David Lowery of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven will speak Friday at noon for the Minnesota Music Summit. / Photo by Jason Thrasher

David Lowery of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven will speak Friday at noon for the Minnesota Music Summit. / Photo by Jason Thrasher

Once again promising to be as informative as it is entertaining, this weekend’s Minnesota Music Summit snagged a grade-A music biz specialist as a keynote speaker: Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery, who’s also now a professor at the University of Georgia-Athens.

The ‘80s college-rock vet and ‘90s alt-rock star will speak about digital-age issues noon Friday at McNally Smith College of Music’s auditorium in downtown St. Paul. That kicks off two days of seminars and mentoring sessions for musicians and music-related professionals at the college, all free with registration. The event is put on by the Minnesota Music Coalition, a nonprofit initially formed with funding from Summit Brewing Co’s Backyard Bashes and now known statewide for its annual Caravan du Nord series.

Last seen in town playing hits like “Low” and “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)” with Cracker at the Varsity Theater in 2014, Lowery has several ties to Minnesota, including Cracker’s tour of duty in Iraq and Kuwait with the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Red Bull Infantry Division in 2011. He was also a regular player at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry in the ‘80swith Camper Van Beethoven (“Take the Skinheads Bowling”).

“We had a tradition of going to the coldest parts of the country when nobody else would,” he wincingly recounted in a 2012 interview with us.

In recent years, Lowery has been at the forefront advocating for better royalties and rights for musicians as digital streaming takes over the industry. Most recently, he famously sued Spotify in a California district court for up to $150 million in unpaid royalties.

After the keynote speech, the summit continues Friday and Saturday afternoons with mentoring sessions and such panels as "Dissecting Digital Services" and “Networking for Shy People.” The conference also features nighttime performances at the nearby Amsterdam Bar & Hall, with Toki Wright & Big Cats, Ashley DuBose and Katy Vernon there on Friday and the Big Wu set to play after the screening of its new documentary Saturday.

Here’s the full schedule for the Minnesota Music Summit below. The daytime events are free, but wristbands and badges ($20-$40) guarantee admission and are also good for the nighttime shows.


  • 6-8 pm: Kickoff Party: Summit Brewing Company (910 Montreal Circle, St. Paul)


  • Noon: Keynote Address by David Lowery (McNally Smith College of Music Auditorium, 19 E. Exchange St., St. Paul)
  • 2 pm: "How to Make Your Music a Business: Artist as Entrepreneur" (Room 70)
  • 3 pm: One-on-One Mentoring Sessions with Angie Carlson (publicist for Red House Records), Grace Evenson (Booking coordinator at the Cedar Cultural Center), Kelsey Brannan (DJ at The Current), Paul Peterson (artist/producer for Prince, Fdeluxe)
  • 3:00 pm: "Dissecting Digital Services" (Room 70) with Scott LeGere (producer, engineer & music business professor at McNally Smith College of Music), Andrew Sims (Doomtree), Chuck Hermes (Clockwork)
  • 4:00 pm: "Networking For Shy People" (Room 70) with Brian Turner (DJ, radio actor), Andrea Swensson (writer/producer/host for Local Current)
  • 6:30-7:30 pm: Reception with Grammys representatives (Amsterdam Bar and Hall, 6 W. 6th St.)
  • 7:30 pm (doors): Concert featuring Toki Wright & Big Cats (hip hop), Ashley DuBose (R&B/pop), Katy Vernon Band (singer/songwriter), $8-$10, free with summit badge


  • 12:30-2:30 pm: Young Artist Panel Discussion & Booking a Show at THE GARAGE (McNally Smith College of Music Auditorium)
  • 1:00 pm: "Legal Issues for Musicians" (Room 70) with lawyers Anthony Mendoza, Max Felsheim and Dan DeVoe
  • 1:45 pm: Free Legal Assistance (Room 70) with the Minnesota Justice Foundation
  • 3 pm: One-on-One Mentoring Sessions (Atrium) with Barb Abney (DJ at Go 96), Craig Grossman (agent/manager at Green Room Music Source), Youa Vang (writer at City Pages Minneapolis), David Priebe (agent/manager at Green Room Music Source)
  • 3 pm: "Most Views Ever: Creating Buzz For Your Videos" (Room 70) with Jay Gabler (writer/digital Producer at the Current)
  • 4:30 pm: Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Film Festival's “MN Made Music Videos” (Auditorium) with director Q&A and videos by Sean Anonymous, Rogue Valley, Reina del Cid, Liam Gerard and more.
  • 7 pm: Debut of new documentary "The Big Wu Way" with band Q&A (Auditorium)*
  • 9 pm (doors): The Big Wu & special guest Dean Magraw (Amsterdam Bar and Hall), $13-$15, free with summit badge

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