Sunny weather, kids blowing bubbles, hippies with ukuleles and a singing dog all greeted Jeremy Messersmith at the kick-off show for his latest tour Monday morning -- all perfect scenarios given the cheery tone and odd circumstances behind his latest outing.
While he has a more conventional album on tap for release by summer via Glassnote Records, the Minneapolis singer/songwriter surprised fans two weeks ago with another set of new tunes he dubbed “11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs for Ukulele,” which he first issued as a songbook for fans to upload their own versions of the tunes to YouTube (many did). It’s also now available as a free digital album with his own recordings via his website.
On Monday morning, the indie-folk strummer set up shop in Powderhorn Park in south Minneapolis for his first of seven shows in one day to promote the project, also including stops at Mears Park in St. Paul, Bay Point Park in Red Wing on down to Granddad Bluff in LaCrosse, Wis. All the gigs on this two-week “micro-tour” are taking place in public spaces (the highlight might be the Popeye Museum in Chester, Ill., on April 20). Fans showed up to Powderhorn with ukuleles and printed-out song books in hand to sing and play along to such songs as “Everybody Gets a Kitten,” “I’m a Snowflake, Baby” and “Honeybee,” the latter of which proved so irrepressibly bubbly and catchy Messersmith introduced it by saying, “All I can say is I’m very sorry.”
He sang without amplification through an old-fashioned megaphone strapped around his neck and sang the short album in full. While he steered clear of the political undertone of the overly happy project – “Because it’s important to not lose sight of how good things can be” is one way he explained the songs – Messersmith did break from joyous character just a wee bit in one bonus tune not featured on the album, which proved a favorite with the crowd. It’s about the joys of punching Nazis.