By Troy Aldrich
It was a family affair at Big Grove Brewery on March 8. The Cactus Blossom leaders, Page Burlum and Jack Torrey, sang in unison, overlooking a seated crowd; Jeremy Hanson drove the band like a steady freight train behind the set, and brother Jacob Hanson supplemented his steel guitar with carefully crafted solos on the electric guitar.
The Cactus Blossoms is a band from Minneapolis. Iowa City was the second stop on its tour, which spans the entire country.
“We’re just ready to get some new stories in Iowa City,” Burlum said. “We’re just coming out of our off-season.”
Fans are ready for something new, now that the band is touring its first, and only, full-length album for two years.
The Cactus Blossoms played some of its new music on March 8, and that infused a new energy to the set.
Tracks from the first album have grown stagnant, and overly rehearsed. The new music evoked a special energy from the group, that was preceded by smiles and laughter on stage.
“When the song ideas came in, they were all a little different,” Burlum said.
Different they were. The band brought together a more inclusive act with the new tracks, involving all five members.
The new energy surrounded life on the road. This is a changeup from the band’s original music, which preceded the national attention it receives now.
2016-2018 was a wild ride for the Cactus Blossoms. The group became road warriors, playing festivals and small venues from coast to coast.
These touring efforts led to a call from David Lynch. The group was featured on the remake of popular show “Twin Peaks,” playing its most popular track, “Mississippi.”
The Cactus Blossoms will begin recording a new album following the current tour. The members have elected to do the engineering themselves on the album, without the help of popular artist and engineer JD McPherson, who mastered “You’re Dreaming.”
Big Grove continues to cater to the artists that take on its busy establishment.
“The layout of the room caters to the group,” said Brian Johannesen, the Big Groves music event planner and talent buyer.
Tables appeared in front of the stage that weren’t present during the brewery’s first ticketed show. This is because of the type of band playing; the Cactus Blossoms needs a more intimate audience; Caroline Smith was ready for people to form a mob stage center.
“They’ve definitely spruced it up a bit here,” said Alex Salcido, who plays banjo and keyboards and shares vocals with Ray Vietti for the Harmed Brothers.
The Harmed Brothers was the third band to play the Big Grove stage, following its opening last spring.
“It was cool to see this place in its infancy and now see how it’s matured in just a year,” Salcido said.
The Harmed Brothers is from Portland, Oregon, but the members claim to be vagabonds, and their true home is the road.
The band sang a lot of tunes from its most recent, self-titled album.
“It chronicles the band,” Vietti said. “The faces on the cover are pictures of people who have been in the band or helped make the record.”