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“Modesty has always been a cornerstone of acoustic folk music, but these local folkies definitely undersell themselves in their band name. Far from musical also-rans, Consolation Champ has an everyman earnestness that is endearing.” – City Pages, Minneapolis
Singer-songwriter John Richards developed a love for sports at an early age. His grandfather was a sportscaster in the Twin Cities for 35 years, his brother excelled as a college athlete and coach, and his dad has a passion for sports art (his drawings were used for the new album’s artwork). He first met his band mates Chris and Matt Mitchell (of Joey Ryan & the Inks) and Rick Nordquist on the fields and rinks of suburban Bloomington, MN when they were all young kids.
So when they searched for a band name back in 2006, something involving sports was most comfortable. Consolation Champ—aka “the winner of the losers’ bracket” or “5th place”—seemed extra appropriate given the band members didn’t exactly compete at a championship level in their youth sports careers.
Thankfully, Champ’s songs avoid cheesy sports clichés, and any athletic references in the lyrics themselves are usually subtle. Yet the songs seem to appeal to a wide variety of audiences in a similar way to sports. The sound is simple and classic, which brings the carefully crafted lyrics and catchy hooks to the forefront.
Champ self-released the debut album “The Invitational” back in 2006, and then the “Lobos Pattern EP” in 2008 (both are available on iTunes). Richards spent 2006-2009 touring heavily, booking hundreds of solo acoustic shows at clubs, colleges and cafes in over 35 states. While the releases and tours went largely unnoticed, the experiences and improvements as a performer he gained gave him a satisfaction similar to—you guessed it—a sports tournament’s consolation champ.
Four years later, the fruits of this journey can be heard on the band’s self-titled third release. The playing is much sharper and fuller, a product of four more years of memorable full band shows in the Twin Cities and around the Midwest. It’s the best representation yet of what Consolation Champ is: four good friends simply having fun playing together.