Pony Jams: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2

June 12, 2015
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Peepshow loyalists may have caught “Pony Jams: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1,” a curated collection of the myriad musical talents among my Fast Horse colleagues – everything from rock bands to a John Mayer “interview” to some killer late-’80s cassette cover art.

But the collection couldn’t be confined to one post, and we’ve also added some new faces at their office, who inevitably had their own musical musings.

Without further ado, Pony Jams: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2. (The cover-art credit, including a fantastic original illustration, goes once again to the inimitable John Gilman.)

Track No. 1 – Shaun, the Resident Shred-master

When Shaun isn’t wrangling unwieldy network cables into submission or proffering Macho Man Randy Savage videos to the unsuspecting public, our in-house IT guru is undoubtedly unsheathing one of his many axes and melting someone’s face. You can watch the master at work in this legendary Peepshow post, or to hear a track from his band Slow Children, check out the song below.

As Nigel Tufnel so aptly put it: “It’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.”

Track No. 2 – That Designer Is a Jazz Cat

Perhaps of little surprise, designer extraordinaire Teri Firkins has created album artwork for a half-dozen bands, including the spectacular one below, which earned her some hardware at the AIGA Design Show. (Fun fact: A different cover project involved a photo shoot atop the former Let It Be records in Downtown Minneapolis – in which a model toted a borrowed gun, attracting some very curious gawkers from Target’s HQ across the street.)

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But Teri’s also a performer. Several years ago, she graduated from Maplewood karaoke bars to the real stage when a friend asked her to help record an album. She’s since lent her voice to several recordings, including a yet-to-be-released album. Hear her croon on this track, “Urban Dictionary of True”:

Track No. 3 – Spilling Wine on will.i.am

As with “Vol. 1,” some Pony Jams don’t contain audio but explore music from other angles. Take our freshly appointed senior director, Melissa Bertling, whose remarkable résumé includes a stint as director of strategic partnerships at Interscope Records in L.A., where her duties included partnering high-profile bands from the label – like the Black Eyed Peas, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Lady Gaga – with marquee brands. (Ask her sometime about that fateful dinner when she spilled a glass of red wine on will.i.am.)

Born into a musical family, Melissa felt she should learn an instrument herself before enlisting her son in music lessons, so she’s currently attending BYOB – that’s right, BYOB – guitar lessons at Sarah Jane’s Music School in Northeast Minneapolis.

Justified_AlbumTrack No. 4 – Molly O

And while Vol. 1 noted Fast Horse’s direct involvement in music projects, including work with musicians like Rogue Valley, the Minnesota Beatle Project and more, we’re currently working on a cool project with veteran Wisconsin musician Molly Otis Stoddard, known professionally as Molly O. Longtime Twin Cities music fans may remember Molly & The Heymakers from the ‘80s and ‘90s — well, Molly’s still been playing music ever since. She came to us with a finished collection of music and an interesting story — she successfully fought for the rights of musicians everywhere in court a few years back.

Our designers and Alex G. got to work on the new disc, “Justified,” from front to finish — meaning that Alex finally got the chance to write liner notes. We also built Molly a new website and helped out with some promotion. It’s a project in progress, so expect more news from Molly in the coming months. (This project also gave Alex what may be his only professional opportunity to digitize some Beta tapes — with awesome results.)

Track No. 5 – Cut Your Hair, Dude

Readers of Vol. 1 were subjected to Forest History, my college band that borrowed liberally from ’70s prog groups. LongHairEveryEffortMade

But before Forest History came several high school bands, perhaps most notably Every Effort Made, which was heavily influenced by so-called “post-hardcore” and “emo” bands, particularly those popularized in the early aughts. Fun facts: the drummer is my twin brother. And I had long hair for a while. Click play below to hear the track “Everyone Who Sleeps Tonight.” It picks up (with vocals) about halfway through.

Track No. 6 – Gaterud the Great

Alex G. is so rock ‘n roll that he recently bought a guy a ticket to Rush in exchange for drum lessons. He claims we can’t include his recordings because none are “PG or non-completely-mortifying,” but he offered up this great video, created during his tenure as marketing director at Radio K.

Alex’s team filmed in-studio performances of local talent and major touring acts like Phantogram, The Vaselines, Wye Oak and The Raveonettes. After cutting his teeth editing those in-studio gigs, he headed to First Ave. to capture HEALTH in concert. Alex and two accomplices filmed the energetic performance with little Sony Handicams – and the results are excellent.

The Radio K video program that Alex helped launch is still going strong, serving as an incredible archive of music both local and national.

Track No. 7 – The Tall Man Knows the Beat 

A grizzled Bonaroo veteran who’s currently making his annual voyage to the famous music festival, Alex Stahlmann – affectionately known as “Tall Man” – is a passionate music fan whose tastes run from jam bands to “cosmic electronic music culled from the ether.” He expounds on his love for music as editor in chief of The Beat MPLS, a Twin Cities-based blog complete with artist interviews, new music and more. 

Track No. 8 – The B-Sides

Broad solicitation of my colleagues’ musical talents uncovered more than one surprise, not the least of which was Rita’s ’80s album artwork in Vol. 1. But as we conclude Vol. 2, I wanted to raise some horns to the many other musical talents that didn’t get their own “track.”

For example:

  • Our new intern Kaitlyn was inspired to learn the ukulele when in a wisdom-teeth-drug-induced haze.
  • Natalie reports: “It’s a little-known fact that I am in a band called the Electro-lites. We’ve had one concert, which consisted of a rocking performance for one person in a kitchen, and have really tried to stay out of the limelight since then. Too-much-fame-too-soon type of deal. Prior to the Electo-lites, I dabbled around in a trio called the Pirouettes, but our sound was too ahead of its time.”
  • And Fast Horse video producer Andy nonchalantly posits that he was in a short-lived Prince cover band called “Dirty Mindzz,” but alas, he says all photographic evidence has been “killed with fire.”