Minnesota's Own Sonny and Cher

Pop is a yodeler, Mom was a stomper, and their garage is a Golden Valley Love Shack

THE LOVERS SHOW
The Lovers Show
Yodel Boy Productions

You totally want to be Jared and Noni Mason. They are one of those rare couples who have somehow defied the descent into conformity, cubicles, and overall yuppie lameness that comes with marriage, parenthood, and the flight to suburbia.

You'd never know it walking up to their cheery yellow rambler on a quiet residential street in Golden Valley, but you sense there's something funky about these two once you step inside. In their dining room, across from an in-progress game of "Horseopoly" that the couple has been playing with their kids, a huge psychedelic swirl of pink and orange spirals up one wall from floor to ceiling. Not typical home decor for a modern Midwest 'burb, no sir.

Mr. Mason encourages his wife to get her skin condition looked at by a professional
Emily Utne
Mr. Mason encourages his wife to get her skin condition looked at by a professional

Then you get to the garage.

Their garage is the epicenter of the Lovers Show, the couple's funky, psychedelic, theatrical musical duo. It's Austin Powers's fantasy garage. Huge, nine-foot mirrors cover the inside of the garage door, providing the backdrop to an elevated stage covered in a thick, wooly shag. A disco ball spins overhead. A fluorescent orange couch beckons you to take a load off. Pianos, guitar cases, drum sets and unconventional percussion instruments are strewn across the room.

For a pair with three kids under age seven, the Masons positively ooze cool. Noni, with her jet-black Bettie Page hair, svelte black turtleneck, and heavy black eyeliner, spent 10 years touring the world with Stomp, the renowned avant-garde percussive dance troupe. That's where she met and fell in love with Jared, who performed with the group as Dr. Who. Strip him of his skin-tight, retro plaid slacks and mod black vest and turtleneck, and he could pass for a Norwegian farmer circa 1830.

It gets better.

Both in their 30s, neither Noni nor Jared can recall the last time they had to work a "normal" job. Believe it or not, they are able to pay their mortgage and provide for their children largely because of Jared's yodeling. That's right, yodeling. He learned to yodel for a gig back in the early '90s and now has an agent who calls him whenever a professional yodeler is needed. His talents have been featured in commercials for Volkswagen and Dr. Pepper, among others. The income allows them to spend more time with their young sons, Django, Geivan, and Nicodemus. And it allows them to focus on their ambitious plans for the Lovers Show.

"Everything I've learned has been to stay alive in the music industry without having to get a real job," Jared explains.

"He is extremely disciplined and extremely motivated," Noni adds. "He had to learn to yodel, juggle, and ride a unicycle all at the same time."

Like I said, you want to be Noni and Jared Mason.

Alas, there is no yodeling on the Lovers Show's self-titled debut album. What you will find is 11 songs of bubbling, sentimental, dancy, funk-inspired pop that Noni says is "all about our love." They've even coined a name for it: "Poptrical Sophistifunk."

"Poptrical meaning pop music with a theatrical edge. Noni came up with Sophistifunk because it's funky, and yet sophisticated chords are being used," Jared says.

Noni said a friend recently described their music as Prince-meets-The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and you would be hard-pressed to come up with a better description. It's got a sexy, voluptuous groove that almost seems exhibitionist. The Prince comparison is particularly appropriate when considering that almost all of the instrumentation on the album is performed by Jared: guitar, bass, drums, piano, organ, saws, trash cans, plant holders, pop guns, tooth brushes, margarita glasses, you name it. All of these things are on the album, and amazingly it doesn't sound like a clattering, clunking experimental mess.

The opening track, "Give a Little Nibble," puts a groove in your step, starting your day off right, the way a little morning nookie does. It's cute, playful, and nicely sexed-up. A pulsating Rhodes piano line snakes between a chunky backbeat, while Noni and Jared trade lusty vocal lines about...well..."nibbling."

"It's uplifting. I mean...it's fun. You can shake your booty to it," Jared says.

Beyond the cute and playful nibbling, things heat up on "Funked Up Love," a nasty, gritty "love" song. A grinding electric guitar thunders like a bass drum while a slapped bass line marches along like the baddest '70s funk. Jared's masculine falsetto gives the chorus, which teeters on cheesy, its attitude: "Everybody getting drunk on love tonight/Everybody get funked tonight/I got the feeling you want to get funked up/Everybody funked up love tonight."

When asked why they decided to call themselves the Lovers Show, the answer is wonderfully simple.

"We were like, 'Well, we're in love. What else would we call ourselves?'" Noni explains.

And they want to share that love. The Lovers Show CD-release show on—what other date could it be?—Valentine's Day is a benefit for Hope Unlimited for Children, an organization working to saving the lives of Brazil's street kids. Although tickets are a hefty $35, it includes dinner from the Loring Pasta Bar, and all proceeds will go to the charity.

Ultimately, Jared and Noni dream of being the next Sonny and Cher, hosting what Noni has already named "The Lovers Show Variety Hour." You may be subscribing to it as a podcast or checking it out on YouTube, but the love will be old school.

"Getting married and having children has been really good for me because I do have difficulty doing anything but music. I am definitely obsessed. But now I'm really balanced," Jared says. "It's actually miraculous, because I'm an only child and I've always done everything alone. Then I meet this woman and I'm like, 'Wow, I want to be with her every second of every day.' The seven-year itch? It's more like the seven-year obsession. I want her more than ever now."

THE LOVERS SHOW perform a CD-release party on THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, at the VARSITY THEATER; 612.604.0222

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