Those industrious lads in 10 Minutes Down always seem to have something happening in the hive, always seem to have the kettle on, always seem to be pouring concrete, always... well, you get the nub of my gist, right? This Saturday night is no exception, as this sassy ska-punk-rock-mixtape band of considerable local mention will be performing an all-ages meltdown at Real Soda with like-minded droogs Instant Winner from Seattle and Switch Hitter from Boise.
These comrades-in-arms have each earned the right to charm you with their sweet, driving sounds having each completed at least one tour of duty at one of the most notorious proving grounds of the summer concert season.
"All three of us have done the Van's Warped Tour," reveals 10MD's bones man, Ted Teske. "That's kind of how we met each other. And so we're just bringing them all together for one big show."
Teske and the rest of 10 Minutes Down were guests at the Warped Tour for three consecutive years from 1999-01. Six-piece ska/punk outfit Instant Winner played in 2001 and straight-from-the-gut punk rock band Switch Hitter has been there the last two years. So you see you get three Warp Tour-caliber, lean and hungry unsigned bands in one night -- all for a measly fiver.
In other 10MD news, Teske reports that the band (yes, all seven of them) have taken up residence in the studio to work on the follow-up to their year 2000 sophomore release, Fluke.
"We're locking ourselves in the studio for the next couple of months," he says. "And when the dust clears, we'll have our first new studio album in three years."
Will it be worth the wait? We'll know for certain when the band unleashes the as-yet-unnamed sonic document at a CD release party set for July 26 at Fat Tuesday's.
Eye of the Tiger -- It's one of those moments that only the ancient Buddhist sages ever seemed to appreciate fully: A woman is trying to run away from tigers and finds salvation in a hanging vine. But climbing down the vine, she runs into (eek!) more tigers, and oddly, a patch of strawberries growing out of the side of a cliff. Not knowing what else to do, the woman takes a strawberry and eats it, savoring every sweet, tart morsel.
"Tigers above, tigers below," writes contemporary Buddhist author Pema Chodron. "This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life, it might be the only strawberry we'll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life."
Or, as Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter Ellis might conclude, we could also make a record.
Ellis, who launches her new CD Tigers Above, Tigers Below at three Inland Northwest gigs this week, is no stranger to that feeling of being between a rock and a hard place. As a graduate of St. Olaf College, her fledgling band Bobby Llama won the Sam Goody Bandemonium contest in 1999. It was the kind of big break many young musicians long for, but Ellis quickly decided that the band's desire for mainstream success was at odds with her own indie music leanings. She broke with the band, started off on the coffee house circuit, and recorded three CDs -- Soft Day, Blueprint Live and Everything That's Real -- on her own label, Rubberneck Records.
In the past four years, she's earned a reputation for her energetic, rollicking stage presence and her quick-witted sense of humor. Her sound is kind of like the aural love child of Edie Brickell and Ani di Franco; her lyrics evoke all the social consciousness and emotional vulnerability of the early Indigo Girls. She performs more than 150 concerts a year at coffee joints and college gigs across the United States.
Tigers Above, Tigers Below is her most ambitious effort to date, with her trademark acoustic folk vocals and guitar rounded out by the likes of Travis McNabb (Better Than Ezra) on drums, Erika Luckett on electric and acoustic guitar, Rene Coman (the Iguanas) on bass and Julie Wolf (Ani di Franco) on keyboards. Reportedly recorded in a shotgun shack in New Orleans, the building's narrow construction and odd acoustics lend the album a gritty, resolute quality. Although Ellis will be performing solo, she's sure to fill the cozy garage-esque Shop space on Thursday with powerful, intimate keeping-the-tigers-at-bay sound. You might want to show up early for this one. -- Sheri Boggs