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Mayors declare Steve McClellan Day today in Mpls. and St. Paul

Posted by: Jon Bream under Music, Behind the scenes, Minnesota musicians Updated: March 22, 2015 - 3:31 PM
Steve McClellan (right) and Jack Meyers (left) celebrate at First Avenue in 2004/ Star Tribune photo by Jeff Wheeler

Steve McClellan (right) and Jack Meyers (left) celebrate at First Avenue in 2004/ Star Tribune photo by Jeff Wheeler

Steve McClellan has always done things his way. Quirky, cranky, verbosely opinionated and hugely influential, he ran First Avenue for 30 years. Now, the mayors of both Minneapolis and St. Paul have declared Stephen McClellan Day. On Sunday. Today. A day of rest? Nah, McClellan never rests.

The timing is not his quirkiness but rather whereas March 22 is his 65th birthday, the mayors made their declarations on this day.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ proclamation points out that McClellan was born in Minneapolis and went to DeLaSalle High School there. He has served on the board of the Cedar Cultural Center, KFAI Radio, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group and the Downtown Warehouse Association.

As talent buyer, marketing director and eventually general manager of First Avenue, he helped nurture the careers of such local heroes as the Jayhawks, Husker Du, Replacements, the Suburbs, the Wallets, Prince, the Time and the Flamin’ Oh’s.

McClellan also presented such future giants as R.E.M., U2, Nirvana and Green Day early in their careers.

In an identical declaration (who writes these things?), St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman mentions that McClellan teaches music business classes at McNally Smith in downtown St. Paul and helps run Diverse Emerging Music Organization (DEMO) to assist aspiring musicians.

SXSW 2015 Thursday wrap: Courtney Barnett, Will Butler, Charles Bradley

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music, SXSW music festival Updated: March 20, 2015 - 10:57 AM
Courtney Barnett and her band proved ready for big fest gigs like Rock the Garden at the Tumblr party in Austin, Texas. / Photos by Tony Nelson

Courtney Barnett and her band proved ready for big fest gigs like Rock the Garden at the Tumblr party in Austin, Texas. / Photos by Tony Nelson

“Austin is the one that put me on the map.”

So declared Charles Bradley, who was an unlikely SXSW buzz act in 2012 at the age of 62. The Florida soul-man showman came back triumphant Thursday night, wowing a crowd of about 8,000 at Auditorium Shores with a view of the skyline that matched his shimmery silvery muscle shirt. It was a quintessential SXSW showcase, with gorgeous spring weather, a cool hidden-gem artist like Bradley and a revered hometown band for a headliner, Spoon, who similarly reiterated their worth in a set reminiscent of last year's Rock the Garden finale.

Charles Bradly at Auditorium Shores.

Charles Bradly at Auditorium Shores.

Here’s how the rest of Thursday went.

MOST QUOTABLE: “I hope when they put these pictures up on BrooklynVegan, they’ll objectify my whole band, not just me. I don’t want to leave them out.” –Speedy Ortiz frontwoman Sadie Dupuis at Red 7’s patio, apparently unhappy with some of the media coverage her ¾-male band has gotten this week.

 “We’ve played about six shows today. I’ve been drinking beer since about noon.” –Brandon Rush of the slick, chant-loving Portland pop/rock band Priory, who replaced an ailing Catfish & the Bottleman at the ACL Live theater and could pick up where Imagine Dragons left off at commercial FM radio.

“I thought there’d be a buffet.” –Slug of Atmosphere’s opening remark on the industry panel celebrating the 20th anniversary of Minneapolis’ Rhymesayers Entertainment at the Austin Convention Center.

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE HER AGAIN: Australian rocker Courtney Barnett -- who's lined up to play Rock the Garden in Minneapolis on June 20 – took a bold approach that paid off beautifully Thursday afternoon at the Tumblr day party in a dark club off Sixth Street. After playing a couple songs off her earlier EPs (but surprisingly not her hit “Avant Gardner”), she proceeded to roll straight through her entire new album, which comes out next week. The new songs alternated between a cool, cocky, Lou Reed-like sleazy swagger and Nirvana-like bombast, all of which her noticeably tightened band nailed. They’re definitely ready for festival gigs like RTG.

HOPE TO SEE THEM AGAIN: Neither the Districts nor Palma Violets have Minneapolis gigs on their current itineraries, which is really a shame. Both of the garagey, spunky fuzz-rock bands put on impressively full-throttle, rock starry showings late Thursday night at the Parish. Pennsylvanians the Districts sounded less polished and more grimy – in a good way – than it often does on record, with traces of early Kings of Leon and a nice cocksure stage show. A band that has been scarce on tour since their breakout at SXSW 2013, scruffy Londonites Palma Violets earned even more Libertines comparisons with their rowdy, unhinged, could-fall-apart-any-moment approach. But they never actually did burst at the seams, and in fact were gloriously in step on by the time they got to “Best of Friends” at the end of the night -- about the best way imaginable to end an 14-hour day of watching bands.

London's Palma Violets at Parish nightclub.

London's Palma Violets at Parish nightclub.

Thursday night’s other big treat was a near-opposite live music experience in a downtown church, where Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear – a son-and-mother acoustic duo out of the Kansas City area – charmed the bejeezus out of its audience. Madisen, 26, has a deep-but-smooth baritone voice and evocative folk-writer lyricism that would make him a worthy act on his own. His mother Ruth added a valuable sweetness and serenity, though, with her rich harmony vocals and extra guitar work. I could see them fitting in nicely at the Dakota or Cedar Cultural Center on the other end of I-35.

THE EH FACTOR: Arcade Fire bassist/keyboardist/whateverist Will Butler, brother of the band’s frontman Win Butler, took a noticeably (and admirably) different approach to his outing behind a new solo album Thursday at Pitchfork’s day party outside, but it was only mildly enticing. Sporting matching T-shirts with their first names emblazoned on the front, he and his band – which featured three women on backup vocals and keyboards but no bassist – giddily tore through his choppy, semi-manic, Jonathan Richman-evoking songs but were a bit disjointed and really just silly in their fun-loving delivery. Hopefully they will have their act together better by the time Butler hits the Cedar on June 3.

Big Data won’t have quite as much time to gel, as it’s due at the Fine Line in Minneapolis on March 31. Producer Alan Wilkis’ poppy Brooklyn-based electro synth-wave band came off like a cross between Fitz & the Tantrums and Erasure musically, with sexy grooves and dramatic melodies. But it wound up sounding like a hot mess despite being at the most hi-fi facility in town, the ACL Live Moody Theater, with a sometimes murky sound and overthought arrangements.

See Tony Nelson's photo galleries and more SXSW coverage at startribune.com/sxsw.

No Rolling Stones tour announcement; maybe on March 31

Posted by: Jon Bream under Music, Behind the scenes, Concert news Updated: March 19, 2015 - 4:58 PM


Associated Press photo

Associated Press photo


Rolling Stones fans can’t always get what they want. At least not yet.

The expected announcement Thursday of a Rolling Stones tour, which will likely include a Minneapolis show, has been delayed even though electronic billboards around the country hinted at something happening for that day. 

A Rolling Stones spokesperson told the Star Tribune: “We will, of course, let you know when there’s something to announce.”

A source close to the Stones suggested that the announcement will come on March 31.

There was no official word on why nothing happened today. In an interview with Nashville TV station WKRN, the city’s mayor, Karl Dean, said there was “an issue with the nationwide promoter’s ticketing.”  

Nashville’s LP Field and Minneapolis’ TCF Bank Stadium are expected to be on the list of U.S. outdoor venues for the Stones’ summer tour.

Billboards around the country, including one on I-494 westbound near Eden Prairie, went up late last week featuring the Stones logo and such lyrics as “satisfaction” and “start me up” and "Thursday."

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are reportedly both in New York, according to a source close to the band -- something that is not common.

The band is encouraging fans to go to www.justakissaway.rocks for information.

Look for updates at www.startribune.com

Announcement of Rolling Stones tour apparently delayed

Posted by: Jon Bream under Music, Behind the scenes, Concert news Updated: March 19, 2015 - 3:12 PM

This Friday's 'Wits' postponed

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson under Music, Theater, Celebrities, Concert news Updated: March 19, 2015 - 11:13 AM

This Friday's installment of the radio-variety "Wits" at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul has been postponed due to a death in the family of the scheduled featured guest, actor Cary Elwes. Elwes was to appear with musician Kat Edmonson. Tickets will automatically be transferred to a new date, to be announced. Ticketholders who prefer a refund can call 651-290-1200 or go to the Fitzgerald box office (10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul)  between noon - 5 p.m. Tues.-Fri.


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