St. Dominic's Trio
St Dominic's Trio is an offshoot of the Van Morrison tribute band The Belfast Cowboys. The Trio plays original music, along with songs by Van Morrison and other bands/artists.
In 2002, as The Belfast Cowboys began gaining notoriety in Minneapolis/St Paul, front man Terry Walsh looked for a way to bring his Van Morrison cover band into venues that were too small for the Cowboys' 9-piece ensemble. Kieran Folliard, owner of The Local, Kieran's Irish Pub, and The Liffey was happy to give the new lineup a try. The smaller band was dubbed St Dominic's Trio (after Walsh's favorite Van Morrison album, St Dominic's Preview, 1972) in order to avoid disappointing fans who showed up hoping to hear the Belfast Cowboys' horn section.
In the autumn of 2002, St Dominic's Trio played its first gig, at The Liffey. Walsh was on guitar and vocals, Bart Bakker (27 Various, Terry Walsh and 2 A.M.) on bass, and Andy Crowley (Fat Tuesday, The Mammy Nuns) on keyboards. The combo was warmly received, and they continued to hone their live show until the spring of 2003, when Bakker was badly hurt in a motorcycle accident. During his long rehabilitation, drummer Dave Haugen (Terry Walsh and 2 A.M) filled in as the third piece of the trio. After a few months, with Bakker's recovery and musical future uncertain, Joe Baumgart (Peal, The Mammy Nuns) joined the band on bass, making the trio a quartet. Baumgart added a dry wit and soulful lead vocals to the marathon gigs during which Walsh's voice often needed a break.
Several other players filled in from time to time, including Joe Loskota and Tim Siefkis on keys, Ken DeVoe and Andy Deckart on drums, Dan Kowalke and Jim Hanneman on guitar. The lineup varied from month to month, even from night to night. Shows on consecutive nights became the norm. In 2005-06, the band played several four night stints at the Halftime Rec in St Paul. With time to fill and few patrons to risk offending, St. Dominic's Trio began improvising more and more, making up songs for every conceivable occasion. One memorable crowd favorite was "The Cubs Are Up", created when a baseball score was announced in the bar.
Happily, Bakker recovered from his accident and began playing again, although he still refers to himself as Wally Pipp (the baseball player who was injured and replaced by iron man Lou Gehrig) because Baumgart became so integral to the band's sound. Crowley left the group in January of 2007, and was quickly replaced by a rotation of Loskota and guitarist Simon Sheehan (Congo Eels). When space and schedules permitted, the trio became a five-piece. In this new configuration, St Dominic's Trio blossomed. Loskota's impeccable piano/organ lines and Sheehan's tasteful, bluesy leads became bookends to Walsh and Baumgart's vocals.
In October of 2007, St Dominic's Trio began recording its debut CD, "Switch", with Rich Mattson (Ol' Yeller, The Tisdales) at Mattson's studio near Eveleth, Minnesota. A handful of the ten songs that wound up on the final mix began as improvisations in the studio, including "Home on the Range", an ode to Mattson's studio home, and "Freeze", a murder mystery driven by Sheehan's blues guitar licks. The horn section of the Belfast Cowboys is featured on half of the songs, and Mattson added backing vocals and guitar parts in spots. On one cut, "Bike Ride on 35W", the Trio becomes a ten-piece band.
"Switch" was released at a dual CD release party at First Avenue, December 3rd, 2008. The Belfast Cowboys put out their self-titled debut of Van Morrison songs on the same night.
St Dominic's Trio can still be found one weekend a month at Kieran's Irish Pub in Minneapolis.