MUSIC | Ear-friendly, funk-nasty: “Southside Soul Volume II” release party tonight

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Ed Felien—owner, publisher, and editor at Southside Pride—put out an annual CD, Twin Town High, when he had Pulse of the Twin Cities up and running. It was a freebee you could find on music store counters around town, dedicated to helping local talent get exposure. When Pulse folded, Felien decided to fold Twin Town High, but he still wanted to showcase bands and singers. So he came up with Southside Soul, a disc featuring performers based in South Minneapolis. The second volume of Southside Soul rolls out this weekend with a release show at McMahon’s at 7 p.m. There are a couple of top-notchers heading the bill: Nikki and the Ruemates and Art Vandalay. Also on hand will be Open Bones, Jaspar Lepak, and Bill Mike.

Compilations always have to have an accomplished ringer or two, somebody who, from the name alone, is going to interest you enough to listen to the disc and thereby benefit the acts no one knows anything about. Last year the ringers included Papa John Kolstad and Chastity Brown and the Sound. This year, aong with Nikki and the Ruemates (“I Am Your Angel”) and Art Vandalay (“If You Love Me”), there are Big Quarters (“Barter System”), who, over just the past year or so, have risen to a high profile. A few lesser-known but still noteworthy names are the Second Marie Standing, Bill Glaros, and Red Ponie. The Second Marie Standing (“Traveling Song”) are Kendra Heaverlo and Gianna Luci. No more info than that is available, which is too bad, because you really want to know who’s playing that delicate piano, who’s the exquisite vocalist and, of course, who wrote this easy-listening gem. Singer-songsmith Ben Glaros has two albums out, Solo and Lovesong Roulette. Here he contributes “Coffee Would Be Great,” an ear-friendly, bluegrass-tinged song about dating. Somebody plays sweet fiddle, backing Glaros up. Red Ponie’s “BIA” ain’t nothin’ but trouble. It’s a rocker on the order of, say, Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac,” with the same insistent, funk-nasty, groove. It couldn’t be a better setting for this slam against the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which statesman Dick Gregory once said is “like having the Ku Klux Klan implement the Civil Rights Bill.” Red Ponie is Glennie Blacksmith (guita), Ellsworth “Peanut” Ten Bear (drums), Don Yellow (bass), and Samantha Winona Freeman, who also goes by Fry Bread Diva (vocals).

Disclaimer: I submitted a recording to Southside Soul Volume II and got rejected. At first, my inclination was to wish Ed Felien all kinds of ill. Instead, I took a breath, sat down, and gave the disc a decent hearing. Not everything on this disc is my cup of tea, but quality-wise, pound for pound, were I screening submissions I’d probably have turned me down, too, in favor of what’s here. Pick up Southside Soul Volume II. Considering the price—free copies to the first 200 at McMahon’s tonight—what’ve you got to lose? With acts like Big Quarters, Nikki and the Ruemates, Art Vandalay, the Second Marie Standing, Bill Glaros, and Red Ponie, there’s definitely good music to gain.

Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.

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