Local music: Luke Redfield brings it all back home

The promising young tunesmith hit the road before he hit the studio.

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Luke Redfield

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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He's a young singer/songwriter who seems to have come out of nowhere. The main reason Luke Redfield doesn't have a higher profile locally, though, is because he's been all over the map.

At 26, Redfield has taken up residency in more places than most of us will call home in a lifetime, including Alaska, England, Scotland, Arizona, San Francisco, Nashville and, most recently, Austin, Texas. He pretty well led a vagabond existence for many years, in part to spike his songs with a potent amount of inspiration. But, he admitted, "I was out there for the fun of it, too."

"I basically started wandering right out of high school, and it got to be pretty addictive and hard to quit," said Redfield, who grew up south of the Twin Cities in the towns of Cannon Falls and Kenyon. "It was very much about living in the moment. Slowly, but surely, I wrote songs along the way."

Thirteen of those songs make up Redfield's debut album, "Ephemeral Eon," which he's promoting Saturday at the Fine Line with an all-star backing band that will include singer/keyboardist Chris Koza, guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker (Andrew Bird, Alpha Consumer) and MVP jazz bassist Chris Bates. They also backed Redfield on the record, as did drummer JT Bates, while Haley Bonar sang backup vocals.

Pretty much what you might expect and hope for from a young, hip acoustic folkie from the Midwest, "Ephemeral Eon" should quickly earn Redfield comparisons to Mason Jennings and Conor Oberst. The songs all sound raw and from-the-gut and are stacked with poetry about girls and landscapes, and they range in style from rollicking "John Wesley Harding"-style acoustic twang to more atmospheric, Iron & Wine-style indie-folk.

Only a few of Redfield's songs specifically reference some of the places where he landed. The upbeat disc-opener "Down the Line" offers a train-hopping tour of the countryside, while the sweet ballad "Coeur d'Alene" is named for a scenic lakeside town in Idaho. More often, the songs are laden with less literal traces of his roaming lifestyle, such as the haunting "Find Me in the Light," which he wrote during a lonely but serene stay in Alaska.

"I stayed in a 7-by-7-foot shack called the Birdhouse that belonged to a songwriter friend," Redfield recalled, somewhat fondly. "It was as basic and meager as it gets."

Conversely, he recalled being put up in Nashville in a historic mansion that neighbored Jack White's house. In Europe, he mostly stayed in hostels or at the homes of people he would meet. A modern twist on the troubadour traditions of Jack Kerouac and Woody Guthrie, he not only met friends and fellow travelers at gigs he picked up, but he also relied heavily on MySpace to make connections.

Around the San Francisco Bay Area in 2007, though, things really became destitute for Redfield. He couldn't find work and wound up selling his car and then his bike to survive. "I became really depressed, and was really direction-less at the time," he said.

He wound up back in Minneapolis, where he gigged sporadically and networked with the musicians who wound up performing on his album. Fittingly, recording took place in several locations, including the Terrarium in Minneapolis and Mike (Eyedea) Larson's home studio in St. Paul. (Larson's new rock band with Kristoff Krane, cheekily named Puppy Dogs & Ice Cream, will open for Redfield on Saturday.)

One of the best tracks on "Ephemeral Eon" is "With You in MPLS" -- with the hook, "This is my dream, to live with you here in Minneapolis" -- which actually dispels the romanticism of living in constant motion. Redfield said the song is based on one of the best lessons he learned during his travels: "No matter where you live, you can still dream and find inspiration."

Still, Redfield is not so sure his wanderlust has gone away. "I'm still only on a month-to-month lease," he admitted.

Catch him while you can, I guess.

Soviette bloc party

"Great times with really great friends."

That's how drummer/odd-man-out Danny Henry looks back on the Soviettes, the locally adored, three-quarters-female pop-punk band that toured like crazy for four years straight and then suddenly called it a day in 2006. They're finally getting together for a reunion show Friday at the Turf Club, spurred on by a new outtakes album ("Rarities") coming out digitally and on vinyl.

The show is also doubling as a showcase for two of the members' new bands, plus it's being billed as the final show by the Awesome Snakes, the snarling punk-metal duo that Henry formed with Soviettes guitarist Annie Holoien -- "a joke that has run its course," he quipped.

One of the reasons the Soviettes called it quits, Henry said, was "life stuff and domestic situations." He tied the knot, and so did guitarist Maren (Sturgeon) Macosko. Holoien became a mom, and bassist Susy Sharp moved to Los Angeles. All singers in the Soviettes, they each kept playing in less hyperactive bands: Henry has been blowing off steam with France Has the Bomb; Holoien joined the God Damn Doo Wop Band; Macosko started the Gateway District, and Sharp plays in That's Incredible. Those latter two bands will also perform at the Turf show (9 p.m., $7, IndieTickets.com).

Random mix

After playing with Redfield on Saturday, Chris Koza will go back to prepping for his April 10 CD party at the Fitzgerald Theater with Rogue Valley, which is actually just a new name for the Chris Koza Band. The album, titled "Crater Lake," is the first of four new CDs slated to come out with each of the next four seasons. Here's hoping we actually get a spring this year. ...

Rural Illinois native David Hanners, who won the Minnesota Folk Festival's "New Folk" award in 2000, performs Friday at the Coffee Grounds in Falcon Heights to tout his new CD, "The Traveler's Burden" (8 p.m., free). The all-original, all-acoustic collection is full of rustic, mountainous and often tragic songs with extra guitar work by Lonnie Knight and lots of violin from Richard Lee, who also produced the record. ...

A couple years into their marriage, Ed and Ashley Ackerson -- he of Polara fame, she of the Mood Swings -- have conceived a bouncing baby band. Dubbed BNLX, the new group is a dark, fiery, electronics-tinged project that's far from the sweet harmony act you might expect of newlyweds. But there are still plenty of Ackerson's old fuzzy guitars on the debut release, "EP #1," which they're celebrating with a first-ever live show Saturday at the Sauce featuring the Red Pens and others (9 p.m., $5).

chrisr@startribune.com • 612-673-4658

  • LUKE REDFIELD CD PARTY

    With: Aria Souder, Greycoats, Puppy Dogs & Ice Cream.

    When: 9 p.m. Sat.

    Where: Fine Line, 318 1st Av. N., Mpls.

    Tickets: $8. 21 and older. 612-338-8100.

    HEAR

    samples from Redfield at startribune.com/music

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