God Damn Skunk Bud!
P.O.S. had a breakthrough year in 2006—regular rotation on MTVU, sold-out shows with his Doomtree crew at First Avenue, and the kind of cultivated rap-rock ties that could counter a half-decade of Fred Durst. The rapper recruited the Hold Steady's Craig Finn and the Bouncing Souls' Greg Attonito to appear on his sophomore banger, Audition (Rhymesayers). He toured with, and remixed for, indie-rockers Minus the Bear. And he played a CMJ set with his own hardcore punk outfit Building Better Bombs. Has all this crossover helped P.O.S. make new friends in high places? "I got physically assaulted by Brent [Hinds] from Mastodon," he says. "In a very positive way, though. I'm a fan, so I was pretty intimidated to begin with, but he was wasted, following me around and talking real close. I was kind of terrified." www.doomtree.net —Nate Patrin
JENNY DALTON's fans packed the Varsity Theater in March for the debut of her album Fleur de Lily (Glossy Shoebox). The songs on Fleur are centered on the keyboardist's relationship with a National Guardsman deployed to Iraq, but Dalton has since moved on. Do other lonely hearts in the audience offer to be the muse for her next release? "Yes, people come up to me," admits Dalton shyly. "But I have to politely decline. This last CD was all about a serious relationship, and now I'm like, wait—I want some time to myself. If I hang out with someone, I assume it's as friends." She's done a lot of performing this year; has she developed any crushes within the music scene? Dalton giggles, "Yeah! But that's a secret!" www.jennydalton.com —Sarah Askari
THE GOD DAMN DOO WOP BAND are the first success story to come out of Staraoke at Grumpy's Bar in downtown Minneapolis. Kat Nagel (pictured) formed the group after she and two fellow Muddy Waters baristas discovered a mutual love for doo-wop harmonies at the popular karaoke showcase—something of a confidence-building pressure cooker that started spewing bands this year. Recruiting a rhythm section, the vocalists recorded their debut record, Broken Hearts (Afternoon Records), in a single day at singer Saumer Jackson's lake cabin. Then, in August, they figured it was time to take the act on the road. "It was our first-ever tour, and it was going great until the very last day," says Nagel. "We were driving back from Iowa City, and we got pulled over for passing a cop. But right as we were passing him, we also passed a dead skunk on the road." Mistaking the odor for marijuana, the officer proceeded to tear the band's van apart with a drug-sniffing dog. The pooch, however, knew the difference between reefer and road kill. "We would've had to smoke a lot of weed for it to smell like that!" says Nagel. www.myspace.com/thegoddamndoowopband —Chuck Terhark
THE HOLD STEADY may be headquartered in New York, but their lyrics are more Grain Belt Bridge than Brooklyn Bridge—on this year's Boys and Girls in America (Vagrant Records), former Minneapolitan Craig Finn can't stop writing about us. The band ran into familiar faces in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during a tour-ending October 30 show that went down in internet-rumor history as a car wreck of drunken shenanigans, punctuated by Sean Tillmann (Sean Na Na, Har Mar Superstar) crashing the stage. "People told me, 'Sean Na Na was attacking the band,'" says Finn. "Nah, we were just happy to have him. [Dillinger Four's] Patrick Costello was playing bass, and [Sean Na Na bandmate] Lucky Jeremy played piano, so it goes all the way back to Minneapolis from the Lifter Puller days, when I knew Sean." www.theholdsteady.com —Nate Patrin
MARK MALLMAN unleashed a new book in the piano-rock gospel with this summer's Between the Devil and Middle C (Badman). He also took part in an unusual pop-culture mash-up at the 7th St. Entry, when music critic Chuck Klosterman joined him onstage as part of his Killing Yourself to Live book tour. If you want some rock 'n' roll writing that's a little more hallucinogenic than Klosterman's (and a lot less lucid), try Mallman's MySpace tour diary. Of a show in Fort Collins, Colorado, Mallman wrote us via email, "I decided to pull the chain wallet out of my pocket and spin it around during a show. The duct tape gave, and some 600 dollars cash exploded into a mushroom cloud onto the floor in front of the stage. Some dude in the front row started to go for the cash, and I lunged at him with a broken bottle! I quickly began stuffing all the cash down the front of my pants. Both the crowd and my drummer gave me a look like, Is he gonna pull it out? Shit, not for a five-dollar cover! www.mallman.com—Sarah Askari
IRV WILLIAMS doesn't have time for diplomacy, not at 87, coping with prostate cancer and glaucoma. "There aren't many top-notch drummers in this town who can play everything," he says. The tenor saxophonist known as "Mr. Smooth" adds that he himself played much better 30 years ago, and that Duo (Ding-Dong Music), a series of duets with pianist Peter Schimke, his third CD in just over two years, "was a very difficult record to make." Then he pauses, takes a sip of wine. "But it did work out really good." Indeed, laden with sentimental but never bathetic ballads, Duo is an extraordinary showcase for Williams's trademark tenor tone, which is breathy and intimate, as if he's blowing you a kiss, and yet powerful and distant, like the surf at night. A universally acknowledged patriarch of Twin Cities jazz, Williams has played with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Eckstein. He settled here fresh out of the Navy in 1942, and still maintains his Friday evening gigs at the Dakota, along with special showcases such as his upcoming New Year's Eve date backing vocalist Carole Martin at the Artists' Quarter. But up onstage, with a tenor in his lips, you hear a patient man who savors the beauty life has to offer. Irvwilliams.com —Britt Robson
CYN COLLINS gave the West Bank scene its long-deserved due when she parlayed a series of articles written for the Seward Profile (now the Bridge) into a 174-page book honoring the storied neighborhood's musicians. Through more than a dozen long-form interviews and dusty archival photos, West Bank Boogie: Forty Years of Music, Mayhem, and Memories (Triangle Park Creative) lovingly profiles the lesser-known stalwarts of a '60s boho community that inspired Bob Dylan and Bonnie Raitt. The jacket includes a CD compilation of songs old and new by the book's cast, including Spider John Koerner, Willie Murphy, and Lazy Bill Lucas. Collins was forced to tack on a bittersweet final chapter when the Viking Bar closed July 31, ending a nearly 20-year streak of weekly Willie Murphy shows. "It felt like the end of the West Bank music scene," she says. "It was very heartbreaking. The bar was packed with people, Willie played his heart out, and people were dancing on the tables—it was just wild. That's one of my best memories on the West Bank. Best and worst." Collins is quick to add that scenes don't die, they just move around: The 400 Bar, the Nomad, and the Triple Rock continue the West Bank music tradition, while Murphy's regular shows (now every other Friday at the Eagles Club 34, in Seward) are more popular than ever. www.westbankboogie.com —Chuck Terhark
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