My First Band kicks off 2021 with Charlie Berens. The affable actor, writer, comedian, and Emmy-winning host has made a name for himself throughout Wisconsin (and far beyond) with his “Manitowoc Minute” segments and other hilarious videos that are rooted in Midwest-themed humor. In addition to making content that has garnered millions of views, touring throughout Wisconsin and its neighboring states, starting a great new podcast called The CripesCast, and adapting his web-based material into a sidesplitting long-form theater show, Berens recently joined forces with Adam Greuel of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades to release an album full of Wisconsin-centric songs.

A few weeks after the release of Berens & Greuel’s debut album, Unthawed, Berens spoke to My First Band host Tyler Maas about the album and its unique blend of local love, earnest bluegrass, and well-crafted comedy. Over the course of the discussion, Berens also talked about his early musical attempts in the small Wisconsin town of Elm Grove, the development of Manitowoc Minute, the careful balance of humor and social commentary he tries to strike in his material, the process of writing and recording Unthawed, and spending a week in the top spot on the Billboard bluegrass charts (unseating Sturgill Simpson in the process). Before episode’s end, Berens also dipped into Manitowoc Minute mode long enough to give some bold predictions for this weekend’s Packers-Bears game.

My First Band is sponsored by Mystery Room Mastering and Lakefront Brewery. The show is edited by Jared Blohm. You can listen to My First Band on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and wherever else you get podcasts. You can also listen to rebroadcasts of previous My First Band episodes on WMSE every Wednesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. CST. Music used in this episode comes courtesy of Devils Teeth (“The Junction Street Eight Tigers”) and Berens & Greuel (“Supper Club Shuffle”).