Today’s free download of the day at RollingStone.com is not the Explore Minnesota jingle you always hear during Twins broadcasts or any other state tourism booster -- but it is actually by a group called Minnesota. That’s the moniker that St. Louis Park native Peter Himmelman has given to his new collaborative act with Pittsburgh-reared screenwriter/filmmaker Dave Hollander, who created and wrote the TV series “The Guardian” and “Heartland.”
The two longtime friends recently wrote an album together, titled “Are You There.” It won’t be out until Oct. 2, but they’re already previewing it via a new website, www.Minnesotaband.com. One song, “Hitchhiker,” was already posted there (and is doubly posted below). Rolling Stone premiered another one today titled “Ash & Chickenwire.” They're part of an overall narrative/story arc that the duo created together. It's certainly not the first time Himmelman has worked on a thematic record (1994's "Skin" was an especially great one) nor his first collaboration with someone from TV and film (he has been scoring in Los Angeles for years). It is, however, the first time he has written an album with a collaborator like this.
Himmelman and Hollander will have a lot of explaining to do in the interim on how they worked together, what Minnesota actually is, why they picked that particular band name, etc. And is it even really a band? Most of the musicians who played on the record are from Minnesota, including Himmelman’s longtime keyboardist/pal Jeff Victor (ex-Honeydogs), along with in-demand young guitarist Jacob Hanson (Halloween, Alaska, the Pines, Haley Bonar), drummer Noah Levy (BoDeans, Brian Setzer, ex-Honeydogs) and backup singer Kristin Mooney. Band or not, at least it's not like that old '80s group Texas -- who were from Scotland. Or like that electronic music DJ/producer from California who goes by the name DJ Minnesota (which hopefully won't be a trademark issue; I'd say Himmelman gets dibs on the name, having actually shoveled snow in his lifetime).