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Schuster brings it back home

Chokio native Andy Schuster found his musical niche with the St. Cloud-based rock band Electric Allmighty. Schuster and the band will play at the Morris music festival Rock the Groundz on Saturday, July 11 at the Stevens County Fairgrounds.

By Mike Cihak

For the Sun Tribune

From small town boy to acoustic artist to fronting one of the region's most powerful rock bands, Andy Schuster is returning home.

The Chokio native is the newest addition and the lead singer of Electric Allmighty, a high-energy rock band based out of St. Cloud.

The band is kicking off the first-ever Rock the Groundz music festival at the Stevens County Fairgrounds in Morris on Saturday, July 11, 2009 during Prairie Pioneer Days.

Schuster is much more than a lead singer in a rock and roll band. His genuine love for music and performance has been an important facet throughout his life, and a constant presence within the Schuster household.

"My family is a pretty musical family," says Schuster. "My mom made all of us play some instrument in high school and we were also pushed to be in choir as well. Since I've been playing music by myself, I've played the guitar."

After graduating from Chokio-Alberta High School, Schuster first attended college a dozen miles down the road from his hometown at the University of Minnesota, Morris. At UMM, he studied and enjoyed being part of the Cougar football and baseball teams.

But he was looking to return to music and performing. His search to join a band that shared his love for music proved futile in the small west-central Minnesota town.

"I decided to leave behind the sports I was playing at Morris, and, of course, my hometown, to try and find a band in St. Cloud."

His journey led him to attend St. Cloud State University, the change, prompted mainly by his desire to find a band and to perform.

St. Cloud is one of the state's hottest college towns when it comes to live music and venues. Once he settled into his apartment and the new campus, Schuster sought out a band in a way that only college students can admire - he put an ad on Craigslist.

"Literally two hours after I wrote about myself on Craigslist, the guitar player, Chad Dyer, called me up saying that Electric Allmighty needed a new singer and that I should audition!"

Schuster immediately found how effective the online service was.

"Then, the bass player, Gene Starr called me 20 minutes after Chad saying he needed a lead singer for a band called Electric Allmighty. So I had to tell Gene that I already talked to the guitar player for Electric Allmighty and he didn't believe me at first but we set up a date for me to go play a few songs with them at the jam spot, and the rest is history. After about four or five songs they offered me the job."

The heart of Electric Allmighty song list is pulled from the great classic rock hits from the 70's and 80's.

"Those songs are really dependent on our great guitar player (Dyer) with the huge solo work he's capable of doing," says Schuster.

Drummer Pete Campbell keeps songs flowing from solo to chorus, and bassist Starr has been with various metal and surf bands in St. Cloud.

Schuster is the new guy in the group that brought much more than a voice. He brings an acoustic background that has added a new dimension in Electric Allmighty's repertoire.

"Since I've joined the band, Electric Allmighty now does probably 10 new songs that I introduced or suggested we play because either it fits my voice really well, or I just love the song," Schuster says. "I'm sure the guys never thought they would be playing 'Your Love' by the Outfield before I joined the band, but now it's almost a staple song that we do every night."

Although he is the man in front, performing as a band is a welcome change for the solo artist Schuster.

"I actually think it takes a lot of the pressure off of me when I have three other awesome musicians that people can watch and listen to as well. When people ask me how I like being in a band, every single time I have to tell them that I have the best part-time job ever. I get to hang out with my some of my best friends and do something I love each night."

As a full time college student, being part of a successful rock band such as Electric Allmighty, the cost can be high in terms of time and energy.

"It takes hundreds of hours of rehearsal, but after you get to do a show and finally get a little money, it really makes it worth while," he says.

Despite the long hours rehearsing or playing a venue, Schuster says his schedule is actually more consistent than when he was a student balancing class and athletics.

"Since joining the band, my week to week schedule is more laid out and planned for me so that it's not that difficult to get school and music done."

Schuster is excited to return and play the Morris and Chokio area at Rock the Groundz, a pilgrimage he has taken with his band mates once before.

"Coming to Morris with the band for the first time was a great time," he says. "We played the Met Lounge, and then after the show we all stayed at my mom and dad's.

"We all stayed up until four or five in the morning eating all my mom's cookies and bars," Schuster recalls with a smile. "After the show they (the band) kept telling me how much fun they had, and how it was our best show yet. It's always fun to play in front of the people you've known your whole life, and the best part was playing for all my friends from UMM that always told me to join a band."

Electric Allmighty kicks off Rock the Groundz at 2 p.m. on July 11.

"The Morris area is a place where you could explain it to somebody for hours, but they would never be able to fully understand until they came and experienced it for themselves. We absolutely love playing out on the prairie."

Concert tickets are on sale at the Morris Eagles Club, State Farm Insurance Agency, Willie's Super Valu and Morris Auto Plaza, and also will be sold at the door. For more information, visit