Dan & I had an amazing weekend of music.  I felt like a teenager again.

Friday, we went to Buffalo, MN where we saw Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders at Norm’s Wayside (http://www.normswayside.com/).  Heading into Norm’s was like walking into a Detroit Pub. There were 6-piece rectangular Detroit Deep Dish pizzas (they look a lot like Chicago style pizzas), Vernor’s Ginger Ale and lots of Detroit area paraphernalia from photos to street signs and Michigan trivia on the menu.  The Vernor’s was great and the music was amazing.  That’s why we were here, though after tonight, we’d recommend Norm’s if you’re ever heading through Buffalo.

We arrived about 20 ‘til 8 and there wasn’t a seat to be had in the place.  We stood at the back bar area for a bit waiting for someone to head out.  I asked a couple if they’d like to share their booth but she wasn’t interested.  Eventually, Dan saw a free seat at the back corner of the bar on the far side of the room so I headed over to see if it was available.  Turns out, it was!  The guys there were just getting ready to head up to play – it was Javier Matos the bass player and a new drummer we didn’t recognize as Alex’s brother Clint had played with them in Alec.  We told Javier we recognized him from the Alexandria show and he remembered the gig and was happy we’d come such a long way to see them again.  Alex “Crankshaft” Larson was already up front working the crowd.  http://www.crankshaftmusic.com/

We shared the newly acquired space with a shop teacher named Roger from Monticello.  I struck up a conversation and he mentioned that he’d been to Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC) for a class in metal working so he was familiar with our neck of the woods.  He wasn’t planning on staying but when we told him the music would be good, he decided to stick around, have another beer and check it out.  We’d described the sound as “Pork Neck” which got a questioning glance from Roger.

So what is Pork Neck?  It’s a cross between Punk, Country, Rock-a-billy, Rock & Roll, Blues and Surf.  It’s nothing short of AMAZING.  Here’s a couple links to videos.



If Crankshaft is in your neck of the woods, I recommend you head out and give it a listen.  Roger ended up leaving after the first set with a Crankshaft CD and bumper sticker… and a huge grin on his face as he held up his purchases to show us.  I gave him two big thumbs up. 🙂

The small Crankshaft 10-23-15dance floor allowed Crankshaft to dance with people as he was playing.  They were literally dancing next to his mike in the tight space.  At one point, he freed up his guitar to a local guy who played some good blues while Alex danced with the fans.  And shortly after, at the end of the second set, we decided it was time to head to Uncle Cam’s so we headed toward the door.  Alex was wrapping up the set and he looked likeCrankshaft 10-23-15B a wrung out rag.  Barely able to stand, he crumbled to the stage just as I was headed over to pick up another CD.  We’d seen him before the show and hewas glad to see us.  As he crashed in front of me, a dazed look on his face, I told him we were heading out and he replied, “You can’t leave me now!  Look how hard I’m workin’.”  He was covered in sweat and nearly shaking in exhaustion.  I told him I was getting a CD to listen all the way home and that seemed to placate him.  The newest CD wasn’t available but we picked up the live album this time.  I am happy to support this guy as I love his sound.  Sure hope he survived the last set!

Thank goodness we were able to sleep in Saturday as we didn’t get in until well after midnight.  Spent a great day relaxing and catching up with Cam and Karen.  He’s learning how to use Netflix from his phone so we watched some old Dick Van Dyke shows while I read my latest new book, Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson, which I highly recommend.  We all had dinner at the local Welsh’s Big Ten where they have an AYCE Crableg special on Saturday night (which we WILL be doing on an upcoming visit with Cam & Karen).  Being in a hurry tonight, we stuck with the pulled pork potato skins and Reuben with tots.  There was a visit from the local Vulcan Krewe, a bunch of guys who go to all the local festivals having fun and putting on a spectacle.  The festival tonight was the Anoka Halloween Festival.  http://anokahalloween.com/event-calendar/  (Little did I know, Anoka is the Halloween Capital of the World…) From Wikipedia: The Vulcan Krewe is selected by the Order of Fire and Brimstone along with the new Fire King, Vulcanus Rex, each year. Each year a new Krewe is hand selected through an application and interview process. Selected Krewe members must complete a five-year commitment to become a full fledged member of Fire and Brimstone. After a member’s fifth year, that individual is then eligible to be a Fire King.


Members of the Vulcan Krewe

  • Vulcanus Rex (The Vulc) – The True King of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. Of all the members of the Krewe, he is the only one to wear red and black (all others wear only red).
  • General Flameous (Flame) – Keeper of the flame. Legend says that if the flame dies, the Fire King dies and it will be winter forever.
  • The Duke of Klinker (Klinker) – The Fire King’s aide-de-camp and the herder of the flock. The Klinker is the longest burning ember.
  • The Count of Ashes (Ash) – The raiser of sleeping spirits. The “swinger” of the Krewe.
  • The Prince of Soot (Sooty) – The recorder of past memories. The “ladies’ man”. Usually the oldest member of the Krewe.
  • Baron Hot Sparkus (Sparky) – Commander of the Lancer’s Legion and the Stoker of Emotions. The “spark plug” of the Vulcan Krewe.
  • Count Embrious (EB) – The Fire King’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. The young and romantic one. Usually the youngest member of the Krewe.
  • Grand Duke Fertilious (Ferty) – Minister of Propaganda and the propagator of progeny. Usually the member with the most children.


It’s Saturday Night and time to head out for Metalachi!!!  http://metalachi.com/about-us/


I was super pumped to see these guys as Dan and I have been watching videos of them for the last few years.  A friend from California turned us on to them (thanks, Ron!) and we thought they were adorable and hilarious.  The show was not a disappointment as they are even better in person.  I was jumping and dancing and singing and screaming at the top of my lungs.  I threw my “horns” in the air like a true heavy metal fan and was on my feet the entire time.  Every song was another surprise to see how the Mariachi influence would land.  There were slowed down sections and speeded up sections and a huge amount of horns and violin along with LOTS of sexy dancing with hair flipping and an overabundance of hip thrusting.


At the end of the night, I was ecstatic to hear the band would be coming out for autographs and pictures.  I HAD to get a photo between Maximillian “Dirty” Sanchez (on violin) and El Cucuy (on trumpet) as I was so impressed with their musical talents.  Max’s six-pack abs and El Cucuy’s pumping cod piece were possible influences…  As I waited patiently while El Cucuy talked with some fans, Maximillian walked past.  I ran to grab him for a quick photo and he graciously agreed.  Dan took a while taking the photo (we’re still learning how to use this stinking smart phone) and I explained to Max, “He takes a long time so I have more time to stand here with my arm around you.” These guys were total encouragers of the Cougar crowd and he chuckled. (Note: this photo was “brightened” as it was really not visible in original condition.)

Maximillian & Jami

I told him I really wanted a photo between him and El Cucuy and Max says, “Well, let’s go!” as El Cucuy was now in front of us just finishing up with a new crowd.  I squeezed between them, letting El Cucuy know I was super stoked about getting a picture with the two of them and he shouts, “All right!  We’re going to make a sandweech!” thrusting the cod piece toward me and sticking out his devil horns and his tongue.  I am laughing and grabbing them both at the waist as we wait for Dan to get the shot.  They are playing along, putting out their hands in front of me like they are grabbing my “chi-chis” and we’re all having a ball.  Dan finally gets the shot and we break up, me thanking them profusely and praising their performance.  Dan and I wander toward the merch stand and he asks me to check the phone to see the photo.  I do.  And.  Nothing.  He didn’t get it!

I wail that I MUST have a photo with them so we have to try again.  We walk back over and while I wait for them to be freed up, I see they are taking photos with the couple we initially joined at their table before the show – Ernie and Ruth.  She’s gonna get a shot of Ernie and I say, “You want me to get you both?”  She’s jubilant and rushes to get in the shot.  I get a couple shots and, after getting her phone back to her, jump back in for another chance with the boys, explaining that the first photo didn’t take and we need a second pose.  El Cucuy is happy to pose again saying, “I could tell you were having a good time tonight.  Let’s get another picture!” Max isn’t as excited but he’s still hanging with us and Dan takes another shot.  I am hugging them and my hand goes to El Cucuy’s belly as I we are breaking apart and I say, “My God!  You’re soaking wet!”  He says, thrusting his pelvis a couple times, “You try doing this for an hour, baby! You’ll be soaking wet too!!” He’s gets that super huge maniacal smile on his face and I laugh out loud, thanking him again and wandering to a table to check the second shot.  And. Again, nothing.  Are you serious!!!!  Dan is telling me, “It looked like it took the photo” and asking, “how can you tell when it’s working?”  (I know he feels terrible and I’m frustrated but still willing to keep trying.)

Ruth comes over to tell me the shots I got of her and Ernie were awesome and I ask if she knows how to take photos with my phone.  “Sure”, she says, “it’s the same as mine.” She agrees to get another shot of me with El Cucuy.  He’s laughing as I come up a third time saying, “I swear the shot didn’t take!  Can we try it again?”  He is amazing, gladly going through all the poses again as if we’ve just begun.  We’ve lost Max by now but I’m fine with that… I’ve decided El Cucuy is Mi Favorito!  I’m hugging him again as we finish up, I give him a quick peck and more thanks and he leans into me saying, “See you again in another two minutes!”  I am cackling as I walk back to Dan and yes, we finally got some shots!


We’re ready to head to the door and I grab a quick shot with the tech dudes as we’re leaving.  I think the one tech guy wasn’t sure how this all worked as he kept stepping closer to the “Lemmy look-alike” tech but I finally squeezed between them for a quick shot.  Dan’s got it down now (except for that finger near the lens, but hey, we’re making huge progress).


We head out the door exhausted, elated and laughing.  What a terrific night.  The whole way home from St. Paul to Alec, we randomly say to each other, “See you again in two minutes!” in a thick Mexican accent.  I am SO HAPPY my husband was still learning to get this smart phone camera stuff figured out!

As we head out of Minneapolis, Danny ruminates that if only he’d known trumpet playing could turn out like this, he’d never have quit playing. 🙂