He’s been the driving force behind the Glenrustles, Ol’ Yeller, and the Tisdales, and now he’s striking out with a new project, Rich Mattson and the Northstars. The band will be appearing at the Gunflint Tavern on May 31 and June 1.
“I started it as a retrospective original project where I can play some of my older material mixed in with new stuff and songs that Germaine and I wrote together,” Mattson says of his new group. “The band consists of myself, Germaine Gemberling on vocals and guitar, my nephew Curtis Mattson on drums and percussion, Eli Bissonett on fiddle, and one of my oldest friends Russell Bergum on the upright bass. Russell was one of the original Glenrustles back in the late ’80′s, and he and I played in a new wave band in high school. I’ve known him since we were in 5th grade, possibly longer. I called the band “the Northstars” sort of on a lark and as it turns out, my mom said the band that played at her and my dad’s wedding was called the Northstars.”
Mattson makes his home in Sparta, Minnesota, but he’s well acquainted with the Grand Marais area. “We always have a good time up the shore,” he says. “The first time playing there, around 5 years ago with Ol’ Yeller, I met so many great people and musicians and artists. Since we keep returning to play music there, these friendships have endured, and we always look forward to going back. Great bands like Cook County’s Most Wanted, Earth Wind and Todd, Joe Paulik, Portage, Bingham & Thorne – they definitely have their own scene happening, up there, and they have been very receptive to what we bring to it, too.”
Mattson runs a recording studio out of his Sparta home, and he’s always got a steady stream of bands coming through. It makes one wonder how he finds the time for his own music.
“I have been very busy in the studio recording everyone else’s music so, for now, my tunes are on the back-burner,” Mattson says. “Eventually, they’ll come to a slow boil and will have to be tended to. I’ve got a few new songs with the Northstars, but the band is really just getting started, so there’s no rush.”