William Bjorndal Meets Prairie Clamor Eastside

by Prairie Clamor vs. William Bjorndal

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A split/collaborative EP by Prairie Clamor and William Bjorndal.

Recorded mostly in the first half of 2017 in Austin, MN.

Track 1 was written by Prairie Clamor. Tracks 2 and 3 were written by William Bjorndal and Prairie Clamor. Track 4 was written by William Bjorndal.

This EP rests beneath the Friendly Puppy Music Co-orporation umbrella of music 'release' things. Catalogue number: FPM0007


released July 20, 2017

Excerpt from a phone interview of William Bjorndal conducted by Friendly Puppy Music LLC administration, July 2017:

“I wasn’t really aware of Prairie Clamor when I first met Chad, so I guess I wasn't exactly seeking out Prairie Clamor in the first place. Like these things tend to do, the EP came together naturally or organically (I'm doing air quotes on the other end of the phone [laughs]) or however you want to say it i suppose. Which is a good thing. I had just moved back to Austin after graduating from the U of M, I was working as a substitute teacher around the schools, and being back in town I had finally been reunited with my drums. I moved them up out of the basement and into the guest room of our house, so I guess the sound really carried a lot farther outside of the house than I realized [laughs]. Sometime around late February I was out chopping away ice in the gutter (drainage work is important at the Bjorndal house) when I was approached by a neighbor who’d moved in a few houses down across the street while I’d been away living in Minny-a-no-place. ‘I’ve been hearing you playing the drums a lot lately’ he says. At this point I’m a little freaked since I can only figure that he’s been annoyed by my constant drumming, but it turns out that he dug what he heard. ‘I’m a guitarist, we oughtta get together and do a neighborly jam sometime.’ He actually ended up bringing over his guitar later that week. On a side note, I’m seriously so lucky to live in a neighborhood where people still walk up to each other and chat in the driveways and crap like that. I don’t think that happens in a lot of neighborhoods around here, as far as I know. Chad was new to the hood but I wasn’t turned off by him coming over and chatting, you know? For a dude like Chad winter is best spent playing music with friends and neighbors, it’s not like you can spend the whole day outside anyway, especially towards latter half of winter when there isn’t good snow for skiing or good ice for skating. Just kinda icky out. Anyway so Chad brings his guitar over, which is one of those sick clear ampeg guitars, already a good sign. He plugs into the trusty Bjorndal family MicroCube and we kick things off with a few surf rock tunes, pipeline, stuff like that. At some point, he says he has some original songs that we could jam on. He kicks into these tunes and i’m seriously blown away. I don’t know how to explain it but these tunes he was pulling out just grooved in some way I can’t describe, the feeling was smooth but grimy, and his lyrics (he just shouted them out sans microphone) were funny yet touching. Did I say I was blown away? We jammed for a couple hours that day. I had to ask him when we were packing up if he had ever recorded his songs before. ‘I was in a band called Prairie Clamor, but we kinda only played live shows. There might be some live recordings online, I don’t know’ he told me. Chad headed back home, and I headed online to see if I could find any live recordings of PC.

Turns out Prairie Clamor was actually kind of well known in the Midwest Jam Band circuit circa late 90s and early 00s. I was really surprised how many bootlegs of theirs I found on the internet archive, and there were some really ravenous threads about PC on the Phish listeners forum, and even an article on JamBase about them. Some kind of ‘the best live band you’ve never seen live, and never will’ or something ridiculous and clickbaity like that [laughs]. But clickbaity in a way for jam band people. The only interview I could find of Prairie Clamor was in the archives of some self-published blues magazine from like ’02 or something. In it, Chad (listed in the interview as Chaz, I guess his stagename was Chaz since his bandmates always called him Chaz instead of Chad as a joke, which I get a major kick out of. A dude name Chad whose stagename is Chaz [laughs]! I guess the whole group had some wacky stagenames that were all sort of in-jokes with each other) kinda mentions that the band never felt that they could put out a proper studio recording because ‘it just wouldn’t be right.’ These guys took the live show thing pretty gol darn seriously.

Anyway so Chad came over a few times to jam again and I asked him if he’d ever think about officially releasing any music by Prairie Clamor. I was enthralled by the tunes, and there was clearly still an audience for it. “ahhh I don’t know, we were in the whole I guess jam band thing back then, we thought we’d be violating the live shows by putting out studio versions.’ I guess they didn’t want people to have to compare their live shows to a studio version which I get. ‘We did record one song back in ’98 I think, but it’s not finished. You can hear it if you want.’ Of course i wanted to freakin’ hear it [laughs]! Anyway so he put a cassette in my mailbox the next day with the song on it. Wow. Seriously, it was some wild stuff. It was a version of ‘Belly Up,’ a fan-favorite tune that they usually performed in a medley with their epic show-finisher ‘The Mighty Mississicedar’ This version was way different from any of the bootlegs I’d heard up to that point though, and I’d been listening to a lot of them [laughs]! I mean first off it was about 6 minutes in length — about half the length of any live cut i’d heard of Belly Up. Absent was PC’s signature fuzzed-out pedal steel, but present was some seriously delicious synth work that I’d never heard on any live version. Not to mention that part where there’s the beefheart vocal thing [imitates song, {laughs}]!

So I start working on Chad about putting out just that song. You’d think this is the part where it takes me forever to convince him to put out the song, like some William Onyeabor thing or something like that I don’t know, but he actually agreed right away. But he said he’d only put it out if it were finished. At the time, there was a gap where a guitar solo was supposed to go, and parts had vocals missing. I guess the years apart from being part of the jam scene had loosened Chad up in regards to putting out studio stuff. Though I think to him it was really more of a demo type thing anyway, though to me it feels like a complete song. So Chad calls up the other guys from PC, turns out they’re all still living in the area, and they agree to put the song out. Long story freaking short, they were pretty much getting the band back together. Like seriously holy crap I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t. I still really get a kick out of telling this story since it feels so much like a plot to some crappy city comma state indie film or something like that you know [laughs]. I guess the band had some falling out in ’04 during a show opening up for The Big W00t at the lakeside jam venue Melody Park over in freeborn county. I couldn’t find a bootleg of the show so I’m not really sure what happened but that was when they kinda stopped being a band. But I guess time heals all wounds or whatever, right? So I guess long story short they PC got together and finished the song, we actually just did it in the basement in an afternoon, and we collaborated on a couple more. There was another short recording from the same late 90s era (a little stranger and less cowjam/country funk than what they are really known for) that we finished up, also featuring some cool synth work. I also pulled out a song song i’d been working on that we completed together. At this point we’re realizing that maybe we could just so a split EP, since Chad is such a nice guy, he wanted to have my name on it too. I was really hesitant, because I don’t want to seem like I’m stealing the spotlight from the Prairie Clam guys. But I think at this point they’re more into avoiding the spotlight so that’s what they wanted to do. So i tossed on a completed song I had lying around and there you go. That’s why the first song on the EP is credited to just Prairie Clamor and the others are like Prairie Clamor and William Bjorndal or like William Bjorndal and Prairie Clamor, or just William Bjorndal for the last one, [laughs] did you get all that? It’s being put out on Friendly Puppy Music, this pretend record label that I run with my brother Peter that physical media-wise has only put out music on floppy disks, and retrofitted iPods. The PC guys weren’t as into the floppy idea as Peter and I are (starts to seem like no one else really is [laughs]), so we thought we’d just put it out digitally for now. Maybe we’ll do some CDs at some point if there is a physical release. But since it’s for FPM it’ll have to be mini-cds because we can’t do it the easy way [laughs]!

So I mean it was a real treat and honor to get to work with the whole PC clam, Dwayne, Chance, and Mark are all super guys. I’ve got to give even more credit and love to Chad, the guy who really made this all happen. Anyone else would have been annoyed by the loud drumming but he loved it. He’s seriously just a really great guy. One of the Great Men of Austin, no doubt. Hopefully putting this out will get these guys a little more attention. They didn’t really seem to be aware of their sort-of cult following online. I guess they weren’t really interested in checking it out either, that’s just how they are kind of. They still haven’t played a show since the one in 2004, but I’d love to get them to perform live sometime. They’ve pretty much shot me down each time, but I figure if they can put out music and get the band back together in the basement, why not on the stage? I don’t know. Maybe they’re more interested in exploring the studio side now since they were so into the live stuff then. Or maybe still lingering feelings from the night at Melody Park that they don’t want to dredge up? I don’t know. Someday I swear I’ll get them on my dream bill of my dream Austin MN based music fest, ‘North by Northwest’ (assuming that name isn’t used by something already, I won’t get into the whole anti-corporate sxsw stinky rant thing right now [laughs]), all my Austin music heroes on one bill. Like headliners Charlie Parr, Prairie Clamor, and John Maus. Like holy goodness gracious that’d be huge. But I guess i’m getting off track again. It was seriously an honor to get to work with these guys and I hope PC can get some more attention these days, since they’re really pretty much lost legends at this point. Get on the internet archive and find a live version of ‘The Mighty Mississicedar’ and you’ll know what I’m talking about. They’re such a versatile live band too. ‘P9 Crustpunk’ is a cowpunk masterpiece, which they usually followed with ‘The Wall’ (no not the floyd song), which is a smooth and soulful, sorta doo-woppy ode to one of Austin’s most legendary teen hangouts. Anyway I guess I’m just ranting again about how much I love this band. I can’t help it, I just love talking about this stuff [laughs]!"


Chad Prowick writes [email copy, July 2017]:

In the late 90s I became a bit obsessed with attending fundraising dinners put on by local churches and clubs, so naturally I pieced together a song about it, which became ‘Belly Up.’ The finished product here is pretty odd, but we dig it. It’s been really weird getting PC back together, but a good kind of weird. As far as the future of PC goes, it’s unclear. Like I said it was pretty weird getting back together, but maybe not the good kind of weird that would remain good if continued for longer than it should be continued.

I don’t have a whole lot more to add, I just want to thank Will for being a great neighbor and friend and for getting me off my butt and back pickin’ the ol poverty box, it’s been really healthy for me. Also thanks to Chance, Mark, Dwayne, and the whole PC extended family, you know who you are. And a big thanks to my darling Denise, the greatest girl on either side of the Mississicedar.


Sent from my iPhone


Praire Clamor is: Chaz Prowess, Chance Grover, Mark "E" M., and the one-and-only Dwayner.

These tunes might also feature the talents of The Bjorndal Family Band - Judith Bjorndal, Lee Bjorndal, and Peter Bjorndal.

Photographs and collaging by William Bjorndal. Lettering and bordering by Peter Bjorndal. Sauerkraut poster by some fine person at 1st Christ Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church in Austin, MN.



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William Bjorndal Minnesota

William Bjorndal is a person that exists for now and creates. William Bjorndal's 'main' releases exist on this page.

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Track Name: Prairie Clamor - Belly Up
The Brownsdale Fire Department Fish Feed happens twice a year
It's all-you-can-eat and it's fresh fried
homemade tartar, takeout too

Belly Up

(at) The Ike's windsor chop and steak fry dinners you cook it yourself
Stand around by a huge grill
Get those GD crosshatches

Belly Up

Always cook your steak all the way through
Don't get any blood on your plate
Get it well done

Episcopal sauerkraut supper, mother of all meals
Come on down to the cabbage smackdown
We can always use some extra help

Belly Up
Track Name: William Bjorndal & Prairie Clamor - All Of This Happened At The Future Site Of Creekside Industrial Park
sleeping in the yard,
carried by ants
north of wal mart
south of smyth
to the marsh
slipping under moss
light squeezes from glass