Chemistry and energy are what make Pert Near Sandstone special. A bluegrass/newgrass band from the Twin Cities, they burst onto the American roots music scene in a flurry of fiddling, picking, and stomping. The Current describes their live performances as “a frenzied string-shredding spree that takes audiences under its spell.”
They’ve earned performances everywhere from the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival to A Prairie Home Companion. They founded their own festival, “Blue Ox.”
“Blue Ox allows us to showcase all these different aspects of roots and American music that are really important to us and to the fabric of folk music today,” declares Kevin Kniebel, the group’s banjo player. Adds Nate Sipe, the band’s fiddler and mandolinist, “Whether you have drums and an electric guitar or a jug and a fiddle, it’s all part of the same voice.”
Their newest album, Discovery of Honey, was recorded in 2016 at a friend’s home, which had originally been constructed by an end-times prepper to withstand a nuclear apocalypse. Sipe elaborates: “The two-foot-thick concrete walls of the bomb shelter had a 1-inch iron plate in the middle, and when they were wiring up the house, the electrician couldn’t even get through it at first.”
It proved to be the perfect mix of seclusion and comfort; the band knocked out basic tracking for the album in just two-and-a-half days. That musical fearlessness is part of what makes the group so difficult to pin down, and also perfect stewards for string band music in the 21st century.
Sipe and Kniebel are joined in Pert Near Sandstone by J Lenz on acoustic guitar, Justin Bruhn on upright bass, and Matt Cartier on clogs and fiddle.
Vist Pert Near Sandstone at pertnearsandstone.com/
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