Dust off those rusty strings…

This is my 1986, Gibson Les Paul. I’ve had it since ‘86. It’s the possession I’ve had the longest in my whole life. It’s my best and oldest friend.

If you saw me play before 2001, you Probably only ever saw this guitar. About ten years ago, I kinda “retired” it. The frets were getting low and to do a fret job with the binding the way that it is…. ugh, spendy. $800+. I decided I’d only play it for bigger shows. Also around 2004, I started playing a lot more country music. I got a telecaster (the one that got stolen), and that became my main guitar for the next 14 years. Teles. I got it from water music in Stillwater for $1650. I still have the receipt and paperwork.

About two weeks ago, I pulled it out after playing Tony Houle ‘s Les Paul at the Schooner Tavern. I didn’t even throw new strings on it. Rusty as fuck, I wiped them off and played a show at Cowboy Jack’s (Woodbury) with Stephen Murray.

Have you ever had an old baseball glove, a pair of boots, or a fried you haven’t seen I years, but it was “just like yesterday” that you talked? That’s how it felt. I slid in like an old pair of boots. My hands played fast. My mind was free of worry. My thought came across, and were true. “Melissa” is back.

I brought it to Ted Vig at Vig Guitars , he made a set of really sweet 59 style pickups with a cap to brighten up the bridge. Then came the elbow grease. Years and years of grime. Stories. Messes.

I wish I knew what I had back as a teen, cuz would have never left if in the car a billion times in Minnesota winters, or sweltering heat. The photos will show the checking. I drove over it twice with my car (drunk obvi) in ‘97. Left it outside the The Terminal Bar and Flem TerminalBar Fleming hid it from me to rteach me a lesson. In 1989 it fell out of a stand and the headstock broke. I actually cried. In 1999 it got broken when I lived in a hippies house in Oregon. Moses Oakland (Leonard Shapiro) fixed the neck both times.

I going to play her til I need the fret job.

I love my teles, I love, my PRS, Dano’s, Harmony’s, Godin A-6 ultras, but she has my heart. Always and forever. Have any old pics of it? Share please.

Come hear her sing again at Javier Trejo at Mancini’s!! Mancini’s Thursday Jan. 9th at 7:30pm in the lounge. Thank you!!

Hey now!! Happy 2020

So I started this year out as I do every year, at a Gig. I played the Iron Exchange and it was pretty Deece. Followed that up with a gig on Jan. 1st and Lisa’s Place in Carver.

I’m going to make it my goal to journal here and practice my writing.

The other main goal of the year is to rid myself of most all of my possessions. So if you need anything… just ask I might have it.

Happy New Year!!

P.S. I’m playing at Mancini’s on Jan 9th so I’d love it if you came to that!! It’s early, 730 pm.


The Big Easy

“The Trees Grow Beads”

The Music

New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, Austin, (and they’ll all say) Minneapolis…. All big music towns. One thing that all these towns agree on though is that, New Orleans is the Mecca. It has not only the players and all the venues a city can handle but it also has this “vibe”. A steaze that combines; black culture, the birth of Jazz, Voodoo, ancient musical tradition, sophistication of European musicality, back bayou soul, add spices, crawfish, oysters and mix it with warm hot and humid weather.

I have two friends that moved down there about 10 months ago, so I normally take a little vacay about this time of year. The bars are slower and rather than go to Mexico I decided to look at NOLA. It’s been calling me for a couple years now. Like seriously calling.

“St. Charles Streetcar”

I loved the streetcars!! So chill, so uniquely old, recalling a time of day long past. I imagined how many people over the past who had ridden them. They run up to the Quarter and north to the city park.

New Orleans is set in the bend if a river much like St. Paul and having grown up in St. Paul I get the references i.e. “Upriver, down river, north, south” it can mean different things when you live in the bend of the river. Also to have grown up in St. Paul on the Mississippi and then to be in NOLA on the Mississippi was pretty freaking sweet!!

I kept thinking of all the sweet songs I’d heard as a kid which just added to the mysticism. “Way down yonder in New Orleans” by Freddy Cannon was probably the first I actually remember.

“House of the Rising Sun”

“City of New Orleans”

“Walking to New Orleans”

And all the musicians I admired so much were also from NOLA and Louisiana. Fats Dominoe, Louis Armstrong, Dr. John, Huey Piano Smith, Beau Jacques, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, Jerry Lee Louis and probably my favorite all time Louis Prima!!

Look at all theses artists, they all have a “thing”, a show, a mystique, a style, a schtik, and a presence in playing that is so NOLA.

Here’s my theory…. Because there is so many venues in NOLA, so many musicians, so much competition, YOU BETTER STAND OUT (in one way or another)!! If it’s between me and the next guy getting the gig, out play them, out sing them, out flash them, out something them man?!

“Are you going to bring a guitar down here?” my friends asked. “No I don’t think so.” And honestly I was scared and intimidated. That and only being there a week I wanted to just see it first.  Get a feel.

I walked up and down Burbon and found my way to Frenchman. It was all pretty sweet. I walked everywhere!! Took the city bikes and the streetcars. I wish I brought my Brompton (a foldy bike). I’ll just say this, the music was amazing and I definitely could hang with all the cats there. My mind was put at rest. Maybe not the Cajun music we saw but all the horn bands and funky and jazz swing I heard… Yeah I can get down. And I don’t mean this as a toot toot moment but more like a happy realization that I’ve put a lot of time into my craft.

The Food

The food in NOLA was amazing! From the char grilled oyster to the street corner hot dog. The Poboy to the Bigneits. It was all comfort food. Like super super good. I think I gained 10 lbs. Red beans and rice I could eat everyday. Just like Refried beans and rice. But I’ll have to say that the ability to have oysters every single day that weren’t $3-$5 a piece was a real treat. I went to a place that had .50¢ oysters for happy hour and we basically just said… “Keep ’em coming” I actually saw a place in the quarter that had .25¢ oyster happy hour but I never made it back there. I LOVE oysters, the brine the taste the different combos of sauces all of it, and up here they’re so expensive. But not there… Walking down the street you’d see oyster shell on sidewalk the same way you’d see cigarette butts. Bags of powdered sugar, from people who finished the Bigneits but left the sugar for like a homeless person or a gutter punk. I think they’re different.

Gutter Punks and the Scene

It Was hard watching all the gutter punk drink the dregs of all the Hand Grenades. I’m not judging but shit… it just gave me a sick feeling of my old ways. It wasn’t tough. I could walk and Bike for days. We rented the city bikes and it was awesome.

Here the other thing… I know everyone loves Cafe Dumonde but the real Beignets are in City Park at Morning Call. Just sayin’ .




So, it looks like i didn’t do shit for the last year… almost no posts. Laugh out fucking loud. Or… you lazy piece of shit.  Well here goes again… I’m trying to be less on media. Social media makes me crazy and adds to my depression and anxiety. I like instagram because it’s mostly just pictures but recently I fell into the twittersphere….. UGH?!?!  Iam going to blog more this year and work on nailing down a solid fanbase with flyers and email updates. Here’s a sweet link to my mailing list:  http://eepurl.com/dfSn_f

2017 > 2016

Ok, so this is the year. I tried last year (not really) to keep up with the posts, but, one gets busy then it gets late and before you know it…. it’s the next day. 

2016 was a ride fosho!! I played many shows and met many many people. Made new connections lost some too. Lost love but started creating again. Fell in love with my band again, and gave up on other ones. Became a teacher, started over as a student.

 All in all I feel I’m aging gracefully. It’s different to be sure. The crowds are younger, the gear is a bit heavier, the truck is a bit more beaten down. I feel as though I’m playing better, taking risks and being sought after by a few different bands. So here’s to you, and all of yours!! Let’s make this the year we want it to be. 

“I don’t make New Years resolutions, I make anti-resolutions. Like ‘shit, I ain’t gonna do THAT again?!?’ ” – JT

The Light of the Universe…. Share it!!

Don’t Quit Your Day Job.


Photo: Josh Olson Photography

 Even though I make mostly all of my money playing music, every  week I go to Heimies and sew bags. Thursday’s and Friday’s  I shine shoes. Playing music for money has it’s ups and downs. Yes, you do get to actually do what you love but like any other job there are those times when man, sometimes you just don’t wanna go into work. Your co-workers are buggin’ ya, there’s a really really great show in town you’d rather go see (more on that later) or geez, I just played most of these songs yesterday.
Here in Minnesota musicians don’t have the luxury of a 9-10 month “playing season” like an L.A. or a Florida or a Texas. Yes, half the year here it gets down right cold and all the outside weddings/venues/gigs/festivals are gone…. Not to mention that the cold is just murder to guitars, tubes, cars, case handles and pretty much anything heavy. Loading gear is never fun and when it happens four times a day (once to the truck, out at the venue, after the show back to the truck and back in the house) but loading gear when its 25 degrees or even better yet negative 25 degrees (yes that’s what I said) well it’s down right brutal. What I’m trying to say is, here in the winter in Minnesota 1/3 if not half of the gigs dry up. Patio happy hour gigs are gone with the wind, literally. So whats a player to do to make up the income?
I was once told once by a friend who is a west coast musician “Man, I totally respect you mid-west musicians, y’all ain’t afraid to work a day job. You guys work hard all day then play hard all night.”
Tis true. A lot of musicians here that I know, and I mean professional musicians, not like guys who got a couple gigs this month. ALL keep some sorta day job even if it’s one day a week. Installing sprinklers, roofing, maintenance, pizza delivery… somethin’. Even this one guy I know who travels all around the country playing to thousands, sells out two nights at First Ave. 3-4 times a year, on the radio contsantly… yup, shovels snow in the winter a bit and roofs a bit in the summer.
I for one like my day job. I shine shoes, which to me is very Zen and healing, I mean how many other things in life do you get such the instant satisfaction? A mess comes to me, I make it look awesome, and it goes away. The other reason I like having a day job is because if you ARE giggin’ like 3-4 nights a week you tend to forget that the rest of the world is out there. It helps me maintain just a bit of normalcy. “I see drunk people.” Yes, they are everywhere and they are every night. The names and faces might be different, but they are mostly the same. You start thinking the whole world is just that way and acts like that. The drama, the fights, the jealousy, the lying and all the egos. I’m sorry but after 11pm most folks in the bars I play are up to no good. So just to sit at my little shine stand and talk with a few people who aren’t completely wasted and asking me to play “Brown Eyed Girl” is quite honestly a breath of fresh air. 
Anyone that knows me know I have a bit of a shoe fetish. Also, I really enjoy dressing up for my shows (remind me of this and I think it’ll be a whole new post someday soon). There is nothing and I mean nothing like the feeling of having you shoes shine. You could have on the worst outfit ever but if those shoes shine… boy?!? Well, you just feel good. So for myself I couldn’t think of the more perfect job.
It’s a great extra little side cash for me and a nice little cushion in the wallet. I don’t have to touch any of my gig money, which is going to pay for, posters, PA, Lights, and new album I’m going into record next week. Yeah, that’s what I said. Let’s see who reads this.


“Dude, you play Wagon Wheel?”

Of course I do. I’m the one that WILL play it, and Stairway, and Free Bird, and Shake It Off.

What can I say, I play music for a living and truth be told I am very lucky to be able to do so. A lot of the guys (and a few gals) that started along with me waaaaaay back in ’92 and ’93, don’t play at all anymore, never did have the drive. I for some reason did. I play at least 4-5 nights a week and sometimes 7 nights a week. And, every once in a while, there are time when there are 2-3 gigs a day and you’re running all over the city trying to fit ’em all in and not start late.
Because this IS how I pay the bills, a lot of the time I must play other peoples songs. The Hits, the ones everybody knows, the ones that will instantly fill a dance floor and inevitably… keep people drinking. They’re called “cover songs” in most circles. Musicians can take a lot of flack from other musicians and you’ll hear things like, “Oh you’re in a cover band” and “well do you just play covers?” and my ultimate favorite was “I’ll come and see you when you play all origional material.”
I was talking with Fee and she said, “hey do you do wagon wheel?” Of course I do Fee. She couldn’t believe I would.  It got me thinking about “covers”. In some circles covers are like taboo.  Some are repulsed by the fact that they would ever do them, and some who do them, wouldnt even think about doing certain ones i.e. Wagon Wheel. 

Why not?!  Is it selling out or cashing in?  I had a musician friend of mine (and I think he meant it as a compliment, even though it was a backhanded compliment) say, “hey you still playing at Cowboy Jacks? After I replied “man you should really got out of there.” Why? To play my touchy feely shit at coffe houses for $20 and tips? Or work at SA? I’m good at this, I really do enjoy it, and if I must sing Brown Eyed Girl again…. I’m singing it to you, and for only you. 

Covers are everywhere, and why for instance in Jazz is it called a “standard” and in bluegrass or gospel music it’s called a “traditional.” I mean, when people say that they are going to the symphony to hear Mozart who wrote music over 200 years ago aren’t they going to see just a really really big band playing a 200 hundred year old cover tune?!

“They sit at the bar and put bread in my jar and say…. Man what are you doing here.” (See… Backhanded compliment)

I’m here for you. And I am humbled and honored to be able to entertain you. 

I mean, was Sinatra just a cover artist? I think not. 

New Website!! Bienvenidos!!


No one does it on their own. None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for all the great people in my life who have supported me over the years and continue to support me. This page is for all of these people!! Names Bold and Italicized are considered Thank You!!!

November 20th 2015. I was playing a show in St. Peter, Minnesota thanks to Steve Guse, and I met an interesting gal named Ann Rosenquist Fee (from here on referred to as Fee). Well, Fee is the director of the Arts Center of Saint Peter, and an actress, and a singer, and a budding potter/sculptor!! She was performing in a play called “The Best of Hank and Rita” February 28 and I really wanted to see it.

“If you love music, if you love theater, if you understand love and all that can come with it, then you need to see The Frye: The best of Hank and Rita. Don’t ask why. See it now, before it all goes to hell. Having loved, and lost, and lived most of my life as a professional musician, it hit home too hard. I felt it. I laughed. I got emotional. I empathized. Three times I thought I knew how it was going to end…….”    (how’s that Fee? she wanted a plug)

Before I went to see the Frye, I met with Fee (and yes I find myself saying “ooooooooooo Fee” in my head the PHISH song) to talk art and life and theater and stuff. She said, “man, you need a website?!?!” I was like “I know :(“. I had one for many years that my friend John Evanson and I built, and I think it is still floating out there in cyberspace somewhere. It was fine for a while, but everything was HTML and the calendar took a day to write and then if there was a gig change I’d have to email John Evanson and he’d email me back and so forth. Took forever. Fast forward to about a year ago another friend Scott Gates helped build one. It was great an served a purpose for a while too, but it cost $20. a month which normally isn’t a big deal but John Evanson and I have the domain http://www.javiertrejo.com for like the next 50 years or so, so why pay for it?!? Fee was like, hey WordPress is free. “Really?!?!” I said. “Well I’m leaving for Mexico for like 3 weeks, could you show me how to work WordPress before I go and I’ll build one while Im gone? Thet’ll give me plenty of time.” Fee being the super rock star she is, declared herself my new Brand Manager and said “yes.” The next Sunday, we met for coffee again at the River Rock Coffee shop and basically built what you see now as the “home” page and the “about” page you see now.

Now, literally the following Thursday after the play, the Thursday “before” the River Rock Coffee meeting, I was playing at Cowboy Jacks Bloomington, with Jason Bush (bass player extraordinaire, soul brother, inspiration, and my friend), Chris Hunnicutt (who I play with mostly as of late, who is also killer bass player and my friend) was out of town getting his grill specked, when on our first set break two guys came up and commented how, “even though there isnt a lot of people here” (there never is on a Thursday) “the music is killer?!?! You guys are really good!!” Sam Botwinski and Andy Selness, two deece bros, happened to be out on the town for a few beers and stumbled into Jacks. Well we all talked life and creativity and graphics and photography and just life and shit. It was cool. Well after Sam Botwinski said “hey man, I like you energy and if there’s anything I can do to help let me know.” FFw, River Rock Coffee, it became evident to Fee and I that we needed way better photos than the shitty phone pics we all are guilty of taking. “I literally met a guy on Thursday who said he takes photos.” I called Sam Botwinski and set up a little photo shoot. All the pro photos you see here are from Sam Botwinski. We had a blast one day, over about an hour of time. Then we went and had tacos at El Burrito Mercado, and her had them to me in a few days. “I’ll get ’em to you before you leave on your trip so you can build  the site with them.” Oh, Sam, you da best!!

I fly to Mahaual Mexico, a place I discovered through, John Vizard and Natalie Dahl. IMG_4539Mahahual is paradise, where I’ve made many friend over the years like Jaime Cueto, Kevin Jenkins, David Ostrow (all the Ostrows), Carolynn, Michele, Mugro Nydia y Greta.  Angela Yvonne came for a bit and added a nice break! Basically I took this time to build what you see now. When I come home the summer music season starts and you all will want to know where the shows are. Here ya go!!

This is the immediate story of all of what happened.

Over the years there have been musicians, family, friends, lovers, losers, principles and places to thank and recognize and forget.


Family: Francisco Trejo, Elaine Trejo, Luke Malchow, Sierra Trejo, Grandma Mae, Grandpa Mel, Grandma Trejo, Grandma Trejo, Tia Aurora, Uncle Jose, Ana Trejo, Mark, Miguel, Juan, Frankie, Becky, Lucy, Xio, little cousins, Tracey Hamilton, Auntie Dorothy, Trouble, Zoro, Taka, Jenny, Emma, Irving, Bud, Donna, Dean, LeAnne, Punky, Sammie


The Deep End: Mike Steineman, Corey Bloom, Max Kostecki

The Beads: Matt Stevens, Nate Stevens, Mason Hozza, Chris Yoerks, George Berg, Rose Johnson, Dan Kopecky, Nick Dodd, Casey O’brian, JV Zontelli, Ed Levine, Andy Schmidts,  Jim Trouten, Ryan Lodgaard, Ruben, Matt May, Mike Johnson, Sarah Smith…

The Terminal Bar: Flem, Annette, Joe, Terry, Captain Corey, Pockets, Nate Dogg

One Eyed Jacks: Brad Ray, Reed Braaten, Dave Vandergreind, Tamir Nolly, Dan Schauer, Eddie “Hondo” Juntunen, Phil Wong

The Jones Gang: Lee Leonard, Jim Hinkley, Stu Allen, John Wolfe, Annie Hicks, Leif Rassmusen,

The Hang: Dan Ristrom, Josue Alfaro, Joe Peterson, Carl Seward

New Primitives: Joel Arpin, Tom Peterson, Stan Kipper, Chico Perez, Bruce Jackson, Daryk Narum

White Iron Band, The Big Wu, TBT, Mango Jam, SANTANA, The Grateful Dead, Shangoya, Electric Arab Orchestra, Mickey Hart, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Frank Sinatra, County Music, Banda, Reggae, Caetano Veloso, Tears For Fears, The Cult, Miles Davis, George Clinton and Parliment Funkadellic

Bass Players: Matt Stevens, Jimmy Rogers, Dan Ristrom, Micharl Caravale,  Tanner Brown, Chad Speck, BG, Tim Sundae, Nick Broadnax, Jimmy Stoffer, Chistopher Ray Hunnicutt, Blake Tanberk, Lee Leonard, Jason Bush, Rob Arund, Ryan Downlo, David Gonzalez, Chuck Savage, Steve Murray, Nick Salsburry, Liz Draper, Jake Jackson, Elmar, Dubs, Boozer, Andy Schuster, Rich Casey, Andy Mark, Andy Miller, TP, Phil Lesh, Phil Wong, Big Bob Scoggins, Casey O’brien, Kale Reed

Drummers: Michael B. Johnson (you can’t be Michael Johnson, unless you Michael B. Johnson) Joel “The Family Man” Arpin, JV Zontelli, Josh Alfaro, Derek Trost, Ben Peterson, Brian Hamilton, James Schmehl, Jeremy Johnson, Joey, Lance, Kipp, Pat Nelson, Kelly Cook, Nick Dodd, Ryan Lodgaard, George Berg, Chico Harris, Chico Chavez, Pockets, Big Bob Scoggins, Chris Grey, Corey Bloom, Geoff Prettner, Terry VanDeWalker, Undie, Joe Diaz

Guitar Players: Nate Stevens, Chris Stevens, Jerry Francis, Moses Oakland, Big Bob Scoggins, Chris Castino, Jason Fladager, Jon Herchert, Sam Weyandt, Matt Pudas, Cheech, Mark Grundhoeffer, Dean Magraw, Jim Hinkley, JimTrouten, Aaron Gorton, Alex Rossi, Elliot Blaufuss, Blair Krivanek, Molly Maher, Erik Koskinen, Dave Simonette, Andra Suchy, Stein Malvey, Dan Gaarder, Nate Duncan,  Paul Bergen, Les Paul, Jerry Garcia, SANTANA

Keyboard Players: Mason Hozza, Rob Hilstrom, John Wolfe Jr., Afro Keys Eric Anderson, Bruce Jackson, Joe “Lightning” Peterson, Cornell Blanchard, Natt Dogg, John Trygstad, Eddie Juntunen, Buzz Chopper, Toby Marshall, Davina, Sweet Lou Snyder, Andy Crowley

Horn Players: Daryk Narum, Sten Johnson, Zack Lozier, Matt Darling, Maxaphone, Joe (Wookie), Joseph McCauley, Ben Wagner, Aaron Wiener, Dan Kuse, Tamir Nolly, Andy Schmitz

Steel Players: Mike Johnson, Bill Quinn, Joe Savage, Rich Smith, Randy Keely,

Special Helpers and  Super Support (over the years) : Eric Rinehimer, Gigi Boyer, Denny Silverman, Ruben, Nate Dogg Anderson, Timmy the Winker, Coach Paul, Sam Botwinski, and Fee 

Hence… go to “The Best of Hank and Rita” by  Joe Tougas.