A head-on, wrong-way crash on a highway in Arizona has the Twin Cities music community in mourning.
Musician, sound engineer and tour manager Trevor Engelbrektson died in the accident along with members of the British rock duo Her’s, with whom he had been traveling for all of March from the East Coast to the West Coast around the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas.
They were driving westbound on U.S. Interstate 10 after a show in Phoenix headed to their tour’s penultimate stop in Santa Ana, Calif., when their tour van was struck by a pickup truck going the wrong way around 1 a.m. That vehicle’s driver also died, according to Phoenix area media reports via Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Engelbrektson, who celebrated his 37th birthday on the road Monday, worked at music venues all over town, including the Hook & Ladder, Icehouse, Nomad Pub and Amsterdam Bar & Hall. He was also a part of many local artists’ stage crews, booked shows, ran a small record label and was a bassist himself for several local bands, including the doo-woppy soul-rock group Southside Desire, led by his wife, Marvel Devitt.
The Minneapolis couple have two young boys, Julian (who's 4) and Rigel (1). A GoFundMe page has been set up by friends to help raise money for his family. A fundraiser and musical memorial, dubbed “A Party for the Best Dude on Earth,” has also been arranged to take place at Mortimer’s on April 2.
“Trevor was one of the best,” said singer Sean “Har Mar Superstar” Tillmann, one of the many shell-shocked musicians and friends in the scene to post condolences to Engelbrektson’s family Thursday. “I can’t wrap my head around this one.”
Guitarist Joe Hastings of Hastings 3000 wrote, “I've played in four or five bands with him, toured the states with him, watched him get married and grow into having the sweetest family. ...I'm devastated.”
Hook & Ladder talent booker Jackson Buck posted on behalf of the venue, “Nice guy. Great dad. We’re devastated.”
News of the tragic accident was made public Thursday by the record label behind Her’s, Manchester, U.K.-based company Heist or Hit, which posted this announcement:
“It is with overwhelming sadness that we regretfully inform you that Liverpool band Her’s, Stephen Fitzpatrick and Audun Laading and their tour manager Trevor Engelbrektson tragically passed away in a road accident in the early hours of Wednesday, 27th March whilst travelling to a show in Santa Ana, California.
We are all heartbroken.
Having recently released their debut album “Invitation to Her’s”, Stephen and Audun were on their second tour of North America playing 19 dates of sold-out shows to a fanbase that adored them. The pair were one of the UK’s most loved up and coming bands.Their energy, vibrancy and talent came to define our label. As humans, they were warm, gentle and hilarious.”
The tragedy has since been reported internationally from U.S. outlets such as Billboard and Pitchfork to British press including NME and the Guardian. Her’s was one of several acts Engelbrektson had hit the road with over the past year to earn a steady paycheck for back home, also including the Canadian rockers Royal Canoe and locally beloved Illinois rocker Ike Reilly.
A tall, tattooed, woolly bearded fixture in the Twin Cities music scene originally from Superior, Wis., Engelbrektson was well-known to belie his somewhat imposing appearance with a warm humor and calm, know-how demeanor. He was also quick to tell stories and rave about raising his two boys.