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Early Show w. The Pinkerton Raid, Michael Gay at White Squirrel

June 22 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Go see a live show with The Pinkerton Raid, and songwriter Jesse James DeConto might share stories about the history and architecture of his native New England, or forest legends from the Nordic region, or Broadway-showtunes-turned-football-fight-songs from Liverpool. It’s all quite beatnik and granola, steeped in the mysticism of STAR WARS and Celtic lore, the existentialism of Kerouac, the naturalism of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, Standing Rock and Laurel Canyon, and the liberation politics of Woody Guthrie, Karl Marx and Black Lives Matter. There is a fair number of songs about trees.

Trumpeter-keyboardist-disc golfer-culinary explorer Cameron Collier applies his jazz training to Jesse’s folk-pop songs. Chris Arnet is a zen master on percussion, a luscious bass on background vocals, a pro barista at the espresso machine and a lumberjack around the campfire. The trio has seven university degrees among them, and perhaps one of them is fiscally productive by Wall Street standards. Life is too short to live for money and too rich not to soak it all in.

Jesse grew up on the mellow gold of his mom’s car radio and his dad’s guitar: Abbey Road, Soulsville, Greenwich Village, Motown. Surrounded by a big family of siblings, niblings, parents, his partner and two kids, Jesse settled in the vibrant indie scene of Durham, N.C., spinning out songs AMERICANA-UK calls “anthemic.” “A fine blend of Beatles-esque dreamy folk,” says AMERICANA HIGHWAYS.

With their latest release of winter-themed cover songs, the band takes on those classic tones directly, bookending their sonic journey with a pop-noir version of Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time Is Here” and a driving, drum-circle and brass-polished rendition of folk-rock descendants Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal.” “Radiant,” says AMERICAN SONGWRITER. The band has opened for Illiterate Light, The Ballroom Thieves, TopHouse, Driftwood, The Collection and Noah Gundersen. They’ve slotted at Daytrotter and at festivals like Shakori Hills, Albino Skunk, Beacon Bonfire and AVL Fest with artists such as River Whyless, Sunny War, Watchhouse, Tall Heights, Amythyst Kiah and The Bones of JR Jones.

vocals, guitars / Jesse James DeConto

trumpet, keyboard, vocals / Cameron Collier

percussion, vocals / Chris Arnet


MICHAEL GAY is a Minneapolis-based country folk storyteller. Starting off as a drummer and finding his way to guitar, he was inspired by the singer-songwriters of his dad’s generation–Willie Nelson, John Prine and Jerry Jeff Walker.

 “I dove into that world head-first,” Michael says. “I love thrift stores, and I’d just buy whatever I could find for a dollar or two that had a name on it I recognized. 70’s singer-songwriters and outlaw country was kinda what got the wheels turning because it was cheap/free at the time. But my dad’s record collection is where it started to come together for me.”

 Born in Denver and raised in Rochester, MN, Michael studied history at the University of Minnesota with the intention of teaching high school social studies until he moved to Minneapolis’ vibrant NE neighborhood and was drawn to the bands and songwriters playing corner bars like the 331 Club. He was hooked.

 Best known for his project Almighty American, Michael quickly established his place among the Twin Cities’ finest Americana artists, winning fans and media praise for his honest, accessible songwriting. “Bus Brakes,” the single from Almighty American’s first full-length album Somewhere Ride (2017) was featured on The Current, drew comparisons to Jason Isbell and Boxcar Willie and was hailed as “the real deal” (Ear to the Ground Music). A magnetic presence on stage, Michael has opened up for such acts as Margo Price, The Mavericks, Kacy & Clayton, Emily Scott Robinson and more.

 Going from a full band to a more stripped-down sound, Michael Gay started performing under his own name in 2020, right around the time he started recording his new album in Nashville. Coming out of those sessions with more than enough for an album, he released the single “Long, Cold Winter” — “a song that brings to mind John Prine, both through its sound and its wry, witty lyrics” (Americana UK). Released with the B-side “Good Night,” the track made a splash on folk and Americana radio. Now, with the release of his full-length album Make It Right (June 18, 2021), he solidifies his place as one of the young songwriters to watch. Produced by John James Tourville and mixed/mastered by Paul Oldham, the album evokes the heartfelt storytelling of Guy Clark and the layered musical sensibility of Josh Ritter.

 When not making his own music and not living through a pandemic, Michael Gay works as a tour manager and produces the Pony Rug live music video series, which has featured Minneapolis-based songwriters like Chris Koza, Vicky Emerson and The Lowest Pair’s Palmer T. Lee.


June 22
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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