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Sena Ehrhardt hires home-state heroes for "Live My Life"

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Of all the new and different people who worked with Minnesota-based blues singer Sena Ehrhardt on her latest Blind Pig Records album, Live My Life, two really jump out from the pack.

The first is Minneapolis-bred producer David Z, a favorite of hers going back to his days working with Prince.

“He was just a joy to work with in the studio,” she says. “He is someone who is extremely creative and willing to experiment with different things. No ideas were really off-limits.”

Asked to provide an example of David Z’s experimentation, Ehrhardt quickly points to the way her vocals were recorded. Tracking for Live My Life was done at Winterland Studios in Minneapolis, and instead of singing inside an isolation booth, “we moved my vocal mic out into the big room, where we had tracked the drums,” she says. “And by experimenting with that, we kinda moved around. We tried different takes of the same song in different places in the studio and found what worked best and had the most warmth.”

The other standout name involved with Live My Life is keyboardist Bruce McCabe, a former member of Jonny Lang’s band.

“Bruce is somebody in the Minneapolis music scene that I run into on occasion,” Ehrhardt says. “I wanted to incorporate a cover that was a high-energy, fun song, and I’ve always loved [his tune] ‘Stakes Have Gone Up.’ I ran the idea by him, whether he’d be OK with us covering that song. He said, ‘Absolutely.’

“Then I kinda pushed my luck and said, ‘Would you want to come in and play on it?’ ” she adds with a laugh. “He came in, and the chemistry was working, so he ended up lending his talents to quite a few tracks on the record.”

With her latest record, Ehrhardt — who continues to hold down a day job at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota — feels she’s on the brink of finally becoming a nationally-internationally touring musician.

“We have our very first European tour coming up at the end of October into early November, and we’ll be going over there for close to three weeks,” she says. “And then another run is coming together in January and February. I’ve really been working toward this goal for years, and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”

— By Chris M. Junior

Sena Ehrhardt on tour (schedule subject to change):

* Sept. 4: 21st Saloon — Omaha, Neb.
* Sept. 5: Cartoon’s Oyster Bar — Springfield, Mo.
* Sept. 6: Knuckleheads — Kansas City, Mo.
* Sept. 13: Leavenworth Blues Festival — Leavenworth, Wash.
* Sept. 19: Famous Dave’s — Minneapolis
* Sept. 26: Old Skoolz Wine House & Pub — Sioux Falls, S.D.
* Sept. 27: Uncle Bo’s — Topeka, Kansas
* Oct. 2: Moose Lodge — Bradley, Ill.
* Oct. 3: River Beach Pub — Chillicothe, Ill.
* Oct. 4: Memorial Opera House — Valparaiso, Indiana
* Oct. 10: Vangarde Arts Center — Sioux City, Iowa
* Oct. 17: Wilebnski’s Blues Saloon — St. Paul, Minn.
* Oct. 18: Wicked Moose — St. Paul, Minn.