Saturday, March 30, 2013

As The Snow Slowly Melts

Despite the fact that winter seems unwilling to depart this chilly climate even a week after the official start of spring, the local Minnesota Music scene is starting to heat up for the upcoming warm season.  Here in Minnesota musicians have a tendency to hunker down for the winter to work on new material.  This makes logical sense too since your average music patron tends to be less interested in going out to a show when they have to travel through frigid temperatures and brave treacherous road conditions.  There have been some very entertaining shows over the last few months for those stalwart supporters of local music, but the months ahead promise great new songs and albums as the hibernating Minnesotans slowly thaw out of their winter stupor.  

For a few local bands the music festival season started early with appearances in early March at this year's South By Southwest festival in Austin, TX.  However, most of those bands have already received enough press in my eyes and do not need redundant exposure.  Likewise, the point of this blog isn't to fluff the nationally acclaimed bands who grace the likes of The Current, because they already have press teams following their every move.  I want to bring exposure to the bands anyone in the Twin Cities can go to see for less than ten dollars at a local venue and meet personally.  Our local music scene has many more musicians than are observed on the national radio channels, and they are all starved for and deserving of attention. 

With that in mind I would like to dedicate this post to a band that probably flew under the radar of most people at the South By Southwest Music Festival.  The Jelly Project are a local band who played on their label Funk-It Records' stage March 14th at SXSW.  They have been making heads bang and bodies rock in the local music scene for the last couple years as they slowly gain regional, national, and international acclaim.  Their music is gritty rock infused with the vocal styling of their charismatic lead singer Jelly, who's powerfully emotive voice evokes the style of Janice Joplin.  Check out their music and find upcoming shows at  Additionally, they will be playing a show this upcoming Friday April, 5 2013 at The Triple Rock Social Club along with two other awesome local bands: The Lone Crows and La Madness.  This should definitely be a night to remember!  If your so inclined this is a link to the Facebook event for the show.

The Jelly Project at The Cabooze November 29th 2012

Another important event to take note of happened this last week.  Last Thursday was the Website launch party for a new music site based here in Minnesota which is designed as a tool for bands to gain exposure and interact with musicians across the globe.  The site is called  and their goal is to offer a meritocratic community for musicians to post their work, give feed back, and collaborate with other musicians.  The meritocratic elements allow bands to gain influence and credibility by interacting with other musicians in a social environment rather than paying directly to be promoted.  The idea is that the more a band or artist gets involved with the site the more credibility and attention they will receive.  The site is still in closed beta testing to work out the dynamism of such a complex matrix of interactions, so if you want to get involved in the ground level of such an innovative new site go to and add your e-mail to receive an invite into the burgeoning community.

The website launch party was an epic gathering of local musicians who spanned all genres and illustrated how interactive and inclusive the the Twin Cities music scene is.  There were performances ranging from an acoustic guitar duet called Hog Nosed Bastards to the video-game-music sampling rap of Style Biters and included a presentation by the CEO and founder of Noah Itman about the trajectory and intent of the new website.  Look forward to more news as the website progresses from it's primordial state into a new and innovative music institution.

Hog Nosed Bastards performing for the Bananza at The Sound Gallery

The Flamin' Oh's performing for the Bananza at The Sound Gallery

Mississippi Rising performing for the Bananza at The Sound Gallery

CEO and Founder of Noah Itman giving a presentation about the new website

Style Biters performing for the Bananza at The Sound Gallery

If anyone who attended has some awesome pictures from the other performers Sherbetty , Burnet, or the DJ's please let me know so I can add them to this post.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

My Entrance Onto the Twin Cities Local Music Scene

Well, now that I feel I have sufficiently given my readers a basic understanding of my music experiences prior to entry into the local music scene, I will endeavor to describe my entrance onto the scene. I should begin with how I came to be in close proximity to musicians again.

I finally transferred to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus to begin my upperclassman coursework in Political Science after finishing my general education requirements at a litany of places.  I transferred to the U of M, Twin Cities from Normandale Community College, and before that Minneapolis Community and Technical College.  Of course I also completed some general education courses at the University of Minnesota, Morris directly after graduating high school a little over a decade ago, which is where I brought things up to in my last blog post.

For my first semester at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in the spring of 2009, I took the city bus every day from my parent's house in Bloomington, MN to downtown Minneapolis and transferred buses or biked from there to campus on the west bank of the University.  I had moved back in with my parents six months prior because of an unfortunate incident with a former roommate.

That changed in the summer of 2009.  I decided to rent a house with my brother and one of his high school friends, who I had known briefly in high school before he and my brother graduated in the year 2000.  We found a nice house near Dinkytown just off Como Ave and moved in just before the 2009-2010 school year started.  I was incredibly excited to be near campus and involved with the school community again.  I love being around the energy, openness to new opportunities, and wanderlust  that people espouse in their early college years.  Additionally, despite having a rather reclusive and loner lifestyle when at home, I thoroughly enjoy and thrive in large social gatherings.  I am the opposite of an agoraphobe.  So, when I found out that my next door neighbors had a band called Strategem Wyle, I was eager to see them perform. 

Strategem Wyle are no longer together, but their show at the Fine Line Music Cafe that year was one of the first times I started to get involved with the local music scene.  Soon after that show Strategem Wyle broke up.  Nathan Reeder and Jess Skadburg, the members of Strategem Wyle who lived next to me, then got a new lead singer and started a band called The Amnesiatics, who also have broken up since then.  Regardless, I started regularly following my friends to their shows around town to support their music.  One important caveat I should include is that when I attend a show I do not come for only the hour or so my friends' bands are on stage.  I come early to see the opening act and stay the whole night to appreciate all the bands.  Each night I was introduced to new local bands striving to entertain the placid Minnesota crowds in fun and interesting venues around town.  My music world slowly expanded as I became friends with more and more musicians in the local music scene.

If you have never been to a small local music show in the Twin Cities, then I should paint for you a picture to explain why I called the crowds placid.  Minnesotans are not easily enthused and often actively avoid participating in the music via dancing.  This is not to say that they are disinterested.  On the contrary, Minnesotans listen very keenly to the music and tend to appreciate it on a cerebral level.  This certainly isn't unique to Minnesota, but it is none the less a rather pervasive element of our scene.  However, I am the opposite.  I love to be the first one on the dance floor so that I can feed back the energy these starving artist give to their blase audiences.  Additionally, musicians appreciate so thoroughly anyone who is willing to break out of their calloused shell of antipathy toward embarrassment and disengage from the fear of standing out, that they will welcome with open arms and open hearts anyone who goes against the socially stigmatized grain.  Thus, I became acquainted with hundreds of local musicians in Minneapolis and Saint Paul simply due to my unwillingness to let fear control me.

I want this blog to extend that interaction beyond the microcosms of appreciation I give to local musicians at their shows so that I can help my friends transcend the systemic difficulties inherent in the antiquated and draconian main stream music industry.  There is so much under appreciated talent in the Twin Cities that I want to share with the world.  They are often not as polished and shiny as an international act who comes through and sells out a show to thousands of sheeple packed shoulder to shoulder with hardly room to breath let alone dance  in the Target Center or Excel Energy Center, but the gritty realness of the passion these musicians have for their work makes the experience far more intimate and engaging.  Additionally, it doesn't matter what type of music you are into, the plethora of musicians in our cities span the whole spectrum of music.  All it takes is a little investment of time and energy to seek out the artists you appreciate and the key to the gates of the vast Twin Cities music scene will be yours.  It is my goal for this blog to help guide people into the live music scene so that they can appreciate all the different types of musical experience available just outside the gates of our digitally caged lives. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Preamble: A Personal Bio

My name is Matthew Sudduth.  I am a 28 year old college graduate with a BA in political science.  Today is my first day of seasonal unemployment.  I have been working as a Chairlift Operator and Rental Technician at Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area in Bloomington, MN.  I truly enjoyed the work I did there and being able to snowboard for free, but now I must search for a new job.  Additionally, now that I have extra time on my hands I have decided to start blogging about the local music scene here in Minneapolis, MN.  I have been involved with the music scene here for about three years now.  I could start with my entrance into the scene, but I think I should introduce myself first.  This will be a preamble about the musical experiences in my early life that form the center of my appreciation for music. 

I grew up in the southwest Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, MN.  My parent's instilled in me a sense of music appreciation from a very early age.  They mostly listen to either mellow easy listening, or upbeat fun music.  I heard music while growing up ranging from the classical music of Beethoven, beautiful old musicals like Guys and Dolls, and Jazz on one side of the spectrum to popular artist such as Enya, Tori Amos, and Fleetwood Mac on the other.  

In addition to having background music on regularly, my parents also started me into music with piano lessons at a very early age.  Unfortunately, I didn't appreciate those lessons nearly as much then as I do now in retrospect.  So, after battling my parents regularly about practicing piano, they finally gave up.  I had gotten pretty good, but I grew tired of practicing and my interest in it was waning, so my parents stopped paying for me to take lessons.  However, that was not the end of my musical education.  

Of course we still had music class in grade school then and I enjoyed those days.  I learned to play the recorder, sing, and play basic percussion instruments.  In addition to the school music program, my parent's got me involved with the internationally renown local youth coir Angelica Cantanti.  We sang wonderful choir pieces and traveled to fun places for performances.  I now relish having had the opportunity to be a part of a group devoted to music at that early age.  Beyond that, I have recently joined their new Alumni Choir called the Angelica Cantanti Encore Choir.  I have sung in four concerts with them in the past two years.  But back in grade school I grew tired of singing after a couple years and quit. 

When we started formal band class in 5th grade at Hillcrest Community School, I wanted to be a drummer, But instead, I was sorted into the trumpets based on my ability to buzz my lips when prompted.  Then, in addition to learning to play in the school band, my parent's bought me a trumpet and enrolled me in private trumpet lessons.

In junior high my world shrank as I became heavily invested in playing a litany of Nintendo 64 video games and neglected my friendships.  I became a loner, reclusive in my music and video games.  None the less, I had fun when I took jazz band in Middle School.  I attended a small, arts focused, alternative, Junior High School named Bravo Middle School.  

I was the smallest boy in school at Bravo.  Additionally, I was smaller than all but one girl.  I was the epitome of the shrimpy little kid who got picked on for being small and weird.  However, it wasn't because I was nerdy, but rather because I was a loner, that I got picked on.  But then I got involved with Swimming and Diving in my 8th grade year after the substitute teacher for one of my classes happened to be the diving coach for the High school I would be attending the next year, Bloomington Jefferson Senior High School.  I thought I would enjoy jumping on a springboard then flipping and spinning in the air and splashing into water as a sport and I did.  I know that is not related to music, but it was a formative part of my life that helped me become focused, athletic, and energetic through all my years.  In a way it also gave me some of the spatial recognition that I use when dancing at live shows.  It certainly influenced directly some things I did in my earliest years of dance experience, when I got into break dancing in High School. 

The first CD I ever bought was in Junior High.  I fell in love with the pop hit The Way by Fastball, so I bought their album All the Pain Money Can Buy.  Soon I had a small collection that included Weezer, Papa Roach, 3 Doors Down, Radiohead, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Tori Amos among others.  Yes, as you might have noticed, the last artist in that list did not fit in.  I must admit, I took a few CD's I liked from my parent's collection when I was a child. 

In High School I took band class and joined the well renowned Jefferson Senior High School Marching Band.  Thankfully, the football marching band season didn't conflict with diving for the varsity swim team in the winter.  I was in Marching band every year I was in high school. Yet, I only dabbled with being an integral part of the band friendship clique for a short time my freshman year.  I remained mostly a loner during my high school years in spite of being active in a variety of additional extracariculars from the chess team to the Man Club (The Man Show was huge when I was in high school  The closest friends I had were considered "the dirties", think the "freaks" from the TV series Freaks and Geeks, but I literally never drank, smoked, or did any drugs. 

I began my high school music career in the freshman symphony band playing trumpet.  Going into my sophomore year I did not qualify to progress into the middle band playing trumpet.  I had no intention of stagnating in the same band, so I was planning to quit.  However, the head band director Doctor Orzolek suggested that if I switched to the Baritone Euphonium, which has valves similarly to a trumpet but plays in a lower range like a mellow trombone, I would be able to move up to the middle of our three High School bands, the varsity band.  I took his suggestion and progressed the rest of my years in High school playing the Euphonium.  

By my Junior year in high school I was in the highest band in the School, the Concert band.  That year we made a trip with the concert band to Japan.  It was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in my life.  I had already taken Japanese class because I was heavily into Dragon Ball Z and other Japanese Anime at the time.  However, all that really gave me was a basic understanding of the culture, knowledge of their phonetic alphabets, and a few basic phrases.  None the less the dramatic difference I encountered in their daily life left me humbled by the awesomeness of how thoroughly our culture defines our existence. 

In high school my music interests fluctuated.  I started downloading songs on Napster and Kazaa when it was still cool.  Eventually I had a horde of techno remixes.  Later I found Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall Live which blew my mind musically.  I also got very deep into Radiohead's Kid A, OK Computer, and Amnesiac albums.  Both bands remain in my favorite bands to this day. 

After High School I went to the University of Minnesota Morris.  I didn't continue playing instruments in college.  I did however stay involved with music by getting a late night time slot on the college radio station KUMM.  If you are not aware of this station, I assure you they take full liberty of the various connotations related to their name. This included their catch phrase "we put KUMM in your ear"and their KUMM splotch logo.  It was as crude and sophomoric as any college student could hope for.  I occasionally took out new music from the walls of CD's they had, but mostly I brought my own music or played requests.  However, after a year and a half of college dorm life at UMM I dropped out and started working for a living.

Music fell out of my life's priorities until I started to get back into the local music scene about three years ago when I enrolled at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities to finish my undergraduate degree.  I moved into a house near dinky town close to the Minneapolis campus and that brought me into the proximity of focused musicians again.   I was soon drawn into the world of the local Twin Cities music scene.  But as I said before, that is a story for another time.