Only Karl could inspire a H�sker D� reunion
Grant Hart and Bob Mould photographed by Tony Nelson
Before Grant Hart joined Bob Mould for two songs at the Quest benefit for Soul Asylum's Karl Mueller last Thursday, the two former singers in Hüsker Dü hadn't shared a stage for 16 years. So what did they play? "Never Talking to You Again" and "Hardly Getting Over It."
If those song choices didn't make things plain enough, there was their body language: Mould looked uncomfortable or unhappy throughout (see below). Hart looked boyish and oblivious. "If me and Bob can get together, that means we can all get together and put Bush out of office, right?" he quipped.
They sang backup on each other's songs, weaving their voices together in that old way they once did. When it was over, Hart put his hand on Mould's shoulder as he walked offstage, an apparent gesture of warmth that Mould did not return. Mould waited a moment, gathering up his guitar cord amid applause, then exchanged a look with the audience that said, that was strictly for Karl.
On his blog a few days later, Mould didn't mention Hart at all. He did link Riemenschneider's concert review. For his part, Hart linked the same piece with the words "hell freezes over," adding a page with the newspaper photo of him and Mould. Rollingstone.com picked up the story, and reported that Hüsker had broken up over songwriting credits. (Huh? And didn't anybody invite Greg Norton, or was he too busy running his restaurant?)
Jim Boquist and Paul Westerberg photographed by Tony Nelson
Hüsker Dü was one of the all-time great bands, and it's been out of my own sense of fandom, and the surreal fear of pissing off my heroes, that I haven't pushed harder to get answers from Mould or Hart about the substance of their post-band drama. It's a sore I don't want to salt, anyway.
They've both moved on: Mould is a DJ and solo singer-songwriter in the nation's capital. Hart is an artist and solo singer-songwriter in the state's capital. Mould's last release was a one-man electronic rock album that no one heard. Hart's last release was a one-man electronic rock album that no one heard. Last time Mould played the Twin Cities, he was interviewed onstage by Jim Walsh at First Avenue. Last time Hart played the Twin Cities, friends of the opening band talked loudly through his entire set. Okay, maybe these aren't entirely parallel careers.
Karl Mueller photographed by Tony Nelson
Obviously, it took a good cause to get these two together. (I should say, I plan to send my check for Karl tomorrow even though Jim Weber got me and Toasty in free at the last second.) The lineup was the duo of Arlo Guthrie's daughter Sarah Lee Guthrie, who went on early, so I missed them; Paul Westerberg solo, who was so good I could cry (who needs a Replacements reunion?); Soul Asylum, who were unusually slow-burn for me, but with songs I want to hear again, and with Karl Mueller himself on bass (his cancer in remission); Mould not quite connecting (or maybe I'm just disappointed that other musicians didn't join in); Golden Smog kicking off hard with Westerberg on a Stones cover, bringing out Steve Wynn (in from L.A.) for an Eddie and the Hotrods cover, and losing momentum somewhere along the way; and the Gear Daddies, whose songs I enjoy even in second gear. (Brad said they hadn't practiced since they last reunited, which was what, a year ago?)
The show raised $50,000 for a good man who needs it (and is still tens of thousands short). If you'd like to donate, the address is:
The Karl Fund
c/o 360 Music Group
PO Box 581486
Mpls, MN 55458
Karl Mueller and Dave Pirner photographed by Tony Nelson.
Dan Murphy photographed by Tony Nelson
The Gear Daddies photographed by Tony Nelson
Note: I should say that, after I posted the above, I read Riemenschneider's second review in the Star Tribune, which reports the following:
Mould called Hart the next day before flying back to Washington, D.C., to "put the bow on the package," Hart said. But don't go thinking what you're probably thinking.
Asked about the likelihood of any future pairings, Hart said, "Anybody who didn't ever see Bob and I play together before, they missed their chance if they weren't there last Thursday."
BOB COMMENTS ON THE REUNION ON HIS BLOG: "I was hesitant to say much about that part of the evening - not for personal reasons, but as to not create some sort of false hope."