Church of rock

Twin Cities rockers Black Church Service make rock ‘n’ roll the ol’ fashioned way.

Church of rock

by Andrew Penkalski




What: Black Church Service



When: 8 p.m., Friday


Where: 7th Street Entry, 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis



The men of Minneapolis blues-rock quartet Black Church Service hope their name does not offend you.

From The Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin to Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, white boys have been absorbing and retooling rhythm and blues standards into a cultural touchstone all their own. So when this Northeast neighborhood rock group started shopping around band names, paying tribute to Chicago blues icon Muddy Waters âÄî the man who said real soul music needs to be discovered at a âÄúblack church serviceâÄù âÄî seemed the only way to capture their freewheeling brand of American music.

Forming back in August of 2010, Black Church Service is an act in the embryonic phase. On the cusp of their first birthday, the group has since patched together a four-song spattering of spot-on demos, which were hastily cut live. Their toutable influences are admittedly vast, and their aural resonance comes in loud and clear. ThereâÄôs the big guitar glam of âÄúFrench KissâÄú and the sensual southern stomp of âÄúShake Your Hips.âÄù

As their namesake brazenly implies, this is a group that benefits from shared learning experiences. On Mondays, the group can usually be found trading stylings with their fellow open-mic blues night patronsat Shaws Bar and Grill in Northeast.

âÄúItâÄôs mostly three-fourths blues, so very traditional Chicago blues style,âÄù vocalist and guitarist Tyler Cochran said. âÄúI always leave a better guitar player after playing with these guys.âÄù

ItâÄôs no mystery that this thread of bluesy revivalism has had a bursting pulse since Jack and Meg White were still pretending to be siblings. Even locally, groups like drunken stompers The 4onthefloor have crafted a unique branding of this tradition of American rock. But Black Church Service may be the only group around the Twin Cities making music like John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters were doing more than a half century ago.

For Black Church Service, their experience as bandmates isnâÄôt geared toward some autonomous creative goal âÄî itâÄôs about education. There is a shared interest not only in their past icons but their contemporary peers. Similar to the way Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had a revolving door of session musicians at Villa Nellcôte for âÄúExile on Main Street,âÄù Black Church Service has a similarly inclusive recording process.

âÄúAs tight as we are, weâÄôre equally big fans of music, and I think when youâÄôre a fan of good music you want it to be the best,âÄù guitarist Eric Benedict said. âÄúWe bring in people we love and trust, because the cool thing about Minneapolis is that thereâÄôs people in this town who are just amazing talents.âÄù

The groupâÄôs debut 7âÄù vinyl, split with vixenous Twin Cities rock group Pennyroyal, makes their shared creative process all the more transparent. PennyroyalâÄôs singer Angie Oase carries the group into a contrasting plane of sultry aesthetics, but it is a marriage in which Black Church Service sees more similarities than differences.

âÄúI really think we have a lot of common grounds,âÄù Cochran said. âÄúThey love country, blues and rock âÄònâÄô roll. All their stuff comes from a blues pattern as well.âÄù

The vinyl single is home to the bandâÄôs most unabashedly Stonesy track, âÄúI Know A Girl.âÄù ItâÄôs only another notch on their genre-bouncing rock belts. The group will spend the rest of the summer wrapping up the recordings on their first EP at MinneapolisâÄô Terrarium Studio. TheyâÄôre hoping to get in some cellos, some Hammond organs and a mess of outsourced guitarists, because Black Church Service is well aware that the greats werenâÄôt necessarily the greatest.

âÄúLook at The Stones or even Muddy Waters. He was an amazing guitarist, but he knew there were people that were better for him,âÄù Cochran said. âÄúThatâÄôs where that soul comes from.âÄù