Duluth got two nods from City Pages in its Best of the Twin Cities issue, and musician Eric Pollard was part of both. He’s the drummer for Retribution Gospel Choir and front man of Actual Wolf, bands that won for Best Live Artist and Best Songwriter, respectively.
Best Live Artist – 2013
Retribution Gospel Choir
It’s one thing for a band to sound big, to fill up a room, or to just plain rock out. But it’s another thing altogether for a band to make its audience feel as though time has stopped, and to transport them to other places. Retribution Gospel Choir might as well be relaying their songs from another planet. Singer, guitarist, and musical shaman Alan Sparhawk seems as though he’s channeling something otherworldly. Such is the Duluth maestro’s intensity when he gets onstage with the gnarly, white-hot side project to his other band, Low. This trio has always been exceptional to see in person, but after they worked out the two 20-minute jams that became 3 during a Turf Club residency last summer, they took things to a whole other level. With snarling riffs and an insistent rhythm section, their sound drenched in reverb, RGC are a band exploring the outer limits of their instruments. So long as they keep pushing those boundaries, we’ll keep worshiping at the rock ‘n’ roll altar.
Best Songwriter – 2013
It took the threat of doing hard time to get Eric Pollard to prioritize writing songs, and it turns out he’s damn great at it. In an impassioned couple of months leading up to a court date (he got busted for selling pot), Pollard banged out 70 compositions — which is about as many as Leonard Cohen writes in a decade. Six of these make up 2012′s Lightning & the Wolf, an EP produced by his pal (and Retribution Gospel Choir bandmate) Alan Sparhawk. You can choose any track, really, but “Hydrant Eyes” is supremely poetic. Midway through he sings, “Your pretty painted face/Overhang dripping on your hydrant eyes/You’re killing me with sway/Relay rapping on a Maggie May.” He then packages these couplets and others like them into arrangements that recall Neil Young’s sonic grit and Elton John’s soaring glitz. Don’t be surprised if experiencing Actual Wolf gets your own eyes a little misty.
Last year Lake Avenue Cafe was the lone Duluth mention, winning for Best Restaurant Worth the Drive.
There have been numerous Duluth mentions in previous years.