Turns out the Rock Garden Tour isn’t really about rock music or gardening, nor is it a true tour. Instead, it’s primarily a comedy, one that’s silly to the point of being smart and vastly different in person than over the air.
There’s your nut graph, impatient readers. Now, let’s back things up a bit.
The Rock Garden Tour, if you’ve never heard of it (and chances are you haven’t), is a Sioux Falls-based podcast that also airs on South Dakota Public Broadcasting Radio. That’s the easy part.
The show revolves around co-hosts Flowerman and Oil Can, and their affinity for rock music, gardening and small-town life. However, nobody is breaking down the merits of Led Zeppelin’s third album or demonstrating how to pollinate a pear tree. The topics are vessels, launching points for jokes. To wit, the last show was entitled, “Learning to walk before you run all the way to Beresford, S.D.” The point was that you should start small when crafting a garden, but the introductory bit, a hilarious pre-produced piece about an old track coach getting carried away and running to a small town 30 miles south of Sioux Falls, was the true takeaway. (Another gem: referencing Lake Wobegon and Jessie Spano in the same sentence.)
In real life, Flowerman and Oil Can are two white dudes in their 30s, who could pass as (biological) brothers. They have jobs related to technology and cool, lazy beards. They do this for fun yet take it seriously enough to write a script replete and execute it as if improved, to have real equipment (including a couple of those super cool circular, screen microphones) and cultivate an audience (pun intended).
Of late, the show has been taping at a downtown bar. And, just as tap beer is vastly superior to the bottled kind, in-person is the best way to consume the Rock Garden Tour. Why? Because much of the humor is smart and subtle, and to miss out on that part is to miss half the jokes. There’s no white board in the room – Oilcan makes the squeaky noises with his mouth. He can also impersonate a pencil sharpener, and uses his iPhone for more complex sound effects.
Flowerman is plenty talented, too, crafting and performing clever, original ditties related to gardening. (Marinade, for a second, on trying to pull that off, Weird Al.)
Add it all up, and Rock Garden Tour is like “Fargo” minus the wood-chipper scene meets a Christopher Guest mockumentary with maybe a dash of Wes Anderson – smart and silly, endearing and entertaining, complicated and simple.
In other words, it’s nothing like any podcast I’ve ever been involved in. Don’t be fooled by the name or the concept: This is an impressive and professional passion project. You don’t have to be much of a rocker or a gardener to dig it.