Bugs invade music scene

The Bugs are invading local CD players. Not the normal, six-legged variety, however. These Bugs have soulful voices, catchy beats and a classic 60s sound.

The Bugs are invading local CD players. Not the normal, six-legged variety, however. These Bugs have soulful voices, catchy beats and a classic 60s sound.

For five years, the Superior band has been practicing and playing together. In July, the group released their first CD, Raspberry Avenue. More than 100 have already sold, even though it's only available at two Twin Ports outlets.

"It's a cute CD," said Stacy Abbot, owner of Lit'l Sisters Specialty Shoppe in the Blaine Business Center. "They did a really good job."

"Our theory is more is better," said Bugs drummer Kevin Giersdorf. The group mixes lead singers and styles, running the gamut from bouncy rock to ballads to country.

"It was a collaboration by all of us," said guitarist Jim Cheek.


But listeners often feel a sense of familiarity with the songs, which give off a vibe akin to Herman's Hermits or the Beatles.

"We liked a lot of songs from the 60s," Giersdorf said. "We thought we'd have kind of a 60s sound for today, maybe."

"Because we're old," joked bassist Mark Marigold.

"We grew up with it," Cheek said.

"To us, that's how music's kind of supposed to be," Giersdorf said. "Our generation, only now."

The group was named to reflect that era.

"We liked the Beatles, but the name was taken," Giersdorf joked. " I just thought it was kind of a 60s kind of name -- bugs, animals, turtles ..."

During a volunteer concert at Royalton Manor Thursday, The Bugs slipped some of their new tunes in amidst rock classics.


"This is the first time I've heard them I was very impressed," said Julia Jensen, who stopped by to hear her former co-worker Giersdorf play. "I thought they were really good. You could see everyone was just tapping their toes and enjoying."

"I tell you, they can come out here anytime," said Francis Scholfield. "They're so great."

The group got two thumbs up from Dan Corbin, the owner of Corbin's Bar. He said he's been booking the act "forever."

"They play good music," Corbin said. "Music people can dance to and have a good time."

Sharon Johnson, owner of Lost in the 50s, was impressed by the wide variety of music the group plays -- from the Beatles to the Pixies to country.

"They kind of mix it up," she said, and "They harmonize beautifully together."

The Bugs played at Lost in the 50s last Saturday. Before they left, Johnson had already booked them for a repeat performance Oct. 18.

All four members have day jobs. Cheek, a Superior native who lives in Knife River, works as a treatment plant operator at the Western Lake Superior Sanitary district. Marigold is a locksmith at Sell Hardware in Duluth. Guitarist Derek Johannesson is a residential counselor at a Duluth group home. And Giersdorf?


"I work for the government," the Superior man said with a smile. He works for the Douglas County Health and Human Services Department.

But twice a month, they gather in Giersdorf's basement for practice. And at least two weekends of the month, The Bugs take their music on the road to area bars or taverns.

Longevity is rare in the music world, Giersdorf said. But when Cheek joined the band five years ago, it gave them a sense of permanence.

"We only have one rule here: Nobody gets fired," Cheek said. "We learn to live with each other, put up with each other and work with them."

The newest member of the band is Marigold. A chance meeting with Giersdorf at Target brought him into the fold four years ago.

"I knew Mark back in the 70s when we were in rival bands: The Shadow Review and Moonshadow," said Giersdorf. The Bugs were looking for a new bassist when the two struck up a conversation. Marigold, who lives two doors down from the drummer, was in. He recalls joining the group in his song, "Four Average Guys."

Many of the songs on Raspberry Avenue are pulled from the everyday lives of the quartet.

"Labor of Love" is Marigold's tribute to his wife of 37 years.


"The thought of the song is putting up with work because you love your wife," he said.

Cheek wrote Timmy's Tune back in 1972 when a friend of his died of leukemia at the age of 24.

"I named it Timmy's Tune because he liked the song when I played it back then," Cheek said.

Giersdorf and Johannesson collaborated on the title track, named after a street in Superior where the drummer used to live.

But "She Loves The Bottle," a song about a boozy girlfriend, is connection free.

"That is based on no one," Giersdorf said with a laugh. "With a nod and a wink, it's our tribute to country music."

The CD, like their live performances, is full of energy.

"We want it to be fun," Cheek said.


"We try to put that out there," Giersdorf said. "If we're having a good time, maybe they're having a good time."

Each member has been playing music since they were young. And each is still young at heart.

"I figure if you act like your 16 all the time, it keeps you young," Giersdorf said. "We play because we love to play."

That love of music pulls them together.

"We've become good friends," Marigold said. "We've formed a bond here. When one hurts, we all hurt."

As Cheek crooned Thursday to a Warren Zevon classic:

"Don't let us get sick, don't let us get old, don't let us get stupid, all right?

"Just make us be brave and let us play nice and let us be together tonight."

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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