Noble Haze
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Noble Haze

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The best kept secret in music


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"Chaos Reigns in the Hills of France" - 2005
- All tracks have been played on Radio KUMD

"Live at Beaners Central" - 2006
- This is a live bootleg from one of our Beaners shows in February. It hasn't been formally released, but it has been leaked out.


Feeling a bit camera shy


The Noble Haze appropriately emerged from an impromptu jam session early in September of 2004. Longtime friends Erik Hoeger and Nate Case met another pair of longtime friends, Ben Berg and Eric Pelto, at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD). The foursome quickly struck up a friendship that was bolstered by their love of music, and the four began to improvise together in earnest. Hoeger and Case took on six-string duty, while Berg played the keys and Pelto harmonica.
Early during the school year, Crabwise Music Production impresario Dan Sarles caught the group performing a raucous country-blues shuffle they had written entitled "Mississippi Road Trip." The song was only a few hours old when it caught Dan's attention, but he was so much impressed by the tune that he immediately -- and sneakily -- signed them up to play an open-mic night at the Rafters on the UMD campus. Reluctantly, the four agreed to perform later on that evening. Although a little rough around the edges, the boys' performance at the open-mic night was well received. More importantly, the one-off gig cemented the musical relationship between Hoeger (rhythm guitar, vocals), Case (electric guitar, vocals), Berg (keyboards), and Pelto (harmonica). Dan decided to book the still unnamed foursome to open for another Crabwise artist, Keith Yanes, at the now defunct Browser's Net Cafe in Duluth on October 21, 2004.
The Browser's gig found the group playing as the "McMasters" -- a sly reference to a particularly cheap brand of Canadian whiskey which fueled many of their preparatory practice sessions. Following the successful Browser's show, the "McMasters" began to take their potential seriously; the group rechristened themselves the "Noble Haze" and started to gig regularly around the Duluth area. Also around this time, the band decided to flesh out their sound by enlisting the aid of percussionist Willie Thon; the group was now
five strong and evolving rapidly.
On November 11th, the Noble Haze cut a rough demo of four songs recorded by Dave Premack, including three originals, "Take Me Home," "Bumblebee Minor," and "Mississippi Road Trip." The band also included an upbeat cover of the Grateful Dead classic "Don't Ease Me In," a song that was quickly establishing itself as a staple of the group's live performances. Dubbed the "Poolroom Recordings" in honor of the run-down Lake Superior Hall poolroom in which they recorded, the band distributed the demo to friends and family. Although the band was less than satisfied with their performance on the "Poolroom Recordings," the demo elicited an enthusiastic response from many on campus. By the end of 2004, the Noble Haze was beginning to lay the foundation for what would become a strong local fan base.
A few new additions to band, along with the onset of second semester, reunited and revitalized the group when the group returned to school early in 2005. Violinist Haley Rydell was added to the lineup in January, and bassist Alex "Frenchy" Francois early in February. Haley, a member of the UMD orchestra, refined the band's tone, while Frenchy added some much-needed low-end crunch to the group. Holding steady at seven members, the Noble Haze lineup was complete. The group began to play to full houses all throughout the month of February, and landed a prestigious gig at the Nor Shor Theater as substitute headliners for Minneapolis folk-phenom Mason Jennings.
Capitalizing on the momentum of a string of successful gigs, the Haze entered the studio to record a proper demo. Despite the charm of the "Poolroom Recordings," the early session lacked Haley and Frenchy, and was no longer representative of the group's sound. Recorded in only four days at Frenchy's basement studio (and a few sleepless nights), the band released "Chaos Reigns in the Hills of France" on March 24, 2005.
"Chaos" showcased updated versions of three "Poolroom" songs -- "Take Me Home," "Bumblebee Minor," and the venerable "Mississippi Road Trip" -- and also featured the first official recording of live favorite "The Spirit of the Buick." The new demo was a smashing success. The band sounded crisp and professional, yet managed to maintain the loose energy that marks the group's live performances.
Following the release of "Chaos," the Haze has worked hard to promote their latest effort the best way they know how: playing live music. Throughout April, the band continued to perform to ever-increasing crowds, and capped off 2005 with a succession of high-profile gigs. On April 20th, the band -- decked out in all green attire, of course -- emerged victorious at the Duluth Battle of the Bands. In an even bigger coup, the group was awarded a slot as the opening band for the nationally renowned Guster at the UMD Spring Concert '05. Finally, the group ended the year by returning to their beloved Beaner's to play the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival.
In the fall of 2005, The Noble Haze underwent a rather large change to it's linup. Wi