Musician and teacher Mark Arneson plays every instrument and sings all the vocals on his upcoming and as yet untitled CD.
“Hopefully [I’ll] get it out next year because I’m teaching at Bethany Academy in Bloomington, too, and stuff like that. Kind of busy,” he said. “In different bands around town I’ve played bass and sax, keyboards, guitars — whatever they need. Growing up in North Dakota, that’s all we did was practice.”
A previous Arneson CD, “City Stories,” featured local performers he likes, such as Cynthia Johnson, Debbie Duncan and, Lord help us, Fancy Ray. Arneson wrote lyrics for Fancy Ray to rap on “City Stories.” How did I miss the self-proclaimed “Best Looking Man in Comedy” and TV commercial pitchman rapping on vinyl?
When Arneson’s current band, featuring Mia Dorr, performed at Shaw’s Bar and Grill in northeast Minneapolis this month, Fancy Ray rapped “Miss You.” Arneson asked me to stop by because “this is going to be a riot — look out, Mick Jagger.”
Where this rates on the riot meter is up to the viewer of my video. As usual, Fancy Ray has yet to see a mic he doesn’t like.
Here’s my interview with Arneson.
Q: Why in the world did you decide to put Fancy Ray on stage rapping a Mick Jagger song?
A: ’Cause I actually think Fancy is from the future. He is the “Best Looking Man in Comedy” of any time, anywhere, future, past, present, whenever. I’ve heard Fancy do his rhymes, and I thought he’d be perfect. We’re the same age and have the same birthday, so it was inevitable.
Q: You know you’ve created a new monster for us to deal with in the Twin Cities?
A: [Laughter] I don’t think we’re ready for it. [More laughter] It’s going to be great.
Q: Did you notice that Jellybean Johnson was cool, performing in a full-length winter coat, while Fancy Ray got so hot he had to take off his jacket?
A: [Laughter] Well, that was going to happen sooner or later, don’t you think? Jellybean is cool, very cool.
Q: Is it easier to teach music to today’s kids?
A: Would be kind of hard to compare. Before, we couldn’t find an outlet to plug into and stuff like that back in the covered wagon days. So I don’t know how they did it. [Laughs at his joke]
Q: You’ve seen a couple generations of kids, you’ve seen millennials and others, what’s the difference?
A: If they are talented, they are talented. I don’t think it really matters. If they have it, they excel. I’ve had great senior high bands at Bethany Academy with great guest appearances: Ricky Peterson has played with my band. Larry Foyen from the Maynard Ferguson Band, David Kamminga from the Minnesota Orchestra. A bunch of people have played with the senior high band on their spring concerts. It’s really fun.
Q: What do you say to the student who’s not so gifted?
A: To me it’s more of the heart thing. If you put your heart into it, that’s fine with me. It’s like a basketball team: There are all levels. Do your best, is all I’m asking.
Q: I have a family member who played horns for this major university band but could not march and play at the same time. This character put on such a spectacular marching performance it caught the attention of media at a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, but not a note was played. Is this common?
A: Yeah. [Laughter] If they put them behind the horses, they probably are not going to play all the notes. ’Cause you have to [he made a maneuvering gesture with his hand] … the horses don’t care. I’ve done that before in college marching bands. You’ve got to keep an eye out.
Q: Where did you meet your girlfriend?
A: A dating site. Worked out pretty good. So there is hope.
Q: I’m not suggesting you get married, but I saw this question the other day on Twitter so I’m using it: If you could have any musical act play at the reception for your wedding, it would be?
A: Fancy Ray.
Q: Don’t do this to me.
A: [Laughter] How about Fancy Ray and the Stones together; him and Mick Jagger together. That would be great.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.