MANKATO — Boardwalk Arcade has come a long way from impromptu dorm performances.
Four years ago, Boardwalk Arcade was nothing more than Rich Ostrom and Sam Brady, fellow musicians and first-year students at Minnesota State's Julia Sears Residence Community.
Taking advantage of the most spacious dorm rooms available on campus, the pair would frequently hook up an amp or two, pull out a few chairs and stretch their musical muscles — casually jamming to the delight, or chagrin, of their neighbors.
Ostrom and Brady upped the ante during finals week that year when they ran some extension cords through the windows of the first-floor dorm rooms. In the truest spirit of rock spontaneity, Ostrom and Brady staged an impromptu outdoor concert.
“We’d get the occasional noise complaint,” Ostrom said. “But no one ever seemed to mind too much.”
Safe to say no one is complaining now.
The Mankato four-piece will debut its first studio album “Melting Pot” during a CD release party on Saturday at Red Sky Lounge.
Now joined by fellow MSU student Chris Bertrand and Rich Ostrom's brother, David, (who is coming to MSU in the fall), Boardwalk Arcade has begun to announce itself as a Mankato band to be taken seriously.
Featuring a guitar-driven sound that combines elements of blues, ska and funk — which band members have coined “blue skunk” in honor of Mankato's literal translation in the Dakota language — Boardwalk Arcade has crafted a pleasingly original framework for its growing catalogue of original music.
With Bertrand writing the lion’s share of the lyrical content — “His creativity is flowing 24-7, even on days when the rest of us maybe aren’t feeling it,” Ostrom said — band members mostly collaborate on the rest, including duties on lead vocals.
Their sound is marked by nuanced guitar harmonies and careful attention to beat and measure, allowing the music a sort of patience and breathability that belies the young band’s enthusiasm and ambition.