Double CD release from The Lowest Pair at the Cedar – worth a drive to Winona today

Some musicians seem to take years, even decades, to release a CD so why has The Lower Pair released two at once? Because each release is like a chapter of their lives and holding onto one would put them out of synch with their fans. They’d be several chapters ahead of the audience. Turns out the prolific impatience of The Lowest Pair is our good fortune.

We got a taste of both Uncertain as It is Uneven and Fern Girl & Ice Man on Thursday night at the Cedar Cultural Center. And if you hustle you can get a taste on Friday (April 29) at 5:30 in Winona at the Midwest Music Fest. (Depending on the drive, I just might catch them there too.)

The Lowest Pair is a duo – Kendl Winter from Arkansas and local guy Palmer T. Lee. They both play banjos. It’s tempting to say dueling banjos but really the banjos aren’t dueling, they’re playing really well together so well that it can be difficult to tell who is playing what. The mingling is aided by the fact that they share big old school radio-looking microphones.

Their voices marry as well. Winter has a very aspirated, breathy voice and timing as quickly yet spot on as her demeanor. Lee more constant and bring a host of instruments to the stage – playing banjo, harmonica and guitar. Lee seems to take the lead on a song like Mason’s Trowel, which is a more rocking song – well rocking Blue grass style – toe tapping. The Sky is Green is a good showcase for Winter’s voice and unusual perspective. She has a blue grass voice. Just the comfortable side of scratch and compelling to make you listen closer to see what she sings next. A testament to the song writing, her voice representing the stories.

Other stand out songs – Like I Did Before and Living is Dying, which isn’t on either or the new releases but a great song!

Record Store Day in the Twin Cities: 11 shops in 6 hours

Another successful Record Store Day! We beat last year’s record (pun intended) by one. We visited 11 record stores in St Paul and Minneapolis – and had a generous lunch break at Stella’s, because who can resist seafood on a patio on the first gorgeous Saturday of the year.

Here’s our agenda…

rsd 2016 cheapo
First Stop: Cheapo Records in St Paul – it’s about a mile from the house and it’s the record store I have been going to since I was a kid. I think it’s where I bought The Hawaiian Pups – an album I listened to 1000 times as a kid. They were all business on Saturday. Lots of people waiting in line hugging heaps of albums.

rsd 2016 eclipse
Stop Two: Eclipse. It was nice to see their new location. The have moved just up the block from the old place but it’s much larger. There was a good crowd when we were there. Eclipse has a nice array of records – my very favorite was the ornamental “Fonzie’s Favorites” record cover. In a pinch I could tell you every song on at least one side it; it got a lot of air play in my house.

rsd 2016 agharta
Stop Three: Agharta. Fun to see a live band. I knew they had DJs scheduled but the live band was new to me. Not sure who is was – but Americana. That was perfect for us since we are both fans of country twanged music.

rsd 2016 barely
Stop Four: Barely Brother. Sadly we happened to stop by during a music break – but we could see several local musicians on deck – Adan Linz, who we were sad to miss. The bonus of Barely Brothers is the proximity to several vintage stores – we spent a little time visiting there too. It would be fun to know about the ripple effect of Record Store Day on nearby shops and restaurants.

rsd 2016 extreme noise
Stop Five: Extreme Noise. OK this is a record store that really separates the women from the girls. It focuses on some genres that I love and my favorite 11 year old thinks it’s too loud. I could hear a band leaking out of the sound proof studio in the back. (It’s not really soundproof but it’s pretty good!) I thought it sounded great; it was too loud for others. Extreme did have their 20 year catalog on the offer for the day, which was a fun takeaway.

rsd 2016 hymies
Stop Six: Hymie’s Records and their whole street festival. We hung out here for a while – and actually one of us went back later to hear more music. We came specifically to hear Chastity Brown. We are big fans. We saw her last at the Guerrilla Girls event earlier this year. She spoke there a little bit about racism and gender discrimination; she touched upon it on Saturday too. In fact she played a song by Nina Simone claiming that Simone is more eloquent that Brown but I’m not so sure that’s true. I think she does a nice job talking about what it is like to be a woman of color in a way that is meaningful to listeners. We also saw Bruise Violent – a very different genre but another favorite – at least for the one of us who likes loud music.

rsd 2016 dead media
Stop Seven: Dead Media. I had never visited Dead Media and I was delighted to have an excuse. It’s small but friendly. There was a band playing but too crowded for us to get close. I did make a bonus trip later in the day to see Kitten Forever, when I had a chance to check out the outside albums too. I’m pretty sure they got most of the albums from my parents old collection. I haven’t seen that much John Denver for a while.

rsd 2016 electric fetus
Stop Eight: Electric Fetus – finally. Electric Fetus is another tried and true record shop for us. We visit often when they have bands playing. I’ve been known to drop way more money than intended on tickets and dresses there. I’m not much of a shopper – but tickets and dresses are exactly my weak spots. I was on the search for an album by TV Girl. I was sad to not find it here – or anywhere else but we did find a great vibe.

rsd 2016 fifth element
Stop Nine: Fifth Element. Last year, we were taken aback by the friendliness at Fifth Element. This year we came when live music was happening – made for a fun trip but less visiting with staff. The place is still a nice mix of music, art and culture.

rsd 2016 treehouse
Stop Ten: Treehouse Records – they have a great collection of albums and very knowledgeable staff. Although I think it was walking out of Treehouse when my date remarked that every record store had a different smell – and they do. Treehouse is a little musty – maybe the smell of years of great albums.

rsd 2016 hifi
Step Eleven: HiFi Records and Hair. To be fair we got there too late to go in – but after a long day we’re taking full credit to beat last year’s visit to 10 record stores. I am a fan of HiFi Hair – in fact last time I had my haircut it was there. Jon Clifford did a great job. A great location and music take the sting out of going to get your haircut. Actually it was kind of fun. I should go back before Record Store 2017!

Record Store Day in St Paul & Minneapolis: Our plan to see everything!

record playerWe love Record Store Day. We try to get to as many record shops as we can, catch a few bands and this year I think we’re even going to enjoy some good weather during the journey. As an added bonus for us – we have an actual record player in the house for the first time in years. I’m afraid of how much we might spend.

I’m particularly interested in Dead Media and Hymie’s. If you haven’t gone before – Hymie’s really does take Record Store Day to the next level with genuine street fair. Below is my list of places to go – with timed events if I could find them. Last year we made it to 10 stores. We’ll see if we can’t beat that record on Saturday!

In Minneapolis:

Hymie’s (3820 East Lake Street Minneapolis, MN 55406)

39th Avenue Stage

  • 11:00 AM Charlie Parr
  • 12:30 PM Tree Party
  • 1:30 PM Mike Munson
  • 3:00 PM Bruise Violet
  • 4:30 PM Black Market Brass
  • 6:00 PM What Tyrants

Hymie’s Records Stage

  • 12:30 PM Crankshaft
  • 2:00 PM Chastity Brown
  • 3:30 PM Ben Weaver
  • 5:30 PM Corpse Reviver
  • 7:00 PM Narco States
  • 8:30 PM Shadow in the Cracks

Dead Media (3330 E 25th St Minneapolis, MN)

Bands

Album cover from a used record store in Winnipeg we visited last week

Album cover from a used record store in Winnipeg we visited last week

  • 12:00 PM Rupert Angeleyes
  • 1:30 PM Naive Sense
  • 3:00 PM Pale Spectre
  • 4:30 PM Animal Lover
  • 6:00 PM Kitten Forever

DJs

  • 10 AM No Problem Records
  • 12:30 PM Fuck Mtn. Ltd. Release
  • 2:00 PM Forged Artifacts
  • 3:30 PM Dead Media
  • 5:00 PM Night-People Records
  • 6:30 PM MJ MJ Records

Electric Fetus (2000 4th Ave. S Minneapolis, MN 55404

  • 10:30 AM – DJ Jake Rudh of Transmission
  • Noon – The Honeydogs
  • 1:30 PM – Prairie Fire Lady Choir
  • 3:00 PM – I Self Devine/Muja Messiah
  • 4:30 PM – Magic Castles

Fifth Element (2411 Hennepin Ave South Minneapolis, MN 55405)

  • 1 PM: Desdamona
  • 2 PM: Tall Paul
  • 3 PM: Baby Shel & DJ Quincy James
  • 4 PM deM atlaS (DWNR)

St Paul:

Agharta Records (2512 University AVE St Paul, MN 55114-9385)

  • 11 am Depot Creek – then DJs

Barely Brothers (783 Raymond Ave St Paul MN)

  • Noon: Le Percheron
  • 1:00 pm: Big George Jackson
  • 2:00 pm: Tabah
  • 3:00 pm: King of Tramps
  • 4:00 pm: Matt Arthur & The Bratlanders
  • 5:00 pm: Ringout!

Eclipse (419 Wabasha St. N. St. Paul, MN 55102)

  • 10am-11am Danny Sigelman
  • 11am-12pm Christian Fritz (MPLS LTD)
  • 12pm-1pm Brian Engel (Hot Pants)
  • 1pm-2pm Jason Nagel (GO 96.3)
  • 2pm-3pm Matty Werner (Dig Dug)
  • 3pm-4pm Billy Shears
  • 4pm-5pm Joe Baumgart (St. Dominics Trio)
  • 5pm-7pm Dr. Midnight

Places we want to visit – but that aren’t promoting timed activities yet:

Would you Harbor Me? Connecting home and homelessness

I’m very excited to share news of an upcoming event that involves my friend and running buddy Monica Nilsson, who happens to work at St Stephen’s Human Services. The show opened last night and will be presented around the Cities over the next week. It’s a nice way to help people connect home with homelessness – because sometimes it’s not just about the walls it’s about the security and the sense of self.

You can get a sneak preview of the concert (and Monica) from the WCCO clip below…

And more info from the press release…

Cantus Addresses the Crisis of Homelessness in

Would You Harbor Me?

Spring concert performed April 7-17 at five Twin Cities venues

 

(MINNEAPOLIS; March 8, 2016) – In Would You Harbor Me?, Cantus examines how life can sometimes take unexpected turns. Giving voice to the personal stories of crisis, homelessness and isolation, as well as resilience, belonging and community, the spring concert – performed April 7-17 – reflects on lives marginalized by circumstance and delivers a universal message of hope and inspiration through music.

 

Four compositions new to the acclaimed men’s ensemble will be performed. “Echoes” by Daniel Elder (Athens, Georgia) makes a profound statement on the virtue of hope using a rich yet simple harmonic palette; “Ffe Mwe, Mwe Ffe” by Joan Szymko (Chicago) recalls the energy of community coming together for the common good; “Gagòt” by Sydney Guillaume (Los Angeles), a piece sung in Haitian Creole and French, channels life’s frustrations into heartfelt music; and “Keep Us Whole,” a gospel-like song of inclusion for all humanity by local composer Linda Kachelmeier (St. Paul). The songs were added after Cantus posted a notice on Facebook and its website seeking scores to round out the program.

 

Songs will be interspersed with stories, portraits and a collection of first-person accounts of the experience of homelessness provided by St Stephen’s Human Services and The Oral History of Homelessness.

 

For the April 7 concert, Cantus welcomes the Minneapolis Community and Technical College Vocal Ensemble in a special appearance at Antonello Hall at MacPhail. StreetSong-MN, a choir made up of people who are currently or formerly homeless and those who advocate for them, will make a special appearance at the April 10 Ordway concert.

 

“The Cantus vision is to give voice to shared human experience,” says tenor Zachary Colby. “This concert is especially meaningful because it allows audiences to engage in issues and challenges that we think we’ll never encounter but really, they can happen to anyone — even you or me. Music can be a great equalizer that helps us feel compassion and empathy for those we may feel we know nothing about.”

 

Would You Harbor Me? concerts will be presented:

 

Thursday, April 7, 2016, 7:30pm

Antonello Hall, MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis

 

Saturday, April 9, 2016, 7:30pm     

Trinity Lutheran Church, Stillwater

 

Sunday, April 10, 2016, 3:00pm      

Ordway Concert Hall, St. Paul

 

Thursday, April 14, 2016, 11:00am 

Colonial Church of Edina

 

Sunday, April 17, 2016, 3:00pm 

Wayzata Community Church, Wayzata

 

Single ticket prices vary by concert venue. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.cantussings.org or by calling 612-435-0055. Student and group discounts are available.

 

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About Cantus

Recognized for their artistic excellence and musical  persatility, the nine members of Cantus rehearse and perform as chamber musicians, working without a conductor or music director, allowing audiences to experience a direct connection to the singers. Committed to a cappella presentation of significant music, Cantus is renowned for adventurous programming spanning many periods and genres, including newly commissioned work. The ensemble enjoys a vigorous schedule of international touring, concerts in its home of Minneapolis/St. Paul, educational outreach programs and recording.

 

Kitten Forever CD release with Bruise Violet, Royal Brat, and Cherry Cola at Triple Rock

I love a night that brings me back to nights of hardcore music of the 80s with bands like Husker Du, Loud Fast Rules and Man Sized Action and makes the music even better by having more women playing even faster than the boys used to play.

Kitten Forever plays fast and nonstop. Three members share instruments – and somehow they don’t stop even when exchanging instruments and signature phone-shaped mic. No songs over three minutes; most less than two. The drums are pounding. The bass is fast. There’s something take-charge about women singing hardcore; the voices carry through the music with great clarity. Some songs have a singsong quality – like Nightmare that masks the dark meaning. While other songs, like 200x are just flat out power.

It’s fun to see how many in the audience (of a sold out show!) know all of the lyrics. I love that about the local music scene.

I was disappointed that Bruise Violet was a duo, not a trio, on Saturday until they played. The remaining two were pretty strong as a duo – not that I suggest they lose the bassist. Bruise Violet is a young band, but they play beyond their years. They seem to have grabbed the punk baton from earlier Minneapolis bands – down to the connection of their name to the Babes in Toyland song. Pick Up Your Goddamn Phone is a song worth tracking down.

Royal Brat and Cherry Cola were both new to me. First – any band that can do a cover of Be Aggressive (yes – the cheerleaders cheer!) is a band I’m going to see again. So I will keep an eye out for Royal Brat. Cherry Cola is more emotive, less fast but there’s a guttural drive to the songs more 90s alternative than 80s punk. Fun to see.