Minnesotan Music: Potluck String Band and New Salty Dog

Two local bands perform at the Driftwood this Friday

The Driftwood Char Bar is known as a hub of local music in southern Minneapolis. Folks can wander in to find artists from all over the state captivating their audience.

Tucked into this delightful hole-in-the-wall bar, two Minnesotan bands will perform back-to-back on the first of July, starting at 6:30 p.m. Despite having differing genres, the Potluck String Band and New Salty Dog pair well together.

Potluck String Band
Potluck String Band


Potluck String Band

Rooted in New Grass and Americana, the Potluck String Band uses an array of instruments to create its sound: acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle, electric guitar, mando, dobro, upright bass, washboard, and harmonica. Jimbo Miller, a member of the band, explains the name, saying, “We started a ‘Friday Potluck’ at my house where people would bring a dish to share, a bottle or six-pack to share, and an instrument to play … [and a friend interested in picking (a technique of plucking strings with your fingers)].” There was no intention of forming a band, but once it came to be, it felt right to pay homage to the band’s origins.

“After attending many bluegrass festivals and being amazed at the awesome pickers we witnessed, we decided to learn how to play ourselves in 2014,” Miller says. “We decided we didn’t want to just watch anymore.”

Starting in Miller’s basement in Richfield, this band has grown to now playing close to 40 gigs a year. The Potluck String Band has a unique range of ages among its members, from 38 to 64. It’s hard to believe that most members have only started playing recently.

With songs like “Alabama Pines” and “Hard Travelin,’” the cohesion between each instrument is clear. The upbeat and fast-paced songs make it hard to stand still and fight the urge to dance. Miller says, “We hope that our fans and supporters leave our shows with a smile, having enjoyed a few hours sharing in our love for music and each other.”

The Potluck String Band is in the process of finishing their first album, which will be released on Spotify in August or September. In the meantime, you can listen to their music on Facebook, Instagram, or at potluckstringband.com.

New Salty Dog

This trio, hailing from Duluth, is a funk band with two albums: “Pecan, Pecon” and a live album performed at Duluth’s Ripple Bar on September 18, 2020. Their latest is a song titled “One Line at a Time,” released May 2022. New Salty Dog’s refreshing rhythmic sound is composed of guitar, drums, and bass—and often horn and keys, courtesy of friends joining in.

Photo by Holden Robbins

Jacob Mahon from New Salty Dog describes their live performances as having a “simple stripped-down setup that we really enjoy exploring.”

The songwriting is inspired by folk music, but when it comes to performing, the trio emulates funk and jazz. The members of New Salty Dog can read each other when playing live and see where the music takes them. “There’s kind of a high you get when you let go playing music,” Mahon says. “It’s surprising to see where the music goes.” This isn’t just enjoyable for the musicians, but it’s also energizing for the audience, as they are encouraged to feel however they need to feel.

Prior to the pandemic, the group was playing as Jacob Mahon and the Salty Dogs. Now, they are playing shows freshly salted with songs like “Dear Do You Love Me?” and “The Sleepy Preadventures of Sleepy Hank.”

You can listen to New Salty Dog on Spotify and Apple Music. Visit their Facebook page for updates.