This past Saturday night was yet another track laid on the record that is Louisiana’s music scene. Baton Rouge’s very own Minos the Saint, who has been carefully crafting its style over the past few years of performing live, was finally able to bottle that sound in the form of their full-length debut album Awake and Dream, which had its official release on Saturday at Varsity Theatre. The band also took to the stage in celebration, playing each of the 12 released songs, along with some unreleased material as well.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Ben Herrington (keyboards, accordion and trombone) in the days before the big event. And so it has been. Songs the band has been playing live for years can finally be captured by fans outside of those performances.
In a way, it’s those fans that have caused this album to exist in the first place. Funded by Kickstarter, the band was able to meet the ambitious goal of $10,000 to cover the costs of recording in the River City studios at PreSonus.
“Just to reach that was something we were really appreciative of,” said Herrington, “It reinforced the connection between us and the people that enjoy our music. In a way, it gave people ownership in the project. It felt like they were a part of it.”
For a band that is known for its spontaneity, improvisations and for playing sometimes drastically different versions of the same song, the album does a great job of capturing the best arrangements of each individual song. It is very much an honest snapshot of the band.
And yet, who they are can be difficult to put into words. The album’s title track “Awake and Dream” falls into a realm somewhere in between Americana and something slightly reminiscent of Dave Matthew’s Band. Other tracks, “Just Like New York” for example, blend Eastern European styles with an almost Zydeco feel; and with great success, considering the accordion and classical guitar are prevalent in both genres.
Seeing Minos the Saint perform these songs live on Saturday was a welcomed treat. Even more, the band was joined by their five piece brass section, which can easily be considered the linchpin of a handful of their songs. Singer Peter Simon delivered the lyrics of each song in a way that was almost conversational in tone, inviting the audience to lean in and hang onto each word. Herrington, considerably the band’s “secret weapon,” did his usual dance between playing the accordion, keyboard and trombone, sometimes all within the same song.
Minos was not the only band onstage Saturday evening, nor was it the only one with an interesting style. Humble Kind, also having local roots, warmed up the audience with their striking four part harmonies in the same vein as The Eagles and Old Crow Medicine Show. With their electric guitar harmonies, multiple lead singers and blues-y keyboard solos, they dabbled on both sides of the fence that separates country and rock-n-roll. Each player brings their own style to the band, and it will be interesting watching each of those pieces settle into place as they find their voice in the coming years. Humble Kind is also in the process of recording an album themselves.
In order to get a more accurate idea of the unique sound of Minos the Saint, their new album “Awake and Dream” can be purchased online at cdbaby.com, through iTunes, as well as Spotify. Physical copies and vinyl copies can be found in local music stores.