Friday, July 16, 2010

Rain Kings, formerly ILL-Gotten Booty

Inducted: July 2010

Time may have changed what the Rain Kings band drinks before a show, and also what time they go to bed after one. But its effect on the music has been less calming.
After more than a decade playing together in another form — ILL-GottenBooty — the band has gone in a new and fresh direction, performing now as the Rain Kings and experimenting with new sounds.
The band, about a year old now, consists of Clint Eaton on guitar, vocals and harmonica; Scott Helgerson on guitar, vocals and piano; Jason Olson on stand-up bass, guitar and vocals; and Gregory Lee Spear, on guitar and vocals.
Catch them at a variety of places in the area. Here's a video of the band at Midtown Tavern in Mankato.

To keep up on shows, visit the band's website.
Here’s more about the band from Spear.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your band. What’s your sound like? What genre of music would you say it fits into?
A: Like the bio on the website states, we are a musical evolution of ILL-GottenBooty (IGB). We scaled it down to an all acoustic Americana/blues band (with a hint of old-school country).
After 13 years as a rock band in southern Minnesota, it was time to venture into something new and fresh. The live music climate changed drastically around us over that time, and we found that in order to continue to perform the music we wanted to play, something had to give.
So, we changed the music style and changed the name but kept the essence of what being in a band is all about: having fun and creating good music. If you are lucky enough to have people want to spend their time at ashow and you get paid at the end of the night, it’s even better!
Like many other acoustic acts, we’ve taken some of our more fan-favorite cover songs and originals from the IGB days and changed the arrangements to make something new out of them. And, of course, we have added many new songs to the repertoire.

Q: Do you play original material or covers? A mix of both?
A: At the moment it’s a mix of both, leaning more heavily toward the cover side.

Q: When you write music, what’s your inspiration? Political? Observational? Spiritual?
A: We certainly are not political. Perhaps a few of our originals come from observing something, but I think most of our original songs comeout of some experience one of us has had at some point in our lives. The most obvious is from the trials and tribulations of relationships.

Q: Does your band have a signature song? Something your fans have to hear at every show? If so, how did that come to be?
A: I believe we do have a signature song. I’m not sure if our fans want to hear it at every show, but it is the source of the band name. The song is “Rain King” by the Counting Crows which was taken from the novel “Henderson and the Rain King” by Saul Bellow, which I have yet to read. Scott has an original 1959 copy.

Q: When you cover, how do you choose songs for your repertoire?
A: If we like the song and if we feel we can come up with a great arrangement, then we add it to the list. Of course, there are times when we go through all the work and then look at each other after the first time we play it and we never play it again. That’s one of those “oh well”moments.

Q: What’s a good night on stage like?
A: Almost every night is a good night. Some start off a bit shaky, but we recover (and vice versa). When you can see the audience actually engaged in a song we are playing, either by singing along or just watching us, that is a good night. You know for that moment you have their full attention.

Q: What do you love about performing?
A: I can’t speak for the rest of the guys on this one because it’s such a personal experience, but for me it’s all about the music and evoking an emotion out of people. That is a great feeling.

Q: Who are some of your influences?
A: That is a very large list. Counting Crows, Tom Petty, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Ryan Adams, Keb Mo’, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Allman Brothers, Robert Johnson, James Taylor, etc.

Q: If you ever made the cover of Rolling Stone, what other bands would you want to be compared to?
A: While it would be a great honor to make the cover, I don’t believe we would want to be compared to anybody else. Being in the same genre as “xyz” or even influenced by “xyz” is fine, but I don’t think people would want to hear or see another “xyz.”

Q: How do you unwind after a show?
A: Well, back in the day it was a shot of cocaine and snort of whiskey. Now, we just pack up the guitars and go home. It must having something to do with age at this point. I just can’t put my finger on it. (Insert smiley face here.)

Q: Any interesting band rituals?
A:Tequila was once the shot of choice prior to starting the show, but again, the age thing has crept up on us. We’re typically still tuning guitars whenit’s time to start. We do bring a lot of them to a Rain Kings show!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

69 Cents

Inducted: June 2010

WhenThe Free Press launched the Meet the Band blog — a central location tosee, listen to and read about all the bands in the Meet theBand family— we had an uptick in nominations.

Local music fans e-mailed to saywe were crazy if we didn’t induct bands like City Mouse and Powerhouse,the ones that have been playing in Mankato’s music scene for years andyears.

No band, however, received as many nominations as 69 Cents.The rock band’s fans have spoken ... again. They did, after all, beatout CityMouse, the Murphy Brothers, Home Free and Fish Frye for secondplace in The Free Press Readers’ Choice awards this year. (Hairball tookfirst.)

So, loyal 69 Cents listeners, we hear you. And thoseunfamiliar with the Mankato band, now’s your chance to listen up andlearn a few things about the 13-year-old band from guitarist andvocalist Dale Wolters.

Q: Tell us about your band.
A: Well, weall have similar tastes in music, and being together so long, we haveplayed nearly every style you can imagine. It has changed over theyears, but we pretty much try to stay current with most of thestuff onthe radio.
You could say we fit more into the active rock genre. Ithink we each have our own unique style, but being in a cover band, wepretty much stick to the sound we are covering. Although, we do add ourown personality to the music.

Q: Do you play original material or covers? A mix of both?
A: Mostly covers. We have some original stuff but don’t play most of it due to member changes and such.

Q: When you write music, what’s your inspiration?
A:When we do write, it is mostly good-time rock music. We don’treally follow any one particular thought process. We have had theopportunity to write some backing tracks for a TV show several yearsback and recently did some tracks for a hip-hop artist based outof Philadelphia. That project is an ongoing work in progress, shall wesay.

Q: How do you choose songs for your repertoire to cover?
A: We try to stay with what is currently on the radio. Stuff that we enjoy and is on the charts.
We will try to sneak in some of our personal favorites, too, but mainly stick to what is happening at the time.

Q: What’s a good night on stage like?
A:When the energy is flowing and everyone is having a good time, it makesthe night so much better. We always enjoy a good crowd and really takein their vibe, which really helps our performance tremendously.Thegreat time really becomes contagious.

Q: What do you love about performing?
A:Mostly being out with our friends. We have met so many cool people overthe years, and it is neat to see our friends become like a family. Welook forward to our shows to see everyone. It’s a cool job.

Q: Who are some of your influences?
A:We all have our personal influences, of course, but collectively,we really like bands like Buck Cherry, Shinedown, Styx ... . Thelistcould go on and on. We also enjoy listening to funk and someR&B. I guess we have tons of influences.

Q: If you ever made the cover of Rolling Stone, what other bands would you want to be compared to?
A: Ha, ha. That is a tough one. The Bee Gees, of course.

Q: How do you unwind after a show?
A: We tend to mingle with our friends, enjoy some cocktails.

Q: Any interesting band rituals?
A:A couple of our guys really like to do a shot or two before we go on.I’m not sure if it is a ritual or not, but it helps set the mood. We dosome weird things, but I would not consider them ritualistic-ish.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

NiteRail featuring Mike Fugazzi

Inducted May 2010

NiteRail featuring Mike Fugazzi is definitely one of the established bands intown. They’re good at getting their name out there, and then they backup the hype with a good show.
A blues-funk band that formed in 2004, NiteRail has recorded two albums, “Back and Forth” in 2005 and this year’s “Splittin’ at the Seams.”

Here’s more about the band from Fugazzi.

Q: Describe your sound for someone who might not have caught a show yet.
A: We’re a five-piece band in our 20s (Fugazzi — vocals andharmonica, Korey Hicks — guitar, James Schneeberg — drums, Konr Ness — bass, and Zach Sershon — keys).
The best way to describe our sound is roots-rock. Our stuff is really accessible to anyone not obsessed with current top 40 radio, and our fans tend to range from college kids tobaby boomers.
We are blues influenced, but we aren’t a straight blues band. There are strong influences in our sound from rock, funk and jazz as well. I don’t think a lot of local bands try to do what we do and that makes us pretty unique.
We have really fantastic instrumentation without getting too jammy and really cover a wide range of music, including originals. I don’t think anyone in the area, regardless of age or genre, features the harmonica the way we do, and Korey Hicks is legitimately one of the top guitarists in the state and is only 28.

Q: Do you play original material or covers? A mix of both?
A: We play a mix of both. For a club gig we typically do original material for a third to half the show. We’re pretty selective about covers and making sure we put our own spin on them.
We tend to stay away from “bar rock,” but we balance stuff people are familiar with and covers off the beaten path. Really, we use the covers to help engage the audience and take them through a musical journey, so we try to avoid doing the same stuff as the cover bands in town. We have stuff on the setlist from the ’50s through today and continually throw in new material.

Q: When you write music, what’s your inspiration?
A: Lyrically, I’ve handled the bulk of the duty. The band collaborates on the music end with groove being the biggest inspiration. Korey and James tend to come up with most of our initial ideas, and Konr and Zach really come up with these amazing layers to add. We try to then balance really strict arrangements with tunes we can jam out.
Most my inspiration for lyrics comes from direct experience. I try to use writing as a way to evolve and share some of my life observations.
Most tunes areabout really specific events and episodes from my life. I try really hard not come off as jaded or whiny in any of our songs. If anything, I want others to feel inspired or hopeful after hearing a NiteRail song.
Songs like “Gotta Keep Movin,” “Leave Your Light On” and “Hungry Ghosts” really capture where I am coming from lyrically.
It can be pretty unnerving to really put yourself out there and maybe expose some things that make you feel defensive or vulnerable, so people avoid it. But that’s what you have to do. You have to be real with yourself and write about what you know. The melody and lyrics are the easiest pieces of a song for a listener to relate to and are the most important part of a song.

Q: What’s a good night on stage like?
A: It is extremely liberating. You get a break from the endless chatter in your mind, and you just do your thing. It is an amazing feeling to share music with other people and have them accept it.
They don’t even need to like it necessarily, but being respected for laying it all out there and making at least a few people happy during your set is wonderful. You can make a difference not only for yourself but others. It is a win-win.

Q: What do you love about performing?
A: I love pushing myself. I love the improvisational aspect and really just living for the moment. The whole performance aspect is extremely profound to me. That really comes from the interaction with other people, whether it be band members or the audience.
The connection music brings is extremely unique to the fine arts. Nothing other than family has ever topped being on stage for me. When the audience applauds, dances or chats with us between sets it is extremely humbling. We’ve made some amazing friends and fans from all walks of life. It also brings out the absolute best in people. We’re all just there to share a good time together, anyway.

Q: Who are some of your influences?
A: As a band the Fabulous Thunderbirds are probably our biggest blues influence. Otherwise, Eric Clapton and his work with Derek and the Dominoes is a huge influence.
Korey and I talk all the time about covering the whole “Layla” album for a set. You can hear the same vibe Santana brings in a lot of our tunes as well. The Derek Truck Band is our biggest contemporary influence, and I think we need to mention Blues Traveler for the simple fact they are the only major act featuring the harmonica in such aunique context like we try and do.

Q: If you ever made the cover of Rolling Stone, what other bands would you want to be compared to?
A: The Derek Trucks Band, the Allman Brothers, Derek and the Dominoes, Blues Traveler, Santana and John Mayer would be pretty sweet to be mentioned alongside.

Q: Where’s your favorite place to play in Mankato and why?
A: We’ve been fortunate to have pretty much played everywhere in town a full band can fit, but our sound is really geared toward a place like Buster’s. They get a wide range of ages in there, have a full stage and plenty of dance room, and when Don is running sound, we could never sound better. A more intimate place like Pub 500 is also a great change of pace for us, too. It lends itself to doing more blues and playing with a wider range of dynamics.

Q: How do you unwind after a show?
A: Someone always has to commute, as I am in Mankato and the rest of the guys are in the Cities. So after spending some time chatting with fans, we hit the road and tune into talk radio … maybe get something to eat. Everyone other than Zach is married with kids, so nothing too wild and crazy!

Q: Any interesting band rituals?
A: Full band we have some official NiteRail dialect between the band before and after shows that is pretty sophomoric, and you’ll always see me and Konr standing next to each other on stage.
From a performance standpoint, I quote a lot of Will Ferrell movies onstage, and you’ll always see a Buddha statue on my amp. We always do some “team drinks” with the audience and get them to sing along to some of the songs. But our biggest ritual is to always try and push each other and melt as many faces as possible … and make fun of Konr.

Read more about the band here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Five Count House Band

Inducted: May 2010

Most bands would kill for a little airplay. The Five Count House Band wants more.
With band members as hosts of “The Five Count” radio show on KMSU 89.7 FM, getting some airtime is pretty easy. In fact, playing on the air is all the band has ever known.
Any musician knows that’s not enough. Sure, you’ve got listeners, you’ve got fans. But they’re all on the other side of the constricting walls of the radio station, somewhere far away where their cheers and applause simply cannot be heard by The Five Count House Band — Dustin Wilmes (bass, vocals), Juston “Ton” Cline (guitar, vocals), and Alex Carlson (drums, vocals).
Not for long. The band is aiming to branch out and play live gigs. After six years together, it’s about time.
There may even be an album in the works. After all, they have “numerous hit singles featured on their website” already.
Click here to listen to a few of these hit singles. Or, listen to the band’s anniversary performance 11 p.m. June 12 on 89.7 FM.

Here's what the band had to say.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your band.
A: Wilmes: The band was initially created to help celebrate “The Five Count” anniversary shows every summer, but eventually we started writing music for the website and getting more serious about the idea of actually playing out. Our music knows no sound or genre boundaries.

Q: Do you play original material or covers?
A: Cline: We play a mix.

Q: If you write music, what’s your inspiration? Political? Observational?
A: Cline: Mostly emotional, like pain or happiness.
Wilmes: I like to write songs about girls and fast cars.

Q: When covering, how do you choose songs for your repertoire?
A: Wilmes: We usually choose songs with a killer groove and vocal parts way out of our ranges.

Q: What’s a good night on stage like, or in your case, on the air?
A: Cline: Anytime it feels fun and natural.
Carlson: When I come back with all the appendages I started with.
Wilmes: And when all the technical stuff works right. It’s hard to run the boards on a band you’re playing in at the same time. Know any good sound guys?

Q: Have you ever thought of playing area venues? Bars, etc.?
A: Cline: We’ve all played out separately. I would like to work on playing out with this band.
Carlson: I played at Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls. I used the same bathroom as Dave Grohl.
Wilmes: I foresee us being booked solid after this article comes out.

Q: What do you love about performing?
A: Cline: The feeling, being in a groove with other musicians.
Wilmes: And the free food.
Carlson: And being shirtless.

Q: Who are some of your influences?
A: Cline: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Dimebag Darrell, Zack Wylde.
Wilmes: Flea, Les Claypool, Dee Dee Ramone, Geezer Butler, Bootsy Collins.
Carlson: Thomas Pridgen, Brad Pemberton, Abe Cunningham, Danny Carey, Phil Collins.

Q: If you ever made the cover of Rolling Stone, what other bands would you want to be compared to?
A: Cline: Don’t know, don’t care.
Carlson: Wham!
Wilmes: King Diamond.

Q: How do you unwind after a show?
A: Carlson: I usually put my clothes back on and watch a few reruns of “Days of Our Lives.”
Cline: I prefer to rock until the sun comes up.
Wilmes: And then for breakfast the next day we like to eat eggs that were hard-boiled from the power of our amps.

Q: Any interesting band rituals?
A: Wilmes: We always make it a point not to practice until a few days before a show. We’re very superstitious like that.
Carlson: I once wrestled a snake. It was a hognose.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Milo Bobbins and the Budget Boys

Inducted: April 2010

Unless you’ve never met Pete Steiner, or maybe just have seen him quietly taking notes at a City Council meeting, you’d never describe him as a man of few words.

He’s on the radio every day, for one thing — talking is his job on KTOE. He also writes a column for Mankato Magazine every month in which he reminisces about times and places past, usually at length, and readers eat it up.

So, when we sent him a few questions via e-mail to answer for the Meet the Band series, we certainly didn’t expect him to get straight to the point. Surprisingly, answering for the eight-year-old Milo Bobbins and the Budget Boys, that’s exactly what he did. (The Budget Boys are Billy Steiner on harmonica and vocals, Dave Pengra on bass and vocals, and Ron Arsenault on guitar and vocals. But mostly Pete plays alone.)

So: Meet Pete Steiner, the man of few words. But don’t worry, the music speaks for itself.
Check out music samples and buy the band’s albums, “The Struggle to Free Milo Bobbins” and “Just Enough Money for Beer,” at their Web site.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your band. What’s your sound like? What genre of music would you say it fits into, if I could be so bold as to categorize?
A: Folk, blues, gospel.

Q: Do you play original material or covers? A mix of both?
A: About 50-50.

Q: What’s your inspiration for the music you write? Political? Observational? Spiritual?
A: Observational, occasionally political.

Q: If you cover, how do you choose songs for your repertoire?
A: Songs we like; usually NOT hits, lyrics important.

Q: What’s a good night on stage like?
A: When we remember all the words.

Q: What do you love about performing?
A: Transports you to a special place.

Q: Who are some of your influences?
A: Dylan, Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Hank Williams, Tom Paxton.

Q: If you ever made the cover of Rolling Stone, what other bands would you want to be compared to?
A: Afraid to even dream about that.

Q: Where’s your favorite place to play in Mankato and why?
A: Intimate spaces preferred — Coffee Hag, Wine CafĂ©, used to love McGoff’s (before it closed).

Q: How do you unwind after a show?
A: Probably with a cold one or two.

Q: Any interesting band rituals? (Don’t change your socks for days before a gig? A shot of whiskey before you take the stage?)
A: Picking out a favorite hat to wear.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Inducted: April 2010

This year, at Hickory Street RibFest, Powerhouse will make its ninth RibFest appearance. The band debuted at the Kato Ballroom in July of 2002 and were asked to perform that August at RibFest. Since then, it’s been a summertime tradition and one that Powerhouse is happy to keep up.
One of the things that make Powerhouse a unique Mankato band is its sheer size: 10 members, including two female singers and a horn section. Here’s the breakdown: Brenda Kopischke, vocals; Lynda Kiesler, vocals; Howard Mock, bass guitar, vocals; John Kajawa, lead guitar, vocals; Scott Helgerson, piano, vocals; Brian Jentges, drums, vocals; Dan Corbett, trombone; Chuck Olsen, trumpet; Jeff Kaul, trumpet; and Kevin Ward, saxophone.
That’s a lot of musicians to coordinate on stage and put together a cohesive sound. As seasoned musicians, they’ve managed just fine.

To read a Q&A with Powerhouse, click here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Nosmo King Band

Inducted: March 2010

There were a few Nosmo Kings in history, including a few bands, a popular English variety artist (birth name H. Vernon Watson) and a movie with that name from 1995. It’s even the name of an anti-smoking children’s activity book.
“Nosmo King” is a funny play on words, after all, constructed from the words “No smoking.” And, considering their wit and good sense of humor, it’s the fitting name of a Mankato band formed in 2006 by longtime area musicians.
The Nosmo King Band — made up of Don Waylett, keys; Steve White, guitar and vocals; Jim Siatsis, drums and vocals; Carl Rosendale, bass and vocals; and Tim Secott, guitar and vocals — plays blues-rock music at area bars and clubs. And they are the newest addition to The Free Press’ Meet the Band family.

To read a Q&A with the band, click here.