Sean Tillman has delighted audiences with his blend of indie rock and R&B as Har Mar Superstar for nearly two decades. The Minnesota singer had a memorable turn in the 2004 film "Starsky & Hutch," hosted the popular Nocturnal Emotions podcast and recently had a beer named after him.
Tillman took Har Mar Superstar on the road this summer for a series of performances in which he sang the music of 1960s soul singer Sam Cooke. Before a show at Denver's Bluebird Theater last month, he stopped by CPR's OpenAir for a Guest DJ session. His music picks included one of his favorite Sam Cooke songs, a tender piano ballad from The Replacements and new music from electronic pop group MGMT.
He also spoke with Alisha Sweeney about Cooke's influence on his own music, his pick for the song of the summer of 2018 and acting alongside Ben Stiller. Read interview highlights below.
On deciding to play a series of Sam Cooke-themed concerts:
"I've always loved Sam Cooke. He's been one of my favorite singers and songwriters since I was a little kid. He writes his songs in the same key I go for.
"I decided to do this as a kind of one-off. We put two shows on sale in one night and they sold out really fast. They said [at the venue] the only show that sold faster was a Prince show they did earlier. That was a huge ego boost and honor."
On The Replacements' "Let It Be" album:
"When I got into this record I was in fourth grade. It always stuck with me as a different world you could get into. ... [Frontman] Paul Westerberg has a way to make a sad character very relatable."
Enjoy a Spotify playlist of Har Mar Superstar's song selections below.