Oh Duluth. We aren’t sure if its something in the water… or the beer, but what your music scene continues to produce is on point for a historic rise. While many will classify a band or music as “new” – it’s often years and miles that groups grind through to even garner that status. Tin Can Gin from Duluth, MN have been doing such since 2011 and in 2015 released “Coming Home,” a fitting title after enduring the long hard road. However, they shouldn’t get too comfortable there because they’re bound for the road, reaching new fans and spreading the Great Lakes gospel.
While the bluegrass scene out of Duluth is something many have kept an eye on, few have come out with as clean a sound as Tin Can Gin. The album “Coming Home” opens up with the track “Americana” – a Midnight Rider-esque intro that builds to an all out barn burner (just wait until “Catch My Ride” – a barn inferno). The track sets up the rest of the album with youthful, bellowing vocals, crisp banjo licks and soothing pulls of the fiddle.
The album keeps a pretty hefty pace throughout, nothing new to the Minnesota bluegrass scene. What we liked about the album was the bands ability to ride with you through the waves of burners and ballads. Now “slowing down” is a relative term, based on the fact that full speed for these guys is 100 miles a minute. One of our favorite tracks that brings it down at the right time is “Mighty Fitz” which – if we have to tell you what the song’s about, you obviously did not go to elementary school along the Great Lakes and need to take a quick history lesson. Tin Can Gin does the story justice by placing it in a much more familiar style to the American Superior coast (no disrespect to our boys up north – or our main man Gordon).
By track seven of the eleven track piece, you will find another gem in “Duluth” which blends the romanticism of “Mighty Fitz” with the sounds of Americana. You can almost put yourself in their shoes while writing the song. It paints a clear picture of life on the shore with not only descriptions of the surroundings but expressions of pride about your hometown. You may also find yourself focused in on the rhythmic banjo that carries the song from a very steady melody to a shredding of the 5 strings where you can almost see the smoke coming from the speakers as the song ends with a climatic pace.
The album ends on a strong note, a track that we may have to just mark now as the Midwestern Gentleman anthem (TCG – we’ll talk about this later). The song “Grand Marais” paints a masterpiece in your mind. It’s the type of track you take a hard pull of whiskey to, lean back, close your eyes and just get lost in the thought of breathing in that “Grand Marais” air. Of course, these are homegrown Minnesota boys, so we felt we would respectively clarify this is an ode to Grand Marais, MN… not Grand Marais, MI (but big ups to our boys in the yoop). Either way, this song is at the heart of everything we believe in, the MWG anthem, and the perfect song to callobrate your life’s compass back to its true north.
Tin Can Gin again keeps the key ingredients that have made Minnesota bluegrass so popular… fast paced, lyrically sound tracks that keep a traditional tone steeped in maple syrup. It’s an album that makes you want to light up a bonfire with friends on the shores of Lake Superior and sing along, arms over shoulders, smiles on your faces. Be sure to check up on their schedule for your chance to experience the energy live and while they may have come home, its bound to be short stay… the Great Lakes gospel is coming to a town near you, don’t miss it.