(Minneapolis, Minnesota) Local duo The Cactus Blossoms are a pain for those who need to categorize and genre-classify their music. They’re pegged differently from web page to web page. The Wikipedia can’t even decide, splitting the difference three ways between indie-rock, alt-country and indie-folk. There are dashes in those categories for the simple reason that each is in, and of itself, a niche in it’s genre. Happily, I am not one of those pigeonholing people. Listening to their albums the day before the show, I thought the horseshoe landed somewhere between Don and Phil Everly with a touch of Roy Orbison, but time-warped into the 2020s with all that dreaminess intact.
But, of course, comparison is only so helpful, somewhat misleading, and kind of rude to the artists, because they don’t sound like anything but The Cactus Blossoms. It hits the ears as deftly blended early country and early rock and roll. And it turns out, it sounded like something else again live on that stage.
Duo notwithstanding, I counted four guitarists lined up for their performance at the Pizza Lucé Block Party (now in its 20th year) in their hometown of Minneapolis. The duo of brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum’s sparse, dreamy sound was really filled out and I found myself wrapped up in their songs and bopping unconsciously as I made these photographs. Their music managed to be both laid-back and irresistible to move to.
Jack and Page’s voices were perfectly unified, and when they played “Ballad Of An Unknown” it became immediately obvious to me why David Lynch would tap them for inclusion in the return of Twin Peaks. That song belongs in that singular TV universe as much as “Mississippi” (not played) did. Touring guitarist Jake Hanson’s solos and electric slidework was nimble and flawless, and the rhythm connection between drummer Jeremy Hanson (Jake’s brother) and Phillip Hicks (the duo’s cousin) was even and dependable, and somehow stood out more during the slower songs. (Whether you’re talking about the duo or the whole touring ensemble, everyone’s closely related to someone in The Cactus Blossoms.)
They finished with a excellent cover of the The Kinks’ “Who’ll Be The Next In Line” and then the bouncy, intense “Change Your Ways or Die” from their debut album closed their set to an audience cheering for more songs that were and weren’t from another era.
Words/Images: Joe Cunningham
Is It Over
Ain’t No God In Mexico (Billy Joe Shaver cover)
Ballad Of An Unknown
Please Don’t Call Me Crazy
Who’ll Be The Next In Line (The Kinks cover)
Change Your Ways Or Die