Jim & Dave Boquist – 400 Bar (Minneapolis, MN)
“We thought there might be about 50 people here,” said Jim Boquist. Guess again. The small 400 Bar was flirting with an over-capacity crowd, maybe five times what Jim and his brother Dave had expected. The doorman was turning people away even before the Boquists hit the stage for this rare and highly anticipated gig. It’s hard to believe the brothers didn’t realize the place would be packed, given that they make up half of Son Volt and have carved out a name for themselves from their various band endeavors in the Twin Cities over the past decade.
Performing seated, and accompanied by bassist Chuck Hermes, the Boquists set the pace for the evening with “June Kid”, a countrified, porch-style instrumental written by Jim that kicked off an hour-and-fifteen-minute set consisting mainly of covers. Jim handled most of the vocals, while both brothers played acoustic guitars (with a twelve-string tossed in on a few tunes).
The Boquists’ tightly-knit musicianship was clearly apparent on Crazy Horse’s “Gone Dead Train”, Gram Parsons’ “Juanita”, Robbie Robertson’s “Evangeline”, Del McCoury’s “Highway Of Pain” and Julie Gold’s “Southbound Train”. But their brotherly bond was most deeply demonstrated by their harmonies on the Beatles’ “Two Of Us”, the subtle touch with which they rendered John Hartford’s “Gentle On My Mind” (made famous by Glen Campbell), and the believable desperation they delivered on Warren Zevon’s “Carmelita”. And in memory of the recent death of rockabilly legend Carl Perkins, they performed Perkins’ first released single, “Turn Around”.
Given that the Boquists have quite a few prominent musician friends, a fair amount of those crammed into the 400 Bar were expecting some star power. But the only other musician besides Hermes who joined them onstage was Jayhawks drummer Tim O’Reagan, who assisted on guitar for the last two numbers (one of which was an original that Jim and Tim had worked on together a few years back).
Not everything about the evening was particularly memorable. Jim repeatedly rested his head on the crook of his guitar to do some manual tuning, a pose that initially was endearing but eventually became annoying. I lost count after the tenth request for more vocals and less guitar or more guitar and less vocals, often requested by Jim “for fucks sake.” At least the brothers seemed aware of their perfectionist tendencies: “This is just ridiculous on our part,” Jim admitted at one point. He justified their behavior by saying that they weren’t using any electronic tuning devices, instead doing things the good old-fashioned way — by ear.