Billy Dankert – 400 Bar (Minneapolis, MN)
Five years ago, Billy Dankert’s decision to exchange his life as a rock ‘n’ roll drummer for a higher education effectively ended the run of one of Minneapolis’ best bands, the Gear Daddies. But now, even as he follows the call of academia, an itch to perform remains.
From the moment Dankert strapped on his guitar, it was apparent that he has not logged much stage time in recent years. He was stiff, hesitant, and obviously unaccustomed to and uncomfortable being the frontman. What Dankert did have working for him, though, was much more important: a quality makeshift band, catchy melodies, and smart, simple, from-the-heart lyrics.
The show began with rusty renditions of songs off Dankert’s solid 1993 solo release Bowling Shoes Blues, followed by a couple of newer tunes (though he gave no indication as to when, or if, they might ever be recorded or released). Somewhat surprisingly, around the fifth or sixth song of the set, the rust seemed to just disappear. Dankert ripped into “Furniture Showroom Of Sugar Loaf” with previously unseen confidence and abandon. Next, “Time Heals”, Dankert’s signature number, rocked with the raw energy that used to be the Gear Daddies’ modus operandi. Billy Dankert had found his groove, and at the same time, scratched his itch.