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Set times and lowdown for Trampled by Turtles' Festival Palomino

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: September 18, 2014 - 12:31 PM
Members of Trampled by Turtles before they took the stage at the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky., in July. / Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

Members of Trampled by Turtles before they took the stage at the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky., in July. / Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

Saturday’s Festival Palomino at Canterbury Park is the first of what organizers hope to be many years for the Trampled by Turtles-led, day-long strummer fest. It also happens to be the first big concert held inside the Shakopee horse track in many years. The last big music events we remember there were the Clear Channel Radio festivals of the early-‘00s (KDWB, Cities 97, K102), which were usually good-time, cozy affairs despite Sheryl Crow always seeming to be at them.

As is recounted in a Q&A with the Trampled fellas in this week’s Vita.mn, the festival was more the idea of First Avenue, which has had good luck working with the band on their multi-genre Bayfront Park concerts in Duluth. First Ave also brought in frequent partner Rose Presents (We Fest, Warped Tour, Soundset) to help handle logistics of the big show. This was all good news to Trampled, which had long been interested in starting a fest but lost money in the mid-’00s partnering on the Log Jam Fest in Ely.

Members of Trampled by Turtles before they took the stage at the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky., in July. / Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

“It seemed perfect: We’d help curate the music, and [First Ave] could do all the hard work,” TBT singer Dave Simonett said. “Them and Rose Presents, they know this stuff. Now, I don’t have to Google how to rent port-o-potties in Shakopee myself.”

The lineup predictably wound up being heavy on rootsy, stringy, old-timey and/or twangy kind of bands such as Spirit Mountain Family Reunion and Hurray for the Riff Raff (one of this writer’s personal faves from this year’s SXSW). But it also includes Florida soul man Charles Bradley, Seattle folk-rockers the Head and the Heart and TBT’s longtime Low, playing to their first 10,000-plus-sized Twin Cities crowd since last year’s legendary/notorious Rock the Garden set.

“These are all bands we’ve played with before,” Simonett explained of the Palomino lineup. “It ranges from Charles Bradley, who we only played with once but loved, on up to Erik Koskinen and Low, who we’ve played with and been good friends with for a long time. It’s all familiar faces, which seemed like a fun way of doing it.”

This will be Trampled’s first big Twin Cities show in support of their seventh album, “Wild Animals, not counting their live Current broadcast from the Cedar Cultural Center the week of release. They left town right after that, playing everywhere from David Letterman's set to the Newport Folk Festival (where they were joined by Mavis Staples and Norah Jones) to a sold-out headlining gig at Red Rocks Amphitheater outside Denver last month. Read our chronicle of the band’s chaotic mid-July run here.

The Canterbury gates will open at 1 p.m., and the music will run from 2-10 p.m. – mostly nonstop, thanks to the use of two stages. Tickets ($34, or $87 for VIP) are reportedly selling well but probably won’t sell out (it’s a big place). All the FAQ info can be found on the fest's site. Here are the newly announced set times:

Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley

STARS STAGE

  • (2 P.M.) Field Report
  • (3:10) Hurray for the Riff Raff
  • (4:25) Charles Bradley & his Extraordinaires
  • (5:45) The Head and the Heart
  • (7:45) Trampled by Turtles

SATELLITES STAGE

  • (2:40 P.M.) Erik Koskinen
  • (3:55) The Apache Relay
  • (5:10) Spirit Family Reunion
  • (6:45) Low

See the BBC's profile of Twin Cities rap alum M.anifest

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: September 16, 2014 - 9:37 AM
Photo by  Bob Pixel Photography

Photo by Bob Pixel Photography

How’s this for transatlantic exposure? Twin Cities-weaned rapper M.anifest is featured in a new video profile from London’s BBC, which filmed him in Ghana.  

The real-life Kwame Amet Tsikata, who still maintains local ties after a decade as a Minnesotan, is back living in his native country and generating quite a buzz as a music maker there. He has won several trophies at the Ghana Music Awards and has been working with other African musicians of note, including Donzy and HHP.

In the clip posted below, M.anifest tells the BBC’s “Africa Beats” that he finds Ghana to be “a ridiculous place, and so that has ridiculously inspired me. It provokes everything that you can imagine in me.”

Performing for the BBC with a live band led by reputable Ghanaian musician Kwame Yeboah, he shows off two of the tracks he has dropped since relocating, “Debi Debi,” and “Someway Bi,” both of which come off his EP "Apae: The Price of Free" and are available via iTunes. He explains their meaning in the clip. He also has an evocative video for “Someway Bi” that shows off his new/old surroundings.

Flaming Lips' second First Ave gig of the year an even rarer treat

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: September 15, 2014 - 11:36 AM

After a few years when their circusy, hamster-ball-enhanced shows felt uncommonly rote, the Flaming Lips managed to pull off another excitingly unique concert at First Avenue on Sunday night, only two months behind their last fulfilling freak show there. Frontman Wayne Coyne told the audience at the July gig that the band liked playing First Avenue so much – “one of the first places that let us come play” – they wanted to come back and play two more shows this year.

Fresh off playing RiotFest in Chicago a day earlier, Coyne started out Sunday’s performance rightfully bragging about keeping his word: “I threw it out there,” he told the near-sell-out crowd, “then this date came up, and we thought, ‘Well, what are we gonna do?’” The answer was something that the legendary Oklahoma acid punks haven’t done in at least 20 years, if ever: Play their entire 1993 record “Transmissions from the Satellite Heart” from start to finish.

“We haven't played much material from this album in a long time,” Coyne explained, admitting the reason: It’s hard to recreate the wonderfully off-kilter guitar work of Ronald Jones, who quit the band in 1996 but helps define their sound to this day. “We always felt like we couldn't do his thing justice,” Coyne added. “Now, we're gonna try.”
 
For the most part, justice was served. The first Flaming Lips record to offer a little cohesion and teeter toward conventional songwriting – if you can call “She Don’t Use Jelly” conventional – it rolled along joyously Sunday. After a pleasant-enough revival of the jangly opening track “Turn It On,” the show turned manic as the fuzz-blast guitars and booming drums of “Pilot Can at the Queer of God” kicked in alongside the smoke machines and confetti blowers. They followed that little bout of mayhem with a surprisingly spot-on rendition of the more dreamy and melodic gem “Oh My Pregnant Head.”
 

Before “She Don’t Use Jelly” – the one song off the record they still play ever show – Coyne told a great story about how they first realized it had hit unlikely hit potential back in 1994, when they first started playing it on a tour opening for Pearl Jam knockoff band Candlebox.
 
“Even though their audience hated the very sight of us, they loved this song,” he remembered.
 
The second half of the show, with the deeper cuts, was even more rewarding than the first. Steven Drozd (the drummer in 1994) and new-ish member Derek Brown nailed the blazing, triumphal guitar work in the extended outro of “Moth in the Incubator,” and diehard fans delighted singing along to “Plastic Jesus” (actually titled  “*******” on the record sleeve).  The one exception was “Be My Head,” which Coyne openly admitted was the one song they couldn’t pull off right without Jones, and thus they slowed it down but still never quite made sense of it. At least he was honest about it.
 
Coyne & Co. came back to play a four-song encore after the “Transmissions” set, one that included the must-play hit “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1” and the must-do hamster-ball roll (during “Vein of Stars”). They once again ended with “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” foreshadowing the Oct. 28 release of their all-star remake of the entire “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
 
Not forgetting his mention in July of making it a three-show run, Coyne hinted at (but didn’t promise) yet another First Ave gig this winter. “We’re gonna try to come back on the coldest day of the year,” he said.

Sunday’s concert also included another rare treat: The live debut of Electric Würms, a side-project sort of band led by Lips guitarist Drozd with another crew of musicians, plus Coyne on alternating instruments and occasional vocals. Drozd himself changed up his role several times, even returning behind the drum kit for a few songs. The Lips fans ate it up, and not just the handful of wigged-out psychedelic tunes that could’ve passed for Flaming Lips outtakes. In fact, the band was at its best when it veered toward groove-heavy, repetitious tunes that edged on kraut-rock.
 

Superstar backup singer Lisa Fischer is a stone-cold knockout at Dakota

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: September 12, 2014 - 3:17 AM
Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace

Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace

Lisa Fischer’s voice has filled stadiums and arenas around the world.

But she brought art-songs, not arena rock, to the Dakota Jazz Club Thursday for two sold-out shows. The evening will certainly rank among the year's most musically satisfying and rewarding performances.

Twenty-three years after scoring a No. 1 R&B song and a Grammy for her debut album, Fischer has undertaken her first solo tour. She’s been mostly a backup singer for the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Sting, Nine Inch Nails, Luther Vandross and others. But the Oscar-winning 2013 documentary about background singers, “20 Feet from Stardom,” unexpectedly made her a star.

Her magnificent voice was on display at the Dakota, a wondrous instrument that can seamlessly blend classical, jazz, soul, gospel, rock and folk into the same song and sometimes the same sentence. What she didn’t do in the 95-minute first set was cut loose like she does at Stones concert.  She didn’t have to.

She mesmerized, haunted and seduced with nuance, dynamics and remarkable inventiveness. She inhabits her songs, taking listeners on a journey filled with generous heart, soul and spirituality, whether interpreting Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” as spaced out jazz infused with gospel, soul and Afro-jazz or the Stones’ “Jumpin Jack Flash” as a slow-burn Southern soul song.

The 55-year-old New Yorker even completely recast her 1991 Grammy-winning hit, “How Can I Ease the Pain,” built around a simple guitar figure that suggested Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.”  Fischer reinvented Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven” into a celebration of grace that owed as much to jazz and classical as to gospel. 

She jazzed up the blues of Eric Bibb’s “Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down” (complete with her scatting a harmonica) and fueled Railroad Earth’s “Bird in the House” with a reggae vibe and a soothing, reassuring voice. Her finger-snapping take on “Fever” went from lusciously jazzy to a tad sassy to a call and response with acoustic guitar passages to a high-note classical ending.

But the real wow factor at the Dakota was the way Fischer reimagined Stones songs.

After calling “Gimme Shelter” about 30 years old (it was actually recorded 45 years ago), she turned the roof-raising classic into a lesson in sophisticated spirituality, delivering it like a minister’s sermon filled with firm but not histrionic urgency. With the ending coming across like lovely Anita Baker-like cooing of “sweet love,” the diminished volume did not compromise the potency of the performance. In fact, this version was no less effective than the Stones’ classic rendition.

Fischer reshaped “Satisfaction” not only with gender references (“girly action” became “boy reaction” and “the same T-shirt as me” became “the same lingerie as me”) but made it feel like a proud declaration of a liberated woman rather than the horny whine of an adolescent boy.

On a breathtaking treatment of “Wild Horses,” Fischer’s voice fluttered like a butterfly, and she and her fine three-man ethno-funk-prog-gospel-rock band (dubbed Grand Baton) found a percussive Afro-pop groove on “Miss You,” making listeners forget that it was hatched as a disco piffle. The Stones never sounded so arty.

Musical director/arranger J.C. Maillard distinguished himself on acoustic and electric guitar and a custom-made, eight-string acoustic instrument that was inspired by the Turkish saz.

Another intriguing aspect was Fischer using two vocal mics, including one with delay that, in essence, became her voice as background singer (even though two of her sideman occasionally essayed backup vocalis).

In the second set, Fischer dropped Zep’s “Rock and Roll” in favor of a voodoo soul reading of the Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” -- and the crowd liked it, yes they did, because it was the only time all night that she unleashed a full-throated scream like you hear at a Stones concert.

After the late show, a veteran Stones fan came up to me and proclaimed: “This was the best Stones show ever.”

Ex-Aviette singer Holly Muñoz returns with Vanderslice-produced album

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: September 11, 2014 - 11:55 AM
Photo by Marie Cameron

Photo by Marie Cameron

Formerly the frontwoman of ambient Minneapolis rock outfit Aviette and originally from El Paso, Texas, Holly Muñoz struck indie-rock gold after moving to the Bay Area to work with the San Francisco Symphony. She raised $50,000 via crowdfunding to make a solo album and landed one of her musical heroes, acclaimed tunesmith John Vanderslice, as producer.

The result is “Maps and Lists,” a deep, ornate, dark vs. light collection with lots of strings layering and moody guitar work that variously recalls Throwing Muses and Sharon Van Etten. Billed simply as HOLLY, she’s returning to town to promote the record Friday at the Cedar Cultural Center with a cast of friends including Dosh and the Starfolk (8 p.m., $15-$18.)

Fresh off performing with Posies co-leader (and R.E.M. sideman) Ken Stringfellow and his new FM Collective project last weekend in Seattle, Muñoz humorously recounted how, just a few months after moving to the Bay Area, she somewhat stalkerishly sought out Vanderslice.

“I went to one of his shows and was like, "Hey, John. I'm Holly. Do you want to produce my next record?," she recounted. His initial response was a polite, “No, but I know lots of people who can help you with that, and I'm happy to give you a tour of the studio.”

A week after handing off her demos, though, Vanderslice called her and told her it was on. She booked dates in December at his Tiny Telephone studio and went all in to make the record.

“I left my job with $2,000 in savings and launched that crazy ambitious Tilt campaign,” she said. “And now it's September and I'm playing with Dosh, going on tour, and getting ready to head back into the studio with John again? Pretty wild.”

Here’s the title track of the new album, which you can stream in full via Soundcloud.

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