The Top Five Bands of
People love when things are ranked and when they are familiar with something on a list it gives a great sense of pride. Now that I am entering my ninth year of writing for the Reader I thought it might be interesting to look at trivial aspects of this area and give a ranking once in a while.
Since most of my expertise, or lack thereof, comes from the realm of music I thought I would begin with something that I have an opinion on. I compiled this list based on popularity, general musicianship, songwriting, venue attendance, and a few TPB growlers for added inspiration.
5. Pabst Blue Ribbon
This band is fun and never puts on a bad show. They have extremely professional musicians and frontman Bo Bandit (Chad Lyons) who is like a hillbilly version of the Big Bopper. Gomez on guitar gives this band an authentic sound and has allowed him to bask in guitar-god spirit.
The group sums up their essence on their myspace page
writing, “The band is fronted by singer Bo Bandit, who first proposed
assembling this kind of group after spending many, many long hours surrounded
by psychopaths and firearms in his Duluth pawn shop. Backing up this rock and
roll behemoth are (the infamous and amazing) Gomez on guitar, some mumbly
Most of the band gained their local rock chops playing in
the now retired Black Labels at the ol’ Red Lion. I miss that surf-rock style
4. The Little Black
Books reside and own up as authentic
My 1965 jukebox has two local 45s on it and both were
created by LBBs’ Mark Lindquist. There is a 33 1/3 EP with some Giljunko hits
and an LBB 7inch of “They’re Never Wrong” and b-side “Whiskey So Soft.” Both
are amazing songs and yet only a sampling of a deep rooted
3. Toby Churchill of Alrights and Crazy Betty fame.
As many people know I was a huge Alrights fan prior to them disbanding. After Mayor Ness made it Alrights’ Day during Homegrown to honor their last show they are officially a top local band. Churchill’s solo debut album “Death” is amazingly sophisticated yet charmingly simplistic. There is emotion and passion in that album that jumps right out of the speakers and grabs you. Churchill has a way to craft a song that is delicate and catchy at the same time.
2. The Black Eyed Snakes
Number Two would be my number one, but since we are all bowing to the magnificence of TBT I have to place my favorite sitting band, The Black Eyed Snakes, at two. Alan Sparhawk has had many bands, but BES is my favorite. The group has so much power that they have to sit down. TBT needed to stand up, but BES can’t stand up because they would set off a riot. Their music is just that popular and infectious…
Black Eyed Snakes have a séance on stage and you can feel them being possessed by the crossroad devils of rock & roll. Bob Olson kills on guitar and you have to look carefully to catch him belting out gritty solos. Sparhawk captivates, but Olson is the electricity being pumped into his soul while onstage. Olson also plays in my fourth ranked band, The Little Black Books, as well.
1. Trampled By Turtles
Number one has to be Trampled By Turtles as they have earned
the spot. What makes one band succeed where so many other fail? Is it their perseverance,
music choice, fans, or just sheer luck? I mean the Dukes of Hubbard were a
great dance band with more of a jam sound, but they didn’t last like TBT has. There
are a million folkies up here plucking away that couldn’t fill a corner of the
So what makes TBT so popular?
I feel sometimes like my time in
So back to TBT, they were on folkin’ Letterman for Pete’s sake, who could be bigger right now? They are so folking popular that they kicked their chairs out and now stand up while performing live. Sure that was the main annoyance of their fans from the first time they left their living room to take the stage, but finally TBT relented and stood up. I like it much better now that they stand, but with Black Eyed Snakes I don’t mind them sitting for some reason. If I looked at audience prowess alone it might be dangerous if Sparhawk stood up too much during BES’ shows, the audience might break something.
Black Eyed Snakes’ audience has a rabidity that differs from
Trampled By Turtles. TBT fans tend to be kind of hipsterish, I know that won’t
go over well, but they are. The more famous TBT get the more of a hipster
magnet they become. They first found all the local hipsters, but then when they
got too big a lot of the local ones moved on. Then they got the
Pretty soon (maybe already) you can go to a TBT show with your parents and show them off. Patchouli will be replaced by Liz Claiborne scents while PBR dies out to Miller Lite and cheap red wine.
So TBT isn’t quite taking the pop Billboard charts yet, but it is only time at this point with them dominating bluegrass charts. Their inevitable rise was there from the beginning and now every rock writer who ever interviewed them is falling over themselves to say it was all their doing.
If we went to number six I would throw in Jack Campbell and
his new solo venture after stints in Completely Random and Excuse Me Princess.
It is hard to have a band stay together under normal circumstances, but poor