A new way to do doo-wopby Chris Roberts, Minnesota Public Radio
Some say "doo-wop" music went out of favor when the Beatles and other British groups invaded America in the early 60s. Doo-wop enjoyed a resurgence a decade or so later when nostalgia for the 1950s became embedded in popular culture. Now a group in Minneapolis is putting its own imprint on the genre.
St. Paul, Minn. — There's something immediately familiar about the songs of the God Damn Doo-Wop Band. While the music says 1955 sock hop, the lyrics tell modern-day stories of longing, broken hearts, and loveable lugs on the wrong side of the law.
"Posso," says singer Katie Naden, is an original song inspired by a wayward acquaintance of the band. When he's not being punished for his misdeeds, Nathan Posso often shows up at God Damn Doo Wop Band shows.
"He's always doing interesting things that get him thrown into a dark hole that he's not allowed to leave for a while," says Naden.
By "dark hole," she means jail.
This is doo-wop with a punk attitude. The group is made up of three female singers in Eisenhower-era prom dresses backed by a four-member band including saxophone.
Naden says the band was formed when she and her fellow vocalist, Carissa Coudray, discovered they both were experimenting with doo-wop music. The singers say doo-wop is the perfect vehicle to harmonize together, is supremely fun to play and can shake a bar crowd from its slumber.
"So often you go to shows these days and people are just standing around, staring at the bands and stuff," says Naden. "And to actually be able to get a room of people to clap for you in rhythm and a bunch of drunk people singing at the top of their lungs, 'Please don't forget me....'"
"And singing really loud and drunkenly, 'Doo-wop-wah-doo,'" Coudray chimes in.
Members of the God Damn Doo-Wop Band have paid attention to doo-wop history. Katie Naden says her songs draw from a host of influences:
"Like the Ink Spots, the Orioles, Dominos, Del Vikings, stuff like that. But as far as other stuff goes I also listen to a lot of pop punk, which helps a lot with the harmonies and stuff, and that's just basically simplified, faster doo-wop."
Other than a set recorded live when the God Damn Doo-Wop Band appeared on the 89.3 The Current a few weeks ago, the group has no recorded material. It doesn't have an official Web site either, save for a page at myspace.com. In other words it's not hyper-ambitious.
But word of mouth is spreading. Helping with that is Rich Horton, publisher of "Rift" magazine, a periodical focused exclusively on the local music scene. Horton saw the band play a showcase at First Avenue, and immediately decided to write about them.
"Even though some people might think it's a novelty," says Horton, "they're actually good musicians and the music sounds good and their vocals are 'on.' If they would have come along and been kind of sloppy, I don't think it would have had as much impact."
Most of the band's members are in other bands and lead busy lives. They're looking for time to go into the studio and record a CD, which they say their fans are clamoring for.
- All Things Considered, 04/28/2006, 5:51 p.m.