Rocket Club release North Country at the Varsity tonight

Rocket Club release North Country at the Varsity tonight

A pop-country band that has eschewed the Nashville draw and developed a national fan base from their home in Minnesota? Oh ya, you betcha.

It's not often we get to report a local album release party for a big country act, but here you have it. Tonight, Minneapolis-based pop country act Rocket Club will be releasing their third studio album, North Country, at the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown.

Rocket Club - "North Country"

The band describes their classic rock guitar-influences and singer-friendly vocal harmonies as "North Country" -- a departure from more traditional southern-influenced country. With plenty of help from local country station K102, Rocket Club scored two Billboard hits in 2009 and 2010 with singles off their first two independent releases, and were courted by the Nashville-based country music industry but stuck with their northern roots (and their own style) in releasing their newest, titled appropriately North Country. The single by the same name debuted at #60 on the Hot Country Songs chart when it was released last June. The album itself was finalized over the winter, and the band is throwing a release party tonight at the Varsity Theater (7:00, $15, 18+).

Rocket Club is playing nearly every outdoor event a band could play this summer, from Rockin' Rogers Days to the Raspberry Festival, Grand Old Day to WE Fest, and will no doubt boost their local following in the process. Whether the country - and importantly, Nashville - will continue to listen remains to be seen, but with ample audience for country music right here in the Upper Midwest, we don't get the impression these guys much care.

Pop country not your cup of tea? Forgo your Varsity visit 'til this Monday, when Justin Townes Earle will be appearing at the venue, with Illinois-native but Nashville-based singer Tristen opening.

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