2023 Minnesota State Fair KARE 11 Barn bands Aug. 31-Sept.



Favorite State Fair food: 

Julia – Pronto Pup; Eliza – garlic cream cheese wontons from Que Viet; Lukaz – chocolate-covered bacon

Favorite State Fair activity:

Julia – Miracle of Birth Barn; Eliza– rides at the Midway; Lukaz – collecting free things

“Honestly, they know me better than I know myself sometimes.”

Unabashed openness and vulnerability don’t come easily for members of a lot of families, but luckily for the three siblings who make up Twin Cities alt-pop/R&B band Bloodline, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“It’s just our immediate family here in Minnesota. In the Brazilian culture, family are very open and vulnerable — it’s just a very common thing when we’re there,” Eliza said. “I think both of those two things combined made it so much easier when we were just starting our musical journey.”

As the name of their band suggests, family is everything to Eliza (big sib; songwriter, backing vocals), Lukaz (middle sib; production, keys), and Julia (little sib; songwriter, lead vocals), that’s why it’s only natural that the bandmates’ American and Brazilian heritage comes on full display with each work of audio art.  

“Our parents are actually from Brazil, so we always kind of have that culture with us,” Julia said. “Just getting those two fields [American and Brazilian] and trying to combine them into our own now.”

With each of their different talents and tastes coinciding, the bandmates actively pour themselves out through their music. Currently navigating through the process of recording and releasing their second album, “Moments,” the band collectively agrees each new track shines a light on its always-evolving cultivation and growth.

“Writing and singing-wise, we’ve just gotten more honest,” Julia said. “We used to say a lot of things without saying them, you know? But now, I think we’re not afraid to really just be honest about the emotions we felt and really portray them so that, you know, other people can be inspired.”

A type of progress, they said, that simply comes with getting older.

“I think at first, we were kind of scared to take risks — all the music is really safe,” Lukaz said. “Now with this album, we’re a little bit more comfortable and kind of playing closer to the edge.”

Eliza added, “I think, with having our first album and seeing that we could have creative differences but still come together, at least made me more honest and more willing to push limits and stuff with this album.”

Bloodline will perform at the KARE 11 Barn Window Concepts Live Music Stage on Thursday, Aug. 31 — the same day they release their sophomore album, “Moments.”

For more information about Bloodline, visit their website, or check out their Instagram, TikTok and YouTube pages.

Elizabeth Ghandour of Elour

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In a world where women are sometimes just expected to play along, singer-songwriter Elizabeth Ghandour insists on playing to win.

“I get to play a powerful person, you know? And that’s what I really do feel like inside.”

The artist, who fronts Twin Cities band Elour, said her progression from folk rock to femme rock has changed the entire game.

“As a certain age group of a female-identifying person, you know, there’s a lot of like, playing sweet,” Ghandour said. “I’m sweet, but I just don’t get a lot of opportunities to be like, ‘Bam! This is what it is — no apologies.'”

But Ghandour said that learning to be unapologetically herself while expressing her art isn’t always considered pretty.

“I scream and things, and sometimes, they sound awful,” she said. “I mean if you’d see other people privately experiencing some of their real, raw emotions… it’s frightening. So there was an aspect I wanted to share — for real — of this part of this rawness that is human. It’s also embarrassing, but you know, I feel like it’s not all of who we are.”

Ghandour said to find out who she really is, she ultimately had to look out, to look in.

“A lot of musicians feel like outsiders — I do as a person,” she said. “Like, who are my people? Where do I belong? Who can I share my love with? Who can I trust? 

“I think a lot of artists maybe struggle with that sense of belonging somewhere, so you kind of want to put yourself out there and say, ‘Hey, does anybody else identify with these feelings of hurt, pain? Turning pain into being strong?'”

With the release of the band’s album, “Blood Running,” in April, Ghandour said also came clarity.

“Anybody that has that spark, there was always that kind of identifying piece that you see in each other,” she said. “Like, ‘Oh, we both kind of see the world differently in a way.’ You kind of can share in that and a music community can have a lot of people like that in it.”

Some of those people — specifically the engineering crew at St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin’s Zoo School Studio — helped the band finally make Elour, as we know it now, come alive.

“It was just a lot of clarifying: What is this music trying to do? What am I trying to express through it?”

Ghadnour said the goal the band had at the end of each day, was simply to connect to people through music.

“You kind of want to figure out how to be a part of something; how to belong; how to connect with people, so you don’t feel alone.”

You can catch Elour’s set at the KARE 11 Barn Window Concepts Live Music Stage on Friday, Sept. 1 at the corner of Judson and Nelson at the Minnesota State Fair. 

For more information about Elour, visit the band’s website, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook pages.

Sam Ruff of Denim Matriarch

Favorite State Fair food:

Favorite State Fair activity:

Mom jeans — but make ’em shred?

“We’ve attached the whole mom jeans imagery around it, but it’s just kind of word salad,” said Sam Ruff, guitarist for Twin Cities five-piece prog rock outfit Denim Matriarch. “That’s a good metaphor for the whole band: Is there something deeper? Maybe, but probably not. We don’t think too hard about it.”

The high school friends from Hopkins who make up Denim Matriarch haven’t put much thought into band name semantics since the group’s formation around 2011, giving them more time to put their creative energy to an even better use.

“For the better part of 12 years, we’ve gotten together almost every week,” he said. “We try to carve out at least two or three hours every week that we can work on things together.”

Lately, the band’s been working together to record and turn out a fresh album, which Ruff said is coming — slowly, but surely. In a fight against time, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, its after-effects and the inevitable grind of five individual schedules, organizing time to play and perform has been a challenge. But still, Ruff said the friends forge on.

“We have about 10 songs ready to record, so we’re getting ready to go back into the studio,” he said. “Since the pandemic, we’ve kind of focused less on playing shows and I’ve really just been focusing on getting the music ready to record.”

The next time they head into the studio, the band will record its fourth album, but until then, Ruff said, they’re combing through their new stuff at practice, working to identify any potential missing piece. 

“We practice in this old warehouse in northeast Minneapolis called City Sound,” he said. “It’s a nice spot if you want to be really loud and not bother too many neighbors.”

With the space giving the group the resounding freedom to riff and rage, Ruff said the guys hope to have their next record put together and pushed out by next spring.

“We’ll kind of see where it goes from there, but we’d like to circulate some more shows once we get this recorded. Fingers crossed.”

If you can’t wait for them to tour with their next album, you can catch Denim Matriarch at the KARE 11 Barn on the Window Concepts Live Music Stage on Saturday, Sept. 2. 

For more on the band, visit its Instagram, Bandcamp and YouTube pages.

Leng Moua of Hyooman

Favorite State Fair food: 

Favorite State Fair activity: 

Connecting through music, some folks might tell you, is only human nature. 

“Gradually, relationships blossomed into friendships. We were, most of us, all good friends before we started this band.”

Twin Cities native and singer-songwriter Leng Moua said his friends and bandmates that make up their group, Hyooman, are generally of the same opinion: All that really matters is that everybody’s having fun.

“When you’re trying to participate in the music industry, it kind of like feels mechanical at some point, or it feels very draining,” Leng said. “When I was writing music for Hyooman, I was just thinking I wanted it to be fun again. I stopped having fun with music at some point.”

Now solidly into the process of recording their second album, Leng said he and his buddies in Hyooman unreservedly started to challenge the limits of each internal status quo. 

“Things are coming out a little bit more organically musically,” he said. “I mean, the first album I had written the songs already … we already kind of had a script to follow,” he said. “The second album is so much more challenging. We’re writing as we go; we’re trying to do different things.”

With a fresh batch of tracks forthcoming on album No. 2, Leng said the band is busy closing in on the near-complete experiment in northeast Minneapolis’ Casino Time Recording Studio, which happens to be operated by Hyooman’s drummer, McCoy Seitz. 

“There are no windows so you’re not really quite sure what time it is,” Leng said of the studio. 

And as they say: Time flies when you’re having fun.

“It’s just a lot less focused in on a particular idea, so it’s fun, but it’s also challenging… We don’t really know,” he conceded. “We’re trying to see what sticks.”

Hyooman plays the KARE 11 Barn Window Concepts Live Music Stage on Sunday, Sept. 3. The music starts at 2 p.m.

For more information about Hyooman, visit their Bandcamp. You can also find them on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

For a recap of artists who hit the stage during the first week of the fair, click here.


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