By John Showalter
In my experience of writing about music, two things have always stood out about local music acts, one being how much excellent musical talent can be found at the local level, and the other being how quickly folks can band together toward a common cause with art and music as a backdrop.
That holds true not just for the music scene in Fargo-Moorhead, but elsewhere in the state too, as I found out when I interviewed Dylan Bender and Alex Thomson of Bismarck.
The cause in question is a fundraiser concert in Bismarck to raise money for Bender’s father Tony, who is a respected columnist, novelist, newspaper publisher, fellow music supporter and enthusiast. Bender recently broke his hip. Such a major occurrence led to an extended hospital stay for Tony, as well as the temporary apartments that he had to stay in during his period of rehabilitation after having his hip replacement.
“Our goal is to raise money for any ongoing expenses of improving and maintaining Tony’s overall health throughout this whole thing,” said Thomson. “Whether those expenses be medical bills, cost of living, or even something as small as getting a coffee at his favorite spot if he’s feeling down. We want Tony and his family to know they are not alone through any of this.”
Originally, the fundraiser was meant as something of a surprise for Bender, being set up by Thomson and other friends. “…I found out a lot earlier than my friends had hoped,” said Bender. “They intended to surprise us with it. I found out about three or four days into the hospital stay from a friend on the phone, but I won’t throw him under the bus on paper.”
“I knew I wanted to do something as soon as I had heard that he had broken his hip,” said Thomson. “I looked at my event calendar and for the next show I was setting up I already had a touring band (Lung) on my schedule for April 7th and Gus had Mooncats set for the 8th. So we talked it over amongst each other and the bands and just decided to combine the two shows to support the same cause, since they were already back-to-back dates.”
Bender and Thomson both have pedigrees in the Bismarck music scene. Bender has been playing since 2017. He began in a band called Strikes Again with Richard Loewen and a few other friends, and then started working at Rhythm Records, where the fundraiser concert will be taking place. From that point he started helping book shows at Rhythm Records as well as performing in other bands there.
Thomson has been involved in Bismarck’s music scene for fifteen years, a little over a decade of which has involved playing, booking, and promoting shows. “Ever since Rhythm Records started doing shows in 2014, I sort of made that my home base for bringing bands from all over the country to Bismarck whenever I could,” said Thomson.
The fundraiser has quite the lineup for the two nights over which it will be taking place. “Lung are headlining the first evening, and are actually coming through on tour from Cincinnati,” said Bender. “They’re a two-piece electric cello and drum group. Very grand and almost intimidating sound. Kate’s vocals are haunting. They’ve played a few shows around the area before but I’m not sure they’ve been to Rhythm.”
“Vanity Plate is playing, and everyone in that band is an angel. Jasmine and Zack have been so kind, and inclusive, and all around encouraging to me and my friends over the years. They are such a great band too, powerful vocals, calculated guitars, and boisterous drums.”
Green Boots is a Bismarck stoner rock band with members of some of my favorite bands to see when I first started going to shows,” said Bender. “There’ll be more announced for the show, and I believe a first surprise show from a new band in town.”
“The next night The Mooncats are heading, also releasing their new album,” said Bender. “They’re a wonderful Americana group from Bismarck that has been doing a lot of touring and playing a lot of regional festivals. They’ll be releasing the album on vinyl and CD that night.”
“Wildly Appropriate will be playing as well. They’re a freak folk group from Bismarck with an overlapping with the Mooncats, as well as Gus Lindgren, the owner of the store.”
“Shakey Calls will be playing,” said Bender. “They’re actually on their way down to Texas right now for SXSW. Really great band that spans a lot of genres, and makes great use of all the different vocalists in the band.”
“The band I’m in will be playing that night as well,” said Bender. “The band is named Hello Spillovoy after my great-grandfather. It’s fun indie rock, and it gives me an excuse to play music with two of my best friends. Ben Braunagel is the vocalist, Ansen Boehm is on bass, and I play drums.”
“Anyone and everyone is welcome to come and support this, and we hope to see a large turnout,” said Thomson. “We understand there are people who will want to show their support but are unable to attend, so there has been a GoFundMe set up for anyone who feels compelled to help.”
IF YOU GO
Night 1 (Thursday, April 7)
+ more TBA
Night 2 (Friday, April 8)
Mooncats [CD RELEASE SHOW]
6pm start both nights All ages
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