Online connection brings one to ‘No Man’s String Band,’ another to Luther Auto
Two Luther Auto technicians are pulling strings to popularize bluegrass music in the northland as members of the “No Man’s String Band.”
Bass player Pat Loftus and Justin Rosckes, on guitar and vocals, are with Fiat of Bloomington and Fiat of Brookdale, respectively. They’re also regular performers at Harriet Brewery in Minneapolis.
Loftus describes the group’s style as contemporary bluegrass music with a mandolin and accordion. “We get shunned for not having a banjo or a fiddle,” said Loftus. “We’re not traditional in any sense.”
They are younger, however, than most in the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old Time Music Association. Many who support and like bluegrass are in the older generation, explains Rosckes, who said his group offers a segue to more youthful crowds. “It’s continuing this tradition of Americana, and giving younger generations that buffer, something new that catches the ear,” he said.
“There are fictional songs and real (reality-based) songs based on our own trials and tribulations,” said Rosckes. They’re written by mandolin player Nic Hentges, who attended high school with Rosckes. Hentges’ wife, Melissa, plays the accordion. The original music is intended to give a sense of hope in difficult situations, Rosckes explains.
Loftus is a native Minnesotan but played in New York City for a time. He found the band here through a search on Craigslist. The bass player had worked for a VW store outside Luther Auto, until Rosckes suggested he look at Fiat.
To Loftus, who was a college music major, the art form is a hobby. Making it a career required 80-hour work weeks and time away from family, he said. “It’s much better to have a real job than freelancing and working seven nights a week to get by, let along make any real money.”
Harmonies are a big thing, said Rosckes, with three band members singing backup vocals. “It’s a little big traditional bluegrass and everything in between, definitely a conglomeration of all of our backgrounds and influence,” he said.
And, what’s behind the band’s name? “Real meaning behind it is that nobody owns the band. It’s kind of a continuation of how we are, playing and having fun,” said Rosckes. “It’s for the people, for our enjoyment and other people’s enjoyment.”
After playing for 18 years, Rosckes said he’s run the full cycle, from classical acoustic guitar to electric guitar, blues, rock, back to acoustic folk music and now bluegrass. Loftus said bluegrass is a good break from work. “One of them is just purely creative and one is more problem solving.” Learn more at nmsbmusic.com.