The Minivans and The Defibulators at Jason’s Upstairs

The Minivans are, as they themselves say, the “kissing cousins” of The Blue Ribbon Boys. For the most part it’s the same bunch of musicians, just in a different format — and on different instruments. The Minivans are Jim Krewson on bass and vocals, Seth Travins on guitar and vocals, Matt Downing on upright bass, Lukas Schwarz on fiddle, Kiki Dufault on vocals, Pete Adams on pedal steel guitar, and Rick Leab on the drums.

I’ve seen the musicians in many different incarnations, and am familiar with other bands that some of them have been in over the years: Jim and Jennie & the Pinetops; The Blue Ribbon Boys; The Hunger Mountain Boys; Chops, Sauerkraut, and the Velvet Frog; The Russet Trio; The Yellow House Jazz Band, etc. (check out a more in-depth “history lesson” concerning the links between all the musicians and bands at a previous post I wrote about them). Considering all that, I have to say that what they have together now is, in my opinion, a winning combo. I had a blast dancing to The Minivans, who play a colorful assortment of covers — as well as originals — and the fun just continued…

The Defibulators took the stage after that, and having watched some videos of them on YouTube I was somewhat prepared, although the videos didn’t do them justice. The band is much crazier!!! They rile you up, then gently ease you down, capturing your heart along the way. Only a minority of the members use their given names: Erin Bru on vocals percussion, Bug Jennings on vocals, guitar, and banjo, Roadblock on lead guitar, Metalbelly on washboards and harmonica, Justin Smitty on fiddle, Freddy Epps on upright bass, and Riddleberger on drums.

You wouldn’t really expect a tall, plaid shirt denim jean and boot clad fiddler — with a baseball cap topping off the ensemble — to play fiery gypsy music, but he did. You wouldn’t really expect a petite redhead wearing a sweet dress that looked handmade to grunge scream in the middle of songs, but she did. You wouldn’t really expect a shaved head pierced eared rocker-looking guitarist to have the ability to tranquilize you with the downright beauty of his playing, but he did. You definitely wouldn’t expect to see a washboard player in a red stretch suit, black and white striped socks, and shekere booties, period, but that was the case. My friends, this is a band full of surprises.

The Defibulators tour vehicle of choice is a 1970’s ambulance, complete with their logo painted on the side. Even though it’s not stocked with all the necessities of an actual ambulance anymore, I have to wonder whether an audience member or two have ever had the need for the band’s namesake or, oh, say, an oxygen mask… One could easily get carried away dancing and before you know it have worked themselves into a tizzy while listening to the band’s music. That would be ridiculously fast-paced, energetic hoedown songs (I dare you to listen to Ol’ Winchester and not move along, no, I double dare you), songs that begin unrestful before turning sunny, laid back two-steps, not to mention an occasional bittersweet country waltz. Their music is all the goodness that the term Americana defines (but with a slight edge), and one of my favorite songs is “Your Hearty Laugh.” Watch out Old Crow Medicine Show — as far as roots music is concerned, you’ve got major competition.

The Minivans:

This One’s On Me

Baby You Got That Loved-on Look

The Defibulators:

Ol’ Winchester

Get What’s Coming

Your Hearty Laugh


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