The Silos at 7th St Entry in Minneapolis

I've been to the Minneapolis rock club 7th St Entry twice in my life. Most recently was about an hour ago, and the previous time was in May of 1993. Both times it was to hear my favorite band The Silos. The venue looks exactly the way it looked fourteen years ago. But The Silos and the world and I have all changed a lot. Thought I'd give you, dear readers, a little compare-and-contrast:

FLASHBACK TO 1993: I was living in Eugene, Oregon, and had just begun my career as a solo touring musician. My debut album 28 Days in the Yellow Room was hot off the presses, and I was starting to get some national bookings. Somebody at Concordia College in St. Paul, MN, was an early fan of mine, and they booked me for a Spring outdoor music festival (I think it was called Lutherstock, or something like that). They flew me to Minnesota from Oregon for the show, and I threw together a band to play the gig with me...if I remember right, the band was: Me (guitar & bass), my cousin Bruce Rundman (guitar), Richard-Bruxvoort Colligan (guitar & bass), Joel Setterholm (keyboards), and Mike Rieck (drums). Only one photo ever surfaced from that performance and this is it...that's me with the long hair playing bass, and Bruce on acoustic...who knows why the framing of the photo is so weird...although that is a lovely tree.
Somebody did a lo-fi recording of that show and I remember some of the songs...we covered Prince's "Raspberry Beret," did the Bruce & Jonathan classic "Beige Slacks," and closed with a decent version of "No More Walls." The reason why I remember so much about this gig is because it was one of my first REAL bookings...the flight, a fee of some kind, a big stage, a real audience, etc. Pretty cool for a newbee.

ANYWAY, while I was in town I was surprised and thrilled to see that my favorite band The Silos was gonna do a show at 7th St Entry. Bruce and I got all excited to go! Now, I was only 22 years old, barely old enough to get into a bar, and I'd never really been to a rock club to see a show before. SO, since the paper said the show was 8PM, Bruce and I of course went really early to wait in line to buy tickets, assuming that the show would sell out. So we arrive at around 7PM, stand outside the club for an hour waiting for the doors to open...finally we get in, expecting to hear The Silos play at 8PM. Oh, we had a lot to learn about rock and roll! So we get in at 8PM, and sit there for 90 minutes with no performances. Then, it turns out there are TWO opening bands (one, I remember was The Sycamores, a successful alt-country band at the time), so by the time the Silos even get on stage, it's after MIDNIGHT. Of course, Bruce and I had been excited and standing around for five hours at this point, and when the Silos finally played we were psychologically fried and exhausted.

Now, all I knew about The Silos at this point were from their albums (which I had memorized). So I was ready to see Walter and Bob and Mary the violinist and the whole gang. Little did I know that in the previous couple years the band had radically evolved, and by the Spring of 1993 Walter Salas-Humara was out on tour with a new bassist (Tom Freund) and drummer (Darren Hess) and nobody else. Plus, this was of course at the height of Nirvanamania, so while I expected the acoustic strumming and twanging of the early Silos records, instead we got barraged by Walter and Tom and Darren turning in a distortion fueled punk-grunge version of the Silos. My young Yooper eyes and ears were shocked, to say the least.

But, I certainly remember that show. In fact, I remember that they opened with the first song from the first Silos album, "Shine it Down." And I remember that Martin Zellar (of the Gear Daddies) and Gary Louris (of The Jayhawks) were in the audience (my first brushes with rock stars in the crowd!) . And I remember how I felt when The Silos played their biggest radio hit called "I'm Over You" and the entire crowd sang along...I had thought that I might be the only person on earth who payed attention to The Silos, so imagine my surprise when I saw a room filled with strangers who also knew and loved them. A few days afterwards I wrote a song about that feeling, called "I thought you were mine" (this is a pretty decent song and it's never been recorded...I'm working on the definitive version for release some day...14 years in the making). Finally, when Bruce and I were so wiped out that we had to leave (I think we skipped out before the encores) I pulled a Silos poster off the wall and took it with me....and to this day that poster from 1993 is hanging in my basement studio.

Now, let's return to PRESENT DAY, specifically, yesterday, three hours ago.

Once again The Silos were playing a show at 7th St Entry. Tonight their opening act Jon Dee Graham was also sitting in with them on lead guitar, so I was excited to hear his contributions to the ensemble. Of course, the major difference between tonight's show and the show in 1993 is that now I actually know The Silos personally, and have even recorded one of my own CDs Public Library with them as the backup band, and Walter as my producer. And since 1993, I've probably seen them in concert about twenty times, with a variety of band members, and in about five states.

Walter's current rhythm section Konrad Meissner (drums) and Drew Glackin (bass) have been the longest running Silos band members and their musicianship and rhythmic connection is an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Jon Dee rocked on guitar was cool to see him sitting in with The Silos tonight....the last time I saw them was about a year ago at the 400 Bar and their guest-guitarist was Peter Buck of R.E.M. (amazing!), and the time before that at the Turf Club, their guest-guitarist was Slim Dunlap of The Replacements, so Jon Dee is in good company. It's always fun to reconnect and visit with the band, hear about their adventures last week at SXSW in Austin, TX, etc. Here was tonight's set list, as they performed in support of their new album Come on Like the Fast Lane:

The First Move
Come On Like The Fast Lane (containing the great lyric "Uncle James can see the future"...I don't know what that means, but I think it's cool)
Whistled a Slow Waltz
Keeping Score (another great lyric; "there is no bar room, there is no bed room)
Miles Away (a very nice, quiet, riffy version, with Jon Dee soloing)
Tell Me You Love Me
Four On the Floor (Konrad's drumming blows the mind)
When The Telephone Rings
I'm Over You
People Are Right
Take A Hit
The Only Love (one of my all time faves)
Behind Me Now
Susan Across The Ocean
Let's Take Some Drugs and Drive Around (I prefer the original Michael Hall piano ballad to the Silos album version, but tonight's full-band interpretation was different, and I really liked it)
Tennessee Fire ("Oh Hi Oh....leavin' you behind, Ohio...." gives me chills)

So, just to put a nice bookend on my experience in 1993, when I left the club tonight I pulled a Silos poster off the wall and brought it home. If you would have told me fourteen years ago that in 2007 I'd be back at 7th St Entry seeing The Silos again, and living in the Twin Cities, and a parent of two kids, and having made a record with The Silos, I would've passed out. Strange strange strange how life unfolds. Thanks Walter, Drew, Konrad, and Jon Dee for a great night of travels to Milwaukee!


Chase said…
JR - Do you have Walter's new DVD/CD combo from their Germany show yet? On my wish list at the moment. Ought to be very good.

nate said…
do you still have that shirt? i feel like i've seen you play in it before.
nate said…
what a dumb comment nate. let's work on 'insightful' and 'thought provoking' in the futute, okay?

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