The Urban Hillbilly Quartet and our commitment to great music


Last fall, the readers of SouthernMinn Scene voted us, Imminent Brewing, to be the “Best Small Music Venue” in Southern Minnesota. This was a bit of a surprise to us. It was a delightful one, to be sure, but it was a surprise nonetheless. We didn’t campaign, or ask you to vote for us. Honestly, we barely knew that we had been nominated.

You see, until now, we’ve never really thought of ourselves as a music venue, large, small, teeny-weeny, or otherwise. Yes, we certainly put thought into how music would work in our taproom before we opened. We put some echo-baffling material up and around the room during our build out, and asked the great Ray Coudret to help us select and install the perfect sound system. And we have been careful to select the right musicians and bands for the right times, in that we try to have appropriate music based on the day and the time of the year. But, as is the case with all start up businesses, there have always been too many jobs to do without enough people to do them. We have never really been able to give music the attention it deserves. Certainly, we try to have music as often as possible, but it hasn’t been every night, and sometimes it’s only been once during a given weekend. The fact that we’re being recognized for the music we offer is kind of great.

What’s been really great is the way things have worked out. We hear over and over again from the folks who come to play about how much they enjoy “the vibe” at Imminent. We try our very best to treat those musicians as honored guests. There is no question that Northfield loves music. The local audiences who come to hear music really do appreciate it, and that translates to what happens in our taproom.  And, you know, musicians talk to each other, which has led to some really nice additions to our list of bookings. We’ve developed – and continue to develop – a nice little reputation for good jazz due to JC Sanford and the guys who play in TLA. Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders like to play at Imminent so much that they’ve told all of their friends about us, and those guys have a lot of friends. (In fact, that has a direct connection with some of the music we have this weekend, but we’ll get to that in second). Suffice to say, that while this all sort of crept up on us, we’re definitely paying attention to the feedback we’ve received. 

And because of that, I’m pleased to say, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

We’re looking at some things. The first thing we’re going to do is book more of the music you’ve come to love here at Imminent Brewing. Bands like Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders, Fred the Bear, The Zillionaires, Lone Rock, TLA, the JC Sanford Trio, The Frothy Band, No Time for Fame and all those other local bands that comprise the truly wonderful Northfield music scene will continue to play here, and we will book music into the taproom more often. We’ve had some special appearances by folks like Pushing Chain, The Katy Vernon Band and The Urban Hillbilly Quartet (more on them in a moment), and we are asking all those groups back. We’ve had some new bands already this year, like Mistefonia a couple weeks ago, and the Irish music of Captain Kaliber this coming Friday. We’re working on some more really exciting stuff. This is going to be fun.

Now… I mentioned something about Matt Arthur and The Urban Hillbilly Quartet, didn’t I?

Yeah, they’re both playing our taproom on Saturday. The great Matt Arthur - our dear friend who is among the most effortlessly engaging performers you’ll ever see. The man who seemingly knows every song written between 1860 and 1920 and is able to turn each of them into something both relevant and captivating, to say nothing of his own songs, will play a solo acoustic set at 7 p.m. He’ll be followed by the glorious return of The Urban Hillbilly Quartet, a group that showed up on our “stage” (we don’t really have a stage, but thank you for rolling with the artistic metaphor) last year as guests of Matt and The Bratlanders. They were fantastic that night, and we’ve been working hard to bring them back ever since. 

Led by singer/guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter Eric Brandt, the St. Paul based Urban Hillbilly Quartet has been together for nearly twenty-five years and has played all over the world. They list The Jayhawks and Uncle Tupelo among their influences, which is appropriate. Make no mistake; this is no old-timey country band. This is powerful music that can get loud and raucous but also has nuance and depth. The Urban Hillbilly Quartet has made a great name for themselves in the exceptional – and crowded – Twin Cities music scene over the past two-and-a-half decades. We are proud to present them to you this coming Saturday.

The Urban Hillbilly Quartet is a sign of things to come at Imminent. We thank you all so very much for pointing out that we’re doing something right. Imagine what could happen when we put our minds to it.

Stay tuned.