Ellis writes the Radiochurch songs along with his father, John Cleve Richardson, pictured above, who sings harmonies and plays keys. “[John] will send some stuff over and I’ll write some lyrics and melodies,”  Ellis said. “Then we take it to the whole group and put an arrangement together.”

“Family, funk, and rock,” guitarist Trevor Wiest said when describing the Minneapolis music scene.“There’s a funk influence and a rock influence for sure, at least for the stuff I’m doing. It’s interesting, I feel like the Minneapolis scene that Prince influenced is somewhere between Sly and the Family Stone and Black Sabbath.”

The band has been playing together since 2016, but members also play in other local groups. Wiest (left) notes that this is a characteristic of the Minneapolis music scene. “We all play in a bunch of different things. I do a lot of cover bands and stuff. It feels like you always have a bubble of friends but it’s always kind of growing. It’s got a family vibe, there’s a lot of crossover in what people are doing.”

As musicians who have been part of the scene for a handful of years before the pandemic, Wiest and Cleve reflect on post-pandemic dynamics and energy.

“I feel like there’s a rising thing,” said Wiest. “The pandemic is such a crazy thing that it’s hard to see how it affected everybody until we look back in retrospect. There are some cats a few years younger than us doing a lot of really cool things rising out of the post-pandemic. There’s a new kind of scene, a new wave of stuff with these really young musicians that are really good. They all go out to these shows, they all support each other, it’s really cool to see. I can’t put a name on it yet, but there is an energy that’s coming up.”

“A lot of people are just down to share music with each other,” said Ellis. “In the past, it’s been like, ‘I’m playing with these people and you’re playing with these people, that’s it.’ But I think there’s a lot of cross-pollination [post-pandemic].”

Saxophone player David Eiland is familiar with the collaborative nature of the music scene—he was asked to fill in and play sax the day of the gig. After the set, I asked if he’d rehearsed with the band beforehand and he replied, “This was the rehearsal. I just met all these guys this afternoon.”

Eiland feels that the music community in Minneapolis is different from other cities he’s played in.

“When I go to a place like Chicago or L.A. there are musicians that have just totally hurt my feelings. I’m thinking that I’m this great horn player and then some guy comes up and just totally blows me away. And I don’t feel like that happens here,” he said.

“I like the music scene here because I'm part of the clique,” Eiland said. “I know everybody here, I get to play with whoever I want to.” I asked him what he meant by clique and if that has a negative connotation, to which he replied, “Every place is real cliquey. It’s kind of negative because they have their group of musicians that they know. If somebody new comes to town that person is gonna have a difficult time trying to get into that scene. And that’s the deal with every city. Minneapolis is cliquey…but Minneapolis people are generally nicer than people in New York.”

I asked Ellis what keeps him motivated to make music when life gets busy. “I just love making music,” he replied. “I will always make music. I can’t stop. I just want to keep writing songs, and then record them, and make sure they’re mixed and mastered and that they sound cool, and once that happens I want to play them for people, so it’s just like this never-ending cycle. By the time I start performing the songs, I’m already thinking about my next batch of songs I want to put together. I write depending on how I’m feeling during that season of my life, then I have this snapshot of what I was doing at that time in my life, forever.”


August 19 at HeadFlyer Brewing part of the Summer Funk Music Festival.