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Defying the stereotype that all great guitarists have the egos to match, Jeremy Ylvisaker has become one of Minnesota's most ubiquitous six-string players with a humble demeanor and easy-going approach that's as in demand as his talent.

The Twin Cities native got his start in off-kilter rock bands like Detroit, Fog, the Cloak Ox, Gramma's Boyfriend and Alpha Consumer and then joined the most popular weird band in town, the Suburbs, a decade ago. Along the way, he toured with Andrew Bird and Grace Potter and has backed a wide variety of local songwriters, including Haley, Annie Humphrey and David Huckfelt.

Ylvisaker's far and varied reach will be on display this month at Icehouse, where he curated the Minneapolis venue's popular jazz/improv Monday series for all of April. Here's an edited interview with him ahead of the five-week run.

Q: With such a wildly diverse roster of players, is there a way to sum up your general idea for this residency at Icehouse?

A: Over the last few years, I've gotten to know more types of musicians and sought out more disparate influences and tried bringing them together. I've also spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to be more useful in the world and make a bigger difference beyond just being a guitar player. So I started out my list thinking of people who have a point that they're making that goes beyond just music.

Among the people who said yes, maybe the biggest point everyone wanted to make was just trying something new. Like Michelle Kinney has an interesting new group. Aida Shahghasemi is combining her traditional sounds with the blues, so we're working on that. Things like that. Some of it will be fully improvised, too.

Q: Is there a danger of this being too varied, and too many boundaries to cross?

A: I don't think so. I think of it like the Mall of America being the only true melting pot around here, where it's free to get in and you always hear multiple languages there. That's sort of what I want in a musical sense, a place to bring people together who call this place home.

Q: You seem to be constantly playing gigs, and with too many different acts to mention. What keeps you from being stretched thin or getting sick of it?

A: I encourage the artists I work with to keep the music simple. I do love working hard and figuring things out, and I still do that a lot. But the more somebody can keep it more open and easy, the better.

After that, it just all comes down to scheduling. I say no sometimes even if I am technically available but know I wouldn't be prepared for the gig. Even in those cases, though, I do say I'll do the gig as long as they know I'll be winging it — which some people are fine with.

Q: You grew up loving the Suburbs, and now you've been in the band for a decade. What's that experience been like?

A: It's been really interesting: a) being in a group that tight and familial, and b) a group where we're all at the age we're at. So many life events have happened to people in the band over those 10 years, things that have just banded the band together even more intensely. Health things, marriages, deaths. All that has tied us together as this really beautiful family.

Q: As the "new guy," what's your perspective on the Suburbs' continued popularity and vitality?

A: Chan [Poling] has so much music in him. And he was very judicious about who he recruited to keep the tradition going. And then Hugo [Klaers]' kindness is another factor. Between Chan's relentless melodies and Hugo's friendship, that's what makes the band.

Q: You've had some good chances to work as a touring musician. Do you prefer what you're doing now, staying just as busy, but doing it all close to home?

A: On tour, there's kind of more of an expectation of what everyone is paying for. It's hard to want to make the sacrifices to go on tour in order to meet those expectations. There's still room for you to be yourself, and it feels good to look up and see a couple thousand people at the show, but it doesn't pay all that much better, and you have to leave your family and your house to do it.

It's all cool, but I guess it just fills my soul a little more to be able to invest in things locally more.

Q: Two of your best-loved bands, Alpha Consumer and Gramma's Boyfriend, have these spotty, come-and-go existences that add to their strange appeal. Is that intentional at all?

A: Both bands are built around the members being full-time artists, so when somebody's busy with something else, the band gets put on hold. Our friend [bassist] Jim Anton always said this life is like playing a bunch of bingo cards, and when one card hits that's the one that you focus on.

With Alpha Consumer, Mike [Lewis] was on tour with Bon Iver a lot, and he spends a lot of time up in Grand Marais. We've had to plan things out more, but we are going to go on tour playing some dates opening for Bonny Light Horseman this summer. Gramma's Boyfriend has so many good songs going, but it just lost some momentum, and now Haley's a new mom again. But we'll see.

Q: Folks might be surprised to learn your dad, John Ylvisaker, was a very well-known Christian composer, singer and theologian, literally with songs in the Lutheran hymnal books. Did you learn anything from his music career?

A: I came up playing bass with him. We'd go out to Colorado or wherever weaving our way through church basements. Since I've been playing with more "folk" singer artists, like Huckfelt and Annie, I've run into people who are familiar with my dad. He's been gone seven years now, so it's nice.

Martin Luther had this philosophy about having more songs in church that were familiar to people. So they would base their songs on other songs people knew in the pubs or wherever. He used that music to help make people feel more welcome and comfortable in church.

My dad was like that in more of a folk singer way. He liked bringing people together and keeping the tunes simple so they could pick them up right away. So again, that ties into my philosophy now of keeping the music simple so I can play with others more easily.

Monday Nights with Jeremy Ylvisaker

When: 8 p.m. weekly through April 29.

Where: Icehouse, 2825 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls.

Tickets: $20,