With the release of Merino Wool’s album “All I Need” last weekend, we are reminded that St. Olaf has a thriving community of campus bands. These groups come and go as new musicians filter in with the first-year class and out with the graduating seniors.
This high turnover makes for a healthy and dynamic music scene, but no one likes it when a band splits up for good. However, these musicians don’t always hang up their instruments for good once they get their diplomas. The Manitou Messenger reached out to some former campus bands to find out what they’re up to these days.
Moon Like Mars
Folk duo Moon Like Mars was made up of Ethan Hiedeman ’13 on guitar and Amanda Burgdorf ’13 on the cello. After jamming together on Damien Rice songs in their first year, the two played their first gig at a benefit concert in the Lion’s Pause after the Haiti crisis.
The duo still gets together now and then to play together for fun and has been toying with the idea of performing at a repurposed convent “with some great acoustics,” where Burgdorf is now living. Hiedeman is also collaborating with Lauren Piper ’12.
“We’re putting together a set of original songs and looking to book gigs,” Hiedeman said of the new project. Hiedeman plays guitar and sings, and Piper plays banjo and piano and sings in the as yet unnamed group.
“Our collaboration mostly consists of playing and harmonizing on each other’s original songs and a handful of covers,” said Piper, who also performs as a solo musician. Her next gig is at the Acadia Café in Minneapolis on March 21, along with another Ole grad-band Fox & Coyote and Daniel Lohmann ’12 and his band.
Dirty Petrov and the Gentillionaires
When Alex Van Rysselberghe ’12 and Shane Allen ’14 discovered their shared love of eastern European folk music, Dirty Petrov and the Gentillionaires was born. Originally a gypsy quartet, the lineup grew to a nine-piece band featuring Van Rysselberghe on drums, Allen on accordion, Taryn Arbeiter ’12 on violin, Eric Metzger ’13 on double bass, Neil Hulbert ’13 on trumpet, Chris Bouxsein ’12 on tenor sax, Francis Maginn ’12 on trombone, Noah Mitchell ’12 on guitar and percussion and Sarah Chao ’11 on bilingual vocals.
The band, which made “the music for premium dance,” according to its Facebook page, played their brand of Klezmer- and Gogol Bordello-influenced tunes at a number of shows on campus and in Northfield and closed what would turn out to be the last Lutefest ever. The group disbanded after over half of their lineup graduated and dispersed, some pursuing graduate degrees and others working as far afield as China and Russia.
However, the two founding members are still making music at St. Olaf: Allen, now in his senior year, plays with newer campus bands such as the Loose Cannons and Megatherium Club, and Van Rysselberghe works as a staff musician in the dance department. He also plays the drums for Daniel Lohmann, whose campus band was called The Parachutes, and for Fox & Coyote.