White Iron Band/TBT
White Iron Band, tip of the iceberg

Andrew Olson
Reader Weekly

Trampled By Turtles opened for the White Iron Band’s CD release party (Tap Room, Feb. 11) and drew out more Flappin-Jack hippies than any band in town.  The band created some great electric buzz-saw fiddlin’ music to the amusement of the high-twirling patchwork crowd.  White Iron Band then headlined the show and got that same group and their own swinging and swilling.  Eventually the mass bubbled out of the bar and into the parking lot, to tailgate between shows.

White Iron Band have a reputation that precedes them and a crowd that embraces them in the Northland. With Matt Pudas as the frontman/rhythm guitar, Eddie Juntunen and Nicholas “The Feelin" Mrozinski, fingering on keys and vocals, Sammy Weyandt blazing on lead guitar, Minnesota Mike Johnson on Pedal Steel, Reed Braaten on Bass, and Jeff Underhill banging away on drums; this band was a hit. Originally gaining their experience and sound in Ely, MN they transplanted to the Twin Cities a few years ago to a house gig at the 5 Corner’s bar near the U of M campus. After starting a healthy following they released their first CD, self titled White Iron Band and it sold heavily.  This past weekend at the Tap Room was the release of their new CD titled, Take It Off The Top. 

“Drunk In Duluth" is the tip of an iceberg of Duluth music floating around this winter.  The song begins by saying, “Well the wind blows cold off the lake at night and it chills my back to the bone.  When the bus rolls in I sit back and grin, feelin’ a little bit stoned.  I’ve busted up stalls, threw bottles at walls, and frankly got out of control."  Which actually happened at the show; sort of. With a crushing flow of people around the one bathroom for each sex and only two stalls respectively, Iron Band’s lyrics finally made sense. At one point a member of the band came rushing into the bathroom and noticed he would have to wait for an edifice.  Needless to say a third stall was added using the garbage can, something that can only be done in the guys’ bathroom. Damn that White Iron for “Bustin’ up stalls!"

Lyrical intuition is one aspect of this band that continued to ring true throughout the evening, as apparent in verse two of “Drunk In Duluth."  The verse states, “Well the people up here are crazy as hell, I guess you can say that’s my style. And the women are pretty as pretty can be, they always greet me with a smile… And the liquor it flows, as the evening it goes, and a smile gets stuck on my face - one more round till I hit the ground, MAN I LOVE THIS PLACE!  Drunk in Duluth, I sure get drunk in Duluth. Give me some whiskey and I’ll tell you the truth." After the show I went to talk to Matt about the CD and he had a woman under his arm slipping him a shot of whiskey, looking for the truth I assumed?  He was about to hit the ground and handed me the shot.  He smiled as I took it and all he said was, "be nice to us."  After the shot how could anyone not be nice to this band? 

The entire Take It Off The Top CD is great.  Songs like “Roll Roll Roll" give the feeling of a Southern chain-link fence stage show with blues harmonica.  Matt has a voice like a honky-tonk Bob Dylan or raspy Elvis.  The first song on the disc, “Sittin Here Thinkin’" has a fiddle and bangin’ clangin’ piano tackling the classic country topic of “drinking you off of my mind." Songs like “Mexican Jail" give the feeling of Los Lonely Boys (if they wrote better lyrics) and “Milk Cloudy" has a slow slide to the last sip of a beer.

One hilarious ditty about a one-night lover staying too long is “Whacked Out." The lyrics say, “I can’t believe I ever fell for you, you crazy whacked out bitch.  You tried to change me, up and rearrange me. I can’t believe the shit you put me through.  I was thinkin’ I oughta give up drinkin’? NO! Honey I’d rather just give up on you!"  With music it sounds less intimidating, and much funnier. 

The last verse of “Drunk In Duluth" says, “I ran into walls, bellied up in bars, and threw up all over my hair… And when I fell down on the barroom floor nobody else seemed to stare.  Well all my old friends know I’ll be back again, and I’ll probably have beer in the fridge.  Sometimes this place is heaven on Earth, compared to what’s over the bridge." Gotta love getting “Drunk In Duluth" with the White Iron Band.