Mikkel Beckman of the Brass Kings described the upcoming Concert to End Homelessness as a “two night extravaganza o’ music”. He is not lying. Six Minnesota-based bluegrass bands will appear at the Cabooze this Friday and Saturday night as part of the benefit concert for St. Stephen’s Human Services.
When Beckman isn’t playing the washboard for the Brass Kings, he serves as Executive Director for St. Stephen’s Human Services, whose mission is, quite simply, “to end homelessness.” He’s been a part of the last two concerts benefiting St. Stephen’s, but those were strictly for their Kateri residence, a home for American Indian women recovering from chemical dependency. This year, though, the concert has a much broader goal.
“Dave Simonett from Trampled by Turtles called me and suggested the concert for the issue of homelessness, so it’s really his idea…He lined up the bands and venue,” Beckman said. Simonett’s Trampled by Turtles are headlining Saturday’s show, and are part of a lively bluegrass/roots scene throughout Minnesota.
The Brass Kings are a local, Minneapolis-based band that have gained attention with their blend of world-influenced beats and traditional American roots sound, somehow pulled together by a washtub bass. Even if the eclectic music they create can’t be appreciated, a man plucking a rope pulled taut by a 10 lb washtub and broom handle surely can be.
Duluth’s Trampled by Turtles have built their reputation as one of the best live bands in Minnesota by never standing up. For every show, a folding chair is set up for each of the band’s five members. Call it the oddest form of stage presence in music today, but it works. The recent addition of a fiddle player has given the band a new depth to their already distinctive style.
Given that the bands share the same state and musical style, it is no surprise they are familiar with each other’s work. “We’ve done shows with most of the other bands before,” Beckman said. According to Beckman, a different similarity brought the bands together for the Concert to End Homelessness. “For whatever reason, a lot of people who are into roots music share the same ideals about social justice…There is dignity in every person.”
Also appearing Friday will be Pert Near Sandstone and The Floor Birds. Rounding out Saturday’s bill is Two Many Banjos and the Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank.
Nathaniel Minor is a student at the University of St. Thomas and an intern at the TC Daily Planet.