Pert Near Sandstone is a new-timey string band from Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, established in 2003. They play a hard-driving acoustic music in the old-time vein, but with a fresh sense and new-time urban grit. Pert Near approaches the American stringband tradition with reverence, infusing their own ideas and character to deliver a sound and style uniquely their own. In Pert Near's songwriting there is as much depth and diversity as their traditional material. You'll find them gathered round a single, old-timey microphone in a choreographed dance of lyric & melody, regardless of being in a rock venue or formal theater. Their originality & energy has won them fans across generations and genres. Pert Near's rhythm gets people dancing, tight harmonies keep folks singing along, and the fiddle/mandolin melodies and hot solos get people hooting and hollering into the night. Having become a steward of the Minnesota roots music scene, Pert Near Sandstone is stretching out along the rivers and roads of the region.
The members of Pert Near Sandstone have a diverse musical background, from old-time country, blues and rock, to jazz and classical. Most of the guys have been good friends for well over a decade, having grown up along the Mississippi River outside Minneapolis, which is apparent when seeing how much fun they have during a performance.
Uniquely unconventional in the traditional bluegrass genre where Pert Near Sandstone got it's start, they offend none with their interpretations of standards and covers, and push towards new ground with their arrangements and songwriting. They are just as comfortable playing fully acoustic around one mic in the old-time style, as they are plugged in at a rock venue.
With two recordings released, one demo (2004) and one live (2005), Pert Near is releasing a much anticipated studio recorded CD (April 2007).
Ryan Young: Fiddle (guitar/mandolin/harmonies)
A well accomplished and adept multi-instrumentalist, music teacher, and songwriter. Ryan's fiddle style threads archaic and experimental, with masterful delivery. He is a veteran musician and has shared a stage with some of the greats. "M'Pappy" Young is also Pert Near's sound and recording engineer.
J Lenz: Acoustic Guitar/Backing Vocals
Also an accomplished multi-instrumentalist music teacher, and American Irishman. J has played more horns than most know the names of, and shared several bands with Ryan. His strong rhythm and solid backup vocals keep Pert Near grounded, yet his jazz background keeps swinging through. "Captain J" is also our main tour driver and road manager.
Kevin Kniebel: Banjo/Lead Vocals----Kevin's powerful workingman vocals, convincing songwriting, and syncopated clawhammer banjo are as gritty as the gravel road he grew up on... Without Kevin's drive and determination, Pert' Near Sandstone would still be just a couple of guys on your neighbor's couch pickin' tunes and sippin' whiskey.
Nate Sipe: Mandolin (mando-banjo/fiddle/harmonies)
Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, folk-musicologist. Nate joined Pert Near in '04, after spending years traveling with a mandolin, often by way of thumb or freight train. He brought the essential repertoire and influence that founded the group's sound and approach. "Sonnyboy" works at the prestigious Podium Music store, and is continually working to keep Pert Near sounding old-timey. Nate is also Pert Near's equipment manager.
Jeff Swanner: Upright Bass(whistling/harmonies/bowing)
Jeff is the latest to join the group in '05. His dawghous was just what Pert Near needed to take their sound to the next level. His musical influences and character melded with the established group immediately, and surprisingly well. A freelance welder by trade, and amateur narcoleptic, "Swanner" provides the foundation for Pert Near's raucous renditions. Jeff is also the band mechanic.
Ryan Young - fiddle, guitar
Nate Sipe - mandolin, mando-banjo, fiddle
J Lenz - guitar, vocals
Kevin Kniebel - clawhammer banjo, lead vocals
Jeff Swanner - string Bass
Winter Fades (2004)
Live Just Outside of Sandstone (2005)
Up & Down the River (2007)