Music note: Jistoray shoot from the hip


I remember walking away from the Nomad World Pub a couple years ago, absolutely convinced that Jistoray play some of the finest low-key music the Twin Cities scene has to offer. They had their Footprints album out, with Hollywood slated for a few months later. Listening to Footprints and Hollywood and hearing them live that night, I became a dyed-in-the-wool believer.

Jistoray play at Mayslack’s (1428 4th St. N.E., Minneapolis) on June 14th at 8 p.m. before taking off for Milwaukee to play at the Summer Fest, June 26 and 27.

The band is singer-songsmith frontman Carl Torgerson (guitar), Donny Brummer (bass), and Giovanni Stilinovich (drums). They set soulful poetry to a sensual, acoustic groove, with each player being top-notch. That night showed that even if you overdub guitars in the studio, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t cut it live. Torgerson proved that beyond a doubt, riffing clean and hard against the backdrop of Brummer’s scarcely reined-in funk and Stilinovich drumming like taste was about to go out of style.

The sound goes like this. On acoustic six-string, Torgerson delivers wizened, emotive vocal phrasing against warm chords (a lot of major 7s)—to which Brummer and Stilinovich supply intricate, intriguing complement.

Footprints, a fine offering, is highlighted by such brilliant turns as “Perfect Circle,” “Humble Town,” and the furiously Latin-flavored “Spanard.” “Nothing” is jazz-tinged soft rock shot straight from the hip.

“Nothing” is jazz-tinged soft rock shot straight from the hip.

“No need to worry about the things keeping you from sleeping / I wish it were only that hard / to rid myself of the things that keep me up / all hours of the night until faced, I am alone / tell me it isn’t what I think it is / my baby’s dead / But mama I’m gonna say how I feel / I’m gonna walk today / And you think I’m right on track / in reality, I’m all the way across town.”

Hollywood is just as strong. On that album, Torgerson decides to mix up his time signatures and experiment—quite successfully—with his vocals, investigating new shades.

Now for even better news. When Brummer has time to moonlight, he plays with Beer Money Music, doing stoner music: bluegrass rock done like nobody’s business—complete with long, articulate solos. He picks up the guitar and is joined by Billyray Valentine (bass guitar), Aaron Griga (keyboards, vocals) and Curtis Zimmerman (guitar, vocals). They’ve got a damned good live demo floating around, with great originals plus covers of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck In the Middle With You.”

Jistoray and Beer Money Music. Check ‘em out. You won’t regret it.

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