Any artist residency goes through transitions, themes, and variations on each show of the month.
Music in Minnesota is attending each show, documenting the story, the artists, and all the photo memories from Humbird’s residency at Icehouse.
Residencies are important to local musicians to develop, experiment, and grow their music in an organic way like performing.
They show our community different dynamics and dimensions to the music, with special performances and unique lineups.
Night One – November 3rd
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the Icehouse packed inside for a show.
The audience was filled with local musicians, family, and friends, it felt like a warm living room with the aroma of brussel sprouts, french dips, and short ribs circulating around.
Courtney Hartman opened the evening with a solo acoustic set. Her 30 minute set played into the inviting vibe and warmth, with gems like “Belfry” immediately standing out.
Set to release her new album Glade, the performance of the new track “Marrow” also shone brightly.
Courtney’s voice felt like a warm glaze of wax over her songs, luring you into the lyrics and solidifying each moment in memory.
Humbird shared a quick celebratory toast onstage before kicking off Still Life in its entirety. Watching the group of 5 nest between the large collection of guitars, bass, keyboards, horns, and percussion, each spot on stage was a pocket making up a larger picture.
The saxophone during “Summer Storm for Charlotte” and flute in “Stone Giant” brought added life to the songs, mirroring the recordings.
The continuous flow of songs before and after each song also kept the set one living, breathing piece of music.
It was the performance of “Pink Moon for John Prine” where the lines “the pandemic hit, her father died, said the greatest gift she got was time” struck a bit heavier hearing it in person.
Time is the most valuable resource we have in our lives. Sitting tucked inside the Icehouse, allowing time to stand still one evening, it felt like a gift to be there.
Ending Still Life is the sentimental “On the Day We Are Together Again”. A special guest vocalist Rachel Reis (Her Crooked Heart) joined Siri and received bursts of cheers throughout the song.
The song was written to help to look ahead in hope, now felt surreal and present as the room was filled with the song’s premonition.
The encore consisted of the ironically written “January” song and the older “Kansas City, Missouri” where Siri performed solo.
Both songs had a more confident feel, as you could tell these have been performed more in the past.
Looking forward to the weeks ahead, I can only imagine the development of Still Life and how it will evolve within the group.
Night Two – November 10th
The second night of the residency is important as you begin to see the growth and artistic development of the band. Once again a full venue was ready for Mayyadda, who opened the evening.
Celebrating her recently released Try&Remember, Mayyadda encouraged crowd engagement.
The performance of “Hunted” had many in the audience cheering along, while “Summer Bodies” captured more attention.
It’s easy to understand the appeal Mayyadda has as her ability to pour her soul out fits snuggly in her music.
Ending the short set with “Unapologetically”, it culminated perfectly with a powerhouse voice that rang through the venue. Definitely, a talent that continues to impress, Mayyadda warmed up every seat in the place.
Last week we heard Still Life from beginning to end. This week Humbird kicked off the set with “On the “Day We Are Together Again”.
It hushed the crowd with the reminder of being back together once again. They then jumped around with songs, mixing in “Wolf Alice” from Pharmakon and even a new song that we hadn’t heard before.
Noting the date, Siri sat down on stage to be able to read the lyrics to her cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.
It was timely as last night was the 46th anniversary of that fateful night. It also reimbursed the feeling of being nestled in a living room, gathered around to hear stories about the past.
“May” witnessed Pat Keen intensifying his bass parts in the buildup of the song. Beautiful to watch and hear that grow from the prior week.
Also “Heavy” grew with Pete’s mallets on drums, making the song even more weighted in feeling.
“Plum Sky” lifted the set even higher, finishing with a feverish buzz of guitar and drive.
Humbird’s encore of “Lincoln, Nebraska” was another dusted-off gem that sits in the wheelhouse of Siri’s strengths. Slightly off-kilter lyrics and guitar bubble up with history and warnings of our choices in America.
The bonus set of Brass Messengers was a fun addition. Clustering the stage, the group burst into a conglomeration of polka and African dance beats, sparking small pockets of movement around the room.
The high energy set felt more casual being at the end of the evening, a chance for people to move and engage with the group.
Night Three – November 17th
November 17th, 2021 could easily be known as “the night Humbird when electric”. Although Dylan was met with resistance to the plug-in, last night the audience embraced the higher energy and rock dynamic to the evening.
Opening the evening was Laura Hugo, singer-songwriter and expert in honest heartfelt storytelling.
Navigating through a collection of sad songs, Laura turns her personal experiences around, writing songs that deliver a healing message.
Her cover of Gillian Welch’s “Look at Miss Ohio” was an immediate standout, while a song named “Radio” professed the importance she had using the dial to escape from the world.
Joined by Kristin Mastantuono, nurturing a broken thumb, the delicate duo silenced the venue with “Where You Go To Grieve”.
The softer harmonies and second guitar also shone brightly in the closer “Not Even a Little Bit”.
Ending the song with the audience singing acapella was an expert touch and beautiful way to pull the room in closer.
Another three-artist night gifted us Faith Boblett next on stage. An instant shift of energy ignited the room as Faith smiled around the room. With the band surrounding her, she launched into her collection of pop, alt-country rock songs.
Following her around the stage was magnetic, as charisma and passion for performing were obviously on display.
Faith took moments throughout every song to smile, make silly faces, and check in with her band.
Certainly the loudest band of the residency, Faith fiercely knocked down “Lose You” and “Who Do You Think You’re Fooling”, both songs matching nicely with her powerful voice.
A first-time cover of Liz Phair’s “Why Can’t I” was a trip down 2003 nostalgia. The song resonated in smiles around the room.
Ending her set with the angst pop gem “Didn’t Want You”, Faith revelled in the swear words. It’s in that extra dig and edge in her songs where you can connect. We’ve all experienced those same feelings, although most of us aren’t brave enough to write a song about it.
Channeling the leftover residue on stage from Faith, the Humbird trio dove into “January”, “Plum Sky”, and “May” with heavier energy than prior nights. Featuring Pat Keen without his upright, the electric palette expanded even more in the set. Performing a multitude of newer songs on a (surprise) new album in the stable, Humbird showcased a more vivacious dynamic on the horizon.
Newer songs like “Fast Food” and “Cornfields and Roadkill” are prime examples of that electric-focused feature for the trio. Both songs were written about touring and the lifestyle that comes with it. Absent from the setlist were many of the softer folk songs and lullabies that we come to know Humbird for.
Instead, there were a bit heavier renditions of “Pink Moon for John Prine” and “Wolf Alice”. Each version giving you a new look at songs that have been played every week.
The electrified set matched nicely with the evening, delivering another reason to absorb multiple nights of a residency. It is the music that carries the identity of these memories.
This particular performance clued us into the ability and direction of the band, while still honoring the roots of folk and carefully crafted storytelling.
This adds an interesting path for the future and potential for the group. It also makes the softer and folkier songs ring even sweeter when they’re played.
Ending the evening with the one song that has remained as true and pure as the recording was “On The Day We Are Together Again”.
It always brings the audience to silence, taking in each line, listening to the hope and feeling of togetherness. Last night it received an added cheer when talking about the healers that are keeping us alive.
As cases continue to build in Minnesota, it’s a cheer that hits home even harder this week.
Night Four – November 24th
“Sometimes gratitude isn’t a large enough word,”
Siri stated at the beginning of the set. On the cusp of Thanksgiving, the Icehouse was once again warmed by the Humbird residency.
Maybe it was the impending bittersweet end to the month, but every moment and song felt a bit heavier and deeper last night.
Gabriel Rodreick aka Freaque started off the evening with an instant attention grabber. Sharing that he imagined Humbird’s music to be more of a fairy tale, while his is more down in the dirt, inviting us to join him.
The four piece grabbed a shovel and dug in. Gabriel’s voice resembles a younger gritty version of Tom Waits mixed with the dark smoothness of Matt Berninger (The National).
Taking a moment before starting “Me and My Bones”, Freaque shared how we all should love each other’s bodies more, no matter whomever shows up inside of them.
This message of acceptance felt alive around the room, with the audience hanging on every line. There will definitely be a new circle of fans that discovered a new talent last night.
The minimalist swamp blues/rock vibe was fleshed out with moody bass parts, eerie acoustic accents, and elastic slide throughout the set.
The last song “Marriage in a Graveyard” struck a somber tone as the lyrics set a visual scene of finding a final resting place with someone you love.
All of the nights have had different directions and feelings baked into them. Last night Humbird’s set was a shining list of “greatest hits.
Starting solo with “Pharmakon”, the only time it was played in the four weeks, was a clever kickoff. New favorites “May”, “Heavy”, “Plum Sky”, and “Summer Storm For Charlotte” followed with a clearly new sharpness from the band.
Adelyn’s sax section on “Charlotte” and the sleigh bells on “Heavy” are beautiful additions.
The set then shifted to some new songs, the keyboard driven “Deep Pool” and manic road song “Cornfields and Roadkill” both are a first taste of her next album.
“Child on the Vine”, another new song received it’s 3rd rendition in the residency as well.
An older classic “Lincoln Nebraska” sent waves of appreciation around the room. The familiar folkiness reminding everyone of the evolution of Humbird’s music.
The layout and order of the set also felt really fluid and focused. Gluing together these evolution’s of Humbird’s music, the evening seamlessly flew by.
The one song that has been performed every week, “On The Day We Are Together Again” received a special platform as the group moved into the audience.
Within a line of starting the song, the crowd jumped in and sang along. Remaining in the crowd, Freaque joined in a cover of Tom Wait’s “Come On Up To The House.” Both received heavy applause.
Ending the residency with “January”, the apropos bookend song that was written right before the pandemic, wishing for a better year.
Gratitude isn’t a large enough word for being able to witness and attend each of these shows. We don’t often get the opportunity to see an artist 4 times in a month, surrounded by important local musicians.
Support our residencies in the Twin Cities. Settle into them and compare each evening. You’ll be grateful you did.