Heimsness: Pert Near Sandstone hitting their stride

Pert Near Sandstone

Pert Near Sandstone

By Grace Heimsness

Welcome to the weekly ArtWorks Festival Preview. For the uninitiated, each Sunday we peek at festival artists and get stoked for this Aug. 23-24.

Most of us know by now that Cloud Cult will be reprising their headlining role in the Saturday night concert. But I want to introduce you to Pert Near Sandstone, this year’s opening act and a group of up-and-comers that are taking the revitalized bluegrass scene by storm.

Pert Near Sandstone identify themselves as “a group of guys that like to work hard and play even harder,” whether it’s full acoustic or plugged in and laying a thick fiddle rhythm on an outdoor stage.

The band makes it a point to pay homage to bluegrass traditions but still “take old time music off the backporch”; they play highly original material for a modern audience, and are known for bringing raw energy to every gig.

In fact, their ability to bring crowds to a foot-stomping frenzy has become something of a legend in the Twin Cities, where — in the true spirit of humble beginnings — the group formed over weekly picking sessions in a ramshackle house.

Now, after paying their dues in roadhouses and smoky taverns, after playing First Avenue, the Orpheum, and A Prairie Home Companion —where Garrison Keillor called the group “a force on the Minnesota roots music scene and beyond” — Pert Near Sandstone is primed to bring Austin to their feet.

Check out the band and their most recent album, “The Hardest Part of Leaving,” at pertnearsandstone.com, and be sure to check our website, www.austinareaarts.org, for festival news.

Until next week, hold on tight and try not to blink.

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