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The verdict is still out on whether or not the Twins stepped up their pitching this year, but the team did at least add a little muscle to their Midwest Music Showcase in 2014. Tapes n’ Tapes, Trailer Trash, Mark Mallman, the Cactus Blossoms and a reunited Tina & the B-Sides are all on the roster for the 10 Wednesday live music performances at Target Field, which include pre-game warm-up sets from the bands as well as random songs between innings.
Here’s the full lineup announced today by the team:
That last slot will be awarded to via KTWIN 96.3 FM’s “Sound Factor” contest, judged by Prince & the Revolution drummer and the station’s Sunday night host of “The Sound,” Bobby Z. Those Tapes n' Tapes and Tina & the B-Sides gigs are of particular note, since those bands have been on hiatus -- although Tina Schlieske is also putting her old band back together for a First Ave gig on May 10.
As was chronicled in a story we ran last year off of 4onthefloor’s appearance in the series, the bands perform up on a balcony in the left-field corner and are given some nice screen time on the Jumbotron (and free game tickets and beer!).
This won’t be the only live music at Target Field this summer. KTWIN is reportedly planning a second installment of its Skyline Music Fest, which last year featured Soul Asylum and Big Head Todd & the Monsters on a stage along the third baseline. The perennial rumors of Paul McCartney performing there are also surfacing again with news of his summer tour plans. However, since the Twins are hosting the All-Star Game this year – when Kenny Chesney played there during the midseason break the past two summers – the timing of a Mac gig or any other big show could be difficult. But not impossible.
Prince is apparently no longer bad-mouthing Warner Bros. Records, and that’s very good news for fans. The record label announced today a new licensing deal with Minneapolis’ Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, the timing of which points to the approaching 30th anniversary of “Purple Rain.” A first-ever remastered deluxe-edition of the 1984 masterpiece will be the first product of the new/old partnership. More unreleased music from a variety of eras is also now promised.
“For Prince fans worldwide, the new partnership will open a veritable gold mine,” Warner Bros. proclaimed in the press release.
The deal will also include the release of a new Prince album. This may or may not be the same record with new group 3rdEyeGirl that was said to be coming via independent licensing company Kobalt Music Group. It was Prince himself who referenced the new record in the press release from Warner Bros.
Prince said, "A brand-new studio album is on the way and both Warner Bros Records and Eye are quite pleased with the results of the negotiations and look forward to a fruitful working relationship."
Of course, Prince didn’t go back to the label that once "enslaved" him without getting something in return. The deal gives him back ownership of all his Warner Bros.-issued music, which extends from his 1978 debut “For You” through the ‘90s. Billboard magazine heralded the deal as “landmark” and a “new era,” alluding to uncertainty over copyright issues for recording contracts older than 35 years (like Prince’s).
Prince fans will no doubt be waiting with bated breath for details on the “Purple Rain” expanded reissue and other music to come. One legendary vault item that has always been on the radar but never seen the daylight is the actual "Purple Rain" live recording at First Avenue in 1983, which was used/molded into the “studio” version of the song “Purple Rain” and several other tracks on that album. Lord knows – or maybe just Prince knows – what other music there is to be unveiled.
In the midst of a Midwest tour that brings them Thursday to House of Rock in Eau Claire (with Dessa) and Friday to the Triple Rock in Minneapolis, local hip-hop vets Toki Wright and Big Cats dropped a freaky new track this week that shows off the more psychedelic, neo-soul- and electronic-styled music they’ve been making together over the past year. Titled “Echinacea,” the song finds Wright riffing in a mild but semi-manic tone on the herbal pill of the same name – and our hope for self-improvement in general -- while Big Cats (Spencer Wirth-Davis) lays down an eerie, hypnotic groove.
“Enchinacea” is the first track issued off Wright’s and Big Cat’s upcoming album, “Pangaea.” They debuted more tracks along with a new live format on Atmosphere’s Welcome to MN Tour in late February. Lydia Liza of Bomba de Luz sings backup at the shows, and Eric Mayson of Crunchy Kids is featured on keys. K. Raydio and Shiro Dame -- featuring Sarah White of Traditional Methods -- will also perform at Friday’s Triple Rock show (10 p.m., $10, tickets on sale here). They have shows spread around Wisconsin, Iowa and North Dakota in the coming weeks leading up to set at the Soundset festival in Shakopee on May 25.
Nearly nine years after Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller died of complications from throat cancer, his memory has become the catalyst for a new organization/website, Kill Kancer, intended to help prevent cancer and promote alternative treatments – with the Twin Cities music scene’s support.
A new PSA video (posted below) was released just in time for Friday’s Kill Kancer fundraiser concert at the Cedar Cultural Center. Instead of some of Mueller’s rock-vet pals, though, the so-called “manifesto” video – put together by local videographer Dan Huiting with Rick Fuller and the Martin-Williams advertising agency -- curiously features a younger cast of local hip-hop and R&B stars, including Slug, Toki Wright, P.O.S., Ashley DuBose and No Bird Sing’s Joe Horton. Karl’s widow, Mary Beth Mueller, said this is a sign of the demographics Kill Kancer will initially target.
“We really want to reach the areas where it’s most preventable,” Mueller said, pointing to inner-city youths who don’t know about or don’t have access to healthier eating and living habits that can avert cancer.
Among Kill Kancer’s plans are planting gardens in urban areas that lack them, stocking food shelves with healthier items and working with Full Cycle to bring free bicycles into low-income neighborhoods (for the exercise benefits). That’s along with many other goals that Mueller has been dreaming up since Karl’s passing. “I just can’t get past this terrible [expletive] beast that is cancer,” she said.
The origins of Kill Kancer go back to the now-legendary 2004 Rock for Karl benefit/tribute concert at the Quest nightclub a year before Mueller’s death, where Soul Asylum, Golden Smog, Bob Mould, Grant Hart, Paul Westerberg and the Gear Daddies all performed. That set up the Karl Fund, which has funded research for new treatments at the University of Minnesota and now will benefit Kill Kancer.
Mary Beth said a friend’s private grant on the eighth anniversary of Karl’s death last year helped ignite the new efforts. So did last year’s inaugural Kill Kancer concert at the Cedar with Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy (one of their last local sets together), Golden Smog, the Magnolias, Curtiss A and Jordan Gatesmith.
Now comes the second Kill Kancer concert. Pirner is back in town and has put together a special video presentation to go with his performance at Friday’s show. Willie Murphy, Communist Daughter, Silverback Colony (led by 4onthefloor’s Gabriel Douglas) and Taj Raj are also all lined up to play the show, along with the “special guests.” The $25 tickets are still available.
“There are so many civic-minded, responsible musicians in this town, it’s amazing,” said Mueller, who is working with many of Friday’s performers for the first time. She also noted the irony of music being used to, you know, kill cancer.
“The tobacco companies have been using rock ‘n’ roll to sell their product for 30-40 years,” she said. “This is a great way to turn that around.”
When you’re Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/producer Dan Wilson, where do you go to celebrate the release of your first solo album in seven years? Of course, the Electric Fetus.
That’s where Wilson made monthly trips to buy music when in lived in Minneapolis for all those many years. But he moved to Los Angeles nearly four years ago to further his songwriting/producing career, working with the likes of Adele, Taylor Swift and Pink, among others.
Between sessions with all those bold-face names, Wilson managed to complete his “Love Without Fear,” his second solo effort. On Tuesday, he was up early chatting on 89.3 the Current, doing interviews in the afternoon (as well as lunching with his singing brother Matt Wilson) and then singing and signing autographs at the Fetus in the evening.
Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar at the Fetus, the sweet-voiced Wilson performed four songs from the new album (including the title track and the new single "A Song Can Be About Anything") and one number from “Free Life,” his 2007 solo debut. There was nothing from his Semisonic or Trip Shakespeare days – or his Grammy-winning-collaborator-for-hire resume.
Wilson did slip into his “Words and Music” mode – the usual VH1 "Storyteller"-like format of his solo concerts – and talked about his songwriting process and what sparked a couple of songs in particular. He will give full concerts June 4, 5 and 6 at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis – with a different approach each night, though “Words and Music” will be the first show.
At the Fetus, Wilson got about150 people to sing along to “All Kinds,” from his first solo disc. Mid-song, he politely called their singing “super-nice but super-quiet,” which made us wonder if that’s a euphemism for semisonic.
After the half-hour set, Wilson spent an hour posing for photos and signing CDs (the deluxe version contains a hardcover book featuring lyrics that he wrote in calligraphy).
We didn’t stick around to see if Wilson did any shopping but, in a pre-performance interview, he told us he’d transferred his monthly habit of shopping at the Fetus for “a handful of jazz records and new pop releases” to the sprawling indie chain, Amoeba, in Los Angeles.
“I do there what I did at the Fetus – I bought old Ornette Coleman, Bill Evans, Brad Mehldau, Beck, Sun Kil Moon.”
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