By Lily Goodman
Minnesota brothers Page Burkum and Jack Torrey didn’t have much of a plan when they started playing music together as the singer/songwriter duo The Cactus Blossoms. They mostly just wanted to play and have fun.
“Music has always been a big part of our lives,” Burkum said.
“Our dad listened to a lot of good singer/songwriter stuff like The Beatles, Paul Simon, and Stevie Wonder,” he said. “And most everyone in our family, and even extended family could play an instrument or sing, and I thought that was normal, but now I know it’s a pretty rare thing.”
The two will bring their rare sound tonight to the Mill, located at 120 E. Burlington St., featuring their 2016 début album, You’re Dreaming.
The brothers infuse elements of classic country and early rock ’n’ roll, while drawing inspiration from the likes of Bob Dylan and Hank Williams. They, of course, put their unique twist on things with their mellifluous vocals. This allows the brothers to hone in on the practice of “blood harmony,” similar to that of The Everly Brothers, another one of the duo’s greatest influences.
Produced by American singer-songwriter JD McPherson and distributed by St. Paul’s Red House Records, You’re Dreaming showcases 10 original songs by The Cactus Blossoms and was met with national acclaim, getting nods from American Songwriter, NPR, and Rolling Stone Country.
The pair seem to be handling their newfound fame quite well, with their main focus remaining on the emotional heft of their sound.
“I hope people enjoy [our music] and that it transports them in some way,” Burkum said. “Music has a special power, and it allows us to express our feelings in ways that we can’t with words alone. It would be interesting to hear what people take away from listening to it.”
With a critically acclaimed album comes even bigger and broader opportunities. The new music video for one of their moodier songs, “Mississippi,” was recently featured on Showtime’s revival of the David Lynch series “Twin Peaks,” perfectly capturing the bizarre mystery and uncanny happenings the show is known for.
In an interview with Robin Hilton of NPR, Torrey said the band’s appearance on “Twin Peaks” felt surreal.
“[It’s] such a wild and beautiful thing,” he said. “When we were recording the album and heard what the new songs were sounding like, we even joked that if we kept going down this road that Lynch might find us. It’s a strange world.”
Currently on an international tour that will take the two all the way from Iowa City to Europe, the brothers are nothing but appreciative of the wonderful journey they have embarked on.
“It’s good to have dreams, but I’m not sure about goals or expectations,” Burkum said. “There’s no simple path to playing music for a living. We’re just grateful that people have responded positively to what we’re doing so we can keep going. And we’re having a blast.”