Minnesota Does Minnesota fe: Slim Dunlap, Martin Devaney, JoAnna
James, The Violettes, Dan Israel, The Homewreckers, and Something Paurus
(Saturday, August 27th, 2005, Turf Club, St. Paul)
By David Rachac
Saturday night at the Turf Club, The Minnesota Music Academy (MMA) and 89.3 “The Current” hosted “Minnesota Does Minnesota,” a showcase of local musicians covering songs by their favorite Minnesota artists. The event was also meant to encourage MMA members to vote, and encourage non-members to join. The event was co-hosted by Cities 97's Jason Nagel and Minnesota Public Radio's Chris Roberts.
The first band called itself Something Paurus, a fitting name for a band comprised of two-thirds of the late lamented Something Fierce and fronted by Karen Paurus, who currently performs with Lili’s Burlesque Review. Anchored by drummer Dave Russ and bassist John Schech (who were also in Holiday Ranch with Paurus many years ago), Something Paurus amiably ambled through three songs, including guitarist Jerry Lefkowitz’s “Oscillating Fan,” before quickly departing the stage so Paurus could make her other gig on time.
The Homewreckers headed up by Matty O’Reilly were next, and they set the bar high with their solid alt-country sound. Sandwiching The Jets “Crush On You” between the Gear Daddies and the Ashtray Hearts was pure genius, and people in the crowd looked at each other and wondered aloud “Is this what I think this is?” Dave Russ jumped back onstage to sing background vocals on “Raspberry Beret,” setting in motion a theme (musicians jumping on stage to sing backup on other people’s songs) that would be repeated throughout the night.
Odds were about even that Dan Israel would have the audacity (and the self-promotional savvy) to cover one of his own songs, but he and the Cultivators (with the ubiquitous Dave Russ on drums) wisely stuck with some of the Twin Cities heavyweights in what was the most aggressive set of the evening. Dan hit “Black Gold” by Soul Asylum especially hard, dedicating it to Karl Mueller before finishing their set with Dylan’s “Forever Young.”
The Violettes were next, and I will be the first to admit that I was out of my league when it came to comprehending to them. But I appreciated the artistry they brought with their electronica mix, as well as the specific reminder that not all of the music that comes from Minnesota was written on an acoustic guitar and has a 4/4 beat. Thank you to guitarist Mark Ilaug for the quick history lesson, and to keyboardist Sarah Khan’s suggestion that I step into the 21st Century – which I promise I will take under advisement.
JoAnna James followed The Violettes and told a funny story about how she used to slip Mason Jennings notes during his set when she would see him as a teenager. Covering a Tina and the B-Sides tune was perfect – I have always heard the sonic connection between Tina and JoAnna. Plus it put Dave Russ back on stage playing drums, keeping his streak alive (if you include him going onstage during the Violettes to replace a keyboard amplifier). She also finished her set with a Dylan tune (“One More Cup of Coffee”), and with Martin Devaney up next, I would have bet a third one would have been forthcoming.
Instead, Devaney started his set with Dan Israel’s “Some Time,” (with help from the Cultivators – all Dave Russ, all the time) which prompted Dan to get onstage and sing lead on the chorus (partially giving him the self-cover that we all knew he was capable of), and following it with “Disaster” by The Ashtray Hearts, which had already been covered earlier by the Homewreckers. (Devaney said he had been downstairs earlier in the night and hadn’t heard them playing it). Finishing up with an Ol’ Yeller tune, Devaney turned the stage over to the legendary Slim Dunlap, who has made a long career with his roots-based rock and is in the top echelon of the Twin Cities’ music elder statesmen. It was a great night of celebrating the history of Minnesota music, and having one of its icons finishing the night made for a perfect ending.
David Rachac is at drachac[at]rachac.com
Something Paurus (Something Fierce tribute)
Dan Israel and the Cultivators