Ari Herstand, an unlikely gem found at the Stronghold, as Minneapolis does Venice by Jimi Knight

This is last Thursday. We roll down to Circle bar, Mario, Nick D, and J-Rock, with our girl Nicole. I dont know why we were going to Circle, but Im game. Of course there was a long line of what appear to be dooshers. We got the VIP treatment, which is nice; I think Nicole knew a bouncer. Once inside, it made outside seem better. Nick is talking to two girl roommates he knows, J-Rock isn’t doing too bad. Mario and I aren’t getting any love. We bounce, decide to go to the Stronghold. Its about 1:30. We get there and its pretty dead, an Australian dude is finishing a set. I say hi to a few people, one of which is a girl who greets me enthusiastically as an old friend, calling me Mamooko. This rings a very vague bell. She told me it was a character I had apparently became after a good 10 jack and cokes. She told me it had put me in a very jovial mood…mmmm, OK? Mario and I sit down on the couch in front as the next act begins. The dude has a guitar, three mics, a bunch of peddles and a horn on the side. He introduces himself as Ari Hersand, from Minneapolis. I immediately like him being originally from Minneapolis originally. I throw a shoutout, we exchange some street names and high schools and a love for the Vikings, publicly. Its 3AM now and theres maybe 20 ppl there, mind you. He begins beat-boxing, loops it, plays guitar, loops it, its growing and interesting. Then he starts to play the trumpet, tambourine, then sings. It is legit.! What else can I say. In between sets he’s relaxed and engaging. The performance is rehearsed and the cat is definitely technically savvy and in rhythm, but is still organic and very live. For one guy, it is surprisingly layered, also for a young guy, his lyrics are fluent and free. He finishes his short but jaw dropping set and it is amazing, Im pretty much a fan.

I chatted him up after. He was cool, gave me a CD and DVD for free. He has a tour coming up soon covering AZ and CO, then a few dates throughout the Midwest before returning to Minneapolis. I also found out he recently had a song on a popular primetime TV show, which isn’t he tells me as we chit chat.

Overall, I was impressed. It is soulful pop, thats catchy and melodic, coming from a guy with a very midwestern and down to earth vibe. Hes not from Venice but deserves props. Check out the album Whispering Endearments and the DVD entitled Ari Herstand Live at the Pause, recorded March 8th, 2009.

My favorites were “Itch Inside Your Ear”, “Last Day”, “Blanket-Go-Round”, “Rose Stained Red”, and his version of Wonderwall by Oasis, no shit, may be better than the original… well close. Its all subjective really, but I will say this, he puts his own slant on it, which is how covers should be done I believe. I particularly loved Float On By, especially the horns.

For more information, tour dates, and music on Ari H. Check out his official site here

- Bio:

Ari Herstand grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. He is self taught on the piano and began playing guitar at 14. He picked up the trumpet in 5th grade[8].

Ari briefly studied music education at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. In 2004, he transferred to McNally Smith College of Music (then MusicTech) in St. Paul, MN and began his career as a singer/songwriter. While there he played coffee shops and club shows extensively at and around the University of Minnesota usually with cellist Lucas Shogren.[citation needed] Through grass roots promotion and a buzz generated from live performances on the UMN campus Herstand gained popularity.

Herstand’s music gained wider acclaim in 2006 when his songs were played on The Real World[9]. He performed at the 2006 and 2007 South by SouthwestMusic festival in Austin, Texas and the 2006-2008 Summerfest festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

For full band performances, Herstand currently plays with a rotating cast of musicians including Zack CarrollDJ HouseJay CorkranAlexander Young andGeorge Hadfield. His current full band makeup includes a drummer, bassist and lead guitar player while Ari plays acoustic guitar, keyboards, trumpet, tambourine, beat boxes and utilizes a loop station.

Former band members include: Lucas Shogren (cello), Tim Kloster (trumpet), Johnny Timm (bass), Casey Palbicki (drums), Brian Palay (lead guitar), Rachel Holder (vocals/keys), Joey Wedel (drums) and David Burney (bass).

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  1. justin says:

    Ari is the real deal. & Jimi, you ran into “Mamooko” girl again? bahahahahahahahaha

  2. Name says:


    seems like a Keller Williams rip…

    just saying.

    I’ve got nothing but love for musicians from MSP, from there originally…

  3. Nick says:

    very nice

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