Steve Kaul - The Brass Kings

Steve Kaul - The Brass Kings

 Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

The Brass Kings have been wowing festival audiences, theaters and clubs since 2005. Using a washboard, a rope & a guitar, The Brass Kings deliver high-energy bluegrass-injected music. Steve Kaul's fingerpicking and songwriting propel an amazing wall of sound.


Minnesota State Fair, MN 2008
Rock Bend Folk Festival, MN 2008
Logjam Music Festival, MN 2008
Famous Dave's Blues Festival, MN 2008
Boats & Bluegrass Festival, MN 2008
Rhythm On The River Festival, MN 2008
Newport Guitar Festival, FLA 2008

Healdsburg Guitar Festival, CA 2007
Boats & Bluegrass Festival, MN 2007
Unvarnished Music Festival , MN 2007
North Versus South Festival, KS 2007
Minnesota State Fair, MN 2007
Kandiyohi County fair, MN 2007

Newport Guitar Festival, RI 2006
Unvarnished Music Festival, MN 2006
Minnesota State Fair, MN 2006

Intercontinental Guitar Festival, CZ 2004
Resophonic Guitar Festival, MN 2002-2004

The Brass Kings new CD "Washboard Rope Guitar"

"Resonator Guitar, Washtub Bass, Washboard, Fridge Door, and Hand Drum --- that's the musical lineup for this Minneapolis based "Alt-folk stringband." The group is led by Steve Kaul who wrote all the songs except for their version of a Yiddish traditional piece, which is so unique, they might as well have written it. Song topics include the story of a tinsmith, and a moment by moment description by a miner and a canary as the mine collapses. Steve also vividly details what a factory worker is thinking about as he produces parts for a bomb. The song is cleverly titled "Killing Time." This is fairly thoughtful fodder for a bluesy string band, but they did say they were 'alt-folk.' This 'alt' term is being thrown around a lot lately; perhaps for The Brass Kings 'alt' means traditional instruments backing intelligent editorials. I think they're ready for a national audience. Folk Alley will give them one."
- Folk Alley, 2008

"...Kaul steps out as a bona-fide local treasure on this disc, from his dazzling resophonic guitar work in songs such as "17th Crow Wing Lake Breakdown" to his vividly drawn story-songs, including "Northbound" and "Killing Time."
- Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2008

Steve has performed at festivals in the US and Europe and has garnered accolades for his guitar playing and songwriting. He continues to write and record both for his solo project and for The Brass Kings. His blending of aggressive country-blues fingerpicking with world music influences gives the Brass Kings a unique style.

Mikkel Beckmen began playing with Charlie Parr on a case of beer bottles many years ago. He honed his skills playing with a host of great musicians including the legendary Greg Brown. He plays a Brass King washboard, refrigerator parts and pieces of wood.

Brad Ptacek grew up in Babbit Minnesota - a feisty punk-loving kid on the range. Moving to Minneapolis, he attended art school, landed a bass gig with the Urban Guerillas and toured regionally. He plays his homemade washtub bass with a punk-rockers energy - coaxing notes from an instrument most people have a hard time just keeping in tune.



Written By: Steve Kaul

Well livin' up here in this rambler is not the life for me
I don't think this is what they meant by 'cottage industry'
I've got a watchful eye, a beating heart and a minor in chemistry
It's not a life you choose
Layin' here wide awake again with the rural methlab blues

She went to the doctor says she needs a little mood enhancer
Something to make her feel better - better than she feels
The doctor says 'I can help you but I only touch the symptoms...
You've gotta change your lifestyle...'
So she went to a friend of mine said 'can you help?
I've got a hole in my heart and the sun has fallen in...'
My friend said 'I can help you...
You'll feel like you can move mountains -
(Well, the mounain will still be standin'...)
But you'll feel like you can fly...
(Well your feet will still be earth-bound)
But you'll feel like runnin' a marathon
(and you'll be standin' still...')
she said 'What have I got to lose?'
And now she's shackin' up with me and the rural methlab blues

Well one day we get a phone call on the phone that never rings
Three un-marked cars can change a few things
'They're comin' down the road you got a few minutes left...'
Came out of the receiver
Well I hung up, looked at her and said
'We can go out with a whimper - or we can fire up this ether
And go out with a bang!'
We barely made the trees
when they rolled into the driveway
Kicking up a dustcloud
And rolled to a stop
Barely got their doors open
When that little shack went up like some kind of test-firing
In all directions the colors were blinding
And pieces of our lives - too small for finding
Now we've got mud on our shoes and the runnin' methlab blues


Written By: Steve Kaul

Waiting for the trucks to roll in is like waiting for a storm to roll through
The tension builds with a rumble and then all hell breaks loose
I've been working here forever but it's time to put it down
When this shift is over I'm going to the one cafe in town
Where small town tycoons burn up every afternoon
Scheduling the working crews like a hundred times before
There's so much more that I want to do
But they've forgotten I suppose
How hard it is to dream up something new
When you're wearin' your workin' clothes

My favorite waitress is working - she's got a smile like a halogen
She used to be the singer in some rock and roll band
I hear her singing in the kitchen and I know she still feels that dream
I tell her she's being wasted here - she smiles from the machine
And pours the same cup of coffee - a thousand times more
For sleepless tycoons on this strip of forty-four
And underneath her uniform
Is the tattoo of a climbing rose
Dreams don't die they just get worn
Under your workin' clothes

The owner of the dock is on my left side and the owner of the cafe on my right
When I lean over the counter and tell her I'm leaving tonight
She takes her name from the schedule and peels off her uniform
Their eyes get big as saucers - they've never seen this one before
The owners begin to croon
They open up their wallets try to change their tune
But there's no way to change the mood she is smiling much to brightly
'Let's get out of this highway town
Take it west as far as it goes
Trace the curve of the coastline down
And out of our working clothes'


The Brass Kings / Washboard Rope Guitar - 2008
Dream Horse Records DH0015 - 13 song Audio CD

The Brass Kings CD - 2006
Dream Horse Records DH0011 - 13 song Audio CD

Airplay on The Current, KAXE, KFAI
and university stations. Also great airplay in
Colorado, Kansas, Missiouri, Iowa, Idaho, Washington and California.

Steve Kaul - Utah Sun - Solo CD - 2004
Dream Horse Records DH0005 - 12 song CD
Radio Play on Acoustic Cafe, Whole Wheat Radio, Folkweb, Minnesota Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Radio, Kansas Public Radio, Utah Public Radio, KFAI Community Radio & Alaska Public Radio
Streaming on the website.

Voices in the Wilderness - Anti-War Compilation - 2001
3 CD Set - artists against the Iraq war
National airplay for original song "George Juts His Chin". Interviewed on nationally syndicated Pacifica Radio program - 2002.

The New Grass Heads- Lost Episodes - 1996
Dream Horse Records DH0001 - 12 song CD

Ghost Dance Deluxe - Mission Impossible - 1993
Channel 83 Records - 7" Red Vinyl Single

Set List


Travellin' Through
Highway Sixty-Four
Rural Methlab Blues
Looking for Augusta
Morning News (instrumental)
Utah Sun
St. Francis of Hoboken
Working Clothes
Isabella's Luau (instrumental)
Superhighway Blues
Gentleman's Agreement
Star Crossed Lovers
When The Springtime Comes
Denim Lace
The Major's Gone
Way Back Home (instrumental)
Heavy Hands
Gone Astray
Buffalo Hide & Rattlesnake Skin
One Eyed Man
Minister's Daughter's Blues
Lost Episodes
One More Taste of Wine
Dream Horse Road
The Box Man
Jackrabbit Blues
When Eloise Came To Town
17th Crow Wing Lake Breakdown (instrumental)
Blues For Morgan Acres (instrumental)
What's Your Name
Jealous Boy Blues
Last Year's Row
Bing Bang Boom
Too Much of Any Good Thing
Three Sisters Waltz (instrumental)
Company Man
Killing Time
Tin Man
Insurance Adjuster


To Live's To Fly - Townes Van Zandt
Devil's Right Hand - Steve Earle