Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Last Week In This Snowy Spring Music Season

This week has been trying the patience of even the most stalwart Minnesotans.  On two separate occasions we had substantial snow storms. This last Thursday, April 18th 2013, the Twin Cities Metro received  over 7 inches of snow!  I wrote my last blog post that afternoon before I headed off to see a show at the Whiskey Junction. I bussed to downtown Minneapolis and biked from there to the Kitty Cat Klub, where I had forgotten my Credit Card the night before. 

Snow was spitting cold darts at my face as my bike skidded and slipped around the corners.  Multiple times my bike jolted sideways forcing me to catch the ground with my boots to steady myself and keep from falling.  Unfortunately, as I made my way across the old Washington Avenue pedestrian bridge on the U of M campus, I realized to my utter dismay that somewhere along the way I lost the odometer on my bike!  The crummiest thing about this situation is that I was only 40 miles shy of hitting 3,000 miles!  This is especially significant since I rolled over 2,000 miles January 20th of this year, meaning I've biked 1,000 miles during 3 of the snowiest and coldest months of the year.  I really wanted to get a picture of that accomplishment, but I will have to satiate my ego by writing about it here on my blog.  Including the biking I did during rest of last weekend, I am quite certain I would have hit that mark last Sunday.

But that is enough about my avid winter biking.  When I finally got to the west bank, I found every building along the whole length of Cedar Avenue from the the Red Sea Bar to the Cabooze were all dark and sinister looking because of a power outage.  The world was determined to hamper my efforts further in spite of my recent loss.  The show I planned to see at the Whiskey junction was promoted by Noah Itman, CEO and founder of the new website  The two bands on the bill were Aitas and Space Monster.  Itmusic was planning to film the bands on stage.  Obviously, since the power was out, that was impossible.  Never the less, it was entertaining in the dark and cooling building as the bands gathered their drums on stage and jammed out.  The haunting rhythmic palpitations surged through the dark, elevating the spirits of the dedicated people who traveled through wretchedly slushy and slippery weather to support their friends.  Through conversation in the veil of darkness, I learned the origin of the problem facing the area; apparently, while out having a ciggarette half an hour earlier, a few people heard an explosion and saw a ball of blue flames erupt into the air a block east of the Whiskey Junction.  With that, it became clear the night was likely to end early.  After jamming in the dark for about an hour, the bands finally packed up their gear and prepared to leave, surrendering to the inevitable steady decline of patrons as the air in the bar slowly chilled those brave souls who dared to remain.  Finally, we decided to call it a night.  Then, literally right as I walked into the entry way and opened the door to leave, the power came on.  The few remaining musicians and I grabbed one final drink before heading off to brave the the treacherous roads on our way home.

Although Thursday evening's show was derailed by the weather, this weekend had several other interesting events I attended.  The first of those events was a block party at Hymie's Vintage Records store on Lake Street and 39th Ave in Minneapolis, MN.  Along with discounted records, a live spray-painting artist called Rouge Citizen, a beer garden, and several booths of crafts and artwork, there were a number of bands performing inside the store and on a stage erected outside in the street.  I didn't stay for all the bands, but it was a fun atmosphere and a lively crowd of people ranging from art bloggers, musicians, and hipsters, to suburban families with wide-eyed dancing children.  Everyone enjoyed the block party's festive spectacle. 


Rouge Citizen

After watching a few of the performances, checking out the art, and browsing through some old records, I bumped into a few of my musician friends.  We took off as the outside festivities of the block party started to wrap up in the receding twilight.  

Later that night we would attend an epic punk rock show at the Hexagon Bar.  The frustrated angst of fast and furious punk music accompanied patrons carousing around and looking at local records available from the artists performing that night: The Blind Shake, Spray Paint, The Fuck Yeahs, and Rabbit Holes.  There were also multiple record labels with vinyl records available for purchase: Learning Curve Records, Modern Radio Records, Guilt Ridden Pop, Old Blackberry Way, Double Asterisk, Moon Glyph, and Cat People.  While I didn't get any pictures of the bands, their intensity imbued the bustling crowd with energy, excitement, and anticipation.  One of the most notable songs was a fast and furious repetition of words that went: Michael Jackson Michael Jackson Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson Michael Jackson Michael.  It was an impressive feat of linguistic gymnastics and has stuck with me since that night, yet sadly I'm unsure which band performed the song.  The headlining act was The Blind Shake, an intense local band my friends had specifically come to see.  Overall Record-store day was fun and entertaining.  

On Sunday I had a few events planed to continue my musically saturated weekend,. My plans began with attending a Choral / Bluegrass Concert at a Church in Southwest Richfield, MN.  The Choir was the Carpe Diem Vocal Ensemble and they were Accompanied by a chamber orchestra.  The bluegrass band was called Ginstrings.  As I have eluded to in my past posts, I enjoy all forms of music across the whole spectrum of genres.  So, despite a glaring contrast from the chaotically intense punk music of the previous night, I will include the events I attended consecutively because I am not beholden to the record industry or some strict, formulaic, pigeonholed, perspective towards the local music scene.  

My mother sings in the choir for the church my parents attend.  Their Church choir is linked to the Carpe Diem Vocal Ensemble via their mutual choir director Clark Howard Duhrkopf.  My mother invited our immediate family to see the choir perform because last week they announced Carpe Diem has been chosen to sing at Carnage Hall in New York City next January!  So, since my mother's choir is affiliated with the Carpe Diem Vocal Ensemble, it is possible my mother will be performing with the group next January, because the church group was invited to join the Carpe Diem Vocal Ensemble on stage in New York.  I am so happy for my mother and all her choir friends for getting the chance of a lifetime to perform in Carnegie Hall.  The Choir and their orchestral accompaniement were fun and entertaining.  They included a beautiful brand new piece called Breath by Daniel Roeder, which they had sung for it's world release the night before.  Daniel Roeder was also in attendance, and after hearing the song he wrote, he even sang along with the choir as a soloist for the song Music of Heaven by Jason Robert Brown.  
In between two sets of the Choir, the Ginstrings performed their bluegrass songs.  They were impressively skilled performers.  The Slap bassist kept rhythm beautifully as the banjo plucked speedily away, the Slide guitar swept from note to note, and the violin scurried over it all in harmonious knee slapping good times.

 Later in the evening Sunday, I headed back off to the West Bank again.  There were two shows directly next to one another that I wanted to see .  The shows that night were at Palmer's Bar and across the street at The Nomad World Pub.  

The music started earlier at Palmer's that night than at the Nomad so I dropped in to see Charlie Parr playing before The High Crimes.  They played some more excellent bluegrass and blues music filling the crowded little bar.  The acoustic design of Palmer's lends for some of the best sounding shows in the Twin Cities area, but the small quarters makes it a very tight fit when it's crowded, although the enormous iconic patio in back allows the crowds fresh air if it get's overwhelming inside. 

After listening to Charlie Parr perform for a while, and chatting with some people, I headed into the Nomad to see Mississippi Rising play.  I had seen them once before at the website launch party at The Sound Gallery in Minneapolis and this performance impressed me just as much as that one did.  They aren't as polished as some of the more seasoned bands in the cities, but considering they just started gigging last month I think they have the potential to really draw a crowd as they build their network in the scene.  

After dancing hard to their rocking groves I made my way back across the street to catch The High Crimes who are one of my favorite local bands and a great group of people.  

This was the third week of The High Crimes Sunday residency at Palmer's and a tribute to the Black Crowes.  Their rock holds true to the spirit of long hair, wailing tenor lyrics, catchy riffs, soaring solos, and precise easily danceable rhythms. 

Though I would have loved to stay and catch the whole set by The High Crimes, I was determined to see Black Market Brass perform across the street back at the Nomad World Pub at the same time as The High Crimes.  I had met the core percussion player for Black Market Brass at a few shows in the past and I really wanted to see what they had to offer.  I was very pleased when I arrived, because in stark contrast to the cramped and crowded atmosphere of Palmer's, the crowd at the Nomad was thin.  Normally this would be a bad thing for the band.  However, as I have mentioned before, I absolutely love to dance and in situations like this it is ironically the best case scenario for me despite a lack of drink revenue for the bar and band, because I get so much room to dance around.  Their music was wonderfully danceable and flowed from Latin rhythms to reggae infused ska and around to smooth rock.  It's fun to see a full band determined to include a diversity of musical instruments to fill out the sound in different ways, even though the space was rather tight with all of them on stage at once.  That proved their talent as their cramped quarters on stage didn't hinder their ability to keep the patrons dancing, grooving, and moving to their songs.

There is one last event I have to include from this last week in the snowy spring music season.  On Monday night April 22, 2013, after a weekend of wonderful musical entertainment, I biked and bussed through yet another snowstorm to Honey in northeast Minneapolis.  The opening act for the night was a wonderfully mellow and melancholy acoustic singer song writer Joshua Kloyda. That was followed by another great performance from The Jelly Project.  Then the night was finished off by the birthday boy getting on stage with his band The Lone Crows.  The show was a birthday celebration for Tim Barbeau the lead singer and guitar player for The Lone Crows, a band I have written about before and who keep delivering awesome blues rock to the Minneapolis Music scene.  This is a young band of dedicated musicians bound for big things.  Tim just turned 21 and all his bandmates are similarly youthful.

I am so happy that he will finally be able to attend all of the other local Minneapolis bands' shows he previously wouldn't be able to attend unless he was performing.  I feel that is one of the great constraints on live local music's accessibility; people under age are excluded from attending most local music shows simply because most of the establishments where musicians can get booked are 21 plus.  Although some people, like myself, are constantly seeking out new experiences and exploring where the world will take them by seeking out new music, I know that once people turn 21 many of them have already gotten into their life groove.  Thus, unless people have friends in bands, most people ignore the burgeoning music scene because by the time they turn 21 they have already found what they value for entertainment in their life, whether it be going to movies, watching TV, playing video games, going to quite dinners, or anything else in the world.  I think it would be good to include more youth in the local music scene in some way to integrate all the local music that goes under appreciated by the millions of people who live here.  On that, I must wrap this up and get prepared to head off to a show tonight at the Driftwood Char Bar for a fun free night of music by Peregrine Perspective and Mississippi Rising (One of the Bands I saw last Sunday night)

Happy Birthday Tim

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