Band of Gold

Before they met, before they formed a band, before they married, Colin Scharf and Laura Schultz were a couple of grad students at Minnesota State Mankato missing the music they had been making in their respective hometowns.

A meeting at a downtown hangout changed that, setting in motion a strong music and personal partnership. In ten years’ time, the two have become not only a married couple with a nice house downtown but one of their adopted state’s most active and visible rock ‘n’ roll couples as the core of Good Night Gold Dust.

Schultz joined the University in 2009 to pursue a master’s in Gender and Women’s Studies. A Wisconsin native, she came from undergrad studies at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Originally a vocal performance major, she switched her focus to social work. In college she worked in a number of bands, including one that had her on vocals and glockenspiel—”what every band is always really lacking.”

Colin Scharf and Laura Schultz, the core of the 10-year-old Good Night Gold Dust.

“When I left New York for Minnesota I think I was in four bands,” said Scharf, who came to the University in 2007 pursuing a creative writing MFA. “Then I came out here and I didn’t have a band for a year and a half. I was losing my mind….How do you go from doing music every day of your life for five years and then all of a sudden like, cold turkey. It was hard.”

They met at a club in downtown Mankato and began dating in January of 2010. By April they were playing music together and the four-piece Good Night Gold Dust took shape. From swaying, atmospheric synthesizers to acoustic folk to raucous rock, the band has been grounded by the direction of its core couple.

That direction has led to then to a coveted status as outstate favorites among Twin Cities media, specifically Minnesota Public Radio’s progressive rock station, The Current, and the StarTribune, which hosted them as one of five hot local bands in 2016.

The band also took road trips around the country, playing clubs, hawking CDs and making a name for themselves the old-fashioned way of playing live. In their Mankato home, they hosted songwriter performances in living room concerts known as The Gold Mine. Guests included Chastity Brown, members of Communist Daughter and Charlie Parr among others.

Earlier this year, the two both formed side projects with other musicians and played in package shows.

Things were going so well by their tenth year that the couple took a road trip to Denver, Colorado, with one goal being to NOT play, Schultz said.

“We had very specifically chosen not to play music. We felt we needed just a little break to make this feel good and special when we come back to it. Little did we know that would be forced upon us,” she said.

In 2019 Schultz received a master’s degree in social work from the University, where she also works as the director of the violence awareness and response program. Scharf continues to teach in the English department.

COVID sidelined plans to celebrate the band’s 10-year anniversary. The two capitalized on their quarantining together to live-stream performances from their home as a way to not so much keep their name out there—though that was part of it—but to keep the music going. While they’re getting out to some outdoor gigs that feel great, the cold weather months may keep the music at home—which is fine with both.

“This break has allowed me to shift focus from performing to songwriting,” Scharf said. “We’ve both written a ton of new songs. We’re not able to play them necessarily now, but being able to record and produce them at home kind of satisfies a little bit of that.”