Breaking news: Members of Minneapolis’s pioneering ’70s punk trio, Suicide Commandos, have officially (though with tongues apparently planted firmly in cheek) dubbed themselves a “legacy band.” How appropriate, then, that the Commandos have been tapped to open for yet another rock legend—the supremely fabulous and hugely influential Ms. Joan Jett—for an August 26 Grandstand concert at the State Fair. It’s a coupling that might leave Commandos fans scratching their heads, but it gets even weirder; the bill also includes the New York City-based power-pop band Fountains of Wayne. At the very least you can expect an eclectic indie music-listening experience and some first-rate people-watching. (The unusual lineup was apparently the brainchild of booker Nate Dungan—also of the band Trailer Trash.) We were certainly pleased to find the reunited Commandos still keeping such stellar company, and were curious to know what other bands were turning their cranks these days. We caught up with frontman Chris Osgood to ask what tunes were on regular repeat on his home, office, and car stereos. As he was immersed in preparations for his band’s reunion concert, Osgood offered this caveat: “I have to admit my listening is very Commando-centric these days.”
My song, "Complicated Fun," (Commando bassist) Steve Almaas’ "I Need a Torch," and (Commando drummer) Dave Ahl’s "Weekend Warrior" are among the songs we are dusting off and gearing up to Commando Fury tempo for the Grandstand show at the State Fair. Oh boy!
I also play guitar with a cover band called The X-Boys (former Commandos, Suburbs, Wallets, and other musical luminaries of the period: Dave Ahl, Casey MacPherson, Max Ray, Steve Fjelstad, Bruce Allen, Rochelle Becker, and guests Chan Poling and Hugo Klaers). We do things we think are amusing. Songs I am wood-shedding this week are: "Sing a Simple Song," by Sly Stone; "Jailbreak," by Thin Lizzy; and "Wait Until Tomorrow," by Jimi Hendrix, which kind of gives you an idea of the aesthetic of that band!
We play the first Friday of every month with the [Front Porch Swingin’] Liquor Pigs at the Eagles Club in South Minneapolis. Bruce and I play matching pink Hello Kitty guitars, which we like to think add some tang and élan to our performances. See for yourself—set time is 9:30 and it’s free.
The Warblers (Dave Ahl and I) are currently adding Nanci Griffith’s "Gulf Coast Highway" and Bob Dylan’s "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" to our acoustic duo set list. The Warblers are opening for Steve Almaas’ acoustic solo set at the 331 Club, Wednesday, August 22nd. (When you play in three bands you have more chances than ever to mess up the chords and sing poorly!)
Like everyone else in town this summer I’m hearing a lot of Brother Ali. I was lucky enough to do a radio show on the old Drive 105 with him before the Voltage Fashion Amplified show last spring. It was amazing to watch him throw!
That show was a benefit for Springboard for the Arts’ Artist Access to Healthcare program (AAH). I am director of artist services at Springboard, and it is my job to help self-employed creative people make a living. To that end I listen to lots of new musical projects. Two of my high-rotation songs recently are "Tugboat" off of Molly Maher’s Balms of Gilead album and "Twenty-Eight" from the Project Twenty-Eight EP by Minneapolis DIY recordist/songwriter and circuit bender Gerald Prokop.
The Suicide Commandos play with Joan Jett and Fountains of Wayne at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand on August 26. For tickets, call 651-288-4400 or visit www.mnstatefair.org