By dropping the curtain on live entertainment, the pandemic took a toll on the music scene. But this wasn’t necessarily the case for Craig Schmoller of Carver and Joe Sherohman of Maple Grove, who created and produced an album this year, virtually, without ever meting face-to-face.
Pre-pandemic, Sherohman says he met Schmoller, who for 25 years had lived in the Minnetonka/Wayzata area, while performing together on a sidewalk outside of a Dunn Brothers Coffee in Maple Grove. He says it was a throw-together jam for a one-shot gig with Sherohman on bass and Schmoller on guitar. After going their separate ways, they crossed paths again 10 years later during a men’s group rib fest. That second encounter set the course for their initial band, Waylen Blue and the Sub Fives. But, Sherohman says that all fell apart when the pandemic hit.
When everything shut down, he and Schmoller tried playing music together online with Jamulus, a music performance software that enables live rehearsing from anywhere on the Internet. Despite their best efforts, it didn’t work for them. Sherohman says Schmoller decided to create an album, and that’s when Smokin’ Henways was born. It’s an instrumental jazz/rock/fusion/Texas-styled blues band. Sherohman says the name of the band originates from a 1930s Marx Brothers joke. “It’s just for fun and for those who remember those guys,” Schmoller says.
Creating the album, Your Face Here, was a short leap for both musicians, who have studios in their homes, and transferring their music to each other wasn’t much of an issue either, Schmoller says. “I tried to do a tune in about a week, and [Sherohman would] shoot those tracks right back to me, and we did this volley back and forth. By February, it was all mixed, mastered and we distributed it,” he says.
Granted, the pandemic brought missed opportunities for working together, but Schmoller says it afforded them good exercises and inventive avenues for making music. “There was an upside to it, even if we can’t play out,” he says. But as the world began reopening, the duo has received multiple inquiries about performing live. “We’re looking forward to doing live music because that’s really, to me, what it’s all about,” Schmoller says.