Listen up to Luke LeBlanc

Kate Havelin

Guitar. Check. Harmonica. Check. Voice. Check. College degree. Almost. This Macalester senior has the talent to make a name for himself.

Luke LeBlanc has been playing music for almost half his life. At age 13, he won the 2009 Dylan Days singer songwriter contest, with his Song for Bob.”

Since that precocious start, he’s played at South By Southwest, opened for big acts, including the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Delbert McClinton, and Phil Solem of the Rembrandts. He’s released two CDs, First Rail and New Orleans Bound, plus a new EP out this month.

LeBlanc is young and has learned more about what works and what flops. He’s ditched the turkey feather in his cap. Dropped his Little Diamonds stage name. Those theatrical touches distracted from LeBlanc’s strength, his voice, which Star Tribune music critic Jon Bream and others have compared to a young John Prine. The 22-year-old musician is wisely moving ahead using his own name, a simpler, more appealing brand.

These days, the Economics major squeezes in gigs around school work, performing with keyboardist John Richardson, violinist Laurie Melting, and blues harmonica player Stacy Bowen at local coffeeshops, brewpubs, and bars, along with non-traditional venues– a church, Greek restaurant and library.

At the East Side Freedom Library, LeBlanc is part of an April 21st Music and Movements program tracing the roots of protest folk music from 1960s to today.

Folk music comes naturally to LeBlanc, who grew up in North Minneapolis listening to Johnny Cash and Hank Snow with his dad, Duke Sopiwnik. At age 11, LeBlanc inherited an old guitar from his grandfather, then taught himself to play. He’s been writing his own songs since he started playing, using his talented voice to tell his own stories. Listen to Luke LeBlanc and you’ll hear the sound of potential, tunes worth tracking.

As college graduation nears, LeBlanc knows he’ll continue pursuing music. For now, he’s focused on his April 29th EP release, Time on My Hands.

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