By Tanner Kent
The Free Press
MANKATO — Colin Scharf knew he was intrigued the first time he heard about “Bandwagon” — he just didn’t know it would eventually become the focal point of his band’s music video.
“Bandwagon” is a half-hour music program first aired in 1960 that is still produced and broadcast by KEYC-TV in North Mankato. Filmed in the Kato Entertainment Center, the show generally features a polka band and a group of mostly senior dancers careening around the floor in duple time.
Though the show is nothing if not successful — it may, after all, be the longest-running, locally produced music show on the planet — Scharf was struck by the curiosity of it all.
“There’s this sweet surface of Americana,” said Scharf, who came to Minnesota State University by way of New York about six years ago,” “but it’s so bizarre.
“It’s like looking into a different time period.”
And that’s precisely the effect Scharf was looking for when he and band members crafted the concept for good night, gold dust’s latest music video. (The video debuts today and can be found on YouTube as well as the band’s Facebook page, www.facebook/goodnightgolddust.)
The video showcases “Heaven-Sent,” a track from the band’s 2012 album “Towards the Sun.” Essentially, “Heaven-Sent” is a breakup song, a brooding missive of gratitude for having left behind a flagging relationship. Set to a decidedly waltzy tempo, the song assumes a casual, almost flippant quality as if the speaker hardly cares to remember the bygone heartache.
But the video itself contrasts the song’s lyrical notions with footage from a pair of “Bandwagon” tapings last fall as well as snippets from 8mm home movies. The result is a dichotomous narrative that deepens the meaning of the music.
“Sure, it’s a song about failed love,” Schultz said. “But it’s also about making room for a love that does work.”
The timing of the video also coincides with good night, gold dust’s next foray into the music scene beyond the Midwest.
Having long ago formed a relationship with Ian Hilmer, a Mankato songwriter and veteran of the South by Southwest Festival scene, good night, gold dust has been plying their brand of atmospheric, genre-defying folk/rock music for the past two years in the largest music festival in the world held annually in Austin, Texas.
This year, the band is playing a pair of auditioned gigs as part of the Spicy Evolution Music Festival, one of a number of South by Southwest Festival-adjacent events. On the way, they’ll be making stops at Ed’s No-Name Bar in Winona on Friday — opening for the popular Twin Cities folk-pop group Rogue Valley — and at the Zoo Bar in Lincoln, Neb.
Band members said the Texas trip not only expands its reach and audience, but also re-energizes its creative batteries.
“When we’re playing a lot, we only see the other bands we’re playing with,” said Michelle Roche, a timpanist for the Mankato Symphony Orchestra who doubles on keyboard for good night, gold dust. “It’s nice to see other bands.”
Though no timetable has been set for release, the band has also begun working on its next studio album.
Scharf and Schultz, who serve as the primary songwriters for the band, said they are moving away from their reliance on the guitar and arranging songs with horns, strings and synthesizers. Having already shown a propensity for moody, atmospheric songwriting, band members said they want to preserve their trademark sound while making their music more expansive.
“In comparison to our earlier material, it’s a step away from rhythmic folk,” said bassist Eric Blake. “We want to let the music breathe a little more.”
Roche added: “We want to leave room for reflection.”
In addition to Facebook, those interested can find more information about good night, gold dust at www.goodnightgolddust.bandcamp.com.