Downtown Music

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August 2, 2004 // UPDATED 2:47 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

Hanson ages well

The phone rings and, thinking it might be our insurance agent, I actually pick it up. But it's not Beth The Insurance Lady, it's Zac Hanson -- of the band Hanson. Yep, the fraternal trio that brought us "Mmm Bop" back when they were just kids.

"It's Zac Hanson," says the young pop star. "I was supposed to call you for an interview today."

No one had told me about this. I've got nothing. No questions and not a single intelligent insider-y thing to say.

But I can't let him go, so -- while waiting for an insurance quote for my new house, between moving boxes piled up to the ceiling and with some Peter Seller's movie on TV in the background, which is being watched by my spaghetti-eating son who is also keeping an eye on my (luckily) passed-out baby on the blanket behind me -- I strike up a conversation with the young man I saw perform just days earlier on an episode of "Sabrina the Teenaged Witch."

Turns out Zac Hanson is about six years older than he was on the TV the other day. And the 18-year-old has cut off all that signature, perfect blond hair, is trying to grow a beard and is now a CEO.

Zac and his brothers Isaac and Taylor, recently released their new album, "Underneath" on their own record label, 3CG (Three Car Garage).

"Running a record label, it's a lot of work," says 3CG CEO Zac. "But that in itself is enjoyable because you really know what you're out there for. We're music fans first. And because I love music so much, I want to make music."

That love translated into a break from the major labels. Zac said going indie gave Hanson the "ability to take control and build that connection between [the band] and [their] fans in an even stronger way than it was ever possible."

Instead of a one-hit wonder album, "Underneath" is loaded with love songs and soulful pop. There are also plenty of heavy power chords, piano interludes and a heavy, pervading sense of innocence.

While their sound has definitely matured, it still seems out of place with the pictures I've seen recently of Isaac drinking liquor and Zac smoking a cigarette. ... But those are press shots. For all we know, it's apple juice and candy cigarettes these guys are toking.

Monday, Aug. 2, 5 p.m. The Quest, 110 N 5th St. $25. 338-3383.

The Owls

In case you haven't gotten a chance to see them, everybody's favorite local pop act, is performing for free at Loring Park as part of the Walker Art Center's Monday night Music and Movies series.

The Owls are really just a beautiful group to listen to, and I (along with every other music critic in town) predict that this is one of those bands that's about to bust out in a big way and take the country -- or at least college-radio land -- by storm.

Stick around after the concert for the classic film, "Love With a Perfect Stranger," which begins at dusk (8:45 p.m. or so).

Monday, Aug. 2, 7 p.m. Loring Park. 1382 Willow St. Free.

The Presidents of the United States of America

Boy, do I know a lot of people who have gotten drunk with the Presidents of the United States of America! This trio consists of some of the biggest party-guys around -- Chris Ballew (lead vocals, two-string "basitar"), Dave Dederer (three-string "guitbass," backing vocals) and Jason Finn (on "string-free" drums).

And the guys who brought us "Millions of peaches, peaches for free" and an out-of-reach feline ("Kitty on my foot and I wanna' touch it") are known for putting on fun shows. And their newest album, "Extra Super Double Bonus Thrill Pack," is a must-have for aficionados of this hilarious act.

Thursday, Aug. 5, 7 p.m. Fine Line, 318 1st Ave N. $15 advance, $17 at the door. 335-8181.

Holly Day can be reached at