True Originals

Two hybrid music projects that break new—and old—ground.

Photo by Sean Smuda
novel idea Dylan Hicks’s new book and CD complement each other in several ways.

Former City Pages arts writer Dylan Hicks has come up with a clever extension of his debut novel: a CD of original songs inspired by the characters in his book. If you buy a copy of Hicks’s novel, Boarded Windows (out in May from Coffee House Press), you’ll also get a free download of the CD, Dylan Hicks Sings Bolling Greene, featuring songs either “written” by a fictional country singer in the book or based on the book’s themes and images. To further muddle fiction and reality, Hicks and his band, The Toughies, will be playing two shows for the book’s official launch party at Bryant-Lake Bowl on May 12.

A veteran of the ’90s bar-band scene and one of our most eloquent and knowledgeable music journalists, Hicks also turns out to be a fine fiction writer. Physically, Boarded Windows is set in Uptown in the early 1990s, but it’s psychologically set in the searching, soulful spirit of young adulthood, when talking passionately about music, art, literature, and sex is what underemployed, overeducated people do to pass the time. Reading his book will definitely get the conversation started.

On Mississippi Roll, Jack Klatt Jams with Local Legends

Last year, local singer-songwriter Jack Klatt—leader of the retro swing band Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers—won a Minnesota State arts grant to record an album with the sort of iconic local musicians often referred to as “old-timers”: Dakota Dave Hull, Cornbread Harris, Charlie Parr, and Spider John Koerner among them.

Klatt is a lanky kid in his late 20s, but the other musicians have all done four or five more decades of living. The point of the project, Klatt says, was to create a “musical bridge” between the generations, introducing the music of the older folks to a new generation and vice versa. The result is Mississippi Roll, a jovial collection of vintage blues and swing tunes featuring the Cat Swingers band and Klatt’s various guests. The album also includes several originals by Klatt, who writes songs and lyrics that sound like they traveled through a cosmic wormhole to the 1930s. If you don’t believe me, listen to the song “Life’s a Drag,” written by Klatt and featuring Dakota Dave Hull on guitar. The Mississippi Roll CD release party is on May 26. Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls., 612-338-2674,