You know that Son Volt song, Windfall? It’s the first track from Trace, and it’s the song with the lyrics “Switching it over to AM / Searching for a truer sound / Can’t recall the call letters / Steel guitar and settle down / Catching an all night station / Somewhere in Louisiana / It sounds like 1963 but for now it sounds like heaven.”
That’s how The Cactus Blossoms sound. Like something that belongs on an all night station on AM radio driving through Louisiana in 1963. Or maybe it’s playing in your grandfather’s truck when you get in to head to the donut shop, or maybe it’s in his record collection next to Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Everly Brothers, and Patsy Cline.
It’s country music as it was meant to be played, with lyrics about love and longing, sad-sliding steel guitar, meandering fiddle, and smooth harmonies. It’s refreshing.
The band will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24 at Maxine’s Tap Room, to help give the venue an early start on a planned week of Fayetteville Roots Festival shows.
We got in touch with The Cactus Blossoms this week, and they were nice enough to answer some questions for us.
What have you been listening to lately?
Page: I haven’t been obsessed with anything in particular lately but every once in a while I find a few records at a thrift store and that’s a fun way to discover new music. For a few bucks I recently picked albums by Charlie Parker, George Jones, and a Tex Mex band called Los Pavos Reales that had never heard of.
We love you guys’ sound. It reminds me a lot of music I grew up listing to with my grandparents and parents. How did you guys get into the genre?
Page: We grew up being fans of The Everly Brothers and The Beatles and then several years ago were sucked into listening to a lot of old folk, blues, country, and western swing. Now we’re making new songs and mixing it all up with where we are today.
Have you guys ever made it to Arkansas before? If so (or if not), what’s your impression of the place?
Page: I don’t think either of us have spent any time in Arkansas before so we’re excited to pay you a visit. I’m guessing the weather will be hot and sticky but that’s nothing a cold beer can’t remedy.
Jack: I spent a night in Chester, AR in my camper as I went south to escape the Minnesota winter a few years ago. I stopped for gas and watched the news on a old 12″ tube TV inside the Chester Mercantile. They played a video clip on repeat of snow pouring through the collapsed roof of the Twins’ Metrodome stadium like white sand through an hour glass. It was getting late and a kind neighbor let me plug in my little rig and camp out. I had left in the nick of time, but the cold wind was hot on my trail.
We’ve been listening some to your “Live at the Turf Club” album. Tell us a bit about that show/recording.
Page: The album was recorded on a hot July night at the Turf Club in Saint Paul, MN where we had held a regular gig for about a year and a half. We had to turn off the air conditioning because it was making too much noise right beside the stage and we didn’t want to ruin the recording. The place was packed and it turned into an oven but folks were still dancing all night!
What are some bands you guys like outside of the country/western genre?
Lonnie Johnson, Bill Withers, Bing Crosby, David Bowie, and friends like Jack Klatt and JD McPherson.
What’s you guys’ touring set up like? (Do you tour with the full band?)
Page: It just depends what kind of shows/venues we’re playing so we’ve been switching between playing as a duo and full band. When we play at Maxine’s Tap Room we’ll be a four piece with acoustic guitar, electric guitar, upright bass and fiddle.
What are some of the cities that you guys like visiting when you’re on the road?
Page: We love New York City, the hills of southeast Wisconsin, Portland and the Mount Hood area in Oregon, Austin, TX. Lots of good people, music and food! It’s been great to visit so many places and everywhere in between.
I saw a quote from Garrison Keillor on your website. How’d that come about? Did you guys play the show?
Page: We’ve been guests on the show a couple times now and it’s a really fun experience. Our first time was a lucky opportunity to be on a live broadcast from the Minnesota State Fair and we had the good fortune of being asked back earlier this year.
Tell us how folks can get their hands on some of your music?
Page: They can visit our store at thecactusblossoms.com or also find it on iTunes or Amazon.