Local group lends a hand to Guster

Heather L. Mueller

It’s set to be their biggest local show ever – an estimated 3,000 fans.

Local act Roster McCabe will open for Guster and The Format tonight at the Lend a Hand Hear the Band concert sponsored by the Minnesota Student Association at Northrop Auditorium.

The band members, who started the group two years ago, said it was “dumb luck” that got them the gig with Guster.

“Having the gig has exceeded all of our expectations,” vocalist Alex Steele said.

MSA student president Max Page said the band’s popularity in the local scene helped motivate students to volunteer.

“We knew they had a big following on campus,” he said. “They fit the same groove, and (the three bands) layer each other nicely.”

Roster McCabe earned a student following by playing weekly reggae shows at the Steak Knife in Dinkytown.

Steele is known for his soulful voice, which can easily transition between rhythm and blues sounds to full-out reggae.

“Let’s do this one Rasta McCabe style,” Steele joked, warming up for a song Monday night while practicing in the basement of a Southeast Como home.

The band’s members include Steele, guitarists Mike Daum and Drew Preiner, bassist Scott Muellenberg, saxophonist Jason Parvey and drummer Scott Zaker, who joined the group in January.

The new lineup has only been playing together a short time, but a weekly Thursday night show at Sally’s Saloon and Eatery has given them time to settle into their style. They released an EP last year called Contradicting Gravity and plan to record a follow-up in the fall.

Zaker, who moved to Minnesota from California last fall, said they’ve been practicing like mad for the magnitude of the expected crowd.

The band is focused on moving beyond just acoustic songs, fusing jam, reggae, R&B, jazz and funk.

“We want to break through as many genres as possible and create a sound that makes people happy,” Zaker said. “We practice and play more than most bands because we love what we do.”

where to go

Roster McCabe
What: Local band
When: 10:30 p.m. every Thursdays and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 28.
Where: Sally’s Saloon & Eatery
For more information, go to: www.rostermccabe.com

Currently unsigned, Preiner said marketing the band without a manager has been a frustrating learning experience, which often takes time away from getting to solely focus on making music. Networking with other artists is vital, he said.

Local artist Ari Herstand knew the band early on and has helped them feel out the local scene.

“I’ve seen them progress from a scripted tight harmonious sound to funk pop groove, with very good jam sensibilities,” he said. “They’re just starting to discover their sound.”