Crankshaft shifts into high gear with hometown music

Rockin’ and jammin’ and celebrating life’s happy accidents, Alex “Crankshaft” Larson grooves to the tunes and tells captivating stories along the way.

Enthusiastic children dance and spin with spirited abandon as Alex “Crankshaft” Larson plays an evening concert at Lincoln Elementary School Dec. 12. The concert was the first of an ongoing Community For Music concert series, offered by Anoka-Hennepin Community Education.

Enthusiastic children dance and spin with spirited abandon as Alex “Crankshaft” Larson plays an evening concert at Lincoln Elementary School Dec. 12. The concert was the first of an ongoing Community For Music concert series, offered by Anoka-Hennepin Community Education.Photo by Sue Austreng

A resident of Anoka and 2002 graduate of St. Francis High School, Larson has got a grass roots rock, delta blues, surf and swing sound going on …

Pounding the pavement to the beat of his own musical genius since 2008, Larson developed his own sound and writes original songs and his vocal chops, guitar playing and song writing evolved and improved with each step he has taken along the way.

Larson’s gigs have been played everywhere from Famous Dave’s Uptown, to First Avenue, the Seventh Street Entry, MaGillycuddy’s in downtown Anoka – even at a local elementary school.

Last month Crankshaft kicked off Community For Music, an ongoing community concert series at Anoka’s Lincoln Elementary School for the Arts.

“Alex is a great guy and an incredibly talented musician. I couldn’t have chosen anyone better to kick off the series,” said Ryan Fiskewold, community school coordinator for Lincoln.

Crankshaft earns high praise from folks outside Anoka, too, with music bloggers posting kudos and compliments all over the Internet.

Kudos for Crankshaft

“Crankshaft’s the real deal. He’s one quarter honky tonk, one quarter rockabilly and one quarter rhythm and blues. The last quarter is pure … awesome … His act is filled with swagger and smarm in just the right proportions,” wrote Dave Hoenack of Hymies Vintage Records in Uptown last month after Crankshaft’s “What You Gonna Do?” was named among Hymies Top 10 Records of 2013.

Courtney Roberts of Cities 97 radio said this about Crankshaft, “It’s becoming clear to many that Crankshaft is one of the best and most interesting roots, rock and blues acts playing around town these days.”

The year in review

In fact, 2013 was quite the year for Crankshaft as he was the semi-finals at the International Blues Challenge, while his “What You Gonna Do?” hit the Americana Music Association Top 100, where it remained for 10 weeks and then made the top 25 on the Euro-Americana Chart.

“What You Gonna Do?” also made radio’s 89.3 The Current Top 10 Local Releases and Top 89 Albums of 2013.

During the past year, Larson also produced a few music videos, played at the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth, got a gig for Harley Davidson’s 110th birthday bash in Port Washington, Wis., and performed on the Heritage Stage at the Minnesota State Fair.

And while performing, he collected cash and food for the local food shelves along the way.

Crankshaft is born

Larson came up with the stage name “Crankshaft” after he began street performing during Anoka’s summer Saturday car shows.

“It just seemed to fit,” said the car-loving, honky-tonk singer/songwriter/producer/performer who also occasionally performs as Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders, a three-piece band with guitar/vocals, upright bass and drums.

His hometown roots strong and his love of urban legends passionate, Larson crafts music and lyrics that entertain and inspire, eliciting gaiety and laughter from music lovers of all sorts.

Watch the music roll

Singing, writing and playing songs isn’t the only entertainment Larson can deliver. He’s a producer of music videos, too – just log on to CrankshaftMusic.com and take a look at a music video Larson fashioned into a comic rendition of a Cowboy Mel’s urban legend.

“Fill It Up” was filmed in downtown Anoka and features the payback a concrete truck driver delivers after discovering Cowboy Mel’s having an affair with his wife. Just click on “Fill It Up” and enjoy the ride.

This spring, Crankshaft will be touring Chicago, Kansas City, Grand Forks, Fort Dodge and more.

But to catch Crankshaft live closer to home, stop by MaGillycuddy’s in Anoka, 6 p.m. every Sunday evening in January and February.

Sue Austreng is at
sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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