Minnesota Pride: White Iron Band celebrates 10th birthday

Five years ago this week I accompanied the White Iron Band on a trip to Duluth. The resulting article, "Beer-Busted Bladders & Honky Tonk Highs," chronicled 24 hours of inebriation and debauchery. Some of the band members, particularly singer Matt Pudas, were not appreciative of my journalistic efforts. Apparently the WIB frontman had been on parole for some bit of scofflaw-ery and the promotion of his substance abuse habits in a widely distributed weekly newspaper was not a welcome development. Word on the street (or at least from Jack K. Sparks) was that he wished to kick my ass.

But apparently after five years the fatwa has expired, because when I spoke with Pudas on the phone the other day he was in a convivial mood. "Just another day, another dollar for this guy," he laughed.

Tomorrow night at the Cabooze the White Iron Band will celebrate an unlikely milestone: 10 years of existence. It will also mark the release of their third album, Devil's Sweet Revenge. On the band's web site, they've catalogued this decade in numbers: 9,600 Grain Belt Premium Beers, 3,400 whiskey shots, 190 bars, 10 years, 7 children, 6 bass players, and 4 wives. "Those numbers are too low," Pudas conceded, "especially about the beer and the whiskey shots."

Bass player number six (whose name Pudas isn't sure how to spell) has been around for about a year, which historically has meant that his days are numbered. One former bass player departed after getting into a fistfight with Pudas on the side of I-35 near Ely. Another was dropped after he was caught stealing the band's gear and selling it at area pawn shops.

The White Iron Band has its roots at Eden Prarie High School, where Pudas, guitarist Sam Weyandt, and keyboardist Ed Juntunen all went to school. They played their first actual gig at a house party on the shores of White Iron Lake, hence the band's name. "It was pretty fun from what I remember of it," Pudas recalled. The group has often drifted in jam-band circles, but their music tends more towards outlaw boogie blues. The Allman Brothers and Waylon Jennings are seminal influences. Their signature anthem is "Minnesota Pride," an infectious tribute to ice fishing, ice hockey, and Grain Belt beer.

The White Iron Band has earned the enmity of more than a few bar owners over the years owing to their drunken shenanigans. "All the Duluth trips are hard to remember," Pudas said. "St. Cloud--we just don't go there anymore. They fell out of love with the White Iron Band."

But the Cabooze has been booking the band regularly ever since they were old enough to drink legally. "They're just the most charming, lovable fuck-ups ever," says James "Taco" Martin, who books the West Bank club. "There's something just contagious about their PG-13 fun."

Download the White Iron Band's latest single here.