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Posts about Minnesota musicians

Minnesota Orchestra gets March 2016 date at Carnegie Hall

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: January 28, 2015 - 12:15 PM


Vanska and the orchestra at the composer's institute earlier this month. Photo/Leila Navidi

The Minnesota Orchestra, whose last visit to Carnegie Hall was torpedoed by the 2012-2014 lockout, has been invited to the celebrated concert venue for the 2015-16 season.

The orchestra, with music director Osmo Vanska, will play the first and third Sibelius symphonies in a concert on March 3, 2016. In addition, Hilary Hahn will perform Sibelius’s violin concerto with the orchestra.

Minnesota had been on the schedule for two dates in November, 2013, to play the Sibelius symphony cycle that they had been recording. The date was canceled because of the labor dispute and Vanska resigned in October, 2013, in protest over the cancellation and the continuing lockout. He returned to his position last April.

The orchestra announced earlier this month that it would return to the recording project in June. Conversations between Minnesota and Carnegie started last summer, said President and CEO Kevin Smith.

“The season had already been booked but they were able to find a date and we made it work,” Smith said. “It shows a strong interest on their part to re-engage with the Minnesota Orchestra and for us it’s a real milestone that we’ve established we’re back.”

Doomtree's 'All Hands' arrives with gatherings, news of a First Ave gig

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: January 27, 2015 - 1:21 PM

Doomtree waited until the day “All Hands” arrived -- today -- to announce a hometown release party: Dessa and her hip-hop boys harem will return to First Avenue on Feb. 25 to celebrate the album, the septet’s first all-crew effort since 2011’s “No Kings.”

A limited number of tickets will be available today starting at 4 p.m. during the group’s promotional hang time at the Depot Tavern (next to First Avenue). The rest go on sale Wednesday at noon via eTix and First Ave outlets for $25. A quick look at the First Ave calendar shows the main room is open the night after this newly announced show, but there's no word of a second gig yet. It certainly won’t be another Blowout week, though, as the other nights around the show are already booked (including the Flaming Lips’ “Clouds Taste Metallic” gig on Feb. 24!).

Today’s Depot event is one in a series of meet-and-greets that started this morning at Glam Doll Doughnuts. Sims is having the gang over to his house at 2 p.m. for a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" Q&A, which you can catch live here. The all-day all hands continues with a signing session at the Electric Fetus at 6 p.m. and then a final stop at the new Surly brewery at 8 p.m., where the soon-to-be-canned Surly Doomtree beer will be available.

Doomtree isn’t expected to perform until their “All Hands” tour kick-off at Grandma’s Sports Garden in Duluth on Thursday (with a noon signing at Duluth’s Electric Fetus branch beforehand). Aside from a short break around the First Ave gig, they will be on the road through mid-March, winding up in Austin, Texas, for the South by Southwest Music Conference (those gigs are still TBA).

You can hear all of "All Hands" on Doomtree's Bandcamp page. The best track on the album -- and already one of the highlights in concert during Blowout week -- "Gray Duck" is posted below. Pandora landed the exclusive stream of the album to start hyping the album last week. NPR's "All Things Considered" did a feature on the group earlier this week. It's on!

Twin Cities 'Idol' contestant Mark Andrew is a familiar 'Voice'

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: January 21, 2015 - 2:08 PM

Mark Andrew was at a loss Tuesday afternoon when he realized -- while talking to an inquisitive journalist -- there isn’t a lot that could be asked of him right now. That’s because the one-time contestant on NBC’s “The Voice” back under the thumb of network TV land as a contestant on Fox’s “American Idol.” He’s on the show starting (and probably not ending) with tonight’s episode from this summer’s Minneapolis auditions. All details of his going-ons from here on out are under lock and key until they air on Fox.

“We can talk about… well, not a lot,” he finally admitted with a laugh.

The Eden Prairie-reared, Minneapolis-based rocker -- age 29 and  full name Mark Andrew Pudas -- had a brief run on “The Voice” in 2013 after landing on Team Shakira with his soulful version of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” One thing he could talk about was how he believes he has an advantage this time around thanks to his prior experience on a TV sing-off.

“It’s still always nerve-racking to get up there [in front of judges], but I think it definitely helps having a little more confidence this time,” he said. “The cameras don’t make you as nervous, and you aren’t as intimidated by the famous people in the room.”

Mark was the second contestant on “The Voice” after Nicholas David who cut his teeth with the White Iron Band, the beloved Twin Cities country-rock group co-led by Mark’s older brother Matt Pudas. He played guitar with them and sang backup for a few years, often taking the lead to sing The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” at gigs. He has been performing on his own as Mark Andrew since his “Voice” stint. That’s in addition to working in his family’s construction business and raising his now 6-month-old son, Hank (all laid out in the profile video posted above). He thinks another TV gig can only further his momentum toward becoming a full-time musician.

“Being on ‘The Voice’ opened a lot of doors for me and got me into playing bigger venues, and I’m ready to keep growing that,” he said.

Mark got into the Minneapolis “Idol” auditions via the back-door using his industry connections and thus didn’t go into them with blind luck. He said he sang two songs for the judges, "both pretty classic." We’ll find out tonight how he fared (7 p.m., Fox, locally at Channel 9 KMSP).

Two acts stood out among First Ave's Best New Bands of 2014

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: January 19, 2015 - 8:52 AM
Hippo Campus had the youngest members and the biggest crowd among the Best New Bands that performed at First Avenue on Saturday.

Hippo Campus had the youngest members and the biggest crowd among the Best New Bands that performed at First Avenue on Saturday.

One of the acts went away with newfound rock-star status, and one proved it already had that coming in. Those were the two strongest statements made at First Avenue’s Best New Bands showcase on Saturday night, a seven-set marathon that also saw a few untested DIY recording projects come out of the basement and come to life on stage.

Poetic neo-soul singer/songwriter PaviElle French gave the night’s breakthrough performance. Playing to mostly young indie-rock fans who weren’t even sure how to pronounce her name – her male back-up singers took care of that by chanting it – the St. Paul native turned heads as she stretched her deep, powerful pipes in the long, steady-grooving epic “Runnin’.” Her tight, slow-funk-wins-the-race band made a strong impression, too, including bassist Casey O’Brien and horn players Tony Beaderstadt and Cole Pulice, all from Sonny Knight’s Lakers.

PaviElle & Co.

PaviElle & Co.

While she frequently throws in cool rock covers that might’ve earned her easy applause in this case -- including a Fleetwood Mac cover that would’ve been the second of the night – French stuck to her original tunes, and wisely so. The emotional peak of her set, “Disbelief,” definitively laid out the positive, powerful messages she stands for. Before walking off stage, she seemed to sense the triumphant vibe and thanked her late mother and father for the inspiration as if she had just won an Oscar. There was no acting in this case, though.

Hippo Campus, meanwhile, proved it has already risen well above baby-band status, even though its members are still babyfaced themselves. From the moment fans started singing along to the under-age suburban rockers’ opening tune, “Little Grace,” it was obvious that about half of the three-quarters-full audience was there to see them (a point also hit home by all the X’s on audience members’ hands). But the lads just as obviously showed why they’re one of the buzzingest bands in town. The long, swaying fringe on frontman Jake Luppen’s quirky suede jacket visually matched the elegant, dangly guitar work in "Suicide Saturday.” A new song mid-set showed off a rockier, almost Arctic Monkeyian edge. And the buoyant finale “Bashful Creatures” had the band members and fans jumping up and singing in impressive unison.

None of the other acts came close to matching the energy level during those two sets, but both Tiny Deaths and Warey did impress in mellower, more hypnotic ways. Tiny Deaths singer Claire de Lune (ex-Chalice) and her new live band added more oomph and texture to the trip-hoppy electro-whir grooves of “Oceans” and other songs off her Grant Cutler-produced debut EP. Drummer Jared Isabella especially made a strong difference. Another welcome delineation from the EP was the band’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere,” which Claire dedicated to those who (like her) couldn’t afford to attend the prior night’s F-Mac show in St. Paul -- a reminder that Saturday's $7 cover was a steal.

Warey still sounded a bit tentative musically but already found Channy Leaneagh opening up in new ways as a vocalist. With three of her former Roma di Luna bandmates providing cover, she came out from under the blanket of electronic sonic layering she uses on her voice in Poliça and reached for high notes and dramatic moments sparked by her new band’s stormy sound.



The night’s only misfire was an interesting but confused and surprisingly listless set by the visually colorful Suzie, the glammy synth-rock outfit led by Night Moves’ Mark Ritsema. With Rupert Angeleyes for a third guitarist – who had triumphantly opened for 12 Rods’ only half-great show a night earlier on the same stage – the live incarnation of Ritsema’s recordings got into some light, War on Drugs-type guitar jams. But it never really got out of sluggish mid-tempos or got into any memorable hooks besides the Radio K-favored single “Coffin in Houston.” When a flock of cheerleaders came on at set’s end, it underlined how un-peppy the music actually was.

The final act of the night, ZuluZuluu, similarly came off a bit spaceheaded but was more of a blast, with rapper Greg Grease piling on thickly worded, often snarling lyrics while his DJ-backed band veered between slow, hazy P-Funk jams and psychedelic R&B. It still sounded like an act that’s throwing too much against the wall to see what sticks, but that’s what “new bands” are supposed to do.

Caroline Smith steals Current concert from Messersmith, Wilson

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: January 19, 2015 - 2:49 AM


Dan, Caroline & Jeremy do their Peter, Paul & Mary bit

Dan, Caroline & Jeremy do their Peter, Paul & Mary bit


It was probably the smallest event in the 10 Days of Random Musical Kindness to celebrate 89.3 the  Current’s 10th anniversary.

The Bryant Lake Bowl theater holds about 89.3 people. For its most exclusive win-a-ticket-on-the-radio concert, the Current on Sunday night turned to Jeremy Messersmith, who has pretty much become the station’s musical mascot, and Dan Wilson, who was the first interview subject taped for the station before it went on the air in January 2005.

But the show ended up belonging to Caroline Smith, a newer local kid in the Current stable.

She stole the evening with her pluck, presence and personality. The least famous but the most unguarded of the three, she hit the stage first, working solo, and announced that backstage she had just done her impression of Creed’s Scott Stapp and did the audience want to hear it. Suffice it to say, Smith had the crowd at Stapp.

Seeing her without a band was a revelation. She sparkled throughout the night, whether telling stories (one was about a date with whom she was splitting a slice of piece and he wanted her to pony up $1.75 for her share), singing her songs about her complicated life (clearly inspired by Mary J. Blige, the songs, not her life) or providing backup vocals for Messersmith and Wilson.

Dan, Caroline & Jeremy do their Peter, Paul & Mary bit


Smith tells it like it is in conversation and song. She dedicated “Child Moving On” to her mom (who was in the audience) who “taught me to keep moving on no matter how many assholes you marry.”

When it came time for the encore at the end of 90-some minutes of music, Smith took charge and requested :"Closing Time," the smash hit Wilson had enjoyed with his band Semisonic.

When the three singers tackled “Someone Like You,” which Wilson wrote with Adele, Smith took the low harmony part and let the boys take the higher parts. When it came time for Messersmith and Wilson to be her backup singers on “Bloodstyle,” she insisted on giving them some of her bling (a bracelet for Jeremy, a sparkly ring for Dan) and called them her “girls.”

This girl has got it.

Messersmith, the headliner if there was one, seemed a little lethargic after just returning from two weeks in Mexico. In his three-song solo set, he answered a shouted request for “Steve” and performed “Tourniquet,” his big Current hit. He also debuted a new song, possibly titled “Fire Flower,” about a woman in winter. 

Wilson, the former Minneapolitan who now has a flourishing songwriting/producing career in Los Angeles, offered three tunes from his two solo albums, including “Brighter Days.” When joined by the others, he played “Disappearing,” the sing-along  “All Kinds” and the Everly Brothers’ “Don’t Forget to Cry.”

The song-swapping trio segment, which took place after intermission, was intended to be free-wheeling but it got a little awkward at times. Current DJ Steve Seel served as kind of an unnecessary moderator, providing commentary and asking questions of the singers.

Said Messersmith to Seel: “You’re like a mellow but informative hype man.”

Who needs a hype man when you’ve got Caroline Smith?


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