe. For all of the perspiration, the couples in the crowd, and onstage cuddled up close and made it even hotter.
Nici Peper, a singer/songwriter from Stillwater, took the lead from Jim Walsh and ran with it. Peper employed her chanteuse-like Norah Jones style to entertain the steamed up room. She sang “I Belong to You” in a come-hither cool way. Her beautiful rendition of JOHN Lennon’s “Imagine” was such that I could’ve listened to it again, and again. Peper plays frequently in Stillwater, usually with her husband Chris Snyder in their duo Firefly. Next couple’s night at the Hoot, we’ll make sure that Snyder can make it as well.
If you know the Carpetbaggers from the 1990’s, then you know singer songwriter John Magnuson. Magnuson is blessed with a charismatic vocal tone reminiscent of Buddy Holly or Conway Twitty. When Jim Walsh inquired about the origin of Magnuson’s “ancient voice,” the answer was “John Prine.” His song “A Stranger’s Just a Friend I’ll Never Meet”, was a wistful account of passing someone on the street, and never knowing them. “Drink For Free” was a rollicking, fun blues tune that the audience was quite taken by.
The married duo of Mike Lane & Kiki Lane (The Lanes) have a genuinely unabashed love for the music of the 1960’s on up. The Lanes will play the upcoming “Summer of Love” Tribute at Harriet Brewing on 8/8, where you’ll be sure to see some lively covers of your favorites. They performed “That’s All Karl,” a song dedicated to the late, much beloved Karl Mueller (Soul Asylum). The poignant lyrics brought a tear to my eye, as I recalled Jim Walsh talking about the Lake Harriet Rose Garden bench that bears a plaque in Mueller’s name. Another touching, but joy-imbued song was the Lane’s self proclaimed “theme song,” “His Favorite Pick.” The contagiously happy tune mirrors reality for the Lanes, two hearts in musical harmony!
Another duo was Duetos Latidos, that of the immensely talented Colombian-born guitarist/composer Carlos Alberto Diaz Hincapie and vocalist Donna McKirdy. Hincapie is a captivating guitarist with a worldly jazz-infused sound. His chord progressions are pure magic. McKirdy, a striking singer who performs in both English and Spanish, brought a flair for the poetic to the evening with the passionate poet Rumi inspired song “Whole Heart Rumi/Palomas Rojas (Red Doves).” Hincapie even took McKirdy for a spin in front of the stage, adding to the heat in the room. They’re also members of the Diaz Ensemble, do seek them out.
The Hoot’s own Jim Walsh added to the love by singing the beautiful “1955” with the “sunset like” Mary Beth Hanson. Halfway through the innocent love song the tempo doubled and the pair finished it in rocking style.
Walsh performed a brand new love song, “Now I’m A Sunfish,” about a lover’s quarrel, with the sweet outcome being the innuendo-laden joy of making up. Walsh had written earlier in the week about crossing paths with a group of youngsters near the Karl Mueller bench (Lake Harriet Rose garden). One of the young men was Matthew Beach, a native Colombian whom Walsh had encouraged to perform at the Hoot after hearing him play a song. Matthew Beach, another time-perhaps?
The heat of the night didn’t keep away First Avenue legend Steve McClellan, who enthusiastically took Jim’s invite to take the microphone and tell the Hoot crowd about the relocation of DEMO (Diverse and Emerging Music Organization) to a new space on 36th and 28th in the Seward neighborhood (DEMO is “Devoted to supporting, promoting, and educating diverse independent musicians”). Singer and Trompe le Monde singer Helm Mathews also dropped by to announce the “Cover Me Impressed” benefit show on 9/12 at Harriet Brewing, to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation. The benefit will feature cover bands including the Non-Prophets (a Police reggae cover band), Trompe le Monde (Pixies cover band), and Little Man performing Jane’s Addiction 1991 Lollapalooza set, to name a few.
So you see, we didn’t let the heat get us down, it only made us closer, at least we smelled a lot closer… Next week, more of the same is on the menu. See you then.
Becca Marx is a St. Paul-based freelance writer and critic and staff reporter for Rift Magazine.