The front man for the Urban Hillbilly Quartet is breaking out as a solo act, a schedule that includes an area performance this weekend.
Erik "Linus" Brandt, who helped found the eclectic Twin Cities band, will appear Friday at the Eclectic Caf in downtown Brainerd, starting about 9 p.m. Admission is free.
Linus said this week he plays "mostly original compositions from UHQ's five albums and from my upcoming solo release."
A songwriter, instrumentalist and singer, Linus will perform on guitar, accordion and mandola, in keeping with the group's "mix of musical styles that blend fiddle, electric guitar, bass and other toys."
His musical influences include The Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo, David Grisman and other major acts, he said.
UHQ emerged in the Twin Cities music scene in the mid-1990s, formed by a group of jammers who frequented a St. Paul bar.
In 1998 the Minnesota Music Academy nominated the group for a "best bluegrass band" award. The following year the academy cited UHQ for the "best bluegrass album" of the year, and other nominations came in 2000.
UHQ's most recent release is "Hot and Now," which hit the stores in May under the Bert Records label. Their debut album "Living in the City" was released in 1997, followed in rapid succession by "St. Paul Town," "Beautiful Lazy" and "Lanky But Macho."
A British reviewer said the group's music is "totally devoid of any cliche. Roots music at its best and refreshment for my ears!"
Milo Mietzner, a former Brainerd resident, is a later addition to the group, joining UHQ in 1999 as percussionist and "storyteller."
Mietzner's connection to the Eclectic Caf -- he has performed regularly at the downtown coffee bar -- led to Linus' booking, said Matt Taylor, the caf's owner.
"We were thinking about bringing the whole band, but we are kind of small for a seven-person band," Taylor said this week. "But Linus is going out on a solo tour so we asked him to come. The Hillbillies are definitely a band on the way to making it."
Over the years, UHQ has expanded to seven but has retained the quartet moniker.
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