One for the Time Capsule
Hobos are homeless wanders-too curious to become barnacles on anything that limits or controls their travels. They're also, in our collective imagination, sort of old-fashioned, dusty, and romantic. Maybe even a bit joyously melancholy. Those are decent descriptions of Ian and Teague Alexy, brothers who have traveled the U.S.A. in both geography and song. Teague grew up in hip-hop groups before briefly being part of San Diego's singer/songwriter scene. Ian learned guitar through metal then The Grateful Dead before studying and playing jazz. They grew up in Philadelphia and South Jersey, lived separately in Boston, Vermont, and California, and reunited in Duluth, Minnesota. Their bodies are settled, but their souls--and their guitars, harmonicas, and uniquely resonant voices--roam free as they draw inspiration from experience. Duluth's music scene is defined by passionate struggle--so far away from Los Angeles, Nashville and even Minneapolis (150 miles to the south) that trendy expectations or conventional thought just don't exist. Artists like Dave Van Ronk and The Specials influence the artists who subsist in local dives--there are no high-paying resort gigs to tempt them into John Mayer or Blink-182 territory. Duluth's bars are where the Alexy brothers stripped down their sound: their dirty blues stomps and heart-wrenching country ballads emerged when their own musical travels found a shared sense of beautiful grit in Duluth's well-traveled soul. Three years ago Ian and Teague wrote a few songs perfect for playing on a northern-Minnesota front porch, recorded the tunes at home, and quietly released the collection as The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, their self-titled debut album. Then they did what Hobos do best: hit the road. A growing word-of-mouth following took them from Minnesota to Colorado, Montana, and all places in between. By 2007 the travel-hardened duo added a drummer and recorded a second album called Sing! The record's obvious influences include Dylan and Guthrie; attentive ears will pick up Mayfield and Monk. It's praise in the rock-leaning Minneapolis music press helped the Hobos extend their touring range as far as New York City. While out East, they booked studio time in Brooklyn and reunited with Ian's old friend Marco Benevento, who's gaining just recognition as one of the great pianists--if not complete performers--of his generation. Ryan Adams' gifted pedal steel player John Grabhoff also played in the sessions, and Teague's old friend (and Jim Jarmusch understudy) Joshua Priestley blended into the shadows while filming the whole experience. The result, a CD/DVD called Traveling Show, will be released in 2009. Meanwhile, The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank will promote the limited-edition EP One for the Time Capsule on a tour of West Coast theatres with fellow Duluth roots artists Trampled By Turtles. October 05, 2008 Duluth Budgeteer News - Matthew Perrine Mr. And Mrs. Alexy, thank you Some other artists I respect greatly are Ian and Teague Alexy, otherwise known as the Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank. While the "One for the Time Capsule" EP isn't a full-fledged release - more or less just something to whet fans' appetites before the CD/DVD "Traveling Show" drops next year - it's a nice addendum to "Sing!" If you'll remember, that album, the group's second, featured such lovable tunes as the Molly Maher collaboration "2010" and was released to rave reviews all around last October. Not surprisingly, "Time Capsule" continues along the same folk rock lines, even going so far as to resurrect one of that album's tracks: "Heaven Tries" is back for an encore, enhanced both by Dance Band drummer Hans Johnson and A Gentleman Named Actionslave, who provides much-need "science" to the already-winning track. "Time Capsule" is a charming little odds 'n' sods package. The contributions from Actionslave are intriguing, especially on the experimental "'Ed, You Look Like a Madman,'" but the EP's centerpiece (at least for me) is the simplistic masterpiece that is "Any Decent Dog's Dream." The brothers Alexy strike gold with this lovable Teague-penned composition, which centers around the unspoken bond the musician shares with his dog Diego and some humorous (mis)adventures they have shared in Holyoke, Minn. Maybe it's just my wife, a proud owner of "The Dog Bible," rubbing off on me, but I couldn't help but smile when I heard "Any Decent Dog's Dream." As far as storyteller songs go, they don't get much more heartfelt than this. More than that, it proves that the Budgeteer-bestowed title "new kings of Highway 61" wasn't written in haste. The Hobo Nephews still deserve all the praise in the world.