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Local band prepares for album release amid pandemic

DULUTH, MN -- Entertainment is one of the many industries put on hold indefinitely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The uncertainty instilled fear in musicians and artists alike.

As vaccines roll out and we start to see a light at the end of a long tunnel, many are focusing on what comes next.

One local band made the most of their time in quarantine. They're now ready to share their latest work with the Northland.

In the basement of their West Duluth home, Breanne Marie and the Front Porch Sinners put the final touches on their upcoming live performance.

In March of 2020, their work on a new album came to a screetching halt, just days before they were supposed to record.

"We had the big shutdown for the state of Minnesota, so we definitely had to wait until after that. So when restrictions lifted, we had to talk about - are you comfortable coming back into the space to rehearse?" said frontwoman, Breanne Marie Tepler.

They've been following safety protocols for months in an effort to be together.

"We knew that we were really risking things if we didnt do it right, if we didnt follow all the rules. So we masked up, and the air was thick with antibacterial cleaning products," Tepler said.

Tepler says while they lost the opportunity to move quickly, they gained more time to smooth it out.

"I think that the slowdown made everything sound a lot better," Tepler said. "Each band member was looking at what they were doing prior to the shutdown, and then taking that extra time to take that extra consideration."

She ended up writing the title track, "Juniper," during isolation.

"I just identified with the idea that this really short, shrubbery tree can survive these harsh elements over time," Tepler said. "When we knew there would be a album called "Juniper," that's when I was pulling the pieces together and bringing them to the band so they could work their magic."

After months of work and steady rehearsals, Breanne Marie and the Front Porch Sinners are ready to share "Juniper" with the world.

"The evolution of watching those songs take shape and then releasing them out into the world means a lot not just to me, but to all of us," said band member, Evan Tepler.

Their release plan has been tricky. Typically, album stores like Electric Fetus in downtown Duluth would be a home base for local bands, but the store has been temporarily closed since March 2020.

"They do in-store releases, so we would definitely have in-store appearances there where we would play, and people would come out for that. Obviously thats not happening with it being shut down," Evan Tepler said.

Instead, the group will host a live, virtual concert on Saturday, February 20.

"That's one of the things we miss, an audience. We want to know you're out there and listening," Breanne Tepler said. "After a show we'd normally be hanging out by a merch table. We can't do that now, so we want to be able to jump online and chat with you."

Fans can also purchase the album at several Duluth shops, such as Wussow's Concert Cafe and Schmitt Music in the Miller Hill Mall.

As coronavirus cases drop and vaccines roll out, the band is moving forward slowly - with fingers crossed - but not taking anything for granted.

"One musician said it's a lot of hope, followed by a lot of 'nope,'" Tepler said. "We're going to line things up, get things on the calendar, but we all have been conditioned now for the past year to not expect something to happen."

Click HERE for a link to Saturday's virtual performance.

Click HERE to learn more about Breanne Marie and the Front Porch Sinners.

Jenna Wells

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