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all points south

All Points South members (from left) Mike Risdal, Lori Risdal and Barry Trunk perform John Prine's "Angel from Montgomery" during an all-acoustic lunchtime set at Brightside Cafe & Deli, 525 Fourth St., Sioux City.

SIOUX CITY -- What's the best music to listen to when you're eating a Sriacha Chicken Sandwich or an Italian Sub?

If you ask Barry Trunk, the correct answer is "Angel from Montgomery," but he may be a bit biased.

"Personally, I think a little John Prine goes with anything," he said, playing guitar at the front of Brightside Cafe & Deli.

Brightside owner Juan Munoz said he always wanted to host acoustic musicians at his 525 Fourth St. eatery.

"Hearing live music in the background just puts you in a positive mood," he said. "It just lifts your spirits."

This was certainly the vibe he got from All Points South, an acoustic trio made up of Trunk, who teaches at Morningside College, Bellevue University and Capella University, as well as Mike and Lori Risdal, who both retired after careers at the 185th Air Refueling Wing, Iowa National Guard.

"We generally play an 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. set every other Friday," Trunk said. "We've been doing it for a while now."

Having previously played in bluegrass bands in both Omaha and Sioux City, Mike Risdal said performing music in a coffeehouse takes a certain discipline.

"Everything that you play is pared down because this is background music," he explained. "People are eating and having conversations. As musicians, you don't want to be obtrusive."

Which is fine for all three of the All Points South performers, who describe their sound as "gentle coffee house style music."

"That means we play country, folk and music from the '60s, '70s and '80s," Lori Risdal said.

"But there's also a great variety to our music," Trunk said. "We play Beatles songs, Peter, Paul & Mary, among others."

When Mike Risdal breaks out his resonator guitar, he can play bluegrass, the blues, even Hawaiian music.

"A resonator has a very distinctive sound and can generate tones that other acoustic guitars cannot," he said, playing the resonator in a manner similar to a lap steel guitar. "It's a fine instrument to play."

To be honest, Mike Risdal can play the resonator, the guitar, a violin.

"Mike can play pretty much anything with strings," said Lori Risdal, who handles much of the group's vocals. "I've sung in choir when I was younger but Mike's been playing music since he was 12 years old."

A native of Los Angeles, Trunk said he's loved music his entire life.

"But I haven't really played music until recently," he said, noting that All Points South has also booked gigs at music festivals, senior centers and retirement communities.

"It is very gratifying to be able to play music for senior citizens," Trunk said. "When you play a song that was significant to them, you'll see a flash of recognition, a toe tap and, maybe, even a sing-along."

This is certainly enjoyable for Mike Risdal, who enjoys listening to and playing traditional folk tunes like "Shenandoah," while Lori Risdal prefers something a bit more contemporary.

"I knew I was falling for Mike when he played (John Denver's) 'My Sweet Lady' to me," she said, smiling at the memory. "There's something special about seeing a man singing and playing acoustic guitar."

Trunk's favorite song comes from one of his favorite groups.

"The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' is 50 years old and it still sounds good," he said.

Seems like Trunk won't get any complaints from Brightside Cafe & Deli owner Juan Munoz.

"The Beatles are also one of my favorite bands," he said, while listening to All Points South play. "I can listen to The Beatles all day long."

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