Blinded by the Light

Local rockers The Blind Shake tour in support of their latest album, “Seriousness.”

Minneapolis local band The Blind Shake hang out in Dinkytown Minneapolis Friday and recount stories from their many years of living and playing music in the area. Back in the 1990s, Dinkytown was the scene for punk music. Dave Roper, Mike Blaha and Jim Blaha are pictured.

Marisa Wojcik

Minneapolis local band The Blind Shake hang out in Dinkytown Minneapolis Friday and recount stories from their many years of living and playing music in the area. Back in the 1990s, Dinkytown was the scene for punk music. Dave Roper, Mike Blaha and Jim Blaha are pictured.

Joseph Kleinschmidt

 

What: The Blind Shake with Badgermen and Pennyroyal

When: 10 p.m.

Where: 331 Club, 33113thAve.NE, Minneapolis

Cost: Free

While watching throngs of maroon and gold clad students filtering in and out of all the chain restaurants of Dinkytown, Jim Blaha reflects on the changes to the area even in the last decade.

âÄúThere were wilder ideas taking place. Now it just seems franchised. Safer,âÄù The guitarist of local band The Blind Shake said. âÄúI donâÄôt want to be like an old guy saying, âÄòBack in my day,âÄô but I will say, âÄòBack in my day.âÄô ItâÄôs true. It was different.âÄù

Where record shop and all-ages venues throve, McDonaldâÄôs, Qdoba and Jimmy JohnâÄôs now dominate. Brothers Jim and Mike Blaha started their first band out of college, The Blind Shake, in the once flourishing Dinkytown music punk scene.

A former University of Minnesota student, Jim Blaha soon added longtime friend Dave Roper. Together with Mike Blaha, they play terse punk songs well-suited for the energetic live scene Jim Blaha remembers.

âÄúEarly on, all our songs started off as live songs,âÄù Roper said.

Since meeting Roper in junior high, the collective has collaborated with psychedelic rocker Michael Yonkers as well as The Birthday Suits. Crafting minimalist guitar riffs from Jim Blaha with the stirring atmospheric baritone guitar of Mike Blaha, they make expansive-sounding punk rock.

The Blind ShakeâÄôs latest full-length, âÄúSeriousness,âÄù filters their liveliness to a concise 30 minutes of punk-rock manic energy. Surf, punk and psychedelia collide in spontaneously sounding riffs of an accomplished jam band.

âÄúIt was way more of a rehearsal band, that idea of weâÄôre probably never going to play a show. It was not a goal,âÄù Jim Blaha said. âÄúWeâÄôd rehearse three times a week just for fun.âÄù

Collaborations with Michael Yonkers opened up creative freedom for the band on 2007âÄôs acclaimed âÄúCarbohydrates, HydrocarbonsâÄù and 2009âÄôs âÄúCold Town/Soft Zodiac.âÄù The local rock legend known for the 1968 album âÄúMicrominiature LoveâÄù introduced a fresh songwriting process for the band, allowing more independence among all members.

âÄúWith Yonkers he lets everyone do their own part and we just practice the song one time and go to the next song all the way through. ItâÄôs all in order. You never sit there and hammer out a song,âÄù Mike Blaha said.

As The Blind Shake, they meticulously repeat the same song when practicing, so Yonkers lets them explore new terrain. Likewise, their recent residence as house band at GrumpyâÄôs allowed them freedom.

âÄúThatâÄôs kind of cool because you get cozy at a place and do things you wouldnâÄôt normally do,âÄù Jim Blaha said.

The bandâÄôs philosophy is democratic: each member contributes to every song and they wonâÄôt play cover songs. With the exception of their latest collaboration with Michael Yonkers, they abide by their equal say in the band.

âÄúItâÄôs best not to think âÄòIâÄôm the guy who does this,âÄôâÄù Mike Blaha said.

âÄúThereâÄôs no job description,âÄù Jim Blaha added.