Family reunion

Sorry Muthas (from left) Cal Hand, Bob Stelnicki, Bill Hinckley, Judy Larson and John Kolstad in the days before they were mamas and papas.

Photo by Jerry Mathiasson

The Sorry Muthas return — with kids in tow — on Saturday, May 12

The Sorry Muthas
Saturday, May 12
Eagle’s Club, 2507 E. 25th St.
Doors open at 7 p.m.; show at 8 p.m.
Info: www.millcitymusic.com
612-722-6649

On May 12 — the eve of “Muthas” Day — the Sorry Muthas will reunite at the Eagles Club in Seward to celebrate the long-awaited CD release of their first and only album, Greatest Hits Vol. 3, originally released in 1971. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the seminal West Bank band performed old-timey, thumpin’ country blues and funky jug band music by folks from Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Loudon Wainwright III.

Performing are original members “Papa” John Kolstad; Judy Larson and her husband, Bill Hinkley; Cal Hand; and Bob “Bobo” Stelnicki. Harmonica ace Milton “Soupy” Schindler will be missed (he passed away in 2004). Early Muthas guitarist Rod Belville and guest harmonica player Clint Hoover will join in the fun.

The Sorry Muthas began locally in 1967 and went on to tour nationally for two and a half years. In that time, the Sorry Muthas put 66,000 miles on Kolstad’s 54-seat school bus, “Humper,” which survived hurricanes, break-ins, many stops by state police, dangerous mountain roads, failing brakes, blown motors and tires, and even a visit by Tiny Tim, said Kolstad.

Along the way, the Muthas shared stages with the likes of Utah Phillips, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Earl Scruggs. Larson and Kolstad recalled a large outdoor rock concert near Poynette, Wis. — a “little Woodstock” featuring Linda Ronstadt, Kris Kristoferson, the Grateful Dead and a crowd of 25,000. “We were driving through the crowds; we barely got to the stage in time!” said Larson, adding that the Muthas’ acoustic set was hard to hear among the electricity and feedback.

“We played just as the sun went down, and of course all the acoustic instruments went out of tune,” said Kolstad. “I think we were the only ones who noticed.”

Larson looks forward to reuniting with her musical friends. “It’ll be fun,” she said. “Those tunes aren’t hard to recover. We’ll get together to practice shortly before. We’ll whip something together!”

The May 12 show is also a family affair. Opening the show are Kolstad’s son Andrew “Cadillac” Kolstad and other Sorry Muthas’ kin Katey Belville and Amanda Hand. Cadillac, who performs with his new Cadillac Kolstad band, said he looks forward to playing with his dad, as well as Stelnicki and his washtub bass. “Bobo’s one of the foremost practitioners of washtub bass,” said Cadillac Kolstad.

“All my life has been, ‘when are you guys going to do the show?’” said Cadillac Kolstad. “It’s been a pipedream for a long time.

“There’s been a lot of death and upheaval on the West Bank scene, and some successes,” he continued. “It’s a lot to do with [author Cyn Collins’] West Bank Boogie book and the closing of the Viking Bar. People were like, ‘If we want to hang on to this, we have to get together and play more.”

last revised: May 8, 2007