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Shut Down Third Street is a music and art festival put on by Treedom creative studios & record store. In its second year, Shut Down Third promotes people coming together on the streets of downtown Winona to experience music, art, and local businesses.
Third street is closed to cars so people can freely move about, hence the name. I had the pleasure of embarking on the mini road trip to Winona to see what this festival is all about.
Upon arriving I came upon the Sanborn stage where a musician was setting up, but not the one I was expecting. I was about to rush off to find the other stages until I heard Josiah Smith’s voice. His vocals caught my attention with their deep, western style. Stopped in my tracks, I watched as Josiah strum his guitar and sing to a mere 3 people who were watching. Crowds were light this early; the air thick with humidity.
Smith was at ease on stage. His friends called out to him and soon the audience and performer were laughing together. They commented on his style. Dare I say lumberjack hipster has morphed into western fashion? And that I am digging it?
I later found that talent ran rampant among the festival, but a charming stage presence comes more naturally to some more than others. I hope Smith uses this to his advantage.
Alas, I did still want to see Swashbuckler. I raced to the Island Brewery Stage and caught the last song and a half. I immediately liked seeing a full band playing alt-rock. There was definite gritty punk blasting out of the speakers.
They had a nice energy and great guitar solos. The vocals were a little rough but I admit, it’s harsh to judge on one song. I’d give them another listen. I deemed Island Brewery Stage my preference due to the rocking vibe.
Double Grave was up next on the Main Stage. Confused why no one else is there, I checked out the area and discovered Treedome’s location. Nice set-up in there, if you ever are in Winona.
Double Grave suddenly walked on stage and swiftly started playing. Thankfully more people started showing up and dancing along.
Double Grave is a trio from Minneapolis. What seems like a typical rock band with bass, guitar, and drums, they play their instruments very well, providing an excellent show.
However grunge, punk, or Green Day-esque the music is, the band members seem pretty chill. I particularly enjoyed the drumming. They describe themselves as “prairie grunge” and “gloom punk.” Yes indeed. Make sure to check them out here.
Sheep for Wheat
The party was still going strong at Island Brewery. They had cornhole, beer, and a tent to shield from sun or rain. Inside were bathrooms and A/C if you needed a break from the humidity. What more could you want? Add the rock and roll band Sheep for Wheat and it was a perfect time.
Andrew Hudson’s voice was bold and strong and took the rock ‘n’ roll sound to a new level. Some songs tended toward folk-rock and some were more rockabilly. I really enjoyed their set and part of that was because they had fun on stage and bantered with each other. They had some impressive guitar solos as well.
Noah Short is also from Winona and has a variety of hobbies that have evolved into jobs. He is a piano tuner and a percussionist in other bands. He writes all this own music and musicians in the area play a part in helping create a live show.
However, this particular performance was solo — quiet vocals with a unique but familiar strumming pattern. My mind focused on the memory of Courtney Barnett strumming similarly when I saw her at First Ave. With yet his own style, Noah intricately plucked and strummed his guitar and sang softly into the mic.
All this fascination caused me to miss Loud Mouth Brass. They played a set with a big crowd at the Main Stage. I gave them a pause to cement their sound in my memory bank. They are a brass band made up of six people from Rochester, MN.
They like to get loud and create a fun dancing environment. Mission accomplished. I could hear shouts and cheers from halfway down the block. Pleased, I moved on to catch the next band.
My Grandma’s Cardigan
My Grandma’s Cardigan is such a great name for a band. My friend previously told me I had to see them play and they were right. When I heard “Aspen” on streaming services, I looked forward to seeing them. RaeNelle Ostberg’s voice is smooth and pretty.
My Grandma’s Cardigan filled the stage with two girls and three guys. They got started playing covers but they had recently been writing original music.
For this particular performance, Carly Hornstine joined RaeNelle Ostberg on stage to sing (because Gina Marcucci was in Colorado) and Wes played an acoustic, but that didn’t change the crowd’s positive response. RaeNelle was a great vocalist and Carly added a sweet touch to it.
Fans and festival-goers alike remained enthusiastic as My Grandma’s Cardigan played covers such as The White Stripes’ “We’re Going To Be Friends” and Coldwar Kids “Hang Me To Dry.” I hope to see more from them in the future.
Karate Chop, Silence
A popular band at Shutdown Third was Karate Chop, Silence. Featuring another memorable name, this group brought a variety of genres to the Main Stage. I was surprised by the versatility of the musical set. My favorite song was “Wings,” a ska-influenced rock song. I could listen to that every day.
It was a mix of rock and roll and booming vocals with a strong bass and guitar performance. They played a fun set to a large and loud crowd.
Gully Boys have 3 releases on Bandcamp, one being 2018’s Not So Brave – give it a listen if feisty rock is your jam. It’s definitely mine. They remind me of a less angsty version of the band Hole, with their own flavor.
Kathy Callahan’s vocals capture my attention on “Big Bad Luvr.” In fact, I applaud all three vocal offerings on this alt-rock performance. The driving beat of drummer Nadirah McGill must not go unnoticed. This spunky group comes highly recommended.
Fires of Denmark
The most unique set to hit the Sanborn stage was Fires of Denmark. Michael Terrill put on a captivating show with his two DIY upright stations of knobs, pedals and keyboards.
He also pulled out an electric guitar to jam out over his looping vocals and on-the-spot beats. It was the perfect music for the stormy sky looming above.
Terrill’s pulling-out-all-the-stops vocal style paired well over the electro-rock. It created emotional layers on stage despite being a solo act. He played a cover of “This Must Be the Place” by Talking Heads.
People came from all directions to watch in fascination. He finished up with the song “Either/Or” with lasting vocals “I hope you find what it is you are looking for…” Look for a new album coming out September 28!
Yam Haus filled Third Street’s Main Stage area full of eager fans & festival attendees on this cloudy Saturday evening. Yam Haus, a band quickly rising in popularity in the Twin Cities music scene, is comprised of Lars Pruitt on smooth pop vocals, Seth Blum on guitar, Zack Beinlich on bass, and Jake Felstow on drums.
Yam Haus wore black suits and charming personalities. Light on the rock, emphasis on the pop, with a generous dose of kindness. Lead singer Lars Pruitt smooth-talked the crowd between each song, creating an intimate atmosphere despite the huge crowd. The audience jumped around, danced, and waved their arms to the beat. Many sang along to the songs.
Pruitt told everyone to put their phones down and just enjoy dancing like no one is watching. He had everyone doing do-si-dos and jumping jacks.
Everyone had a great time. Lars promoted being kind to one another as the theme of their existence. Or, in other words, “try not to be a jerk more often.” They are headlining a show at First Ave in December!
The crowd thinned at Main Stage as many headed out to check out Lydia Liza, a folk/indie rock band out of St. Paul who are mostly known for their viral modern remake of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
I checked out their Lydia Liza’s new album Of Unsound Mind and really enjoyed their indie rock/folk sound. Unfortunately, I missed their set as they played at the same time as Bad Bad Hats.
Bad Bad Hats
Bad Bad Hats’s alt-rock sound is one that I’ve obsessed about since I heard Psychic Reader back in 2015. Their recordings vary from indie pop to feisty rock. I have seen them again and again, but still I was impressed with their timing and musical ability. I can’t help but crack a smile at the deadpanned jokes and then dance to the hits. Just like love, nothing is quite like the first time. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be special.
Bad Bad Hats played songs off all their albums, including all the hits like “Midway” and “Psychic Reader.” I was pumped to hear “Joseph” and “Fight Song,” my particular favorites from Psychic Reader, because of their edge. They also played “Wide Right” off their new release, which I’m quite fond of as well.
The loud rock style of the guitar and bass with a heavy drumbeat made me feel alive and invigorated. Kerry Alexander has a unique voice, folk-like with a touch of nostalgia.
Capturing the sweetness of life’s gifts of love and then expounding on the contrasting problems with relationships, the lyrics are contemplative but confident. Ah, those intoxicating feels of beginning loves and crushes.
Despite the seriousness of the topics of love and relationships, there were antics to be had. Kerry Alexander threw on sunglasses on during “Shame” and the band flexed their muscles at the end, striking exaggerated poses.
They faked one last song and instead of doing the encore charade, simply asked if the audience wanted more. Yes! We did, of course. An excellent finish with the song “Girl.”
The party moved over to Ed’s Bar, just a few blocks from the main outdoor stage. There was a line out the door to get in. I could see Last Import through the window, already taking the stage. The bouncer started checking ID’s as fast as the drumming coming from on stage.
We finally squeezed in. It was hot in there and the building very well may have been over capacity. Two bartenders worked desperately to serve the music fans crowding around the bar waving debit cards and cash to get their attention.
I made it to the front easily to see Last Import rocking away. Having never heard of them, I was blown away. Emily Bjorke sang fiercely while playing guitar and Grace Baldwin played bass and sang back-up vocals. Grace Baldwin had rad drumming skills. Their stage presence was intoxicating and had the packed crowd nodding to the beat.
They were an energetic start to this afterparty show. As sweaty as punk rock is, they barely slowed down, even when suddenly told they could play extra songs. They finished strong and it was excellent.
Stillwater rock and roll-punk three-piece The Shackletons immediately brought incredible energy. Reminiscent of the punk band Sum 41, brothers, Colin, Cameron and Evan Campbell dripped in sweat as they shook the walls of Ed’s Bar.
Colin wore a blue, sleeveless jumpsuit with white letters on the back that said “GOBLIN,” similar to a football jersey. I made a point to ask him about that later.
While most of their tunes were originals, the trio aggressively pounded their way through songs like Jon Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” to which the crowd happily chanted along.
When I asked Colin about the jumpsuit, he explained it was custom made specifically for this event. “I got this from Fleet Farm. I cut the sleeves off and spent hours sewing the letters on the back of it last night. Michaels didn’t have enough letters to spell anything else, so I’m cool with goblins.”
Most known for their song “Minnesota Girls” which caught a large attention on Youtube back in 2015, The Shackletons’ sound today is a defined contrast to songs they were creating back then. Evan laughs, “I was 15 when we recorded that song.”
Formerly Marah & The Mainsail, Coyote Kid is led by Austin Durry with a near-identical collection of players. The tight-knit group recently broke away from their record label, rebranded, and pivoted to a more rock, western sound.
Durry’s dark brown locks poured out of a black flat-brim hat as he screamed carefully-written lyrics while abusing the strings of his semi-hollow bodied guitar.
Kian Dziak leaned forward on his drum throne, pulverizing he skins of his set. John Baumgartner pushed the slide of his brass instrument toward and away from the crowd, exhaling powerful breathes of air into his mouthpiece. He may very well be the first headbanging trombone player I’ve ever seen.
Cassandra Valentine stood to the right, offering up deep bass lines while singing sweet, delicate harmonies to soften Durry’s gravely delivery.
They were missing band member, Austin Wilder, who is known for dropping a large string of metal chains to accent their musical stories, so Nathanial Nelson of Treedom jumped on stage to rustle the heavy links of steel.
A Little Too Short To Be Storm Troopers
The change over included the lifting of a full-size wooden organ on to the stage. A bit excessive. A Little Too Short To Be Storm Troopers (a little too long to be a band name), popped off with the Santana, Rob Thomas’ 1999 hit “Smooth.” Interesting choice.
They followed up with “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire. Then came Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.” I soon realized they are a cover band, which you don’t normally see at a music festival, but definitely what you’d expect at a bar at midnight.
However, the songs they performed aren’t the typical songs you’d hear at a bar. My flip-flips were sticking to the floor. The crowd was getting sloppy. Friends of the band were invited on stage, one at a time, to each sing a song.
This was starting to feel like a bad live karaoke experience. The room was intoxicated enough not to mind the lack of quality in the vocalists. Fans shouted back the lyrics they knew and mumble in places they weren’t confident. The band’s cover of Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” was enough for me to call it a night.
See you next year, Winona! Shut Down Third Street seemed quite the success after seeing so many great bands in one day. But the talent on stage or the coffee and art in the streets isn’t the only reason I’ll be coming back next year. It was so cool to see a community come together to put on this event, especially for free so anyone can join.
It was great to see people constantly perusing the artists and local businesses booths. I saw band members at each other’s shows, supporting each other. I started to recognize people and they started to recognize me, chatting about life and random small talk. It is a fantastic initiative and I hope it will continue on through the years to come.