“Look to a place where Low, The Fall, and Willie Dixon all have something to say to one another. Then dance fool.” That’s how Spin Magazine’s Andrew Beaujon rolled up the Black-eyed Snakes, a genre-bending electric blues band from Duluth, Minn. fronted by LOW’s and Retribution Gospel Choir’s Alan Sparhawk. Cascading, entrancing beats push thick, raunchy, sometimes-psychedelic guitars into the soul like a lost love or a knife in the back. “The jagged-toothed edge of the guitar alone could saw through every fiber of your emotional restraint,” wrote Melissa Maerz in City Pages.
Sparhawk formed the Black-eyed Snakes in 2000 with Bob Olson on guitar and Brad Nelson on drums. The following year the outfit was named Minnesota’s Best New Band by Minneapolis’ City Pages. “In his beat-thwacking, voice-distorting, primal blooze threesome,” wrote Peter Scholtes about the award, “he has something to tell us, and it goes a little something like this: ‘People, have you heard of a better day?’ … ‘That’s called hope.’ … Black Eyed Snakes fans seem caught up in that old Minnesota yearning for a Southern blur of intemperance and contrition, Saturday night and Sunday morning rolled into one.”
After supporting the band’s first two releases, It’s The Black-eyed Snakes and Rise Up! with national and European tours, and sharing stages with The Jayhawks, Wilco, The Mars Volta and many others, the band slowed down to a crawl. But in the past 18 months, The Black-eyed Snakes have emerged from the mud—performing more and writing new material. They’ve recorded with Charlie Parr. They performed at the 2011 Midwest Music Fest and the 2012 Duluth Dylan Fest “Blood On the Tracks Express,” a rolling music festival on a train. The Black-eyed Snakes were shut down before the train reached it's final stop though—the conductor seemed sure the crowd’s dancing was about to derail the train.