This photo of Har Mar Superstar was taken last fall, when the Minneapolis vocalist/musician/songwriter was on tour opening for The Afghan Whigs in Seattle. The set that we witnessed was jaw-dropping, not only to newcomers, but to longtime fans of his work, as well. It’s remarkable to consider that, two decades into his career, the artist (born Sean Tillman) seems to be putting out some of his best material and is busier than ever. There’s always been certain comedic elements connected to Tillmann‘s act, being a naturally lighthearted and humorous individual, but too often this has allowed some folks to get things twisted. Sure, he may be known for stripping down to his briefs and doing headstands during shows, or for his portrayal of “Dancin’ Rick” in the Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson film, Starsky & Hutch, but his musical talents are undeniable. Sean‘s Afghan Whigs set stripped things down quite a bit, focusing much more on his pure vocal talent and songwriting ability, delivering the sort of deeply effecting soul and R&B tunes that he’s pumped out more and more in recent years. I love the shift, because although it is a move toward demanding respect, it’s an organic one, the work is genuine, and the respect is deserved. His upcoming tour performing the music of Sam Cooke is among my most anticipated of the year, because there is absolutely no question in my mind that he will pull it of brilliantly. That being said, it’s impossible for Har Mar to ever go fully straight and heavy; there’s always an element of lighthearted joy in his act, even when he’s belting out heart breaking love songs. This is a man that named himself after a shopping mall in Roseville, Minnesota, after all.
Tillmann gained a good deal of visibility for himself overseas, even writing a column for NME magazine. He’s toured the world, did a weekly residency at Manumission in Ibiza, has an insane list of famous bigshot friends like Kate Moss, starred in films, has shared family holidays with Macaulay Culkin, and has spent multi-year stints living in the major entertainment metropolises of New York City and Los Angeles. And that’s one of the most endearing things about him, the fact that, after all of this, he simply moved back to Minnesota, where he bought a house and continues to work. It seems apparent that there’s nothing more important to Sean, in his realm of achievements, than something like having his name painted on a star on the wall at the First Ave in Minneapolis, the same venue that his idol, Prince, filmed vital portions for the movie, Purple Rain. After everything, Har Mar clearly has love for the state that he hails from, and, likewise, Minnesota loves their golden boy. The latest evidence of this is the fact that Modist Brewery in Minneapolis just created a signature beer to honor him.
Whether or not the beverage itself manages to harness the essence of the beloved entertainer, that video featuring him above definitely epitomizes it. The title of the Bye Bye 16oz Personal Tallboy Best Summer Ever Beer crushable citrus lager is a mishmash of Har Mar references. The title of his 2013 album was Bye Bye 17. “Personal tallboy” is a combination of his recent single, “Personal Boy,” and the track “Tallboy,” which appeared on his 2009 album, Dark Touches, and was originally written for Britney Spears. Meanwhile, Best Summer Ever is the name of the most recent LP. The confidence exuded while rolling in on a segway all business, coupled with the beer’s own Tllmann-created theme song in the background, and ending with an acoustic rendition, before going into the DJ Screw/witness relocation effect on the vocals… it’s all gold. You can really tell that both sides are truly enjoying and embracing this collaboration. Plus, the beer sounds like a tasty situation that would match that energy perfectly.
Those in the area should be happy to know that when the beer is premiered on April 14th, it will be part of a large 2year anniversary celebration for the brewery that will feature a headlining set from Har Mar Superstar, including other local acts like Marijuana Deathsquad on the bill. More details can be found about the event on the Modist Brewery website, as well as on the flyer below.