Lake Street Dive has a knack for making old rhythms shine new. Their timeless sound revolves around Rachael Price’s one-of-a-kind voice backed by the rock-solid drums of Michael Calabrese and bass of Bridget Kearney — all tied together by the flawless trumpet and guitar playing of Mike “McDuck” Olson.
“We were always really open to
one another creatively, but when
we started writing together
we opened up even more.”
– Mike “McDuck” Olson
“There is sort of a mystical side to it,” says Olson. “I recently realized that our birthdays all fall perfectly along the zodiac. We all represent one element of the signs. Mike is fire, I’m water, Rachael is earth and Bridget is air. It makes for a certain energy developed within the individuals of this band that is hard to quantify.”
The tight-knit quartet first met at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston during their freshman year in 2003 before adding Brooklyn keyboardist Akie Bermiss last year.
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“Mike was second person I met,” Olson recalls. “Then I met Bridget at a freshman class jam session and Rachael performed at an event I attended. So, I was aware of all three of them early on.”
By the following spring, the four fast friends were performing at bars around Boston, coining their name from a bygone drinking district in Minneapolis.
“The dirty secret is that the Lake Street dive bars no longer exist,” says Olson. “It was more of a reality in the 70s. My uncle lived nearby; he played the trumpet and said he could walk to all of his gigs.”
“Even though we all met at jazz school, the kind of jazz we were being taught was the jazz of a bygone era,” he says. “Our impetus was to take a step away from scholastic jazz and play something that wasn’t written for a beautiful concert hall. So, when we started playing bars in Boston, it was exactly what we were trying to do. It helped mold us into the band we became. We needed to play accessible high-energy music for people to enjoy enough to look up from the bar and take notice.”
Although they always had a lot of fun with it, it wasn’t until a couple years after graduation that Lake Street Dive decided to go all in together as a professional touring group.
“By then, there was a movement in us all as people who were growing up to put up or shut up,” says Olson. “There was always a sense of camaraderie and potential — a spark that was there from the very beginning. So, we said, ‘Let’s try this. If it doesn’t work, we can say we gave it a go. But, if we go our separate ways without trying, it will always be this What if?’ ”
According to Olson, it was around that time, “we started realizing we were to get traction. There was a serious ‘come to Jesus moment’ about how we were devoting our time. Of course, once we decided to go for it, we couldn’t get a gig to save our lives. There was this hairy six-month period when we thought we had made a huge mistake.”
But get gigs they did. Ever since that fateful decision, it’s been an unbroken rise for the retro-pop group with that little something special. This summer, 15 years into their career, they are headlining the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo., for the first time.
“Honestly, the slow and steady progress is part of what makes it exciting,” says Olson “We haven’t made any huge leaps forward or bitten off more than we can chew. We are taking the snail’s approach to success. It’s really nice to keep a level head about the intention of everything we are getting into.”
Lake Street Dive recently went back to its roots with a self-produced album titled “Free Yourself Up,” featuring a number of collaboratively written songs.
“Our band was born out of a very long process of growing up together,” says Olson. “Going through the ups and downs of trying to make a go of it was a very bonding process. We were always really open to one another creatively, but when we started writing together we opened up even more. I’ve seen these people grow up and achieve maturity more than any other people I know. And now I’ve seen us work towards a common goal as a family unit.” | montbleuresort.com
June 2 | 8 p.m.
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