MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — The band Houdek recently released its debut album, “Return to Houdek,” featuring 15 original songs inspired by South Dakota. Written in styles that could be considered Americana, roots rock and alt-country, Houdek will perform all of the songs from their debut July 17 at JazzFest in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The broad array of musical styles and influences that permeate “Return to Houdek” reflect the diversity of the band, a nine-member collective of musicians spread across two states and multiple zip codes – from Minneapolis to Spearfish, S.D. The individual members have covered a wide swath of musical territory on the path to Houdek – college rock bands, standing gigs with blues bands, rock operas, traditional folk and more. What brought them together, and what drives the album, is their common denominator: the home state of South Dakota.
The songs on “Return to Houdek” are inspired by the band members having come of age in a largely rural state and how that experience informs their present lives. Houdek (pronounced hoo-deck) purposely took its name from something native only to South Dakota: Houdek loam, the official state soil.
“Return to Houdek” is available as a CD purchase or digital downloads through the band’s Web site at Houdekmusic.com or through all major digital music services such as iTunes. On July 17 at noon, Houdek is set to kick off the final day of live music from the second stage of JazzFest 2010 at YanktonTrailPark in Sioux Falls, S.D. The event is free and includes other artists such as Los Lobos, Marcia Ball, Los Lonely Boys, Yellowjackets, Soulcrate Music, We All Have Hooks for Hands, Blues Bashers, The Kickback and many more.
Houdek is a band born from a conversation between two former South Dakotans living in Minnesota: current Minneapolis-area residents Tom Valentine and Patrick Baker, who are both Pierre natives from the same graduating class. They share writing and performing credits with their wives Molly Valentine and Jennifer Baker, originally from Chamberlain and Parkston, S.D., respectively.
“We really wanted to take a look at where we came from,” Valentine said. “It seemed as though the timing was right. We have been away long enough now to be somewhat objective observers. And at the same time, starting to raise our own families also made us really think about very personal memories of growing up there.”
Song themes run the Dakota gamut – from such familiar subjects as the opening of pheasant season and the thrill of a summer street dance to thoughtful explorations of community life in small towns. The 15 originals are just as varied musically, with modern folk and blues standing alongside traditional bluegrass and harmony-laden roots rock.
“It’s been gratifying to be able to work with close friends on a project celebrating what we all have in common – the South Dakota experience,” Baker said. “I’m most excited about the wide array of styles, moods and ideas that form the ‘Return to Houdek’ body of work – and amazed that they all somehow form a cohesive sound. To be able to play these songs live for a South Dakota audience is a treat, and we’re honored to be included in a premiere event like JazzFest.”
Like the Valentines and Bakers, all Houdek members either live in South Dakota or have in the past, and many cross over in other ways, whether through family, alma mater or former bands. They include the following: Daryn Bertelson of New Brighton, Minn.; Sean Egan of Sioux Falls, S.D. (also a member of Wumpus); Ricky Jacobsen of Lead, S.D. (also a member of “The Deadwood Songbook” project and Brandon Sprague Blues Band); Pat O’Connell of Spearfish, S.D. (a former member of Marlys Roe & The Talismen, recently inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association Hall of Fame); and Brian Stemwedel of Garvin, Minn.