Martin Dosh has a tendency to talk and think grandly about music, and he’s usually able to back it up with equally regal and adventurous results. When the innovative drummer/keyboardist described what his February residency gig at the Turf Club in St. Paul means to him, though, it was about as direct and plain-spoken as could be.
“The one true tonic for sadness for me is playing music,” he said. “It transports me to another place. It makes me feel connected to other people, even without any singing. Really, it’s my church.”
The church comparison came up because Dosh, 43, was also talking — grandly — about his dad last week. Terry Dosh is a former Catholic priest who quit the clergy to marry Martin’s mother, Millie, but remained dedicated to religious reform and the church’s most leftist social causes.
Now 85, Terry is probably very near the end of his nearly 10-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He is bedridden at home in south Minneapolis and remains insistent on dying there instead of a hospital, said Martin, who has been relieving his mom of Terry’s steady care in recent months, as has his wife, Erin, brother Paul (a professor at Macalester College) and other family members.
“He told me this is the path given to him, and he’s OK with it,” Martin said, citing his dad’s unflinching religious values. “That makes it easier for him. But it doesn’t really make it easier for me.”
Thus, one of several goals surrounding these gigs at the Turf Club is to grant Martin some solace from his family’s pain. Dubbed the House of Dosh and scheduled every Tuesday in February, the residency will feature a different kind of musical DNA with different guests each week, but with the same basic foundation every night: all improvisation.
Dosh’s many records — issued simply as Dosh — are all instrumental affairs built around his improvised experimentations with looping drum and synthesizer parts. He has regularly toured both sides of the Atlantic all on his own as a one-man band.
These House of Dosh shows, though, were first staged last winter at the Turf Club as an excuse to get out and perform with friends.
“If I’m home in January and February, I usually just stay in my basement and invite a bunch of people over to record,” Dosh explained then. “This will be like that, except there’ll be a stage.”
Actually, this year’s shows won’t even involve a stage. Dosh plans to set up his science-lab-like assemblage of keyboards, drums and electronic looping devices on the floor in the middle of the St. Paul venue — “Dan Deacon style,” as he put it. “It makes it more personal and gets the audience more involved.”
He has named his planned guests for the shows but isn’t saying who’s playing when. One week will feature rapper buddies such as Kristoff Krane, Joe Horton and Crescent Moon. Another will pair him with electronic musician Ghostband — who made the recent album “Def Kith” with Dosh — and singer Aby Wolf. His longtime musical cohorts such as guitarists Andrew Broder and Jeremy Ylvisaker and sax/bass player Mike Lewis will certainly be involved, too.
Dosh did at least reveal his plans for this week’s kickoff gig: He’s going it alone. Kind of like his dad did when he quit the priesthood in 1971 after 14 years.
Terry would go on to be a leader for the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform as well as Corpus, an organization for priests who marry. He was also an educator on the Second Vatican Council of 1959 and other church-related history. His commitment to human rights is reflected in the middle names he and Millie gave their sons: Martin’s are Luther King Chavez, and Paul’s are Gandhi Joseph.
“He didn’t want to leave the church; he wanted to try to change it,” Martin said proudly, also noting how proud and supportive his dad was of both his sons’ careers. Except for one quibble he had after seeing Martin perform at Carnegie Hall in 2009.
“His main comment afterward was, ‘It was beautiful, but could you guys just turn it down a little bit?’”
Clearly, no one will mind if things get a little loud at the Turf Club this month.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658