Spreading the Gospel of Northfield’s Creative Class

GospelGossip.jpgIn today’s (Friday, December 7th) Star Tribune, there’s a story about “Northfield-reared fuzz-rockers” Gospel Gossip. Music columnist Chris Riemenschneider suggests that if the group’s debut CD “Sing Into My Mouth” had arrived just a few days earlier, he would have voted for them as one the the Best New Bands of 2007 for the upcoming First Avenue show.

The band is made up of Sarah Nienaber, Ollie Moltaji, Justin Plank and, more recently, Deanna Steege. Nienaber (’08) and Moltaji (’07) are students at Carleton College. In fact, a photo of the group graces the cover of Carleton’s “Voice” magazine (Fall 2007), with Nienaber resting her arms on a strapped-on, much-battered Fender Mustang.

Moltaji tells Riemenschneider that Northfield is a good place to develop a distinctive musical style, lacking a historic tie to a particular genre. “We were free to just play the music however we felt like playing it”. As “Creative Class” author Richard Florida has long argued, tolerance is essential to innovation.

My younger daughter has caught their act at The Key and I unfortunately missed their gig at Grezzo Gallery. Hopefully they’ll find time around their CD release party at 7th Street Entry to do another local gig.

Thanks to these college students for helping to raise awareness of our emerging Art Town and good luck with the CD.


  1. Lisa Guidry said:


    Gospel Gossip will be playing at the Contented Cow Dec.14th.

    December 7, 2007
  2. Julie Bixby said:

    Gospel Gossip is playing at The Cow on Fri Dec 14th. One week from tonight!

    December 7, 2007
  3. Ross Currier said:

    Wow, it’s almost frightening how quickly my question was answered. So next Friday at the Cow it is.

    Speaking of our Art Town, the Creative Class and Local Musicians, I noticed a poster in the entryway of Blue Monday promoting an event tonight (December 7th), 7 pm, at The Freezer (behind Artech, 1719 Cannon Road), Northfield’s answer to the market demand for a Nightclub. Featured performers include Meredith Fierke, Dylan McKinstry, Driving Sleepy, James Wilson, Kellen Kirchberg and Shelby Love.

    December 7, 2007
  4. Julie Bixby said:

    O.k. Griff – I wouldn’t have repeated Lisa’s post if it had been posted when I wrote mine!

    BTW – Did you know that Gospel Gossip is not only playing at The Cow on Fri Dec. 14th but also on Sat. Jan 19th! The Contented Cow is the place to be!
    (Is it ok to put plugs in like that?)


    December 7, 2007
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Sorry, Julie, I couldn’t resist piling on at Ross’ expense. 😉 Yes, it’s perfectly fine to post shameless plugs like that on related blog posts.

    December 7, 2007
  6. victor summa said:

    Geez Ross – where’ya been? Gospel Gossip is playing at the CCow 12/14!

    The Strib article you pirated is really interesting from an: “how will N’fld develop into an arts and culture town’ perspective”. The Arts and Cultural Committee (ACC) should be alerted. I’m sure they are – by your inclusion of this info via LG.

    My point: a lot of their (ACC) thrust seems to be pointed toward acquiring big brick and mortar venues for the display and performance of various examples of cultural disciplines.

    If that is the answer… then, have check book, get in line.

    The Northfield Performance and Conference Center, a 15 million dollar, three theater with one major conference hall venue, sited on the vacant land just north of, west of, south of and east of … “get in line” behind the Fire Station, the Police Station, a bridge over the Cannon, the library, a Ice arena, etc.

    What the Strib article points out is, becoming an arts town is more dependent on the artists (in this case Carleton students) that live and work in this vicinity than an epic sized venue.

    I’m not clear on Ross’s reference of the “Freezer” behind ArtTech – had not heard of that site… but it sounds perfect.

    A morphed performance space, a’la Jeune Lune, into as Ross says: Northfield’s answer to the market demand for a Nightclub.

    The Freezer, in the Industrial Zone (that’d be a great name for a performance spot too) along with all our emerging art and craft venues (Grezzo Gallery, The Bead Shop, Art on Water, etc) – add a few music clubs The cow, The Rueb, The KEY … these, along with a scattering of private performance and eating development, would be more inline with the scale of growth in this Arts Town, than a Guthrie or Walker Art Museum.

    NEEDS: Boot strap Innovation, Private funding, private enterprise and… marketing.

    That’s assuming the level of art is worthy.

    From what I’ve seen of the local artists, (craft, fine, musical etc) that is undeniable –

    just look at the members’ show at the NAG – the high school spring arts flingy thingy, the Arts Swirl, Niemisto’s spectacular band festival, NDDC’s Taste of Northfield, and of course … Last Night!!!

    And remember, 12/14 at the Cow: Gospel Gossip. Dang! Now the hall will be so crowded, an older man won’t even be able to get in. Will it be too loud? Buy the CD.

    PS ya all … two locations we should keep our eyes on, as acquisitions supporting this kind of DT development are the Ames Mill (R U listening MOM?) and the well sited Eagles Club. Just think, with those two existing buildings, cheek to jowl, so to speak… what an incredible arts and performance district that would portend – and, just across from the Q Block Parking Ramp – accessed safely by the Traffic light at 3 and third. That, plus a Landmark Movie theater and an adequate venue for the KEY (both also located on the Q block) … now that’s finger lick’n good. (also, others who should be listening include the EDA and the Grant writers at City Hall)

    Personal note: While we’re at it, we (Th’ city) should open up access to the rear of the buildings along Division Street facing the river from the CCow to the Sister’s Ugly in B’Sq. speaking of which, isn’t that a hot looking spot on B’SQ. Wish I needed a new frock. And, have you stopped in to Monkey read’s.

    BUMPER STICKER: Northfield’s growing good… all over DT

    Here’s another BUMPER STICKER: “support the arts and they will support you”


    December 7, 2007
  7. Ross Currier said:

    Victor, speaking of the Eagles Club and Art Town, the Creative Class and Local Musicians/Artistic Entrepreneurs):

    YuleStock (ReStock) Revives Northfield Tradition

    Northfield, Minn.—Dig out your bell-bottom blue jeans and tie-dyes! A multi-band extravaganza will present YuleStock (ReStock), an evening of ‘60s and ‘70s rock and blues music on Saturday, December 29, 2007 from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Eagles Club Main Hall, 304 Water Street South in Northfield.

    All ages are welcome. There is a cover charge of $5 per person and the public is asked to bring non-perishable food items, especially those that are protein-dense (nuts, dried beans, peanut butter, canned meats, etc.), to help restock the Northfield Community Action Center Food Shelf after the holiday season. The Eagles Club will offer happy hour prices from 8-10 p.m.

    YuleStock was inspired by the friendship and support of local artist David Kjerland, who came to Northfield in the 1960s as a college student and was a strong supporter of the local music scene up until his death last October. “Since the ‘60s, there’s been a strong local music scene in Northfield with plenty of local bands and dances,” said Jon Bjork, the event producer and a longtime Kjerland friend. “The celebration of David’s life reminded many of us that we need more opportunities for everyone to come together and have a great time.”

    Three Northfield bands will play during the evening: Lore (8 p.m.), Jellystone Yogi (9:15 p.m.) and One Night Band (10:30 p.m.). Other special guests may join the bands throughout the evening.

    Lore features Lori B. Williams (alto sax, guitar, piano, vocals), Peter Diggins (guitar, vocals), Dave Miller (keyboards), Mike Legvold (bass) and Rick Wind (drums). Williams is a singer/songwriter who plays a number of instruments. Moving from the east coast to play with the Lost Angels band in California, she recorded with Jackson Browne, Helen Reddy and Hoyt Axton, among others, before relocating to Northfield where she continues to do session work.

    Jellystone Yogi features Diggins on guitar, Joel Cooper (bass) and George Marich (percussion) and will be joined by members of The Zillionaires, Dave Drentlaw (drums) and Wendy Smith (guitar, accordion). Diggins has been writing songs and playing music professionally since the age of 14. He has shared the stage with musicians in such projects as Free Flight, Zacharian, Alien Citizen, Chameleon, Hanover Fist and Sizzling Eggheads. He has also written and recorded with a variety of songwriters and musicians, resulting in song writing credits on major releases in the US and abroad.

    One Night Band has been a perennial favorite in Northfield since getting together—initially for a single evening’s performance—in the early 1990s. The band includes Bjork (lead guitar, vocals), Richard Hanson (drums), Bill McGrath (bass), Scott McMillan (guitar, vocals) and Gordon Oschwald (guitar). Most of the members grew up in Northfield and have played together in a variety of musical groups in Northfield and the Twin Cities since they were teenagers.

    So get your cans down to the Eagles Club on December 29 and dance!

    Thanks to Ruth Sylte for the press release.

    December 7, 2007
  8. Julie Bixby said:

    Hey Ross –

    Did you know that BLUE MOON is playing at The Cow on Sat Dec 29th?


    December 7, 2007
  9. Ross Currier said:


    …how about that initiative that my agent is showing, eh?

    December 7, 2007
  10. We’re also playing an all ages show at the Key next Friday (12/14) with local youth favorites (and label mates) Baby Guts. It’ll be a cheap door ($3), enough to pay the other band and to donate to the Key. We’re not in it to make money. Doors 6 P.M.

    We we’re also mentioned in the Pioneer Press:

    We’ll be the City Pages main feature this Wednesday. Keep a lookout for that one.

    Lastly, local musician Michael Morris will be filling out the night with a couple of acoustic sets. We’re also planning on spinning records including our new album. So don’t be shy to come to the Cow, because it won’t just be a “fuzz-rocking” band.


    December 9, 2007
  11. Ross Currier said:

    Yo G-G, and your fans:

    My daughter sent me the following e-mail message on Friday:

    “not the cow…the key…stupid father”

    Why should my daughter treat me any differently than anyone else in Northfield?

    See you Downtown,


    December 9, 2007
  12. the key and the cow, stupid!

    December 9, 2007
  13. sarah nienaber said:

    Right, The Key AND The Cow. Sorry for the confusion.

    The Key show is being put on for the younger people in Northfield who might not be able to stay at The Cow all night.

    December 10, 2007
  14. Ross Currier said:

    Thank you Lisa, Julie, Griff, Phoebe, Sarah, and Norman.

    Friday, December 14th, will be a big night in Downtown Northfield.

    December 10, 2007
  15. Griff Wigley said:

    A youtube preview of Gospel Gossip:

    December 11, 2007
  16. victor summa said:

    So , after the barrage of PR for Dec 14 – which it seems, hence forth shall be known as Musik Nicht En Nordfeld (that’s my effort to appear to be erudite and sophisticated) so much for that …) what remains a confusion following the missives from: (for those who like to see their names in print) Lisa, Ross, Sara, G-G (who’s that) Phoebe, Julie, and, no less a personage than my personal fav… Normon!!! – It’s not clear, where and when might I see/hear Michael Morris?


    December 11, 2007
  17. Ross Currier said:

    Hey Griff –

    Way cool…

    …and I love how prominently the Fender Mustang was visually featured.

    – Ross

    December 11, 2007
  18. Wow! Nice. Gotta see you guys on Friday, December 14th. Wish I knew where you were playing… I will definitely be buying the CD.

    This made me think of Sonic Youth circa “Daydream Nation”… dreamy guitar echoes floating on and on, rapid fire drums, driving bass… ahhhhh… heaven.

    December 11, 2007
  19. “Sing into my mouth” is a Talking Heads lyric, right? I only know that because Arcade Fire covers “Naive Melody”…

    And did you put Division Street in the lyrics for “Shadows Are Bent”? Sounded like that’s what’s being sung.

    December 11, 2007
  20. sarah nienaber said:

    michael morris will be playing before our set at the cow.

    we love daydream nation.

    and “sing into my mouth” is a talking heads lyric, and i had no idea arcade fire covered naive melody! that makes sense though.

    and yes, you caught me on the division st. reference.

    December 11, 2007
  21. Ross Currier said:

    Hey, speaking of musical inspirations…

    …how about the Led Zeppelin reunion concert last night.

    After 27 years, singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, and bassist John Paul Jones played together again, along with late drummer John Bonham’s son Jason who handled the sticks. Every review that I’ve read has said that the aging rockers were just flat-out excellent.

    I was a big fan back in high school, much to my friends’ dismay. One time I dragged Mark Ghirardi and Mark O’Leary along with me to see “The Song Remains the Same”. They thought it was awful but I loved it.

    I still enjoy that soundtrack.

    December 11, 2007
  22. Curt Benson said:

    Hey, Ross, howabout another musical tangent? Did anyone see Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival running during the PBS fund raising marathons the last couple of weeks? It was fantastic.

    However, I’m wondering if anyone can tell me if one of the keyboard players in the show is Pete Wasner, brother of Craig? I don’t know what Pete looks like so I don’t know. Pete plays in Vince Gill’s band, and co wrote some of Gill’s biggest hits. Vince Gill played on the show, I think with his road band. Googling hasn’t been able to track this down. However, there are some pictures in the link below. Check out the picture with Albert Lee, Eric Clapton and Sheryl Crow. Is that a former Northfielder playing the piano? In any case, google Wasner’s discography. It is amazing.


    December 11, 2007
  23. Ross Currier said:

    Curt –

    Yeah, I watched it the other night. I have always enjoyed listening to Sonny Landreth, but had never seen him before, so that was fun. I thought that Jeff Beck was a real kick. Then I began to fade at a late hour and Steve Winwood woke me up again.

    Maybe Craig Wasner could comment on your question. He’d probably know the answer. Somebody ask one of those Over and Back folks to give him a friendly nudge.

    I did some recording with Suzannah Ciernia many months ago and got to work with Craig. He’s not only a good musician but a great guy too.

    Your point may be that Northfield’s musical talent runs far deeper than the Cannon.

    – Ross

    December 11, 2007
  24. Julie Bixby said:

    Once again, because I know some are still unsure (Brendon!(ha!)).
    Gospel Gossip will be entertaining, potentially, the entire city of Northfield at The Key and then The Contented Cow on Fri Dec 14th-only 2 days away! It will be a fantastic night!
    Thanks to Gospel Gossip and all those enthralled by their music and success!

    (Griff, Ross & Tracy, I know it is a shameless plug, but it is not completely self-serving!)

    December 11, 2007
  25. Julie Bixby said:

    Please forgive me for not including the times. The Key 6pm (ish). The Cow 9pm (ish).

    For the record, Victor, I am not so vain as to want to see my name in print and still no shrimp served! See you Fri!

    December 11, 2007
  26. Okay, as if the Turf Club video wasn’t enough, the City Pages article names Big Black, still one of my favorite, wonderfully-dangerous bands….

    “There’s kerosene around, set me on fire…”

    The dog / tour story was hilarious.

    I wish someone would tell me where the show is on December 14 at the Contented Cow.

    I mean, which part of the Cow… the head or the butt? Could be anywhere in that vast happy heifer.

    December 11, 2007
  27. Griff Wigley said:

    Great CD review in City Pages, Sarah. And a good photo, too:

    December 12, 2007
  28. Ross Currier said:

    …and for that unnamed co-host of LG that sometimes seem to dis the creative power, potential and influence of Northfield’s Art Town substance:

    “Take, for instance, the double-edged sword of the Minneapolis scene. “It’s limiting in some ways,” says Moltaji, “because if you become big in Minneapolis, how are you gonna get out of it, but when you do get out of it, there’s not a lot [of places] to play. We feel good being in Northfield because we’re kind of distant. [But] we love embracing communities and there’s a music community in Minnesota that isn’t seen very well. Like, you don’t see Unicorn Basement or Baby Guts or the Connection on the Current. You hear all the big bands, but there’s a really great underground. We like being a part of that.”

    May the local underground some day grab the steering wheel of the Art World bus…

    December 12, 2007
  29. If you have never visited my site, please do, especially if you would like
    a peronsonal gift poem or song, or commissioned portrait, landscape
    or color work, or something you might see at NAG, or on site. There is
    more, much more. I do mostly anything, and I try to keep it all non-toxic.


    Happy Holidays!

    Support your local artists!

    December 12, 2007
  30. Ross Currier said:

    Whoa, Brendon, Griff…

    Wasn’t it great to see an emerging musician using perhaps the ultimate icon of American creativity, the electric guitar, as the talisman in her Dionystic celebration of the joys of original music?

    I mean if SOMEONE isn’t taking artistic and opportunistic advantage of some the few freedoms still available in America by going down on their knees, sides and even shoulders while soloing, what for the heck did T-Bone Walker, Howlin’ Wolf, and Jimi Hendrix dedicate their lives?

    …and, on a twenty dollar bribe from the drummer, they closed with Patti Smith’s “Horses”.

    December 15, 2007
  31. Griff Wigley said:

    Here are two photos from last night’s Gospel Gossip performance at the Cow. Click to enlarge.
    Gospel Gossip Gospel Gossip

    December 15, 2007
  32. That was a great show, albeit short, but that’s always a good sign: it felt short because I wanted it to keep going.

    Sarah kept apologizing for their cover of “Horses”, for no reason. I personally witnessed the song kick the ass of an assless man.

    They just nailed every song, and the crowd was very much there with them.

    I bought the CD. I recommend it highly as well. Go Go Gospel Gossip!

    December 16, 2007
  33. Julie Bixby said:

    I heard the show was fantastic!
    Thanks to Gospel Gossip for performing at The Cow!
    How did it go at The Key?


    December 16, 2007
  34. We weren’t able to play at The Key due to noise complaints.

    I’ve been told to let everyone know that we should have some copies of the album available in town (Fine Groove, book stores…) by the end of the week.

    Thanks to all of you for coming to the show. We had a great time.


    December 17, 2007
  35. Griff Wigley said:

    I don’t understand Basil Pizza’s noise complaints. It seems like Friday night 6-9 pm is an appropriate time for a loud concert. What’s going on here?

    Sarah, here’s a 3 min. 30 second video clip of your group’s performance at the Cow:

    December 18, 2007
  36. Sarah, one of my website goals is to include other artists. I would love to put up a page to help you offer your music for FREE. It is a little known fact that I played keyboards in a few Chicago rock bands back when you could see Led Zeppelin for $5.

    Email me if you are interested,

    December 18, 2007
  37. John Starrett said:

    Re: Clapton Gill and Wasner

    Yes, that was Pete Wasner on the Clapton special. I used to play with the Wasner brothers’ band Waz in the 70s. We played Northfield a number of times too.

    John Starrett

    December 30, 2007
  38. Ross Currier said:

    John –

    Thanks for helping me and Curt out on the Pete Wasner on the Clapton Crossroads. It adds yet more cred (of the street variety) to the Northfield as Artistic Incubator concept.

    YuleStock showed that those fifty-somethings can still rock the house too. Thanks to the organizers for pulling it off.

    – Ross

    December 31, 2007
  39. Curt Benson said:

    Thanks, John, for the confirmation. I hope Twin Cities Public Television will run this show again during the next begging period.

    In addition to hearing some great music on this program one might learn some of the following: Membership is only pennies a day, It costs less than a couple of coffee shop coffees a week to become a member, and it is not fair if you listen, but don’t belong. ( I was not aware, but am now that it was mentioned 114 times during the show.)


    December 31, 2007
  40. Ross Currier said:

    In today’s (January 13th) Strib (Arts Section, page F2), there’s a guide to the seven bands at First Avenue’s annual Best New Bands showcase next Friday night.

    Among these select seven are none other than Northfield’s own…

    …Gospel Gossip.

    January 13, 2008
  41. Ross Currier said:

    From the Strib’s Local Music critic Chris Riemenschneider’s review of First Avenue’s Best New Bands showcase:

    “A band that has “gospel” in its name but none in its sound, Gospel Gossip started out a bit tepidly but proceeded to nearly steal the show with a beautiful whirlwind of guitars and swerving tempos. It would have been tops if not for Gay Witch Abortion, who looked puny onstage as a duo but never sounded larger.”

    Well, at the very least, I prefer Gospel Gossip’s name, for a number of reasons. I guess I’d also go with a beautiful whirlwind of guitars and swerving tempos over a sound that had never seemed larger. But I wasn’t there.

    As you can tell from my earlier comments in this post, I thought that Gospel Gossip was outright fantastic when they performed at the Cow in December. I sure hope I get another chance to hear them…and soon.

    January 25, 2008
  42. Jessica Paxton said:

    I believe they have upcoming gigs at The Cow and The Cave (on the Carleton campus) in February. (Up in “the cities” at The 400 and The Turf Club, too).

    I know I’m dating myself (dang) but all of the hoopla kinda reminds me of my favorite “local” band when I was a young hipster (long long ago) — who also happened to be “from” Northfield (they met as Carleton students and recorded at Salmagundi in Northfield). Anybody remember Something Fierce???

    January 25, 2008

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