Grinding Their Axes, Pt. 1

Minneapolis-St.Paul continues to be a hotbed for damn good guitar players of many different and dynamic styles.


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Minneapolis-St.Paul are towns full of music and music-makers; From techno-noise to hip-hop, outlaw country to classical (DISPATCH did a whole issue already!), there’s something for—and seemingly from—everyone. But with all the musical variety in MSP, the guitar continues to play a central role in the music scene, from the players who helped define the ’80s-rock heyday and are still strumming to another new generation coming up on local stages and in guitar shops. Whether in their own projects, supporting other musicians, or even supporting their gear habits with cover projects of the players that originally or currently inspire them, here’s a sample of just some of the Twin Cities guitar players rocking the instrument and moving audiences. (We listed just some of the guitarists from around town, and we’re just doing part one of the list here. See the other highlights here!)

Licks: A short phrase played over a chord progression
Lead: When a player performs the melody, including solos
Rhythm: The backing chords or support sounds 
Riffs: A succinct identifiable pattern
Dynamics: How hard or soft a sound is; or the change in loudness or softness
Harmonics: Amplified tones from strings, often sounding like a squeal 

Guitarist: Amber DeBellis
Band: Alien Book Club, Shawty Ensemble
Weapon: Jackson Pro Series Dinky DK Modern Ash; Jackson American Series Soloist SL3
Already a shred-master at a young age, DeBellis is on the prestigious Jackson Guitars roster and garners a strong online following with smirky ‘Can you believe this!?’ videos of blindingly-fast lead playing. In the fun and funky Alien Book Club, DeBellis’s moves frequently freeze the audience with playing that keeps the melody moving and theatrics that would make Eddie Van Halen proud.

Guitarist: Seth Duin
Band: General B & The Wiz, Faith Boblett
You might recognize Duin from one of many supporting roles in bands such as the intrepid cover band dynamos A Little Too Short To Be Stormtroopers or backing up vocal powerhouse Faith Boblett (with other mentionee Steve Brantseg—what a band!). Or maybe you recognize him laying in the guitar and bass for none other than Lizzo on her ‘It’s Time to Vote’ TikTok. The variety of musicians he works with is a testament to Duin’s versatility as a player, but also his ability to put on a six-string showcase.

Guitarist: Chris Perricelli
Band: Little Man
Weapon: 1977 Fender Stratocaster
Maybe more than any other entry on the list, Chris Perricelli’s name came up in discussions on Minneapolis-St.Paul axe men. Mixing T. Rex glam rock with Hendrix-level guitar licks, Little Man keeps the spirit of full-stack live music alive. Even more, Perricelli brings his softer—but still as impressive—playing to the annual A Holy Place To Be: Acoustic Bowie Celebrating The Life Of David Bowie (which also includes John Eller).

Guitarist: Mike G.
Band: Previously with Mark Mallman, occassionaly with 2F4D, Heartless
Weapon: Gibson SG, Jackson X-series
If subscribers are the new metric of success for musicians, Mike G. is undoubtedly one of the most popular players in the entire country. His online courses at The Art of Guitar have racked up hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions of views, thanks to his insights on the playing of everyone from Slash to Kurt Cobain to, yes, the Purple One himself. Although mostly retired from live playing (for the moment), Mike G. makes an occasional rare appearance in throwback Mötley Crüe cover-band 2F4D.

Guitarist: Molly Maher & Disbelievers
Band: Molly Maher & Disbelievers
At a recent open rehearsal of sorts at the White Squirrel, longtime blues and Americana treasure Molly Maher featured not only two top-notch guitar players—the very notable alt-country gem Erik Koskinen and top guitar talent Paul Bergen—jamming along to her songs and standards, but an unexpected appearance with the disbelieving collective by Chris Castino of The Big Wu. Four guitarists on the small St. Paul stage could be a recipe for disaster, but everyone in the audience knew they were watching something special, thanks in big part to Maher’s slide-playing foundation, a feature that also comes out on her can’t-miss solo work.

Guitarist: Javier Trejo
Band: Javier Trejo, Javier Trejo Trio, Caballo Cosmico
Javier Trejo’s guitar playing is a marvel to witness in any of its forms, whether it’s in his Santana-esque ensemble Caballo Cosmico, the pared-down Javier Trejo Trio, or even solo at a taproom. The taproom sets are as special as they are impressive, because not only does he sing and play, sometimes for hours, but his repertoire mixes in his own engaging guitar-focused tunes with stylized takes on classics from Stevie Wonder and more.

Guitarist: Joe Anderson
Band: Rad Enhancer, Joe Hysell & the rambling mercenaries, Cantharone, beard, Joe Anderson (solo project), Shattered (Pantera cover band)
Weapon: Dean ML
All the other styles tried to kill the metal … but they failed! And were struck to the ground. Joe Anderson delivers all the heavy-metal madness that Minneapolis-St.Paul’s headbangers can handle and then some. Bands like Rad Enhancer and Cantharone destroy necks and eardrums while Anderson lays the background for shrieking vocals. His leads are epic enough to pull off ones by legendary axe virtuoso Dimebag Darrell from Pantera in Shattered, the top-notch local Pantera cover band.

Guitarist: John Eller
Band: Zeppo
A keyboardist, vocalist, songwriter—and yes, one talented guitar player—Eller has done his own original work from hard rock band Paradox to musical projects John Eller & the DTs, Eller-Lynch, and The Shiny Lights. But it’s his covers work that also shows his prowess: He’s musical director for the wildly popular David Bowie tribute “Rock For Pussy” at First Avenue, and plays in both the highly regarded Shabby Road Orchestra (Beatles tribute) and Led Zeppelin tribute band, Zeppo.

Don’t forget to check out some of these guitarists showcasing their skills on Thursday, January 12th at the Turf Club for DISPATCH Amplified: Six-String Showcase!