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BEST VOCALIST (MALE) Minneapolis 2005 - Eric Luoma

Bellwether was the best local alt-country band since the Jayhawks, but when they broke up last year, it was only a minor tragedy. For one thing, the alt-country scene around here is so buttressed with talent and so unbothered by attention that it just might live forever. For another, Bellwether in some ways still exists. Principal players Eric Luoma and Jimmy Peterson play out occasionally, and several months after the split they even released their best record yet, Seven and Six. To hazard one more bright-side perspective, the departure of Bellwether made more room for Missing Numbers, Peterson's other band, which allowed the barroom vet to exercise his chops and, more importantly, his vocal cords. Whereas Bellwether featured Luomo doing his best Jeff Tweedy quiver, Peterson fills Missing Numbers' tunes with an evocative growl that sounds long suppressed and eager to stretch its legs. When Peterson really turns it on, his smoky rasp displays a powerful yet muted quality that critic Kenneth Tynan once recognized in a Thermos: It implies heat without actually giving off any. In fact, Missing Numbers' self-titled EP is positively chilling. Bellwether's heartrending melodies evoked all kinds of emotions, but "spine-tingling" was never among them.

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