Seen & Heard: Native percussionist has found a way to clog the works
Twin Cities band Pert Near Sandstone has been getting some great exposure, opening for bands and artists such as Trampled By Turtles, Ralph Stanley and Mumford and Sons, to name a few. And the band has just finished tracking a new full-length album that will be coming out in April.
Our local interest in the band is due to 1996 John Marshall High School graduate Andy Lambert, who's been with the band since 2006.
"I'm not an original founding member," Lambert said. "About two years after they originally formed as a group, I got involved because of my wife."
Lambert met Kevin, the banjo player, because Kevin's now-wife and Andy's wife were friends. "Kevin and I got to talking about mutual interests, and I was telling him I was learning how to clog. He said I should come check out his band and rehearse with them, and they asked me to do a show in Minneapolis with them, and it just kind of rolled from there and I became a part-time member of the band.
"I don't do EVERY show with them, I try to travel with them from time to time and try to do every single local show that I can," Lambert said.
His official duties with the band are clogging and the washboard, two things you don't see in every band.
"The clogging — again this is all because of my wife," Lambert said. "She was friends with someone in the group called the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers, based out of St. Paul. It's a group of six men and six women with a live band and they do these routines. We went and saw a show and I was blown away. It was like love at first sight when I saw this dance form. It's super percussive and I've been a drummer my whole life. I was in the school band and in the drum line for a year at JM and was in garage bands, and when I saw clogging I was immediately transfixed. Fortunately for me, they were giving lessons the following month, so for my Christmas gift my wife bought me lessons, and I picked it up really quickly.
"As for the washboard, I was on a tour out East with Pert Near Sandstone and we were driving through rural Pennsylvania and passing all these antique shops and Kevin asked if I'd ever thought of playing a washboard," Lambert said. "With clogging, its so aerobic, I need to sit down and take a break after a couple songs, so sitting to play the washboard is another excuse to sit down and take a break. So we pulled over to one of the antique sales, I bought a few washboards, and then spent the next few days (teaching) myself the basics of playing the washboard in the van with the band."
Lambert's day job is as sales and marketing manager for Bike Fixation, a small Minneapolis business.
"We make public-use bicycle repair fixtures," Lambert said. "So a repair stand and high security pumps and vending machines that sell commonly used bike parts and accessories."
Lambert also teaches clogging and started the Minneapalachian Clogging School. It's a play on words because clogging started in the Appalachian Mountain Region. It's one of the first purely American folk dances.
Pert Near Sandstone will debut songs from its forthcoming album next Friday at Wicked Moose, in Rochester. But, sadly, Lambert will not be on stage. He has a rival commitment with another band, the Okie Dokie Brothers, who will be performing in California.
"I'm so sorry I'm going to be missing this show," he said. "Typically Pert Near Sandstone shows take priority, and come on, I love playing Rochester. In fact, the last time I was playing Rochester, I had to be a cheeseball and wear a JM Rockets T-shirt. I'll be there for sure the next time."
Best local album?
In other news involving local musicians, the Minneapolis-based electronic/organic duo "Dichotomy," which consists of Rochester native Alex Kauffman and his bandmate Joe Laurin, has their album "Nocturnal" competing for Best Local Album of 2013 on The Current.
Dichotomy is at work on album No. 2, but if you want to take 10 seconds and vote for "Nocturnal," go to: www.thecurrent.org/feature/2013/11/13/local-releases-2013. Voting goes through Monday.
The Current will announce the results on Dec. 29.
Megan Kennedy is a longtime midday radio personality on KROC-FM. Seen & Heard highlights local people with interesting stories. Send tips to email@example.com.