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The Hold Steady On Mountain Stage

Craig Finn of The Hold Steady performs on <em>Mountain Stage</em>.
Brian Blauser
Mountain Stage
Craig Finn of The Hold Steady performs on Mountain Stage.

Indie rock road warriors The Hold Steady made a trip to Mountain Stage in 2010 for this rare acoustic performance. The band had just released Heaven is Whenever, its fifth studio album, its highest charting record to date and the first without keyboardist Franz Nicolay (who rejoined the band in 2016).

"[People who have made it to five records,] it means something's going right or else you're just the most determined person in the world," lead singer Craig Finn told Mountain Stage host Larry Groce in a backstage interview that evening.

For The Hold Steady, both appeared to be the case. At age 39, Finn had — like a bookish Bruce Springsteen — spent a lifetime cranking out thoughtfully-crafted, heartland rock in bands with guitarist Tad Kubler (first in their Minneapolis-birthed band Lifter Puller, or LFTR PLLR, and then The Hold Steady).

Heaven is Whenever is an album hand-stamped with the scars of surviving the rock and roll lifestyle and washing up on the shores of gratitude and resilience. The acoustic nature of the set further drove home Finn's contemplative lyrics on songs such as "Separate Vacations," which Finn called the closest thing to a mid-life crisis tune.

Finn testified about the healing power of live music when he shared "We Can Get Together" with bandmates Steve Selvidge, Bobby Drake and Galen Polivka, joined by Dan Neustadt on piano.

"There's all these ways you can get together now with the Internet ... without being face to face," Finn told the audience before breaking into the song. "This [track] is about the joy that we actually have every night that we ... gather people together who love music."

The lyrics echoed his remarks: "Heaven is whenever / we can get together / Lock your bedroom door / listen to your records," he sang.

Finn has, since 2010, returned twice to Mountain Stage.

This Mountain Stage performance was originally published Nov 8, 2010.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dave Lavender