An old Mankato music series has been resurrected, and its reappearance has inspired a gambit of local artists who are eager to toss their tunes at the crowd.
Last October, Ocho (a.k.a. Dave O’Connell) revived his Roman-numericized “Acoustic Showcase” (a postponed yet long-living series whose frequency in number has nearly matched that of the Super Bowl,) and the forty-first installment returns at Busters Bar and Grill on Friday, Feb. 10 at 9:30 p.m.
While I used the term “resurrection” above to describe the return of the “Acoustic Showcase,” it is perhaps apt to note that acoustic showcases have not been entirely absent from Mankato in recent years. “Acoustic Showcase” began in 2010 and was hosted once a month at the Red Sky Lounge; this relationship lasted until 2013 when the closure and (eventual) destruction of the Red Sky Lounge forced performers to scan other stage sources like country cats roaming corn rows for mice.
However, similes aside, there hasn’t been a shortage of musical opportunity in Mankato per se. In fact, live performances at those other stage sources have been on the rise. But the three-year absence of “Acoustic Showcase” has nonetheless been felt by artists and non-performing patrons. There can never be too many opportunities to perform one’s art, and having local venues to host these opportunities is crucial.
Thus being, Ocho is happy to have the “Acoustic Showcase” back on the docket. Although his calendar is consistently stuffed with everything music, he is by no means desensitized by the draw of a live show. Luckily, the Mankato music scene seems to share Ocho’s attitude toward local artists. In regards to progressing communal musical support, Ocho claims that it is a “testament to the creative community,” adding that “it’s [the showcase] all local, and it’s also an opportunity for solo performers.” Support is a necessity in the musical realm, especially for solo artists, and series like the “Acoustic Showcase” are important beacons of such support in Mankato.
As far as February 10 goes, there will be two solo artists: Ocho and Colby Straka. Needless to say, Ocho has performed ‘round these parts for years and has the lyrical chops of a witty, satirical boxer. He plans to have friends join him on stage to perform his folky tunes throughout the night, and anyone who knows Ocho is well-aware of his lack of selfishness and possessiveness, especially on the stage. Straka is relatively new to the Mankato scene, but he has been busy making a name for himself by playing open mics, bridal shows, and entire sets of pop and country covers, along with his catchy originals, at venues like the American Bar and Moonshiners.
Also performing Feb. 10 are The Bear and the Bard and Bee Balm Fields. Alec, Sam, and Tim Maertens are the components that make up The Bear and the Bard, a familial trio of two guitar-playing brothers and a father on drums. The trio has been performing around the area for three years or so and their acoustic indie-rock is a frequent treat at Moonshiners. Bee Balm Fields consists of Laura Karls on acoustic guitar and vocals, Pete Klug on guitar, and Dustin Voges on trumpet. Karls has played numerous solo shows under the title of Bee Balm Fields, and the addition of Klug and Voges will undoubtedly make her mellow meadow folk songs pop.
One final note – just because the title of the event is “Acoustic Showcase” doesn’t mean that the show will be entirely acoustic. The three-dollar cover charge guarantees you a night of genuine music provided by genuine performers. The show starts at 9:30 p.m., so don’t be late!