Seconds into their debut album, You’re Dreaming (2016), The Cactus Blossoms lasso you tightly, tugging you backward in time to a lost sound. Their smooth, 50’s style country resonance lulls you into a peace of mind with bright riffs and effortless vocals. Throughout their debut album, the Cactus Blossoms traverse the now deserted plains of old-time, country-western music. This brother duo of Page Burkum and Jack Torrey (Torrey is a stage name) resurrect the lyrical relatability and soothing, twangy sway of other brother duos such as The Everly Brothers and The Louvin Brothers. I had a chance to speak with rhythm guitarist and vocalist, Page Burkum, where we discussed the Cactus Blossoms’ origins, inspirations, and aspirations.
Burkum began our conversation by outlining the band: himself on rhythm guitar and vocals, Torrey on lead guitar and vocals, and a relatively solidified touring/recording group of supporting musicians. Jack and Page grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they were raised on Hank Williams and The Everly Brothers; this country-folk musical upbringing naturally sculpted their style into what it is today.
Burkum notes how the decision to record their album came about naturally: “We had been opening for some friends and people liked what we did, so we decided to roll with it and record what we had.” Shortly after performing in local spots around Minneapolis, The Cactus Blossoms went to Chicago to record. Jack and Page recorded this album live rather than going line by line. When asked about this decision, Page notes how it was just “how we felt comfortable recording.”
While talking with Page, I noticed his tranquility paired nicely with my interpretation of his music. It’s apparent that his peaceful music is a translation of his personality. Burkum explained this translation: “When you make music, parts of yourself just naturally slip into your work. We are pretty gentle people so I guess that is reflected.”
Lyrically, the Cactus Blossoms emit pleasantness, serenity, and genuine relatability that is all but lost from today’s lyrics. Torrey writes most of the lyrics, but Burkum occasionally contributes (he wrote all of “Power Blue”). You’re Dreaming opens with “Stoplight Kisses” a light, bouncy scene from a healthy relationship. The Cactus Blossoms flip the switch in “Change Your Ways or Die,” where Page and Jack sing an acrimonious warning to a supposed lover.
What’s in store next for the Cactus Blossoms after their nostalgic twangy debut? Burkum mentioned a sophomore album is in the works, but the timing is still a little vague. When asked about the expected sound, Burkum’s response matched the uncertainty of their sophomore release date: “You can’t help but change, and when you change, your music changes. We don’t know where our sound will go, we’ll just play what comes naturally to us.” Listening to Page’s easy going attitude made the soothing feeling felt by You’re Dreaming all the more profound and genuine. I anticipate this same tranquility filling the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Wednesday, April 26th when they come to the city.
Written by Brendan Redmond