Hoot Review from Harriet Brewing, June 18, 2015
All The Rock Stars In This Town by Becca Marx
In Minneapolis, summer is the season of abundance, and like beasts awakening from hibernation, we must climb out into the sunlight and use it up! Pick the berries, drink in the lilac’s rich scent, and open our arms wide to one another. That last part isn’t always easy for native Minnesotans, but this time of year brings out the best in us.
Thursday’s Hoot (6/18) was a thing of beauty: Bright, almost blinding sun; no more dead-eyed painted women on the walls of Harriet; cold beer; dogs; cats; brewery tour bikers; friends; lovers, whatever, we all drank it in. Jim Walsh sensed the vibe from the moment it started, and welcomed all “the beautiful people” to revel in the show, and to actively listen.
Jim started the night with a song about “being in the moment”, one that, as the phrase implies, will never be finished. A “sketch” of a tune, and that it was, as Walsh ad-libbed lyrics about those in the room, a room truly filled with beauty.
The unfinished concept was one that South Minneapolis native Peter Lochner embraced, and ran with. Lochner’s incomplete song “Little Bit of Nothing” is an ode to finding a way to get through the night, bourbon being one choice. Lochner’s voice is reminiscent of rock and soul, not rock and roll. He’s very animated, clearly enjoys the stage and entertaining a crowd. With vocals reminiscent of Jack Johnson, or a Dave Mathews Delta soul sound, he gave an alluring performance of “Mercy On Me”.
Lochner and fellow Hoot player Angie Oase nearly came to blows with his tongue in cheek song “North Dakota Girls,” a song that didn’t exactly compliment NoDak women. (Oase hails from Minot, N.D.). The two made friends, and the show went on, with Lochner’s beauty of a lovelorn tune “Paris.” Take yourself out to the Central Avenue Bridge on Saturday (6/20), and hear Lochner perform with his full band at The Stone Arch Bridge Fest.
Molly Dean is having a great year, getting a lot of recognition for her work in the duo Moon and Pollution and working on her own solo record. Dean started out with her energetic and plaintive song “I’ve Been Caught,” which proved to be a really great foil for her Jewel-like voice. Dean’s second tune was guitar magic: “Elements” showcased how talented she is at the “Travis picking” style of playing. Seriously, every one of us onstage and off was impressed. Dean is recording at The Terrarium Studios, with Dave Simonett of Trampled by Turtles. Her upcoming solo album, “The Natural Minor,” will come out in November. The record, featuring Erik Koskinen and J.T. Bates, is sure to be fantastic. All those all stars should add up to a great record!
Hoot first-timer Angie Oase jumped right in, she brought her guitar and harmonica chops (I adored her harmonica duet with Jeff Robertson at the end of Jim’s “Judgment Day”) to her songs, and the others’ songs as well. Oase also encouraged the fellow Hoot players to join in, sharing chord progressions. A songwriter since 5th grade, Oase promised not to sing her early songs, but did perform “Go Quiet,” a favorite from her recently disbanded group Pennyroyal. It’s the sort of a song that gives you chills, especially with its vulnerable, innocent, yet grown-up vocals. “Mercy” is a rocking harmonica-laden song with lyrics referring to “all the rock stars in this town”, that’s off of Pennyroyal’s first album, “Simple Music.”
The song got even better with the addition of great guitar licks from Hoot neighbor John Swardson. Oase is at work on a solo album, but you can see her and fellow Pennyroyal member Brian Cameron (along with Ryan Plewacki & Jeff Marcovis) rocking the Water Tower Park stage at The Stone Arch Bridge Festival 6/20. A chance to hear those missed-but-not-forgotten Pennyroyal songs!
Channeling Eddie Vedder, but with a rough Minnesota tone is singer, songsmith and guitarist John Swardson. Swardson has certainly mastered the guitar, and the type of songwriting that hurts where it counts. The mournful love song “Gone” had me nearly in tears, and from the applause, I’d say that I wasn’t the only one shaken. There’s no pretense in Swardson, at least that’s the impression his music leaves one with. Rugged and earthy, his rendition of Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty” was spot on, and all in. When you cover a great song, you better commit to it, there’s no other acceptable way. Oase gave her all on Dylan’s “Mama You’ve Been on My Mind”, and you’d better on Dylan, or else! Swardson and Oase were great together, their styles really meshed well. The band Bad Blood is Swardson’s main outlet right now, and they’ve an album nearly in the bag. Lucky for us, he’s also writing for a solo album. Might I suggest collaboration with Angie Oase?
Audience member and Hoot veteran Joe Fahey performed a special finale: Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” The players and audience chimed in, and Fahey’s furry friend “Lucy” the pup, joined him onstage for pats. The spontaneous canine moment was one of absolute and utter charm.
Coming full circle back to abundance, this week the music and arts community of Minneapolis explodes en masse: the Kingfield PorchFest, Rock The Garden, and several days of the Stone Arch Bridge Festival, of which a few of the Hoot players will be performing at. Check them out, check it all out! Keep playing, enjoy one another and steep in it!
Becca Marx is a St. Paul-based freelance writer and critic and staff reporter for Rift Magazine.