Why do the Butanes consistently rule as the Twin Cities' best blues band, despite plenty of legitimate contenders? Simply because no other band near the northern reaches of the Mississippi has a similarly encyclopedic knowledge of blues, classic R&B, and soul, nor the versatility to play virtually anything in that realm. The Butanes do it so convincingly that even natives of Memphis, New Orleans, or other hardcore bastions of essential roots sounds are incredulous that these guys hail from the land of the wind-chill factor. In fact, the Butanes have played with an incredible array of blues and R&B legends, from John Lee Hooker to Earl King to Bo Diddley, who have universally sung the band's praises. Chief instigator Curt Obeda leads the way on guitar, while bassist John Lindberg and drummer Robb Stupka spark the grooves. Virgil Nelson adds bubbling organ, and assorted punchy horns weigh in with funky brass blasts. Obeda also handles lead vocals when the Butanes aren't backing another singer. Locally, that's often Memphis native and supreme soul man Willie Walker, who has recorded a couple of fine albums with the Butanes, most recently 2006's Memphisapolis. Whether it's some fictional mid-river burg, uptown New Orleans, Beale Street, or their frequent south Minneapolis hangout at the Eagles #34 club, the Butanes are the real deal, igniting their potent brand of the blues like no other around these parts.