Live music entertains between hockey action

Ralph regular Matt Strand will lead an unnamed band during this weekend’s series.

Matt Strand plays with his unnamed band on Saturday night at O’Really’s Pub. Photo by Chester Beltowski/The Dakota Student.

Matt Strand, who has been playing shows at the Ralph Engelstad Arena for over 10 years, will be rocking out between periods at the men’s hockey games this weekend.

Strand’s new, unnamed band will be on stage during the weekend series against Nebraska-Omaha. This will nearly be Strand’s 30th performance at the Ralph since 2002 and his first with this band.

His original band, Fatlip, first landed a gig at the Ralph after singer Jarrod Schell played solo during intermissions in 2002.

Since then, Strand has played with five bands. The most consistent was Still Fighting It, which played from 2005 to 2009.

In the past, Still Fighting It played through the second intermission before tearing everything down and heading over to the now-closed restaurant near the Ralph, Suite 49, where they rocked out until 2 a.m.

Schell continued to play with Strand after Still Fighting It. Now, Schell plays guitar and sings for the new unnamed band.

Strand says musical diversity has brought him great opportunity.

“I come from a fairly diverse musical upbringing, and venues such as the Ralph allow my groups to showcase music that you might not hear played by other groups,” he said. “And despite some of the deeper tracks we do, people still seem to enjoy it.”

Strand enjoys seeing the fans as much as playing music.

“Nothing gets us playing at the top of our game like a crowd that is into it — dancing and everything,” he said. “When we see a couple hundred people blocking the aisle watching us, we know that we’re doing it right.”

Scheduling bands

UND alumna Danielle Luetzen was hired as the marketing coordinator for the Ralph in March 2013. Part of her job is scheduling bands for men’s hockey weekends.

Although she is new to the position, Luetzen said the tradition of having live music started long before she arrived at the office.

“The women before me had a list of about 30 bands we have used in the past and it told whether they were good or bad,” Luetzen said. “I kind of went through when I started and looked them up on YouTube, doing my research on which ones I thought would work great.”

Luetzen spent the summer months preparing for the season and said she had the season schedule of bands finished in August.

While each week presents a new band — with no band performing more than once a year — most groups play covers that target all age groups.

“We do a lot of cover bands,“ Luetzen said. “We do not have bands that play their own songs. They can put in their own songs, but as for cover bands, that’s the big hit here at the Ralph.”

In order to keep things different, Luetzen says she tried to schedule older and younger bands on an offset.

“I didn’t schedule the same type of band two weeks in a row,” she said. “I would try to switch it up. The older bands will play every cover you can imagine from the 90s and 80s, and then we have Harbor Hills, which is our youngest group, that will play the more modern-day songs.”

Only a few bands have been current students from the university, while many of them are a bit older and come from out of town.

Senior Jack Cavanaugh said the music provides momentum for the fans during intermissions.

“It brings a lot of energy to the fans during the intermission,” Cavanaugh said. “They provide a great variety of music, and it’s fun it watch.”

Mathew McKay is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]