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Newly-formed Clowquill gaining fans

Clowquill musicians, from left, Justin Long, Joshua Boterman and Joe Alden will be performing in Duluth next week and at the Ror Schach Music Fest in Park Rapids July 28. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

This spring, a trio of local musicians formed a friendship and band that's moving up the ladder of success - by octaves.

Joe Alden and Justin Long, who grew up in Park Rapids, began jammin' in October, Long a guitarist and vocalist, Alden on drums.

"The songs were coming together," Long said of their hard rock and metal compositions. But a bass guitarist was lacking in the mix - until March, when Joshua Boterman "hung out for a day" of music.

"He fits," Alden told Long, who suggested the invite.

"Josh wants in," Long assured him.

"Our personalities mesh," Boterman agrees. As does their no-argument work ethic.

Clowquill was born, an "undefined" moniker that's open to expression. "We supply the meaning."

Lyrics address social issues, Long said. Among the titles are "When Kings Become Martyrs" and "Under the Water," dealing with "feeling suffocated in life when you can't be who you are," Boterman said.

"We know where the stories come from, but we're not too specific," Boterman said. "It leaves it open to conception."

For Boterman, this is a second time around, having played with two record label-signed bands in the metro and abroad. But the audience had become removed from the performers. "People thought we were just a jukebox," he said. "I had to re-evaluate. It was non-emotive. It was not worth it. I removed myself," Boterman said.

"Now I'm back."

He made some calls, including friend and promoter Dave Hall, who contacted the national rock band Saliva.

Wednesday, they will be at the Clyde Iron Works Event Center in Duluth, among the opening bands for the hard rock Saliva concert. This will be their third show.

As a precursor, they headed to the metro, performing at Dean's Tavern in St. Paul at the end of May. The Clowquills, on the bill as an "up north band," rocked the house.

"Explosive, emotive, unique and honest" were among the adjectives tossed about.

"People left the bar to see what was happening," said Boterman.

"And we were asked by other bands to play," Long said.

"It was a total positive response," Alden said of the metro audience.

"We walked away from the bar shocked and grateful," Boterman said.

"Honesty connects," Alden said. "We saw the evidence."

The audience "couldn't believe the sound came from three people," Long said.

Wednesday's line up includes Bring the Sun, Clowquill, Wither the Tide, the national group Red Line Chemistry and Saliva.

"It's happening so fast," Alden said. "But it's a rough road. I know it won't be handed to us. But I hope to do touring."

"If it's a living," Boterman reminded him. "I've been there.

"This is new for us," Long said of himself and Alden.

"These guys are amazing," said Boterman, whose performance genres include jazz, blues and pop rock. "I'm happy to be back to my roots," said the fan of Pearl Jam, Living Color and Alice in Chains, "a huge influence."

"We have an appreciation for all levels of music," Alden said.

In the three months of collaboration, they have composed 10 songs, practicing three times a week in four- to five-hour timeframes. They hoping to produce a CD.

"My guitar talks to me," Boterman said. "If I don't play it for a couple of days, I feel a sense of obligation."

"We put our heart into it," Alden said.

"I took a four-year break before this, now I remember what got me playing music in the first place." Boterman said.

Clowquill will perform at the Ror Schach Music Festival, to be held July 28 on the Hubbard County Fairgrounds.

For updates on appearances, check out Clowquill on Facebook.