Hold Up

Here’s the deal.  I’m blogging about shows I go to and hopefully, other music-related goings on in my life, but OMG, it’s taking so much time.  Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been going to about 6-10 shows a month, taking pictures, thinking about them critically (although I don’t pretend to be a music critic), and then uploading some halfway decent pictures and constructing a blog post.  But it takes me a good 1-2 hours to write each blog post and it’s near impossible to carve out that kind of time.  While I’ve just blogged about the 6th or 7th show I’ve seen this year, I’m probably heading into the 30th or something.  And going to shows takes up a lot of free time.  So does scouring the internet for tour dates and presale passwords, finding concert buddies, vetting and hiring babysitters, taking care of my house and family (barely), and then sometimes going to my actual job, which I hope is at least bringing in as much money as I’m spending on tickets lately.

I probably get the chance to sit down and write a new blog post about once a week, and that time has to be kid-free for me to be able to concentrate.  First I usually skim the last couple of blog posts I’ve written and beat myself up about how dumb I sound.  Then I have to talk myself into continuing because they only way my writing gets better is to practice and I can’t let the ‘perfect’ stand in the way of the ‘good enough’.  But then I realize that my ‘good enough’ could be someone’s ‘what a waste of time and energy’ and I have to start the whole cycle again.  It pains me to look back at what I’ve worked on so far and see that it’s not great, and leave it posted publically for the world to see.  I’m also thinking that maybe I shouldn’t aim for such lengthy posts, are least for awhile, just so I can get myself caught up.  But if I’m only posting a picture with a few comments, why not do it on Facebook or Instagram and be done with it?  But don’t blogs evolve over time? Do I really have to start out with a set style and stick to it forever, or can I just let it become whatever it is?

But here’s what I do know: since the beginning of the year, I’ve had more purpose than I’ve had in a long time.  Decision-making is so much easier, knowing beforehand that if I’m given two choices, and one of them is a music-related thing, I just choose that without a second thought.  I’ve found people that share my purpose, and support me, and come with me.  I’m really happy, and feeling good about beating down my anxiety and agoraphobia (which are frequent hurdles for me). So I press on because feels really good to be content/happy.




You Don’t Have to be Cool

Just so you know, I wasn’t the biggest Prince fan.  I could have seen him a few times while he was alive, and for whatever reason, I didn’t.  I sort of took for granted that he was a Minnesota institution and he wasn’t going anywhere.  When he died, I surprised myself by how sad I actually was.  Like, crying, mopey, down-in-a-pit sadness.  It was confusing and weird because I’ve been bummed by musician/celebrity deaths before, but never like this.

What I’ve figured out in the year since he passed, is that firstly, he was probably the greatest musician of our time, so mourning him is completely appropriate and, secondly, you can’t not be sad when everyone around you is letting loose with their emotions.  The street dance in front of First Ave the night of his death made so much sense to me (no, I didn’t make it to that either–I just watched livestream).  People were there to grieve, pay tribute, maybe just watch the spectacle happening in person.  They were sad, and yet they were listening to his music and dancing because that’s what you do when you hear a Prince song.  I loved seeing the community come together and it was really moving that some local musicians, people he worked with or inspired, were there to perform.

So now I want to go to all the Prince-related events and be with all the people and just take it all in.  Plus, I don’t get tired of his songs and it’s fun for me to see different artists’ interpretations of them.  When the whole Prince memorial weekend was announced, I was excited to go to as many events as possible.

First, I went to the Saturday night street party.  You’d think that after a year, and several Prince-related concerts and events, I’d own something purple to wear.  Nope.  Then I got a brilliant idea and bought a purple (or raspberry?) beret, the kind you find on Amazon Prime.  It was cheap and it looked stupid.  My kids and husband vetoed it when they saw it on me.  And then I wore it anyway.  Hey, I got a bunch of compliments from strangers, and anyone who didn’t like it was kind enough to not say anything.


It was a lovely night for an outdoor concert.  The music could have sucked and I would have been content just standing there in the warm breeze.  We got there early enough to see Prairie Fire Lady Choir perform near the beginning.  Check out the amazing group of Millennials in denim the foreground.  I could not stop staring at their outfits that were so throwback, but looked so good.


I didn’t get pictures of everyone or even remember who all performed.


Mark Mallman was fun.


Dave Pirnir singing, “The Cross” was beautiful, and a highlight of my night.


Cutey-pie rapper Dem Altas just nailed it singing “Let’s Go Crazy”. And later I spotted him on the side of the crowd, and some embarrassing dorkiness ensued.  Does he get mobbed by 40-something moms everywhere he goes?  He must.  But he seems really good-natured about being showered with praise (which he totally deserves).


I didn’t take anymore pictures that night because I was a little nervous about my phone battery and I wasn’t sure if I’d need to take an Uber home.  I successfully made the switch from one friend, who had to leave early, to another group who came later for the First Ave (inside) dance party, which was fun, sweaty, and crowded.

The next morning, tired as I was, I coaxed the whole fam to the kid-oriented dance at First Ave.  This had all the makings of a disaster from the moment we stepped through the doors.  You know how sometimes movie theaters have showings for people with sensory issues, and they keep the lights up and the sound down for a less overwhelming experience?  I think I was expecting something like that.  But it looked like a regular old First Ave dance party, plus some balloons.  My kids took one look and wanted to leave, but we did a few laps around the place to stall them.


There were also donuts and coffee for sale, an overcrowded craft corner, changing tables in the restrooms, and a photo backdrop.  My son spotted the vending machine, something I’ve never seen in the years I’ve been going to First Ave, and convinced us some candy would help him get through the assault of noise and flashing lights.  My daughter demanded that the bar serve her some pink lemonade and was furious to find out they didn’t have any.


Our family stayed for one hour, which was enough to satisfy me that we had all given it a try.  What was the point of all this?  Well, it’s a silly idea to bring kids to the First Ave and expect them to appreciate it.  This event was 100% for the parents; so they could take all the pictures and show everyone they were the type of laid-back folks that could bring their kids to a rock club.  Make no mistake, that’s what I was doing too.  I just felt dorky doing it.

Call Me a Relic, Call Me What You Will

I’m too young to have been a fan of Husker Du, but I was exposed to Bob Mould’s band Sugar in the mid-90’s and really liked what I heard.  I finally got to see him perform live a few years ago at the MN State Fair as part of The Current’s “Music on a Stick” show.  I had been near the stage for the first few bands, but by the time Mould came on, I was having a sun/heat/hunger/thirst/tired feet attack and had to go sit in the mezzanine with the other pooped-out people, probably with some kind of fried thing to munch on.

My second chance to see Mould was recently when he played a solo show three consecutive nights at the Turf Club.  The crowd there was exactly what I expected,  white guys in their 50s, drinking beer, not particularly fashionable, people who knew who he was around the time I was in kindergarten.  Sometimes I like going to shows to see the fans because the music and the artist dictate how people dress or act.  This was just average dudes, happy to hear some rock music, and it made me feel kind of special to be younger and female.


Bob Mould’s guitar playing is incredible and loud, and he has a voice that goes with it.  It’s kind of like listening to a toddler who hasn’t yet learned modulation, if that toddler also had a lot of sophistication and musicality.  About three songs in, Mould was so sweaty his glasses completely fogged up and it was like watching an old cartoon where the bumbling professor derps around in white-out spectacles.  I knew a good chunk of the songs he played and still enjoyed the ones I didn’t.  It was a fantastic night.

Monday, You’re Not So Bad

I’m such a fan of Jeremy Messersmith.  He wrote a new album “11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs for Ukelele” and first released the sheet music, for free, for his fans to learn before they could even hear him perform the songs.  When I downloaded my own copy and shared it with my kids, we were delighted to find titles like “Everybody Gets A Kitten,” and “We All Do Better When We All Do Better.”

He announced a micro tour this spring of 15-minute free concerts in public parks all over the U.S. beginning with a 10:35am show at Powderhorn Park on a Monday morning.  It turns out that that’s actually a perfect time for me to go to a show with a friend, while the kids were at school.


The turn-out was impressive, many people bringing children, dogs, and their own instruments to play along.  When Messersmith hit the chorus of “Everybody Gets a Kitten,” I think even he was surprised at the sudden mass of voices that joined in harmony with him.  I looked around and appreciated it as one of those “only in Minneapolis” moments.  Yes, here it’s not uncommon for people to stand around in parks on Monday mornings with ukuleles, singing about kittens and snowflakes.  So?


After he got through his 11 songs, children approached him for autographs and pictures.


He even posed with some of the big kids as well, before driving off to another one of his many shows that day.  I have to say, I could use Mondays like this one more often.

Hey Sister, Soul Sister

This is my friend Rachel Kurtz.  I’ve known her since we were in our teens and, although our personalities couldn’t be more opposite on the loud/quiet spectrum, I just think the world of her.


She makes her living singing, mostly for Lutherans in churches and at conferences, and also with her band at the Icehouse on occasion.  Her band is fantastic, and I know I’m doing a huge disservice by not mentioning the names of all the members, but there’s one person in particular that I always love to see and that’s her keyboard player Tommy.  As in Tommy Barbarella.  It just blows my mind that someone I know is friends with someone who has a huge history with Prince, even though that someone I know has a gorgeous voice and deserves to be working with all the best musicians.


Reunited and it Feels So Good

I can’t figure out if I ever saw Roma di Luna back before they broke up.  I remember knowing that they were the opening band that played for the Walker Art Center’s Music and Movies in Loring Park one time, and I know that I went to many of those shows, but I don’t remember specifically if I was at the one they played at.  Anyway, I regretted not paying more attention to them while they were around, even more so since the members have branched out into other really successful projects.  I bought my tickets immediately, figuring they’d sell out (they did).  Then I heard that Prairie Fire Lady Choir was performing too, so I’d be seeing a friend there.  Then that friend texted me the week of the show: “I can neither confirm or deny that The Pines will be opening.”  I could not have been more excited to go.


First to perform was TiWakan, a spoken word duo.  I didn’t know of them before, but as soon as this Dakota poet opened his mouth I sat up straighter to listen.  His voice is that kind of gravel-y, yet booming bass, that seems to come from way down in the bottom of his ribcage.  He recited poems set to drums and a funky bass line, in perfect harmony.  When he was done, I was just thinking “Wow.  What was that?”  Here’s a video I found of him if you want to check him out.


The Pines were wonderful, and made me regret the time I saw them perform under a little canopy at a friend’s birthday party and not pay too much attention because I hadn’t heard of them before.


Roma di Luna’s performance felt so, so tight and flawless, which was awesome because they haven’t been playing together for years.  It’s evident that throughout their separation they never lost the connection that makes their collaboration so special.  At the time I’m writing this, they have more shows booked and I’m hopeful that I’ll see them again soon.


Take This Pink Ribbon off my Eyes

Lizzo’s “Women of Substance” show at St. Kate’s…I had my doubts, because the St. Kate’s auditorium is not exactly a dance floor, which is really the best kind of place to be at a Lizzo show.  And then when my friend and I got there, we found out we were seated next to a couple families who had brought their small children.  I’m done being horrified at the questionable choices other parents make, so I made up my mind to not give it another thought.

Dizzy Fae, who opened the show, made a point to say she noticed there were kids in the audience, and offered a sorry/not sorry warning before going into her song, “Booty 3000”.  Dizzy Fae is so young and as absolutely polished as an entertainer can be.  She’s kind of a miracle to watch on stage.  This was my third time seeing her perform and I love her more every time.  Also, her outfits delight and mystify me.  I wouldn’t leave the house in high-waisted, pleated pants, but she’s so pretty, she could make a garbage bag look good.


Sophia Eres was next with her DJ set, and for about the first half of it, the audience sat lamely in their seats.  Because SEATS, for crying out loud.  It’s not that I can’t sit and stare at her while she whips around her magical ponytail, but dance music is made for dancing, and I felt bad for her.  This bizarre audience: older white women, the families with kids, and the talkative, mostly-male group coming and going with their drinks in the row behind us.  When one guy whined something about, “when are we going to stand up?”  My friend surprised me by turning and saying, “NOW is when we stand up!’ And up she went.  So I stood too, dying a little inside, because I normally don’t stand until about 90% of the crowd is on their feet.  I imagined thousands of people behind me looking at my backside, annoyed.  But others stood, and then I finally felt secure to dance around a little in my confined area.


With the crowd finally warmed up, Lizzo came out with her dancers and blew us all away with her vocals and attitude.  She’s tough, glamorous, real, unapologetic, and extremely talented.


I feel like the pictures speak for themselves.  I could not take my eyes off her and her amazing dancers.  The stage was always filled with confident women of all shapes and sizes and their choreography was fun and energetic.


So one cool thing I learned about Lizzo is that her entire crew is made up of women, and this is intentional because the hip hop world is usually pretty male-dominated and she sees her success as an opportunity to bring other women up with her.


Lizzo is known for her message of positive body image, which is something I could do a lot more work on.  No, I don’t need to dance on stage in a tight black bodysuit, but maybe I could be less hesitant to stand up and dance in the audience when I hear a song I like.  Of course, that wouldn’t be a problem if we weren’t forced to sit in chairs in the first place.