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This Friday, January 18, the band Pushing Chain will be playing at Twins Bar in Duluth. The group Pushing Chain primarily features local musicians Boyd “Bump” Blomberg on guitar and Adam Moe on fiddle and implements strong harmonies in their music. We took note of this show because Blomberg has been a long standing musician in the music community of this area. He can be found playing gigs from Papa Charlie’s at Lutsen Mountain to clear over the pond at Stage North in Washburn, WI, not to mention playing occasionally at venues in the Twin Ports.
We asked him about his group Pushing Chain and what he’s done along the way. “We decided to play under a name because we have a lot of people sit in with us. Notably Robin Anders who’s not going to be down this round with us. Robin’s a great percussionist and the founding member of Boiled in Lead and was out with Greg Brown for many years, he lives up in the Ely area,” said Blomberg about the project. “Pushing Chain, the name came from Adam Moe’s grandfather, he used it as a phrase of futility,” added Blomberg about the band’s name.
Although the name of the band is fairly new, Blomberg and Moe go aways back working on music with each other, “Adam and I have played for many years together. We did a CD together of original and some covers, we recorded that in ‘99. We used to play a lot up the shore,” stated Blomberg about his history with Moe. Moe moved to Chicago with his wife and just returned back to the Duluth area about a year ago where he and Blomberg continued to start gigging together again.
Although Pushing Chain mainly features Blomberg and Moe, they are often accompanied by guest musicians. Blomberg used to play with the “hippie jamband” group the Gooneybirds that used to play most every Sunday during the late 80s and early 90s. “I met a bunch of people along the way so when people come up the shore I have a lot of old friends that will sit in,” said Blomberg about his connections with musicians in the region.
Another lineup that Blomberg was involved with was “Bump and the Boys” featuring Chris Gillis and Robin Anders, they released a couple of self produced albums including “Live at the Gunflint Tavern.” “I’ve been playing at the Gunflint Tavern since a couple weeks after they opened and of course Papa Charlies, Adam and I have played there a whole bunch.” said Blomberg about his connection to the North Shore venues. Blomberg who is 45 years old has been playing professionally since he was 19. “I do solo and duo work up here. I play 100 to 125 times a year‚Ä¶I’ve played 3000-3500 gigs I suppose, a lot over the years. Played 30 some states,” said Blomberg.
Blomberg has stayed very active with music. Although he slowed down as musician in his 30s, he has picked up playing as much as ever. “I’ve been writing a lot of songs. I entered a songwriting contest at Big Top and placed second, that was a thrill so I’m going to keep doing that,” said Blomberg. He also hosts a songwriter’s series on Mondays and an open mic on Tuesdays at Papa Charlies and “plays every gin joint up and down the shore.”
Blomberg started playing guitar at 16 years old, “I saw The Band’s ‘Last Waltz’ when I was 16‚Ä¶it blew my mind, it was the seminal moment for me as they say.” He was also was influenced by musicians such as Bob Dylan and Neil Young. “You start going into their influences and one thing leads to another and it’s just that rabbit hole,” said Blomberg.
Blomberg’s Pushing Chain will be among several outstanding musicians and bands playing at Twins Bar for the rest of January. On Friday, January 25, Prince Paul and the Conscious Party will be back playing their funky reggae music and Colleen Myhre and guest artists will be playing Friday, February 1. Teague Alexy and Black River Revue will be playing on Wednesday throughout the rest of the month as well. Try to make it out and support local music.