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Business owners by day, blues rockers by night: The Butcher

The Butcher, a band made up of three Grand Forks small business owners, practices earlier this week for their late-night show Saturday at O'Really's.JOHN SETNNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD1 / 4
Darkside Tattoo owner Bryon Burdick, bass player for The Butcher, plays the harmonica as the band practices for a weekend show in Grand forks.JOHN SETNNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD2 / 4
The Butcher lead singer Josh Starke.JOHN SETNNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD3 / 4
The Butcher drummer Cale Bergeron and his bandmates mix a little blues with traditional rock to create an old school style.JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD4 / 4

By day, Josh Starke, Bryon Burdick and Cale Bergeron are small business owners in the Beko Building on South Washington Street in Grand Forks. Burdick owns The Darkside Tattoo; Bergeron owns White Horse Salon; and Starke owns Starke Music Company.

But, when the clock strikes 7 p.m. Monday, they make their way down to the small concrete room in the basement, which is home to their guitars, microphones, drums, amps and sound boards. For about two hours, their old school sound reverberates throughout the entire building as they rock out in the crowded space, rehearsing for their next performance.

With Starke on guitar and lead vocals, Burdick on bass and Bergeron on drums, the three came together to form The Butcher in August 2012. They’ve played nearly every local music venue, including The Hub Bar and Grill, Sledster’s Food and Brew, The Empire Arts Center, O’Really’s Irish Pub and El Roco Lounge, often opening for the popular Minneapolis reggae rock band Jon Wayne and the Pain. They’ve also played several festivals and benefit shows including ones as far south as Oklahoma.

Tomorrow, the band will return to O’Really’s for a late-night show starting at about 11 p.m.

“It’s kind of a warm-up to the kickoff (of the season),” Starke said.

Last summer, the band averaged four shows a month, and they don’t expect this year to be any slower.

An old school style

Right now, they’re working on writing and rehearsing new songs for their first record, which they plan to record in May in Minneapolis.

As far as their creative process, Bergeron said, “It’s a pretty organic movement. We all come in with little riffs, but usually it turns into ‘let’s jam and see what happens,’” he said.

Burdick added: “It’s all kind of different styles, and everybody here writes. I’ll be messing around at home, and I’ll come up with maybe a lick or two, and we’ll add it to a song Josh already has.”

“Or, Cale will hop on guitar, and I’ll hop on drums,” Starke chimed in.

The band is up for anything. They draw inspiration from several different genres and styles. Some of their musical influences include Black Sabbath, The Black Keys, Cage the Elephant and the Beastie Boys. They also cover many Bob Dylan songs, which they said are always a crowd favorite.

“A lot of newer music is all going as heavy as they can be,” Bergeron said. “We don’t scream. We’re not rap… I would say we dipped more into the old school pages of things… it’s just a solid rock band.”

They also add a bit of harmonica and banjo to create a blues-based rock sound.

Limited space

One of the band’s biggest struggles has been perfecting its live sound, Bergeron said. Practicing in the small concrete room, the sound is completely different than performing a live show in a bar.

“We’re actually playing with that now,” he said, after stopping in the middle of a song to make sound adjustments. “(We’re) trying to lock down a live sound. I know a lot of local bands struggle with the vocal volume.”

Despite sound difficulties, the band isn’t complaining about their current practice space. When they first started, they squeezed into a tiny back room at Bergeron’s salon.

“It was barely big enough for a set of drums, and we were just piled up in there,” Burdick said.

The current space was transformed from an art studio, where Burdick would often go to paint, into the new practice room, where they now go to “jam and hang out with the guys.”

‘A lot of firsts’

The three agreed that the band is just for fun. They said they wouldn’t be opposed if it turned into something more, but with growing businesses and families, they don’t have a lot of free time.

Right now, they’re all just excited to make a vinyl record, which will be a first for Burdick. Bergeron and Starke have recorded with previous bands, but they said this is the first time they’ll do it at this level.

“There’s a lot of firsts,” Bergeron said.

Starke added: “This is the first time I’ve ever sung in a band; it’s the first time (Bergeron) has ever played drums in a band; and the first time (Burdick has) ever done any of it.”

Bergeron said he’s actually a bass player, but when he and Starke struggled to find a drummer for their band, he decided to hop on drums and ask Burdick to take the bass. The Butcher was formed, and it all seems to be working for them.

“Three has always been the dream,” Bergeron said. “Five is just a mess, four is too many; and if you have just the singer by himself, that guy is always just a handful.”

Burdick might not have another band experience to compare it to, but he doesn’t have any complaints.

“This is the first band I’ve been in, and it’s great,” he said.

As far as the band name, they said it was more of a marketing strategy to get people interested.

“Right now, I have a Mohawk, and we’ve got tattoos, and they think we’re going to get up there and play death metal,” Bergeron said. “We play the blues, and they’re just lost.”

If you go…

  •  What: The Butcher, a three-piece blues based rock band.
  •  When: 11 p.m. Saturday.
  •  Where: O’Really’s Irish Pub, 10 North Third Street, Grand Forks.
  •  Cost: Free.
  •  Info:

The Butcher

  •  Josh Starke: Lead vocals and guitar.
  •  Bryon Burdick: Bass guitar, harmonica, vocals and banjo.
  •  Cale Bergeron: Drums and vocals.
Jasmine Maki
Jasmine Maki is a features reporter for Accent. Her main beats are arts and entertainment and life and style. She also occasionally covers health, family and TV.
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