Ladies First: How Desdamona and Maria Isa set the stage for women in Minnesota’s hip-hop scene

  Rapper and spoken word artist Desdamona has shared stages with Wyclef Jean, Bahamadia, and Saul Williams. But when she first moved to the Twin Cities in 1995, she couldn’t find anyone to give her the opportunity to perform. “When I tried to get into the hip-hop scene, it was very difficult,” said Desdamona. “There … [ Read more]

One More Time, With Feeling: Encores are a time-honored ritual—but has the very idea of a concert coda lost meaning?

You’re at a show by one of your favorite bands. They play an epic version of a song from their latest album, they introduce all the musicians, and they close the number with a flash of pyrotechnics. “Thank you very much!” cries the singer as the band heads offstage and the lights go down. That … [ Read more]

Sounds Like Teen Spirit: Young musicians overcoming doubters and expanding the all-ages music scene

Late on a December school night, Maude Lorr, a sophomore at Central High School, found herself onstage at a restaurant in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood on St. Paul’s East Side. Lorr wasn’t there to perform with her band, RiGBY, a punk quartet that got their start through School of Rock. Along with the rest of Twin … [ Read more]

Turn It Up: 10 local albums from 2019 that are must-adds to your queue

As always, this year saw a lot of remarkable music come out of Minnesota, and you probably didn’t catch all of it. We’ve rounded up 10 local albums released in 2019 that you should definitely queue up. Charlie Parr “Charlie Parr” The album art for Charlie Parr’s self-titled record is a precise visual portrayal of the … [ Read more]

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]

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