Making Moonshine and Dancing to Dixieland: A tour through Minnesota’s prohibition-era music venues

From 1920 to 1933, Prohibition outlawed the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol—but Minnesotans found other ways to enjoy their spirits. St. Paul’s bootlegging business was booming and the city’s bands provided the soundtrack. When the Volstead Act was enacted in 1919 and went into effect in 1920, saloons and beer parlors closed up shop … [ Read more]

In My Time of Dying: Musicians must prepare estate plans for their musical works

Whether or not we want to plan for it, we all inevitably die. A hard subject for some to grasp, death can bring forth a variety of emotions, conflict, or even chaos, depending on whether or not the deceased had a pre-established estate plan. To some extent, everyone has assets, but what happens when music … [ Read more]

Feelin’ Nur-D: The Minneapolis rapper blending geek culture, activism, and pro wrestling to keep MN hip-hop weird

If you ask Matt Allen, known on stage as hip-hop artist Nur-D, how he’d describe himself, he would tell you that he is weird, your seventh favorite hip-hop person, and then declare himself a nerd. Vocal about his love for comics, professional wrestling, video games, ’80s hair metal bands, and superheroes, Nur-D creates his music … [ Read more]

Blazes of Glory: Pyrotechnic designers and engineers add fiery drama to the concert experience

When you go to a concert by Macklemore, Pitbull, or Marshmello, it’s not just for the music—you’re also going for an elaborate spectacle, and often that means waterfalls of sparks raining down from the ceiling or pillars of fire erupting from the edge of the stage. In short, pyrotechnics. Pyrotechnics can incorporate anything from fire … [ Read more]

Minnesota’s Most Famous Singing Trio: The Andrews Sisters’ inventive harmonies buoyed a nation at war and topped the charts

What comes to mind when you think of the Andrews Sisters? Maybe holiday classics like the Bing Crosby collaborations “Jingle Bells” and “Mele Kalikimaka.” You might remember the Andrews Sisters’ appearance in the comedy “Buck Privates” or the World War II-era hit “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” You might even know that the Andrews Sisters spent … [ Read more]

Voices in the Wilderness: Bands (other than Bon Iver) that chased the muse into the woods

I n 2008, when Justin Vernon debuted his Bon Iver alias with the release of “For Emma, Forever Ago,” the music world was forced to grapple with a project so far-flung from indie music at the time that it was soon shrouded in myth. Soft, sparse, and smoldering with emotional intensity, “For Emma” led curious … [ Read more]

Musical Minnesota: Visiting 8 destinations around the state immortalized in song

Planning a Minnesota road trip? Check a local landmark off your bucket list—specifically, one of these places made immortal by shout-outs in song. Get your playlist and your map app ready! Red Wing “Kelly’s Bar,” Trampled by Turtles Our musical road trip starts on Old West Main Street in Red Wing, Minnesota, where a particular … [ Read more]

Think Sunny Thoughts: Rock the Garden announces its 2019 lineup

Yes, there may be a mid-April snowstorm rapidly barreling toward us, threatening to dampen our spring fever and trigger our freshly dormant seasonal depression. But! The Current and the Walker Art Center have announced a stellar lineup for this year’s Rock the Garden on June 29, blessing us with something nice and warm to hold … [ Read more]

The Past, Present, and Future of Minnesota Hip-Hop: Part 2

Four local artists on collaboration, creative barriers, and the future of rap in the North Star State This is part two of a two-part conversation with three up-and-coming Minnesota-based hip-hop artists—Kamilla Love, booboo, and Student 1—and Medium Zach, an artist with two decades of experience, about Minnesota’s hip-hop scene. Read Part 1 here. I’m Sean … [ Read more]

The Past, Present, and Future of Minnesota Hip-Hop: Part 1

Four local artists discuss collaboration, creative barriers, and the future of rap in the North Star State I’m Sean McPherson and I’ve been playing bass in Twin Cities hip-hop groups for 20+ years now. I went to St. Paul Central, and I started a band that’s still active today called Heiruspecs, and I met a … [ Read more]

Masters of Arena Rock: Why sound engineers are to thank for the ultimate concert experience

There are few experiences as memorable as attending your first concert in an arena. You enter the doors of a cavernous dome and squint to find the section and row of your seat on your ticket. You take your seat, the lights dim, and the rumble of bass being pumped through a dozen loud speakers … [ Read more]

We Could Be (Feline) Heroes: Bowie fans and cat lovers come together for 14th annual fundraiser concert

Since 2004, local musicians have filled First Avenue’s Mainroom for one night a year to celebrate David Bowie—and cats. Rock For Pussy is now in its 14th year, and although the event has grown since its inception, its goals remain the same: to raise money for Feline Rescue, a Minnesota-based no-kill cat shelter, and to … [ Read more]

Great (music) outdoors: Making the most of your summer festival season

“Get a lay of the land. Stay hydrated.” “Best way to beat the heat: cold compress laced with an essential oil blend of peppermint and eucalyptus.” “Bring at least one outfit that pushes your limits. A little too sexy. A little too neon. A little too Lycra.” Those are just a few of the responses … [ Read more]

Tales From The Tour: Three Minnesota musicians recount travels around the world

Travel can be enough of an adventure on personal vacations. But when you need to tour for a living, there’s even more at stake. Laughing while they remember language barriers and culture shock, three Minnesotan musicians share the ups and downs of life on the road. Sims In 2014, I played 10 shows in the … [ Read more]

Dibs on Dylan: Can Minnesota claim credit for the success of Robert Zimmerman?

When Bob Dylan was announced as the winner of 2016’s Nobel Prize in Literature, Minnesotans rejoiced. The first rock star ever to win the Nobel, and he’s one of our own! Born and bred! Or…is he? Throwing cold water on the prairie party, many pointed out that Dylan was nowhere near the Gopher State when … [ Read more]