Formed in the fall of 2005 from the flotsam of the Midnight Evils, Chooglin's pile-driving music and loud, fast, rump-shaking live shows are a staple of the Minneapolis music scene. Brian Vanderwerf and Jesse Tomlinson, the Evils’ guitarist/vocalist and drummer, respectively, were not interested in joining the rest of the Evils in the rock ‘n’ roll mausoleum once the group disbanded. To stave off retirement, Tomlinson traded in the skins for guitar strings, and, with Vanderwerf brushing off the detritus, they pocketed stalwart bassist Jeff Johnson and Shawn Walker, a finalist on any list of Minnesota’s best drummers.
Their very first show opening for The Detroit Cobras and The Reigning Sound at the Triple Rock was a rousing popular and critical success, but it wasn’t until they picked up the three-horned attack of trumpeter Bob DeBoer, trombonist Steve Erickson, and bass trombonist/tubist Hal Longley that the furious sound of Chooglin’ had finally fully formed. Vanderwerf had recruited the three brassmen for First Avenue’s annual cover band contest, and, after winning the whole shebang by performing Exile on Main Street, added the tripartite horns to Chooglin’s lineup.
Soon, Chooglin’ placed number four on the City Pages’ 2006 “Picked to Click” list, and their eponymous debut album was named by the same publication as Minneapolis’ “Best Album of the Past 12 Months”. Though the album was described as “as addictive and unstoppable—a bender that's too good to park in rehab”, it was their live shows where they earned their reputation as a high-energy, lo-fi, no-frills garage-rock dynamo. After a craigslist.com abduction brought sleaze-core trombonist Zachary Zephyr Zins into the fold in April 2007, Chooglin’ went on to share the stage with The Reverend Horton Heat, X, King Khan & BBQ, The Dirtbombs, The Black Lips, Jay Reatard, The Black Diamond Heavies, The Soledad Brothers, The Buffalo Killers, Birthday Suits, Silver Lions 20/20, and scores of other marvelous local and national bands.
With a live show braying to be captured on vinyl, Chooglin’ decided to record a live gig at the legendary 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis on December 22nd, 2007. When local label Heart of a Champion graciously offered support, Chooglin’ enlisted Dave Gardner, Brian Herb, and John “the Killer” Miller to record and mix the show, and the Entry was booked. Brewing everything together with scads of panting fans and oceans of booze, their second release, Nice Place, Nice Party, Nice Folks, was completed, and the album was released in February of 2009.
It was during another live show at the Entry in July 2008 that Chooglin’ caught the ear of Fat Possum/Big Legal Mess owner Bruce Watson. In town to support Hezekiah Early, Robert Cage, and Pure Country Gold—several Fat Possum and Big Legal Mess artists performing at that summer’s Deep Blues Festival—Watson was hot and bothered by Chooglin’s show in support of Cage and Early, and shortly thereafter signed them to Fat Possum/Big Legal Mess. Armed with the support of Watson’s highly-respected labels, Chooglin’ recorded their second studio effort, Sweet Time, in December 2008 at the storied Creation Studio in south Minneapolis. Records by Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Dave Dudley, and The Trashmen are all members of Creation’s rich roster. Produced and recorded by Watson and Third Ear’s Tom Herbers, Sweet Time was recorded on tape with live, full-band takes and minimal overdubs to properly capture Chooglin’s intensity. Shortly thereafter, Jeff Johnson departed for a sunny retirement of cavorting with supermodels and interior designers in Southern California. Paul "Paulie D" Wells, local horseplayer extraordinaire, was shanghaied out of a Canterbury Park betting terminal to replace Johnson on the thunderstick.
Sweet Time was released in July 2009 with stellar reviews from Hilltop to Oslo. Oyvind Pharo, Norway's preeminent rock critic, wrote a particularly rave review, and by his pen's brute force, Pharo shoehorned Chooglin' into the Down On The Farm festival in Halden, Norway, in August of 2009. There the band played two shows to raucous crowds, and, in so doing, created a swell of Norsk support that continues to tumesce to this day. Upon returning stateside, Steve "Torsk Butcher" Erickson, inspired by the both his Finnish ancestors and the maritime ruthlessness of Norwegian fishmongers, expatriated to Somalia to gain his piracy degree. He was last seen keelhauling frenchmen in the Gulf of Aden.
In November of 2009, Chooglin' forwent their mothers' turkey and stuffing and embarked on their most successful national tour to date. From Iowa City to Birmingham, Alabama, from Charleston, South Carolina, to Chattanooga, Tennessee, Chooglin' battled relentless Memphis sirens and numerous beach-football injuries to culminate the tour with a drunken dogpile of a kickass, post-Thanksgiving show in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Chooglin' lain low through the rest of the holidays to woodshed their new material; reunite with friends, family, and lovers; and focus on a spate of local shows in the late winter of 2009 and early 2010. But touring spiked in a big way in May 2010 with two gigs at Bergenfest in Bergen, Norway, where Chooglin’ shared a roster with Lou Reed, Charlie Watts, The New York Dolls, Randy Newman, Femi Kuti, The Heavy, and dozens of other world-renowned artists. With livers now as swollen as their egos, the bandmates detumesced with a summer of local block party shows and another national tour that fall.
But 2011 portends no let–up in Chooglin’s frantic schedule. Another month–long residency at Palmer’s Bar in Minneapolis this January promises horny brass licks hot enough to slug Ol’ Man Winter in his frozen privates. A split 7″with Alabama rockers The Dexateens and a live record on the stand up! Records comedy label -- featuring a night of music by Chooglin' and stand up! comedians -- are both scheduled for release in early 2011. The spring of 2011 holds gigs in Belgium and France and a much–anticipated return to Bergenfest.
Jesse Tomlinson/electric lead guitar & vocals
Shawn Walker/trap kit & monkey buckets
Brian Vanderwerf electric rhythm guitar & vocals
Paul Wells/electric bass guitar
Harold Longley/bass trombone/tuba/mellophone
Bob DeBoer/acoustic trumpet
Zach Zins/analog trombone
Jeff Johnson/electric bass guitar
Chooglin', released November 17, 2006.
Nice Place, Nice Party, Nice Folks, released February 3, 2009.
Sweet Time, scheduled for release on July 7, 2009.
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