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We asked, they answered ... Ashes for April

Ashes for April

Take four guys, six acoustic instruments and add retro pop songs and you have the group Ashes for April. The organic/rootsy/pop quartet includes John Holtze on upright bass and vocals; Jim on acoustic guitar, mandolin and vocals; Percy on drums and percussion; and Steve on acoustic guitar, banjo and vocals.

The group returns to entertain at the Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday Dec. 14.

The group took time to talk about music, hobbies and the holidays.

We asked, they answered…

How long has Ashes for April been playing together?

Six years as Ashes for April, however, we’ve been friends and played together in other bands for more than 15 years.

Describe the music you play.

We call it organic-rootsy-pop. We play songs primarily from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s but with a twist – we arrange them for acoustic instruments. We utilize acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, upright bass, drums and a guest accordion player.

What or who inspires your music?

We have all been at this a long time, but still get inspired when we hear a well written song, a unique arrangement or an exceptional performance.

What is your favorite part about performing?

Interacting with the audience and creating a musical “moment” for listeners.

Are you currently working on any project?

Just unfinished home projects.

What would you want most people to know about you, as a musicians?

We share the lead vocal duties and regularly incorporate three-part harmonies. We’re interactive with the audience, conversing between songs and inviting audience members up to sing or play. We have a lot of fun and we think the audience does too.

Is there a story behind the name Ashes for April?

There is, but we like to keep it a mystery. Ask us at a gig and we’ll tell you the story.

What is one song off your top 10 favorite song list?

Hmmm …so many favorites.

What is the last thing you watched on T.V.?


Besides music, do you have interesting hobbies?

One of our original members builds and sells amplifiers.

What is one thing someone wouldn’t know about you?

One of our members is a professional chef, so we eat pretty well at band meetings. In addition to Ashes for April, we are all heavily involved in our church music teams.

Any favorite holidays hymns, carols or melodies?

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

Do you have a favorite food, dessert or beverage to consume over the holiday season?

Anything from the Cannon River Winery

At a glance…

What: An afternoon of live music includes a 1 to 4 p.m. show from Michael Loonan and from 5 to 8 p.m. hear Ashes For April.

When: 1-8 p.m. Saturday Dec. 14

Where: Cannon River Winery, 421 Mill St., Cannon Falls

Cost: Free

More info: 507-263-7400 or visit

Stacy Bengs-Silverberg

Stacy Bengs has been a photojournalist at the Red Wing Republican Eagle since 2010. She holds a bachelors degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota.

(651) 301-7880