The Sensational Joint Chiefs were five childhood friends who, in college, loved collecting and listening to 1960s and ’70s gospel records and jamming in their parents’ basements in Minneapolis and St Paul. Eventually, they began writing and arranging their own original tunes, calling their style “old-school southern gospel funk”, influenced and inspired by legendary groups like The Pilgrim Jubilees, The Sensational Williams Brothers, The Fabulous Luckett Brothers, The Marion Gaines Singers, and The Mighty Clouds of Joy, as well as James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, BB King, The Meters, and the great Stax artists of the ’60s. Of course, growing up in Minneapolis meant also being inspired and influenced by The Replacements, Husker Du, Prince, and early Soul Asylum, Arcwelder, and Babes in Toyland. The SJCs played their first gig on June 1, 1995 at the Pratt Community Ice Cream Social in Minneapolis as a quartet featuring David Olson (vocals, trumpet, percussion), JG Everest (vocals, guitar, bass), Nathan Pederson (vocals, guitar, bass), and Damon Ewing (drums). Within a year, David’s older brother Bryan Olson had moved back home from Chicago to join the band and complete the 5-piece lineup.
The ‘Chiefs quickly gained an enthusiastic following and honed their sound and groove by playing many long, multi-set shows at several local venues around the Twin Cities, soon playing top ’90s venues like First Avenue, The Uptown Bar, The Cabooze, The Turf Club, and The 400 Bar, as well as regional Festivals and venues in Chicago, Mankato, St Cloud, and Duluth. After self-releasing a series of cassette tapes, the band formed Firetrunk Records and in June 1997 self-released their debut album, “Mornin’ Train“, awarded “R&B Album of The Year” at the 1998 Minnesota Music Awards, with the band being also awarded “Best R&B Artist” in a field that included Prince and other great acts. JG Everest was also nominated for “Artist of the Year” honors, which went to Barb Cohen of Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Their second album, Lost Stepchild (1998) similarly won “R&B Album of The Year” at the 1999 MMAs, with the band awarded “Best R&B Artist” for the second year in a row. Later that year, the band called it quits, burned out and in debt, with JG Everest and Bryan Olson forming what would become Lateduster with Martin Dosh and Andrew Broder. (Ewing also briefly joined, along with legendary DJ Stage One). The SJCs continued to play regular reunion shows for another decade, playing their last show in November 2009.