In the name of harmony

The Big Strong Men release debut EP “Don’t Go Too Far”

(left to right) Ben Greenwald, Philly Williams, Joe Silberschmidt, and Jon Camp stand Monday night in the Keys 4/4 Kids warehouse.

(left to right) Ben Greenwald, Philly Williams, Joe Silberschmidt, and Jon Camp stand Monday night in the Keys 4/4 Kids warehouse.

Conrad Schoenleber


WHO: The Big Strong Men, Culture Cry Wolf, Dude Worthy, Jason Boots

WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 24 âÄì 7:30 pm

WHERE: Fine Line, 318 N First Ave.

COST: $3

Too often Minneapolis bands focus more on image than substance. Far too many artists have the look and style down, but when it comes to sound, somethingâÄôs lacking. Because of this, listening to the Big Strong Men is refreshing. TheyâÄôre a band that aims to put the spotlight on their musical talent, rather than what designer drug theyâÄôre doing.

A brawling honky-tonk four piece with piercing harmonies and energetic piano lines, their brand of barroom wailing is deliberate without getting too serious.

âÄúWeâÄôre the band equivalent of the cereal Kix,âÄù Jon Camp [bass] said.

âÄúWeâÄôre dripping in sex though,âÄù Joe Silberschmidt [drums, vocals] added.

All originally from Minnesota, the Big Strong Men see Minneapolis as a strong breeding ground for new music.

âÄúMinneapolis has such a flourishing music scene. WeâÄôre just excited to be a part of that and do something that is a little bit different from what you typically hear,âÄù Silberschmidt said.

Their debut EP, âÄúDonâÄôt Go Too Far,âÄù was released at Cause Spirits and Soundbar on Nov. 6  to a packed house. The seven-track release is filled with rowdy crowd rousers backed with strong musicianship. The Big Strong Men are all quite proficient in their instruments. From banjo to piano, these men have been playing since a young age. Lead singer Chris âÄúPhillyâÄù Williams (a recent University of Minnesota graduate) and guitarist Ben Greenwald have been writing together since they were 13.

âÄúWe all came from musical backgrounds,âÄù Williams said. âÄú[Greenwald] and I have had a vision of what we wanted to do for a long time.âÄù

The EP was produced by SilberschmidtâÄôs step brother Nate Olberman at the legendary Chicago Recording Company (The Smashing Pumpkins, Rod Stewart, Wilco) in one weekend. ItâÄôs very high-quality for something recorded in such a short time. Harmonies are spot-on and the instrumentation never misses a beat.

Williams belts out lines like a drunken sailor. He channels Little Richard as he inflects each song with playful trills. It can at times get obnoxious but for the most part is a good-humored shout out to a past era.

If thereâÄôs one thing this band doesnâÄôt lack, itâÄôs sincerity. ItâÄôs inspiring to hear a band write truly earnest songs in a scene dripping with irony. This could cause them to pass unnoticed by the hipster elite, but plenty of others will be singing along unembarrassed by their appreciation of clichéd love ballads.

The Big Strong Men are promoting their new EP with a four-week tour of the Midwest. ItâÄôs a much needed change of pace to hear a band like The Strong Men, if not for what they have, then what they donâÄôt.