Breaking down barriers: Local rock band The Knotties releases first full-length album

With a voice that sounds beyond his years, The Knotties lead vocalist and guitarist Channing Minnema pours his heart out for audiences with songs channeling his personal experiences. Amanda Frost / Special to The Forum
With a voice that sounds beyond his years, The Knotties lead vocalist and guitarist Channing Minnema pours his heart out for audiences with songs channeling his personal experiences. Amanda Frost / Special to The Forum

FARGO — No matter where the group is performing its eclectic music blending rock, blues and funk, local band The Knotties strives to create raw, honest connections with audiences.

Since forming more than two years ago, the outfit has created this atmosphere many times by performing self-recorded demos in venues around the community. As a band that only performs original music, however, group members Channing Minnema, Michael Mooridian and Jon Hunter knew they needed to get to the next step in their musical journey: a full-length album.

Now, after receiving a Jade Presents Arts Partnership grant, The Knotties will officially release a debut album at 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 at The Aquarium in downtown Fargo with special guest Jessica Vines. The self-titled album of eight tracks is a culmination of their collective songwriting to date. The band is excited to have a “complete and polished product” that audience members can listen to long after the concert ends, says Mooridian, the bassist.

“At the end of the night, we want people to feel like they are in a different space emotionally, mentally and physically than when it began,” he says. “All of our music is an expression of a specific experience that one or all of us have had. Oftentimes it’s an expression of a combination of experiences, but it all relates directly to our pasts.”

Michael Mooridian as seen in the recording studio. The Knotties received a $2,400 Jade Presents Arts Partnership grant to create a full-length album that will be released Saturday, Feb. 16, at The Aquarium. Shelby Biffert / Special to The Forum
Michael Mooridian as seen in the recording studio. The Knotties received a $2,400 Jade Presents Arts Partnership grant to create a full-length album that will be released Saturday, Feb. 16, at The Aquarium. Shelby Biffert / Special to The Forum

Lead vocalist and guitarist Minnema shared similar thoughts, adding that through these personal experiences, “I learned how I could best channel that energy and share it with the world (through music),” he says.

Mooridian first met Minnema as his 10th-grade English teacher in Valley City, N.D. Minnema, a self-taught musician from a young age, had just formed his first band. Mooridian would often join the group’s jam sessions when they were practicing in the high school band room.

Both unaware that the other had moved to Fargo, the musicians reacquainted several years later at the Red Raven in downtown Fargo when Minnema was the opener for a concert and Mooridian was the bassist of the main band.

“We hit it off right then and there,” Minnema says. “I knew I wanted to form a band with the best players I could find, and Michael was the first person that I felt was right. We started playing with other musicians, tried a few here and there, and eventually found (drummer) Jon Hunter.”

Band members of The Knotties include lead vocalist and guitarist Channing Minnema, bassist Michael Mooridian and drummer Jon Hunter (pictured). Amanda Frost / Special to The Forum
Band members of The Knotties include lead vocalist and guitarist Channing Minnema, bassist Michael Mooridian and drummer Jon Hunter (pictured). Amanda Frost / Special to The Forum

All three musicians push themselves to their artistic limits, blending genres, musical styles, sounds and emotions into “something we hope will extend beyond the artists we all idolize,” Mooridian says.

At the album release, The Knotties hope people in the crowd will allow themselves to fully embrace the gamut of emotions that may arise as they listen.

“(People from) Fargo and the Upper Midwest have a tendency to hide our feelings, even from ourselves,” Mooridian says. “Art helps break those barriers down in a safe and cathartic way, whether it’s through a healthy release of anger, the strength to embrace a sad fact or the empowerment of joy.”

Minnema adds, “The record is fantastic, but I do have to say, our live show is where that magic really unfolds. When I see people listening in the crowd, feeling what I'm feeling, I know I've done my job.”

"The Knotties" on CD will be available for purchase at the concert, with a digital album and vinyl release to follow in the near future. For more information on the band, visit facebook.com/theknottiesofficial or find them on Spotify.

If you go

What: "The Knotties" album release with Jessica Vines

When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16

Where: The Aquarium, 226 Broadway N.

Cost: $7 at the door for this 21+ show

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net.