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“When you’re out there, you can kind of feel the ‘oldness’ in the music,” Lansing said. “Those mountains are some of the oldest mountains in the world, and you get a sense of that from the musicians and the people who pass down the traditions there.”
The song “Jamboree” was sparked by a side trip to the Floyd (Va.) Country Store for the Friday night clog dances there. (“Just so much fun, even though we’re not good dancers,” Lansig said.)
Another song, “Lighten Your Load,” inadvertently grew into an anthem during the hike. As Lansig pointed out, the biggest difference from the canoe trip was that “you have to carry all of your gear right on your back.”
Said Mailander, “We kept saying that as we were hiking: ‘Oh, we’ve got to lighten the load here.’ It just had a nice ring to it, so we started talking about simplicity and the metaphor there, about letting things go and leading a simpler life.”
Proud to be an Okee
Life got a lot more complicated for the Okee Dokees — mostly in a good way — when “the Grammy thing” happened.
As if finding the right plaid tuxedos wasn’t enough work, the awards show came during the thick of preparations for the Appalachian trip. In the weeks that followed, they saw their CD sales spike (many personally mailed by Mailander) and their concert schedule fill up.
“More interestingly, there was this expectation put on this album: ‘Can they do it again?’ ” Mailander said.
One other wrinkle: Lansing had relocated to New York City to be with his girlfriend, while Mailander and his fiancée (due to be wed in November) bought a home in south Minneapolis. The distance may actually have played to their advantage, though.
“It has kept Joe and I from being around each other too much,” Lansing said with a smirk, adding that life in New York “has made me more appreciative of Minnesota, and anywhere you can get out and enjoy a little nature.”
Still in their late 20s, the childhood buddies — originally from the Denver area — are enjoying a bustling career that musicians twice their age would envy. They just happen to be doing it for an audience that’s less than half their age.
“Doing this feels so comfortable for us,” insisted Lansing, who, like Mailander, maintains aspirations of playing in the “adult music” realm. The duo has even hired a new marketing company to target “Through the Woods” to folk/Americana radio stations and other media outlets that don’t pay attention to kids’ music.
However, the Brothers don’t need any more convincing that they’re on the right trail.
“The kids’ music community is a vibrant one,” Lansing said. “It’s inspiring, really.”
Said Mailander, “We’re making music in front of big audiences that listen — music we’re proud of. And I think we’re making a positive impact on kids, too. Who wouldn’t be happy about that?”
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658