Cloud Cult to rock Silver Bay SaturdayCloud Cult is bringing its homegrown, environmentally-conscious brand of music to the William Kelley High School Auditorium this Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets for the show will be available at the door for $15 ($10 for students).
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
Cloud Cult has all the accolades of a big-label, mainstream band. They’ve graced the Billboard charts, been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone Magazine and the New York Times and performed on the Carson Daly Show. Their songs can be heard in an Esurance commercial, Degrassi: The Next Generation and How I Met Your Mother. Journalist Tony Van Zeyl even crafted an article arguing that they should be in the running for the best band ever.
The band, however, doesn’t have big label backing. They’ve remained stubbornly independent during their decade-plus existence, forgoing record label support in favor of environmentally-sustainable album production, touring in a solar-powered bus and maintaining their unconventional style.
“We didn’t want to have it end up guided in a different direction that we didn’t agree with,” singer and Cloud Cult founder Craig Minowa said.
They’re bringing their homegrown, environmentally-conscious brand of music to the William Kelley High School Auditorium this Saturday at 7 p.m.
“It will appeal to anyone who likes well-crafted music and a good stage presence. It’s just a positive environment,” said Nancy Piersel, a member of the Northern Lakes County Art Board, the organization sponsoring Cloud Cult’s performance.
The Northern Lake County Arts Board began as a nonprofit in 2001. Its mission is to bring more fine arts to Silver Bay, Two Harbors and the surrounding areas.
“We try hard to fulfill what people need,” Piersel said.
They’ve brought dancers from the Minnesota Ballet to complete week-long residencies with the kids at the William Kelley Elementary School and sponsored a performance of the Barbary Coast Dixieland Band. The Minnesota Shakespeare Project has made a couple of stops in Silver Bay thanks to NLCAB and they funded the efforts of composer Aaron Strang who penned an original piece for the WKHS band.
Their undertakings have brought cultural experiences to many in the region; however, the board felt it was missing a key demographic: teens.
“We needed something that could bring in younger people,” said Yarrow Mead, a senior at William Kelley High School and a student member of the board.
So Mead and fellow student member and WKHS senior, Faith Frahm, suggested Cloud Cult.
“We’ve been fans for a couple of years. I have many of their albums and I love their music,” Frahm said.
Frahm and Mead joined the NLCAB when they were just seventh graders and have impressive backgrounds in the arts. Both are involved in band, choir and theater. Mead says she loves visual arts and Frahm has been a dancer since she was three years old. The girls’ passion for all things artistic is an example of what Minowa said is the “creative energy” embodied by folks who live on the North Shore.
“I think there’s a thriving art community up there already. The arts come naturally,” Minowa said.
Minowa and his wife spent years living along the North Shore. In fact, Minowa worked for the Organic Consumer’s Association in Finland for a time.
“We’re super excited to come back to that area. There’s something about performing next to the lake that just gets us supercharged. It’s so nice to come home,” Minowa said.
Minowa, who writes all of the band’s music, said much of his writing is the result of reflection upon the 2002 death of his first son. Kaidin Minowa died unexpectedly in his sleep at age two. Many of the songs from that period are deeply personal, like “Beautiful Boy”, in which Minowa sings “Where did you go, beautiful boy?” accompanied by his unedited sobs and recordings of Kaidin giggling.
“The ultimate goal is…about making something that can somehow be medicinal,” Minowa said.
The albums immediately following Kaidin’s death contrast sharply with Cloud Cult’s most recent album, Light Chasers, a more upbeat collection. Minowa’s wife, Connie, gave birth to their second son, Nova, in 2009, and the songs penned after his birth are more affirmative and positive, evident in pieces like “You’ll Be Bright:” “All your life you have waited for this moment to arrive/And you'll be bright.” The nine albums the band has produced follow a distinct arc and Minowa said he finally sees the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Every album gets closer and closer to the solution that we need to spend our lives on love and doing positive work,” Minowa said.
According to Minowa, the lyrics reflect his soul-searching, but he assured that the Silver Bay show will be an upbeat and fun experience that everyone can enjoy. Minowa sings and plays guitar, and has almost a full orchestra accompanying him (many band members play multiple instruments): violin, cello, drums, bass guitar, trombone, keyboard and trumpets.
On the visual arts side, Connie and artist Scott West paint onstage during the show, producing two unique pieces at each concert. The paintings are auctioned off at the concert’s end. The proceeds from the Silver Bay auction will go to the Organic Consumer Association and Northshore Area Partners.
“When we’re donating, we like to keep it local,” Minowa said.
Tickets for the Saturday show will be available at the door for $15 ($10 for students).
“I think when people read the description of the band, it can come across as being for (a really specific audience). In actuality, our fan base is really mixed. It appeals to a really wide audience,” Minowa said.