(L-r) Jillian Rae, Brianna Lane, Jeremy Messersmith, Ananda Bates, Jim Walsh, Jeff Robertson, Mary Beth Hanson, Doug Collins, Katy Vernon, and Pete Christiansen. Photo by David Tanner Photography.


BECCA MARX: Hoot Report from Harriet Brewing, May 14, 2015

Thrilled to report that the Hoot was indeed “magical” as I’d predicted it would be! I am no soothsayer but the odds were in my favor with the line-up of Doug Collins, Katy Vernon, Jeremy Messersmith, Ananda Bates and Jillian Rae. There were some fortuitous moments as well, not the least being the pouring rain that brought us all inside, cozy-like. Mad Ripple Hootenanny host Jim Walsh started the evening with the request that each artist sing a brand new song for the first round. Since I am not a songwriter I can’t understand the terror that is the essence of it being “all about you” and performing a song that is still in the works. I could however see it on the faces of the performers.

Katy Vernon spoke about the unconditional love between herself and her two daughters. Katy is finishing work on her second album Present to be released this fall and sang one of its captivating tracks “Daisy Blues.” She is working with phenom photographer Tony Nelson on a video, a first for Tony. Katy also sang “Lily,” an upbeat song that has received a lot of praise and airplay on the Current. Native Iowan Doug Collins played a song called “Rag Ride” in reference to the bike ride across Iowa that is held every summer. Collins kept on that track and sang “Song About A Train” an energetic honky-tonk tune that showcased his songwriting and guitar skills. Recent police issues and the fear of a militarized police force inspired Ananda Bates’s “We Can All Be Free.”

Jeremy Messersmith confided that he has been writing with the celebrated Dan Wilson. Ever humble, he outed one of their co-written songs, described by Dan Wilson as “being the nerdiest song he’s ever written.” Working title so far is “Once You Get To Know Us.” He is currently on a nationwide “Supper Club Tour” with the proceeds going in part to Open Arms Minnesota. He will be playing the O’Shaughnessy for a benefit in June.

Jeremy plied the audience with humorous insights on co-writing like, “show up and have musical intercourse together-weird at first and it gets easier.” Raucous laughter followed and he played the tongue-in-cheek “I Want To Be Your One Night Stand” to close out the night.

Jillian Rae spoke of her recent trip to Africa and brought a song about skinny dipping, “Don’t Think,” and the rockin’ “Heartbeat” from her 2014 solo album of the same name. Using Messersmith’s guitar she slowed it down and sped it up intermittently with the entranced audience clapping along. What’s more, to the Hoot’s delight there were songstress stars in the audience: The effervescent Natalie Lovejoy joined in with the melodica and folk powerhouse Brianna Lane sang her heart out with “Real Love.” Her album release show is Tuesday at Icehouse and her record The Navigator Club is amazing!

The Mad Ripple Hootenanny is a different animal every time-the crowds, artists and moods all vary. One thing that gets better each time is the gift of personal stories and collaboration. My list of who played and backed up one another on each song seems moot. At the end of the night they all gave of their talents: backing vocals, beat box, violin, melodica or guitar. The true beauty of the Hootenanny cannot occur without any of it, or the audience-thank you loves!

Becca Marx is a St. Paul-based freelance writer and critic and staff reporter for Rift Magazine.


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