Boiled in Lead

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Boiled in Lead
Place of origin Minneapolis
Genres alternative rock · Celtic punk · worldbeat · Gypsy punk

Boiled in Lead
OriginMinneapolis, Minnesota, United States
GenresCeltic rock, Celtic punk, folk rock, Gypsy punk, alternative rock, worldbeat
Years active1983–present
LabelsThe Crack, Atomic Theory, Omnium
MembersMichael Bissonnette: percussion
Todd Menton: vocals, guitar, mandolin, bodhrán, whistle
Drew Miller: bass guitar, dulcimer
Past membersRobin Adnan Anders
Marc Anderson
Jane Dauphin
Brian Fox
Mitch Griffin
Josef Kessler
Laura MacKenzie
Dean Magraw
Michael Ravaz
Adam Stemple

Boiled in Lead is a rock/world-music band based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and founded in 1983. Tim Walters of MusicHound Folk called the group "the most important folk-rock band to appear since the 1970s." Influential record producer and musician Steve Albini called the band's self-titled first album "the most impressive debut record from a rock band I've heard all year." Their style, sometimes called "rock 'n' reel," Folk Roots magazine noted that Boiled in Lead's "folk-punk" approach synthesized the idealistic and archival approach of 1960s folk music with the burgeoning American alternative-rock scene of the early 1980s typified by Hüsker Dü and R.E.M. The band also incorporates a plethora of international musical traditions, including Russian, Turkish, Bulgarian, Scottish, Vietnamese, Hungarian, African, klezmer, and gypsy music. Boiled in Lead has been hailed as a pioneering bridge between American rock and international music, While most heavily active in the 1980s and 1990s, the group is still performing today, including annual St. Patrick's Day concerts in Minneapolis. Over the course of its career, Boiled in Lead has released nearly a dozen albums and EPs, most recently 2012's The Well Below.

Although the band recorded Scottish writer John Leyden's ballad "Lord Soulis" under the title "The Man Who Was Boiled in Lead" on their first album,

History[edit | edit source]

Boiled in Lead has gone through several significant lineup changes over the years, including three different lead singers. Bassist Drew Miller is the only original member who has played with the band in all incarnations. Miller, who grew up in Washington, D.C., was inspired by that city's hardcore punk scene to merge the energy and aggression of rock music with traditional folk. The band was also inspired by British folk-rock groups like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. which Simon Jones of Folk Roots described as "mean, nasty, and hugely enjoyable."

A new singer/guitarist, Todd Menton, joined for the band's second album, Hotheads, which saw the band expanding beyond its Celtic-rock roots into both punkier and more eclectic world-music sounds. Flute player Laura MacKenzie joined as an official member briefly in 1986, and played as a guest on several subsequent albums. In 1991, the band released Old Lead, a compilation of BOiLeD iN lEaD and Hotheads with two previously unreleased tracks recorded during the Hotheads sessions.

Menton left in 1992 and was replaced by Adam Stemple of Cats Laughing, leading the band in a harder-rocking direction on 1994's Antler Dance. The band's 1995 album Songs from the Gypsy was a song cycle written by Stemple and his Cats Laughing bandmate Steven Brust several years before Stemple joined Boiled in Lead. The songs also inspired Brust and Megan Lindholm's novel The Gypsy. Additionally, the character Aibynn in Brust's novel Phoenix is based on Anders, who was Brust's drum teacher.

For the band's 15th anniversary in 1998, it released a best-of compilation, Alloy, as well as a double-disc set of live songs and rarities, Alloy2. Further lineup changes included the return of Stenshoel in 1997, the departure of Stemple and return of Menton as well as the addition of guitarist Dean Magraw in 2005, Anders' departure in 2008 and new drummer Marc Anderson in 2009. Magraw and Anderson left in 2016 and were replaced by percussionist Michael Bissonnette.

After a long absence from recording, the band returned for a 25th-anniversary album titled Silver. The album again featured a strong Celtic flavor but also included Middle Eastern and Algerian influences on songs like "Berber" and "Menfi."

In 2012, Boiled in Lead recorded a four-song EP, The Well Below, which included a cover of Appalachian folk singer Roscoe Holcomb's "Wedding Dress" as well as the band's take on Irish songwriter Christy Moore's murder ballad "The Well Below the Valley."

Awards and honors[edit | edit source]

Boiled in Lead's star on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue

Boiled in Lead has won multiple Minnesota Music Awards: Hotheads won for Best Celtic/Bluegrass/Folk Album in 1987, and From the Ladle to the Grave won Album/CD of the Year in 1989. recognizing performers that have played sold-out shows or have otherwise demonstrated a major contribution to the culture at the iconic venue. Receiving a star "might be the most prestigious public honor an artist can receive in Minneapolis," according to journalist Steve Marsh.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

Discography[edit | edit source]

Studio albums and EPs[edit | edit source]

Compilations and live albums[edit | edit source]

  • Boiled Alive (The Crack, 1984, cassette release)
  • Old Lead (Omnium, 1991)—a collection of BOiLeD iN lEaD and Hotheads
  • Boiled Alive '92 (The Crack, 1992, cassette release)
  • Alloy: A Fifteen-Year Collection (Omnium, 1998)
  • Alloy2 (Omnium, 1998)

Singles[edit | edit source]

  • "Fück The Circus" (Susstones/Omnium, 1994)

Solo projects and associated bands[edit | edit source]

Besides the band's connection to Cats Laughing and Steven Brust, several members of Boiled in Lead have also released solo projects and work with other bands:

Miller formed the group Felonious Bosch in 2003 with members of other Twin Cities bands including drummer Renee Bracchi of The Blue Up? and Machinery Hill, blending European medieval music with rock on a 2003 self-titled EP and the 2006 album New Dark Ages. He has released seven solo albums.

References[edit | edit source]