Singer and guitarist Jeff Loven has performed at a variety of venues on numerous stages at clubs, universities and festivals, both locally and nationally.
Jeff won two Minnesota Music Awards and was picked by Steve Vai and Steve Morse as winner of Kahler’s International Guitar Competition. He has toured across the United States as guitarist for Obsession and Funhouse, rocked 93X-fest with The Coup De Grace and tore up CBGBs in New York with Crash Street featuring Melvin James. Many people will also remember seeing Jeff perform with The Killawatts and also with KQRS house band The Janitors.
Recently Jeff has enjoyed tremendous success performing as Minnesota’s #1 One Man Band.
Here's a look at Jeff's History
Obsession garnered a tremendous following with their cutting-edge music and stage theatrics. They were the first band to win a Minnesota Music Award for heavy metal in 1985. Years before bands like Slave Raider or Hurricane Alice came about they would routinely blow out the fire code by packing places like Ryans Corner in St. Paul with 1200 people. “We would even take an occasional off-night like Sunday or Monday at Hopkins Bowl and it would be the same thing- people standing in the front of the stage all the way to the back of the room like an arena concert. You just don’t see that anymore,” says Jeff.
Minnesota’s premiere rock act. Recorded a cds worth of (unreleased) music at Paisley Park produced by famous Bowie sideman Mick Ronson. Rolling Stone called Funhouse best up and coming rock band in1989 (pics)
Lovens Obsession 1989-1992
Jeff says “One of the most creative and exciting times in my life. Our first gig was headlining at the Uptown in Mpls on Friday night and Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson (The Peplacements, GNR) were in the audience. I didn’t know it until a few times later playing at the Uptown that Bobby Stinson was a big Obsession fan. He would come early to our soundchecks and tell me how he liked the old gasmask routine I did in my spotlight solo in the metal days. I would give him my drink tickets- although I don’t think he needed them-I think his mom bartended there.”
Crash Street 1989-1992
Jeff says “ I played with Melvin James and the original Crash Street Kids. I think I was the only person to play guitar with the original trio making it a quartet. It was a real honor to play with Melvin, Randy and the late great Gary Snow. This was by far the best pop band I ever played with—nothing and no one in town could even touch the original lineup we had. Every show was magical. I learned a lot from Melvin James.” (pics)
The Coup de Grace
Jeff says “When the Coup’s lead guitar guy split in 1999 Jimmy Coup called me to learn the whole cd in 10 days for the 93X fest show. The Coup de Grace was a fun challenge because of the triple guitar harmonies and some unusual song arrangements. I think I played with The Coup de Grace for a couple of months. Jimmy went on to play for Andrew W. K. for a couple years and now is doing his own thing. I hope to collaborate with him on some projects later this year.”
The Killawatts 1996-2000
Jeff says “The 2 guitar attack of me and my buddy Kelly Peterson. Musically the tightest and best group of musicians I’ve ever played with. We were a great cover band and I had a lot of fun doing the dueling solos with Kelly- he’s just a great guitarist with a ton of fire! Our rhythm section was the best in town- the rock solid drumming of George Ford (Austin Healey) and the world class bass playing of Tom Dades, Dan Breeze, Victor Broden (LeAnn Rimes) and occasionally Charles Fletcher.”
The New Janitors 1991-1995
Jeff says “We were sometimes referred to as The Nude Janitors- we were the wacky house band for KQRS at Mississippi Live. A fun cover band who didn’t take themselves too serious. We actually played the Target Center twice! I guess I sorta played the Metrodome also by default since we were playing outside of the dome for a packed Vikings/Packer game and some news guy ran outside to the stage on the plaza and told me to shut down my wireless because I was broadcasting in the dome- a total Spinal Tap moment I’ll never forget. At the end of our show I plugged the wireless back in and blasted Vanhalens Eruption just for fun before the kickoff!” (review-John Bream)
Kahler National Guitar Competition
Jeff says “In 1985 Kahler had this nationwide contest for the best 3 minute guitar solo with creative wammy bar stuff. The day before the deadline I called up my friend Ted Martin and we recorded an entry in the basement of Mr. Nibs – the bar where my band Obsession was playing. My solo had some wacky use of the wammy bar where I made it sound like an air-raid siren, a car starting, bombs dropping and there was even some dialogue –the bulk of the solo was something I had been playing for the live show for three years and I think we recorded the whole thing in about an hour.
My solo was picked from about 600 entries as unanimous winner by Steve Vai, Steve Morse and Mark St. John (then of Kiss). I was really excited to get to meet Steve Vai who at the time had just taken Ynwgies place in the band Alcatrazz. I was supposed to jam with Vai at the Kahler booth at the Namm show and I learned a good portion of his solo material and stuff with Alcatrazz. As it turned out-Vai was a no-show (actually rehearsing with David Lee Roth) and the (then) rumours that Eddie (Van Halen) was looking for a singer down there were true. Roth had snatched up Vai and Ed would soon jam with Sammy at the Farm Aid show later that week after the NAMM show.
I did win some neat stuff and a free trip. Paul Hamer actually called me up at home to build me whatever guitar I wanted (the same year they turned down Paul Stanley) and that’s the one I used for awhile and hold in the full page ad campaign that ran in everything from Guitar Player to Circus. One kinda weird/neat thing about the contest was my friend Brian Bart from the band Dareforce was first runner up. It’s neat that 2 guys from Mpls won a nationwide contest and weird we have the same birthday!”
The Jimi Hendrix connection
Jeff says “A friend of mine, Buzzy Linhart was a friend of Jimi Hendrix. Buzzy was the first person to record at Electric Ladyland Studio (while Jimi was on tour)-the album was produced by Eddie Kramer. I’m a huge fan of everything Hendrix. Buzzy, songwriter and guitarist, played vibes (like a xylophone) on Jimi Hendrix’s last studio album Cry Of Love. I got to play guitar on Buzzy’s last record!”
Jeff also owns the very first Jimi Hendrix Fender Stratocaster. The guitar is the first Fender with the name Jimi Hendrix on it and historically marks the first time Fender worked with the Hendrix estate to produce an official Jimi Hendrix model licensed by Fender. It is a replica of the Stratocaster that Jimi played At Woodstock on Jeff's birthday, built by hand in the Fender Custom Shop by Senior Master Builder Fred Stuart and was originally given to Al Hendrix, Jimi's father.
Meeting Eddie Van Halen
Jeff says “I had a drink with him on the Delta Queen in New Orleans. It was 1985. Me, my singer Neal Sundet and Pete Alenov from Pete’s Guitar were hanging out with Rudy and Tommy from Ozzy’s band, Brian May, Ted Nugent and the singer for Grim Reaper. Eddie asked what I was drinking and then said I should cut my hair ‘Ya look like a woman, dude.’ Looking back-why did we use that gawdawful Aquanet-yuck! My hair just melted like cotton candy down there-heh heh!! I’ll never forget that night-I took a cab back to the hotel with John Entwhistle from the Who. Wow!” (pics)
Jeff says “One of the local guitar stores Knut Koupee hosted a guitar contest at the Cabooze each year in the 80s up until around 1992. You got to play for 2 minutes to a packed house. The night usually got pretty boring (especially for the judges) after the first half hour of the same obligatory licks and players.
One year as a joke I entered as a nerd character Ernie Danger. I had a pizza delivered exactly on time for my solo from Dominos. The delivery guy walked on stage and I played a solo on my 55 tele with a slice of pizza for a guitar pick. Then for some reason some guy threw a whole pack of firecrackers at my feet and I sorta danced around the blasts while I finished my solo. Ernie was a finalist and the judges gave him a Martin guitar that year.
The next year we changed it up to Surfin Ernie Danger. With a beach-type theme and surf board in tow we stormed the stage with a crew of 12- two bikini babes, a giant palm tree prop, a guy in a dancing beer can outfit, and a full Ernie Danger security crew with walkie talkies and tour jackets. Kii Arens, who introduced Ernie to the crowd, brought real frozen sharks that we decorated the stage with and had to return within 6 hours to a deli seafood display before they’d thaw. Surfin Ernie absolutely rocked that night. In true surfer fashion-the judges awarded Ernie a dune buggy sparkle-purple Charvel fusion guitar.
The following year was Ernie’s final appearance- a tribute to Jimi Hendrix billed as The Ernie Danger Experience. I had a Jimi outfit with a ‘fro wig and a Hendrix style left handed strat. We had giant amp stacks I got to smash, and an exploding wah wah pedal! Once again Ernie was a finalist. By the time knut Koupee did their last guitar contest Ernie was on the judging panel!” (pics)
Jeff says “I was the main rock guitar guy at Music Tech from 1986-1994. I taught and developed curriculum for the following courses: Rock Technique 1 and 2; Songwriting; Rock Repertoire; Fingerboard Theory 1 and 2; and Reading 1 and 2. I also directed the entire Rock Ensemble Department (12 bands). I served as a voting member of the guitar committee, which made decisions in regard to curriculum, administrative functions, recruitment/retention policy, and student requests and concerns. I won Teacher Of The Year 1992. I also taught under Professor Arthur Maude for Minneapolis Community College 1990-1993 and gave lessons for a few years at Minnesota Center For The Arts Education. I also gave a thousands of guitar lessons at my home studio to hundreds and hundreds of students over the years and I have a Minnesota’s Vocational Teacher’s License.
Jeff Loven in the textbook of Metal!!
Jeff Loven as subject in Running With The Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness In Heavy Metal Music, pp. 46, 99-100. Textbook by Dr. Robert Walser used for popular music courses at Dartmouth College and also at UCLA. Jeff says “If you want to really know metal and it’s true roots- you have to get this book. Go to Amazon.com now and order yours today!“
Jeff Loven worked under studio producers Mick Ronson and Oliver Lieber (Paula Abdul). Commercial credits include Northwest Airlines, University College, Tires Plus, Infinity Speakers, Thomas Auto Mall, Roadrunner Courier, The Minnesota Vikings, UPS, U of M, Jansports, Lever 2000, Wayzata Mitsubishi, Cymon Del Grail, Waverly Beach and numerous other clients including just about every home remodeling company, car company, restaurant and mortage company that advertised on local cable television and radio. He also played on Buzzy Linharts Publishing Catalog/Volume One cd and worked as hired gun on many other cd releases.
Not Ready To Join A Band Anytime Soon
Don't ask Jeff to join your band- he recently turned down an audition for Guns-n-Roses.