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Midwest, musical history is alive

Chan Poling (center), singer/songwriter and keyboardist, is among original members of The Suburbs, a 1970s-80s rock band that will perform Nov. 18, 2017, at the Sheldon. Submitted photo

The 1970s and '80s were their heyday, but the Suburbs haven't stopped creating new music that is getting "worthy buzz" on the contemporary music scene.

The Twin Cities-based band will perform music from "back in the day" along with songs from "Hey Muse!" — its latest album — during a concert at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Sheldon Theatre.

Vocalist/keyboardist/songwriter Chan Poling, who founded the band as a teenager back in 1977, is a familiar face at the Sheldon. In addition to playing with the 'Burbs, he is the pianist for The New Standards, a jazz trio that has filled the Sheldon several times in past seasons.

"We love the Sheldon," said Poling. He's already booked a room so he can spend the night in Red Wing.

The Suburbs are recognized as one of the originators of the "Minneapolis Sound," Sheldon officials said, along with musicians The Suicide Commandos, Prince, The Replacements and Husker Du.

"We came out of the watershed Sixties music into new wave," Poling said. Blondie, The Talking Heads — "those were our peers."

The New Yorker described their punk-pop art-dance music as "quirky spunk and funky pop energy."

Poling did not disagree. "Our music is a little alt rock, a little bit quirky, a little bit influenced by new wave, punk rock" and British music of the era. "We're more artsy than roots/Americana," he added.

When it comes to concerts, "I love the old songs. We have a blast," Poling said. The 'Burbs had dance-club hits including "Waiting" and "Music for Boys," and radio hits such as "Life Is Like" and "Rattle My Bones."

Poling admitted, "We still sound kind of Eighties. ... I still like danceable pop music that's got hooks to it."

At the same time, the music has changed because he has changed. "It has definitely matured with us," he said. "This iteration is the most professional. We're really firing on all cylinders now."

Two other original band members continue to perform with The Suburbs — drummer Hugo Klaers and saxophonist Max Ray (also of The Wallets).

Six others will join the band on the Sheldon stage, including backup singer Jamey Winterbauer and other instrumentalists.

Poling expects to see "a lot of guys or gals our age —diehard fans who follow the music of their youth" in the audience.

"We've got a lot of young fans," too, he said, joking that "Some enlightened young people like that kind of music." Poling recalled a concert at which a group of college girls was singing along. "They had discovered the band," he said. "That's really exciting."

The new music has been well received, Sheldon officials pointed out. The group's last single, "Turn the Radio On," was voted song of the year by a poll of local music critics in 2013.

As the band's songwriter, Poling is always working on new projects for the 'Burbs, local theater or The New Standards, who will be back at the Sheldon in February.

"It's something I pursue with a passion," he said.

The "Hey Muse!" album and memorabilia including T-shirts and hats will be for sale at the Sheldon after the concert.

Tickets to the Suburbs concert are $30 to $55 for a VIP experience including a pre-show reception. Student tickets are $15. Visit the box office, call (651) 388-8700 or go online to www.sheldontheatre.org.

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