The story of how the hot-off-the-presses “Lolo’s Ghost Sunday Sermon Live From The Driftwood Volume 1” CD came to be is a thing of organic beauty and a case study in how the local original music scene functions as a growth industry much like the flour mills, brew pubs, and farmers markets of the area, with songs and sounds served up as the musicians’ wares-for-sale.
Happy Minnesota Music Month, by the way, as decreed by Gov. Tim Walz, who wrote in the proclamation: “Minnesota is fortunate to have a vibrant artistic community that enhances the quality of life enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. It is important to recognize the impact of Minnesota artists on our entire state and we are grateful for their contributions that have advanced our understanding of one another.”
To that end, the James Loney-led Lolo’s Ghost started their residency one year ago this Sunday. One Sunday morning last summer, Terry Katzman walked into the former Westrum’s at 4415 S. Nicollet Ave., and he’s been a fixture there ever since.
“I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this is epiphany here. I’m seeing something you don’t see very often,’” said Katzman. “So in August I started going to the Driftwood, and in October I started recording the shows, and I’ve been recording the shows ever since then. When you see them, you can’t deny the level of musicianship in the band. It’s off the charts, every one of them.”
As founder of Husker Du’s first label, Reflex Records, and Garage D’or Records (the label and store), Katzman has a long history as a music champion. He’s worked as a writer and record store tastemaker (currently at Hi Fi Hair and Records), but his main gig is as an archivist and recording engineer. “Obsessive” is a word that comes up often when talking about the bands he loves, and in the case of Lolo’s Ghost, that unpaid passion has resulted in what every independent artist so desperately needs: support.
“Terry is a true musicologist. We might not have a [boat]load of fans, but we’ve got Terry,” said Loney. “It’s truly an honor that he’s that into us. He loves us, and we love him for it. It’s a beautiful thing.”
“They’re my Grateful Dead, kind of, even though I wouldn’t want to use that comparison,” said Katzman, who worked with Lolo’s bassist Paul McFarland to mix, master and cull down the recordings to the 18 songs that make up the limited edition collector’s item. “It’s like the true Americana to me, those guys. It’s like I said in the liner notes: This music is a salvo for troubled times. If you want to just chill out, and if you’ve already heard a bunch of great music during the week, this will take you to another place.”
The collection draws from the eight-piece Lolo’s rich catalog, along with a few covers, including a church-worthy cover of Bob Dylan’s “Serve Somebody.” All of which brings the listener into the warm vibe of Sundays at the Driftwood, captured for all time.
“It’s so unique to be able to go grab breakfast, with a rock band on stage,” Loney said. “It’s the same thing as a Friday or Saturday night, but it’s a Sunday morning. I think our music has a little bit of that spirituality or gospel or whatnot in it, and because it is Sunday, we kind of play off that a little bit. People say it’s a spiritual thing for them on Sundays, that it makes them feel good, that it lifts them up. It’s different every week. People come and go, and it’s cool.”
Adding to the homegrown element of the proceedings is the CD’s cover art — a version of “Music Happens Here,” Joe Fahey’s 2019 acrylic-on-canvas painting that hangs at the Driftwood as part of the artist-musician’s first art show at the club.
“It’s been a great thing,” said Loney, who has led similar residencies at the Whiskey Junction and Harriet Brewing. “It’s made us grow a lot closer together, it’s helped us grow musically, it’s an uplifting thing for me, personally. To be able to do that every week is a privilege, and everybody in the band feels that way—that it’s a privilege to play music, and we do it for the right reasons.”
Jim Walsh lives and grew up in South Minneapolis. He can be reached at [email protected].