Walt Mink 1989-1997

IT WAS HARDLY a shot heard 'round the indie-rock world, but when news was handed down last month that the stalwart geekadelic trio Walt Mink had finally called it quits, friends and fans in the Twin Cities could be heard swapping fond remembrances and muttering the appropriate cult eulogies.

It's been eight long years, after all, since the group--singer-guitarist John Kimbrough, bassist Candice Belanoff, and original drummer Joey Waronker--formed at St. Paul's Macalester College, causing a formidable stir in the area's burgeoning indie-rock scene with inspired grooves and an inimitable folk-like melodicism.

Yep, those were the days. But soon enough, Walt Mink shipped off for the Big Apple to become unwitting players in a hard-luck fable of major-label myopia. Shuffling wearily through four labels, three drummers, and nearly a dozen A&R reps, the band had cheated death repeatedly, before settling on NYC indie Deep Elm Records earlier this year to release Colossus, their fourth and final full-length album.

As if the breakup wasn't enough, local fans were further disappointed to learn that Kimbrough and company chose to play their last-ever show to a capacity crowd at Manhattan's Mercury Lounge last Saturday, rather than following their roots back to First Avenue or 7th Street Entry. "Emotions are running pretty high right now," said John Szuch, owner and head of Deep Elm, on the eve of the farewell set. "The band was very reluctant to do a final show in Minneapolis for fear of complete emotional turmoil. They weren't sure they'd be able to go onstage."

Fortunately for fans, tape was rolling at the Mercury, and a live disc will be released this winter. Szuch also intends to cull and reissue the band's B sides, singles, and early four-track cassette recordings for release sometime in 1998.

As for front man Kimbrough--whose adenoidal lyricism and hopped-up chops provided the band's fulcrum--plans are vague. "I really have no idea what I'm going to do next," he says. "I mean, I guess I want to put together another band. A monstrous rock band. But I don't know. I do own a sampler now..."

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