Bethany Larson + The Bees Knees

Storyhill: Well of Sorrow

Practice Spaces: Cactus Blossoms

When you’re done snarfing deep-fried Twinkies and cheese curds at the State Fair this weekend, be sure to stop in and see the Cactus Blossoms perform their beloved country music harmonies-at 10:30am, 11:30am, and 12:30pm on Saturday and Sunday. But before you do that, play around with the photo below (it’s been Stippled!) to learn about the endearingly grubby space where the group has been practicing of late. It’s the back room at St. Paul’s Turf Club, and it’s been their de facto rehearsal space during their weekly residency at the venue, which began in February this year. Have a click around!

Romantica’s Ben Kyle Returns to the Studio

You may be familiar with the alt-country stylings of singer-songwriter Ben Kyle from his band Romantica, his solo work, or his collaborative album with Carrie Rodriguez. With Romantica’s appearance on MN Original set to repeat this Sunday on tpt2 at 6:00 p.m., we caught up with the globe-trotting Mr. Kyle to hear more about the release of his new solo album this Fall.

MN Original: Where did most of the songwriting for this album occur? What were the inspirations?

Ben Kyle's recording space, Slow Studio.

Ben Kyle: A lot of it was at home, although a couple of songs were written in England and Holland during a European tour.  Home, work and family are among the most obvious inspirations. There are 2 songs about the Twin Cities (including “The Turf Club” from the MN Original episode) and songs about my wife, my kids, and general desire for The Simple Life.  I think I realized how much I valued my home and my family as my work (touring/performing) was taking me away from them more often, and for longer stretches of time. There’s also material about work and art, and not settling for less than what’s in your heart. Overall it’s really quite a personal album. It’s mellow, warm, tender, and vibey with lots of rolling melodies and intimate harmonies.

MNO: Was the writing process different than past Romantica or Ben Kyle releases?

BK: Not really. The modus operandi has generally been that I write the song lyrics and melody and then bring the songs to the band and/or guest musicians and collaborate on the different instrumental parts in the studio. It was much the same this time, but I think the intensely personal topical nature of this project as well as the overall tender sonic tone of the album contributed to why I dropped the Romantica tag for my given name.

MNO: Any guests or collaborators that appear on this album?

JT Bates gets ready to record at Slow Studio for Ben Kyle's new album.

BK: Yes, well there’s quite a few players including four different Pedal Steelers!  Eric Heywood (Ray LaMontangue, Pretenders), Luke Jacobs (Romantica), Aaron Fabbrini and Joe Savage all contributed on their Steel Cathedrals.  JT Bates (The Pines, Pieta Brown) and Ryan Lovan (Roma di Luna, Romantica) held down the groove responsibilities. Carrie Rodriguez and Jessy Greene both shared their sweet sensibilities on strings. Tony Zaccardi (Romantica) provided the big fuzzy bottom. “Danger” Dave Strahan (Romantica, Farewell Milwaukee) played 6 string electric.  And Jayanthi Kyle (Black Audience) guested on backing vocals.

MNO: You’re having a CD release concert at The Cedar Cultural Center on September 11. Who else is on the bill for the show? And what local music have you been digging lately?

BK: The opener isn’t quite confirmed yet….  As far as local music, I’ve been loving The Pines!



Charlie Hoffman – Guitar Maker


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