At home with The Dead Pigeons

In the cities of noise pollution, The Dead Pigeons bring peace and clarity.

Bassist Bradley Smith, mandolin player Ryan Douglas Canyon and fiddle player Gretta Hunstiger of The Dead Pigeons play at Harriet Brewing in Minneapolis on Tuesday evening. The Dead Pigeons are playing at the Fine Line tonight.

Chelsea Gortmaker

Bassist Bradley Smith, mandolin player Ryan Douglas Canyon and fiddle player Gretta Hunstiger of The Dead Pigeons play at Harriet Brewing in Minneapolis on Tuesday evening. The Dead Pigeons are playing at the Fine Line tonight.

Blake Apgar

Drew Peterson has a love-hate relationship with the Twin Cities music scene.

He’s irked by the apathy of an audience overwhelmed with its options in a thriving music market, and he has a bone to pick with concert-goers who turn their backs on bands during performances. But that hasn’t stopped the singer-songwriter from moving forward with The Dead Pigeons.

“I think it’s the coolest and the hottest music scene. … The hard part is, nobody ever seems to get out of this city,” Peterson said.

The Dead Pigeons live somewhere on the corner of traditional and organic, pumping out honest, old-fashioned Americana the way Papaw used to do it.

Whether you see them at one of their weekly shows around town or catch them on a mini tour, you won’t ever hear an 808 bass drum or a backing track on a computer — The Dead Pigeons just want to perform simple music that tugs at your heartstrings.

And people are listening. The group is preparing to embark on a two-week-long West Coast tour in April, following the release of their debut full-length record April 4.

With bands like the Avett Brothers and Minnesota’s own Trampled By Turtles getting national acclaim, Peterson attributes Americana’s comeback to an overproduction of pop music and America’s love affair with the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” in which George Clooney belts out folk tunes as a member of The Soggy Bottom Boys.

“[The film] was almost like an affirmation for us,” Peterson said.

All of a sudden, it was cool to be in a bearded folk band with twangy mandolins and banjos, though being cool never mattered much to Peterson. He’s been pumping out tunes since he first picked up a guitar as a college student in the early ’90s.

“It was like a bad Tom Petty song. A girl literally taught me two chords, and I started writing like crazy,” Peterson said.

After dropping out of college, Peterson worked odd jobs to assist his songwriting habit, spending a year writing one song a day to sharpen his skills. He and Dead Pigeons violinist and backup singer Gretta Hunstiger now make a living playing weekly shows in the Twin Cities.

“We’re super broke,” Hunstiger said.

Being broke doesn’t seem to concern them, though, so long as they can take their music on the road and Peterson can get his Mexican Coke when he plays at Harriet Brewing every Tuesday.

Peterson treats the band’s shows as more of a family event than an attempt to further his music career. His wife, Jen, takes care of the scheduling while he embraces his friendships with venue owners and regulars.

While the sound pollution of the city overwhelms the senses, the Dead Pigeons nestle themselves in like comfort food for the ears.

 

What: The Dead Pigeons opening for Red Clay Revival
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Fine Line Music Cafe, 318 N. First Ave., Minneapolis
Cost: $10
Age: 18+