ERIK KOSKINEN February Residency
Erik Koskinen’s Burning the Deal (released June 28, 2019 on Real Phonic Records/Tone Tree Music) is steeped in American roots traditions. Born in Fort Collins, Colorado, raised in Northern Michigan and upper New York state, then living in urban Minneapolis and now, rural Minnesota, Koskinen grew up with the rhythms of weather, factory towns, and farmlands. Koskinen worked in construction for years as he developed his music career, and he now resides on a farm near where he owns a recording studio in Cleveland, Minnesota, population 717.
Of Burning the Deal, he says, “It’s not only Americana music. I learned how to play blues music. I learned how to play country music, and how to play folk, bluegrass, jazz, whatever. I learned how to play American music.” The nine songs share a stripped-down, almost naked quality, but complexities lie just under their skin. Part of that depth can be attributed to the top-notch players Koskinen recruited: Greg Leisz (Jackson Browne, Beck, Joni Mitchell) on lap and pedal steel and mandolin, plus the rhythm section of drummer Jay Bellerose (Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Willie Nelson) and bassist Jennifer Condos (Don Henley, Marc Cohn, Ray Lamontagne). As for how he managed to gather them together — twice — for recording sessions in Ojai, California, Koskinen quips, “In the music biz, you’re always one person away from knowing the president.”
Burning the Deal, his fifth album, follows Cruising Paradise (2018), Live at the Real Phonic Radio Hour (2016), America Theatre (2014), and Keep It to Yourself (2010).
Luke LeBlanc is a Minneapolis-based Americana / Folk singer-songwriter who delivers dynamic and unapologetically original performances of songs filled with heart, soul, and grit. Per Twin Cities Daily Planet, “abundant as the Twin Cities music scene is in eyebrow-raising talent, Luke LeBlanc’s ear-friendly, indeed entrancing music marks him as a stand-out talent.”
Luke’s most recent single, “Same Blues,” has been featured on 89.3 the Current and has received critical acclaim from numerous music magazines, including Vents: "The lyrics are crafted in such a way to facilitate the best possible phrasing from LeBlanc and he delivers throughout with low-key dramatics that elevate the lyric into the realm of performed poetry. It never feels stilted or clichéd."
He is currently working on his newest album, slated to be released in Spring 2020. Born and raised in North Minneapolis, LeBlanc has shared the stage with Charlie Parr, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Phil Solem of the Rembrandts, Joey Molland of Badfinger, and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. Now 24, LeBlanc taught himself how to play guitar at 11 years old and decided to write his own words and music soon after. At 13, he was the youngest to win the Zimmy’s (named after Robert Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan) national Dylan influenced singer-songwriter competition in Hibbing, Minnesota.