Rock 'n' Roll might not solve your problems, but it does let you dance all over them - Pete Townshend
It’s 10:00AM on a cold Minnesota Sunday, the wind is beating against a 2 story nondescript St. Louis Park house with a large basement. Bryan has been up for 4 ½ hours, he lives here; and this is where his band Velahsa meet once a week. The members of the band all have day jobs, some have kids, and this is taking a chunk out of their weekend relaxation time. Why do they do it? They don’t know why; they just remember. Remember that they want to be in that state of bliss known as ‘rocking out!’ ‘Rocking out’ is something adolescents often do before they get serious about life, and 30 year old parents sometimes do it to recapture that wild, juvenile, energy.
A few years ago, tpt was producing a music show called The Lowertown Line. One day, The Lowertown Line mailbox received a strange package. A medium sized envelope, festooned with doodles of dinosaurs and stick figures, containing a CD with the cryptic title “Velahsa.” It was from Bryan and as we were soon to learn he really liked drawing little dinosaurs and things on his promotional materials. The CD had its charm but did not seem right for the show. Do they want to be on the show? Were they interested in TPT promoting their band? The answer was ‘not really’ – Velahsa just wanted to connect. They enjoyed the music and bands on the show and wanted people who were into music to know they were into music. We would get regular announcements to come and see Velahsa shows, yet there was always some previous commitment, family or otherwise.
A year or two passed and another Velahsa flyer was sent to tpt, announcing a residency at Palmer’s bar – four consecutive Thursdays in August. We now had no excuse, and journeyed to the legendary west bank venue to see our musical stalkers. We didn’t let Bryan know we were coming, and entered to a crowd that night of about 15 people. The band went on and showed a kind of goofy wild energy that created a fun evening. Short simple garage rock, with a front man who is delighted to have a forum to release his adolescent urges.
We became curious; this band has been around for 3+ years, has put out two CD’s, and there were just a little over a dozen people at their show. Why were they doing this? We wanted to understand, and to shine a spotlight on an active band that were playing music because… well because they couldn’t not play music. It would hurt their soul.
The reality of the music business in the 21 century forces bands to come to terms with what being a success means. Success: the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose. Bryan’s aim and purpose is not to be on “America's Idols,” he puts it this way, "Being on America's Idols and having some "music judge" (Irony in itself to me) tell me that I am good enough goes against my very soul and who I am." Bryan's purpose includes writing his songs, making music, and to have as much fun as he can, and to meet other people who want that. That gives him energy, it gives him purpose, and it makes him a complete success.
Connect with Velahsa on their Facebook page.
Additional Media: Bryan Miller
Minnesota Music: Velahsa!
Production Team: David Roth
This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.