Jack Torrey and Page Burkum are brothers who hail from Minneapolis. They’ve been pursuing their music, marked with sweet harmonies and an old-school rock/country sound, since about 2010, but have lately been getting a little more traction. They’ve launched a tour this spring in support of their newest record, You’re Dreaming, via Red House Records.
I recently caught up with the brothers, who had a rough start to their tour after their van was broken into in Chicago. The thief apparently made off with laptop computers and some other critical equipment, but the Cactus Blossoms were undeterred, Burkum told me in a phone interview. Here’s more from Burkum on lucky breaks, working with J.D. McPherson and more.
Question: I’m sorry about the van break-in. Did everything turn out OK for you guys?
Burkum: We all lost something. They dug through our bags and went after laptops. We did a cool house show and had a good time and went out to load up and saw our door completely broken. That was in Chicago. We just got back to the states after a show in Canada.
Q: Have you guys ever been to Asheville?
Burkum: No. We’re looking forward to checking it out. I was reading a Sky Miles magazine about Asheville, and they had this article about honey-flavored foods in Asheville. Is that a thing, or did they just make that up?
Q: We definitely love the honey bees here, and we have plenty of honey-infused foods, but I don’t think it’s a thing. That’s funny. So let’s talk about the Cactus Blossoms. I know a lot has already been written about your retro sound, but can you tell me how that came about?
Burkum: You kind of are what you eat, if you know what I mean. Jack and I found ourselves listening to blues and early country about eight years ago. Neither of us were very familiar with old country, but we found ourselves really getting into it. It was easy to play and easy to learn. We got into people like Jimmie Rogers, who has an Asheville connection I think, and simultaneously listening to Bob Dylan and Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Price and folks like that. It as all connected at the time and we were just following all these paths that connected to folk and country and blues and rock-and-roll. A lot of people say our sound reminds them of the Everly Brothers. I really did like them when I was young, but we didn’t set out to make that kind of music.
Q: What was it like working with J.D. McPherson?
Burkum: We had opened up for him and he expressed an interest in producing a record for us. We talked about it and hit it off, so we all met up in Chicago to record. That’s when we got to know each other. He was really cool, such a supportive guy and sort of a cheerleader for what we were doing. He had a lot of good ideas along the way and helped connect us with the musicians we recorded with.
Q: I’ve read where you’ve talked about getting some breaks, some chances at doing some things that maybe you didn’t really feel ready for at the time those opportunities arose. Can you talk a little bit more about that, and how you handled that?
Burkum: I think for us, it’s been an interesting ride because when we started playing we didn’t have a career mindset about what we were doing. It was more of a personal thing that we had to do – we just go so obsessed with music and we were enjoying it. It was just important to us that we play and have fun. Then we have had some things happen along the way that have propelled us and made us think maybe we could make a living out of this. We had the opportunity to open for J.D., for Nick Lowe. Sometimes we’ve been thrown into the deep end of the pool and it is overwhelming. One of the first shows we played was opening for Marty Stuart. So it’s kind of scary, then it just makes you want to improve what you’re doing to be ready for the next time.
WORTHWHILE SOUNDS PRESENTS: The Cactus Blossums w/ Amanda Platt (of The Honeycutters)
WHEN: Friday April 8, 2016 at The Altamont Theatre
DOORS: 7pm | SHOW: 8pm
GENRE: americana / country
AGES: all ages
TICKETS: $12 adv. / $15 d.o.s. / $25 VIP (guaranteed seating in 1st three rows!)
SEATING: seated general admission