Goodnight, Walt Mink

Goodnight, Walt Mink

"The Walt Mink re-union tour has been CANCELED. There are no more shows. Sorry." So reads a rather unceremonious Web posting by Walt Mink's fourth and last label, Deep Elm. Though the N.Y.-by-way-of-St.-Paul (by way of New York) power trio announced its breakup over a year ago, and shortly thereafter played its final concert in Manhattan, local fans were still pining for one more glimpse of the band.

Speaking from New York, guitarist John Kimbrough blames their foiled tour plans on scheduling conflicts among band members, but says he'll be forming a new band soon. "Financially speaking, Walt Mink couldn't just keep doing what we were doing," he says. Still, the disappointed can take some solace in Goodnight, a just-released album documenting the band's final concert. Locals who either missed the show or never quite "got" Walt's Rush-meets-Hüskers megarock should check out the live stuff contained here. Goodnight shows why the band's sound might have won over open-minded Smashing Pumpkins fans if not for Atlantic Records' strenuous mishandling of the group after signing them two years ago.

The various members of Walt Mink have moved on with their lives. Kimbrough is busy mixing a band called Mucka Ferguson and preparing solo work, while bassist Candice Belanoff is playing around New York in something called Candyburger. Walt Mink's third and last drummer, Zach Danziger, is touring with Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Meanwhile, the band's first drummer, Joey Waronker, continues to back Beck after briefly replacing Bill Berry in R.E.M. According to industry rumor, the reason for the switch back is that Stipe and Co. plan to disband soon, thus marking the end of an era. Waronker has reportedly kept Danziger from filling his spot in the Beck posse, but was gone just long enough to help R.E.M. record their new album, Up.

Belanoff recently sent a joking e-mail to a friend of mine in which she wrote, "maybe you'll see a bunch of freaks in blond wigs playing the Entry under the pseudonym 'Want Milk?'" Not likely, of course. Two years ago, Macalester College professor Walter D. Mink died of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and the band thanks him in Goodnight's liner notes, saying they adopted his name "with love, gratitude, and the utmost respect."

Revolution for the hell of it

Reunions seem to be in the air, with the Artist suggesting a month ago (through an Internet post) that he'd be open to re-enlisting old members of his Purple Rain-era band the Revolution for his next album on his NPG label. "Eye am approaching this like a new record, as tho the band never split," or so he's quoted on his official site, Love4Oneanother, "because in spirit, eye doubt we ever did."

Is such a project actually brewing here in the concrete world of correct spelling and grammar? "It sort of depends on Wendy and Lisa," says former Revolution drummer Bobby Z. of the creative pair who parted with Prince years ago on famously chilly terms. "They're very busy right now."

Indeed, even if the two wanted to take up the Artist's public offer to let them co-produce his new record, they might not have time to pitch in. Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman released an album together only a month ago, under the name Girl Brothers (called Girl Bros., of course). Melvoin has been performing with Sheryl Crow, and her signature guitar riff on "My Favorite Mistake" is all but ubiquitous on pop radio. The two have also done studio work for k.d. lang, Tricky, and Victoria Williams, among others, and are slated to work on a Madonna cover album due in February. They recently told Rolling Stone that the Artist previously contacted them about a reunion on VH1 two years ago, but refused to return their calls after they began suggesting changes.

A changed cast

Speaking of reunions, that vintage shot of local surf-rock legends the Castaways included in our '60s teen-rock roundup ("Birdland Revisited," 10/14) inspired an anonymous caller to tell me that some of the musicians pictured weren't invited to play the Big Hits of Mid-America CD-release party on October 17.

There are, in fact, two versions of the Castaways going these days: the Castaways proper and the Original Castaways. When I called Original lead guitarist Roy Hensley, who played on the Top 40 hit "Liar, Liar," for clarification, he said, "We have the original band, and [original member] Jim Donna does his own thing with his brother. We just do fairs, festivals, and concerts. We don't play the bar scene unless it's something special. I'm not quite sure what Jim's action is there, and to be honest with you, I try and keep my nose out of it."

Do the Jesselock, you turkey necks!

If you hear a radio commercial that sounds like a cross between Isaac Hayes's "Theme from Shaft" and Baron Von Raschke's "Do the Hammerlock," it's most likely Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura's new spot promoting his campaign for governor. Against a wah-wah guitar backdrop, the former pro wrestler growls his way through a call-and-response style soul song, offering assurances like "I'm no career politician," as female back-up singers (including local jazz vocalist Cynthia Johnson, of "Funky Town" fame) chirp, "Oh, Jesse." At one point, Geoff Jones of Sounds of Blackness sings, "When other guys were cashing government checks, he was in the Navy getting dirty and wet."

Produced at the commercial jingle house Hest & Kramer by Mike Ruekberg of pop-rockers Rex Daisy, the session found the politician in a pliable mood. "It's not often that a little rock 'n' roll whining pipsqueak like me gets to order around a giant pro-wrestler-turned-politician," says Ruekberg. "When I was pitching ideas to his people, I kept waiting for them to say, 'Oh no, that's too silly,' or 'Oh no, he won't do that.' And the further I went, the more they said, 'Oh, he'll love that.' He was such a pro and such a ham."

This is Ruekberg's first production for the ad house where he's worked as a "junior songwriter" for only a few months. "It doesn't sound anything like this 'Shaft' song people are talking about," he hastens to say.

All goths' and rockers' eve

That Halloween falls on a Saturday might be good for parties, but it's great for clubs, at least judging by this year's array of thrilling nightlife choices on October 31. It seems like every rock club in the Cities has netted a watchable band, from the harrowing Hang Ups at the 400 Bar to the diabolical Odd at Lee's Liquor Lounge.

The truly demonic Three Minute Hero, Minnesota's hardest-working ska-and-then-some outfit, will throw a costume ball at the Fine Line, where they've juiced up crowds well enough to snag a regular Sunday night gig that runs through November. And terrifying local zydeco stompers ZoloGo hit the St. Paul Curling Club, while the eerie Big Wu jam for fans at the Cabooze, and... Oh the hell with it. Instead of suffering through my list of "scary" adjectives and band names, please read City Lights in the back of the paper.

But before you do, one last item of note: Sports-lounge god Vic Volare will be headlining some obscure dive called the Hyatt Regency--a truly frightening locale--with the Vibro Champs and the vampiric Stockcar Named Desire slated to open. Come early for cocktail specials, free dance lessons, and the celebration of Volare's 30th birthday. Is it just me or are white Xers careening toward middle age like Dean Martin on a jet ski?

The party promotes a genuinely wonderful new compilation album of surf, "swing," and rockabilly, The Big Monster Bash (Sci-Fi Western/Mouthpiece). It not only features locals like the Vibros and Jack Knife and the Sharps, but includes the legendary El Vez (yes, "the Mexican Elvis"). Any release featuring more than one band using the word "hillbilly" in its title is fine by me. (Concert is for ages 18 and up; $12 at the door; 7:30 p.m.; the Hyatt Regency, 1300 Nicollet Mall. Call 339-9963 for more information.)

At the other extreme is NachtMusik's "Masquerade Festival" on both Friday and Saturday nights at Ryan's in St. Paul. I've already written a tribute to this goth-dance black hole, which is best known for its hair-metal heritage (see "Back in Black," 8/12). But Halloween weekend should truly bring out the dolled-up weekender ghouls, especially as Gitane DeMone of Christian Death performs on Friday and Clan of Xymox plays with local dark-rockers Autumn on Saturday. (18+. Ryan's. Call the Hardline, 897-9763, for more information.)

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