Local artists Nur-D, Mayda, Jillian Rae and Pit Stop are the first to stop by the KARE 11 Barn this year at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.
Ellery McCardle, KARE 11
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn.
Amidst a lifelong passion for performing, Matt Allen — known on stage as Nur-D — found it was hip-hop that struck the right chord.
“This world of hip-hop — it’s just embraced me,” he said. “I’ve been able to be more of myself than I’ve ever been doing any other type of medium. It’s been a lot of fun.”
The rocker-turned-rapper is fresh off the release of his new album, “HVN,” the pinnacle of a recent show, headlining the First Avenue Mainroom stage for the first time.
“HVN,” is the culmination of inspiration a year and a half in the making, that according to Nur-D, “only comes if I give myself a chance to live.”
“Sometimes we get so bogged down in the work and the building of a brand of it all that we forget to be an artist and make art,” he said. “I just have to sometimes sit down and be like, ‘Go do something with someone that you care about and have some life. And the music will come to you.'”
Backing Nur-D up are Minneapolis producer DJ Hayes and your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Band, which comes complete with a horn section, keys and background singers.
“The band has grown from just a group of ragtag kids to a much bigger ragtag group of kids running around,” he said. “It’s been lovely. I love being able to play music with my friends.”
Nur-D and the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Band take the stage at the KARE 11 Barn Thursday, Aug. 25.
For a more in-depth look into the world of Nur-D, click here.
For Mayda Miller, communication and connectedness manifest through music.
“Everyone understands music. I mean, no matter what; how old you are — even a baby knows what rhythm sounds like.”
Miller, who performs simply as Mayda, speaks several different languages, including, but not limited to: funk, pop, soul, R&B and rock. A Korean adoptee who grew up in St. Paul, Mayda says she found her voice on the way to finding herself.
“I’m pretty sure all my songs — everything I do, honestly — comes from being adopted,” she said. “It comes from remembering how I felt growing up — trying to be ok with who I am.”
She says because she didn’t look like her parents, she would often feel as if she was being stared at, “like a panther in a cage.”
“I have a song called, ‘Panthers,’ and it’s about taking your flaws or your insecurities and using them as a superpower,” she said. “Through my music and through example, that’s where I feel I can excel; that’s where I feel I can make the most teachable moments and lessons.”
Helping reinforce Mayda’s storytelling on stage are bassist, Miho, who Mayda says came to the Twin Cities from Japan with dreams of playing with the late superstar Prince, and drummer, Marcus, a fairly new addition to the band. She says she’s bringing them along for the ride in preparation for both a new album, and some big shows coming to the Twin Cities this fall.
You can catch Mayda’s set at the KARE 11 Barn on Friday, Aug. 26.
Jillian Rae, a classically trained musician with a gift for violin, developed a love for her craft during her childhood on the Iron Range in Eveleth.
“I was a 12-year-old fiddling with a bunch of cute, little, old country guys that taught me so much,” she said. “That’s kind of when I first was turned on to the Louvin Brothers or George Jones. I started all of that at a young age.”
A musical maverick, Jillian Rae’s versatility as an artist is undeniable: From performing in orchestras overseas to backing Grammy-winning bands, the road to her current solo project writing and playing original music was paved with raw, predestined talent — but it was not without bouts of intense studying and introspection, too.
“I was pretty much only focusing on classical,” she said. “But it took getting out of that intense study to remind myself that there’s all the other things, too. Let’s try to keep a good balance of everything and not just get stuck on one path — which is fine — it’s just not for me.”
Jillian’s most recent tour, happening in a time measured in weeks before COVID-19 locked down the world — and “the broom-standing-up-thing” went viral online — was in support of her 2019 album, “I can’t be the one you want me to be.”
Two singles already out from Jillian Rae this year, “Doing My Best” and “Stuck,” offer the first preview of what’s to come from the singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist.
“I have new songs – two of them have been released, ‘Doing My Best’ and ‘Stuck.’ Beyond that, you know, the idea is this is going to be a part of a whole happening in the future.”
And the future looks bright for Jillian Rae.
You can watch Jillian Rae perform at the KARE 11 Barn on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Even though the five-piece, alt-country band Pit Stop debuted on stage in March 2020, it didn’t stop them from pressing forward.
“It was a blessing and a curse because if we didn’t play the show right before COVID, I don’t know that we would have the excitement and momentum to stick with it through all of it,” Jake Balistrieri, Pit Stop guitarist and vocalist said. “But you know, we had that first show, and it went super well — it was just really fun, and I think that pushed us through.”
Balistrieri, along with Sarah Mevissen (vocals, guitar), Gage Webster (drums), James Horigan (guitar) and Zach Warpinski (bass) came together through friends of friends, but soon became each other’s chosen “quaran-team.”
“We kind of made the band our pod,” Mevissen said. “You know, during that time, you only had limited contact with people, but once it was safe enough, we would meet and play together just as a way to cope and get through with it.”
With five personalities — and tastes in music — all their own, Balistrieri says they all agreed, at least for this project, that country would direct its focus. After Horigan got his hands on his first steel guitar, Balistrieri says the two of them hatched the first draft of what would later become Pit Stop.
“The other guitar player and I kind of started playing together because he had just gotten his very first pedal steel guitar, so we were like, ‘Let’s start a country band,'” he said.
The now-fully formed band will head out on a regional tour this fall in support of its first, self-titled album that was released last year — no easy feat considering each member wrote, demoed and recorded their own parts through perhaps the most uncertain times of the pandemic.
“It was our first record, and you know, most of the time, you have awhile to kind of play it out live to figure out how it’s going to sound or how the crowd will interact with it — but we had to kind of do that without,” Balistrieri said.
But those already familiar with the band can almost certainly agree they’re alread doing what they set out to do: “Give everything a touch of country,” Balistrieri said.
You can catch Pit Stop’s set at the KARE 11 Barn Sunday, Aug. 28 at 2 p.m.
A full schedule of bands at the Barn can be found here.
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