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“Ironic” seems to be the theme of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game experience in the Twin Cities.
After we finally build a gorgeous outdoor ballpark, we land the Home Run Derby during a record cold-day for July. Nice.
And the timing of this all-eyes-on-Minneapolis event couldn’t be better. The Twins biggest star, Joe Mauer, can’t qualify for the All-Star Game because he pulled his obscure, er, oblique muscle. An extraordinary injury for Above-Average Joe, whose only weaknesses are bilateral.
To add insult to injury, the Home Run Derby gets delayed on Monday by an hour because of rain, and then the contest provides all the drama of a Brazil-Germany World Cup soccer match.
After Monday's snooze fest at Target Field, MLB tapped Aloe Blacc for its post-Derby All Star Gala at Mill City Ruins and Museum. I guess they couldn’t find Alanis Morissette to sing “Ironic.”
So they got the voice (and songwriter) of Avicii’s worldwide smash “Wake Me Up.”
And that’s exactly what Aloe Blacc did to the crowd of a few thousand ticket-holding partiers outdoors behind the Mill City Museum – and to untold residents on the opposite side of the Mississippi River.
With show-time temperature hovering at 57 degrees, the pop-soul star played a 50-minute set that featured his big hit, “The Man,” which has become something of a theme for All-Star Game promos, and a slow-downed, almost jazzy reading of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”
“I apologize for doing a Michael Jackson song in Prince’s city,” Blacc, who lives in Southern California, said after the tune. “But we don’t know any Prince songs.”
There were plenty of Minnesotans in the crowd, judging by all the Twins gear (people still love Kirby Puckett and Justin Morneau). There were a few faces well-known to local baseball fans: Clark Griffith, Dick Bremer and Frank Viola. But there were many out-of-towners showing their love for the L.A. Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and, of course, the Yankees. Too bad it was so chilly that the visitors were ignoring the fabulous Izzy’s ice cream desserts set up next to space heaters on the riverbank.
The out-of-towners seemed captivated by the fireworks above the Stone Arch Bridge – which started at 12:20 a.m. and lasted for 13 minutes. But the fireworks seemed like an impossible-to-ignore snooze alarm for nearby residents who didn’t abide by Aloe Blacc’s “Wake Me Up.”
We imagine the Twins, Major League Baseball and Minneapolis officials might be receiving some uncomplimentary phone calls, emails and Tweets.
They slowed things down again on their latest record, but Trampled by Turtles proved they can still perform with fast efficiency on Thursday night at the Cedar Cultural Center.
The bearded pickers played their new album, “Wild Animals,” front to back in a free concert for local fans who ordered it at the Electric Fetus. Since the show was also broadcast live via 89.3 the Current, the guys took the stage right at 8 p.m. sharp and walked off stage 47 minutes later.
Frontman Dave Simonett did a little talking between songs, including a moment of high praise for the Electric Fetus and Thursday’s record-buying crowd. “It’s great in 2014 to still be able to walk into a record store like that,” he said. However, he let the new material speak for itself. And did it ever.
The quintet unofficially turned into a sextet at Thursday’s gig with the addition of Eamonn McLain, the Field Trip (nee Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles) cellist who has performed with them here and there in the past – including their Letterman appearance in 2012. Word is McLain will be with them on Letterman again Tuesday and throughout their upcoming tour.
McLain’s presence added a somber tinge to some of the more slower-paced, ambient tunes, including the shimmering “Silver Light” and the folky, harmonious gem “Hollow.” He and violinist Ryan Young also played off each other with great flair in the dramatic burner “Repetition,” one of a few songs to also feature local MVP drummer JT Bates on tambourine (not exactly the most demanding use of Bates’ talent, but a nice little touch nonetheless). Banjoist Dave Carroll and mandolinist Erik Berry got to strut their stuff later in the hard-plucking, twangier ditties “Come Back Home” and “Western World,” the latter of which was one of a handful of tunes the band had yet to play live. You wouldn’t have known it.
After the mellow, truly grand finale “Winners” – a song laced with bittersweet Duluth references – the band only returned for one more tune, a cover of Loudon Wainwright III’s “Swimming Song” dutifully sung by bassist Tim Saxhaug. “This summer I did jackknives and swan dives for you,” Saxhaug sang, one of many lines that seemed fitting given how big a summer it’s becoming for the Trampled crew.
If you missed the broadcast, look for Thursday's concert in the 89.3 the Current archives.
Twin Cities music lovers pretty well know the local sites important to Bob Mould, Tommy Stinson, Craig Finn and Lori Barbero, but now the rest of the world can learn about them.
Vice’s online music channel Noisey debuted a new video today (posted below) from its “Made in America” series that shows all four Minnesota-bred musicians visiting and talking about strategic locations around town.
Perhaps most enjoyable among them is Mould revisiting the old Northern Lights record store location in St. Paul where Hüsker Dü first rehearsed in the basement -- now the Divine Cuts by Rome hair salon, whose clients clearly don’t know him from Bob Mackie. “The record store is no more, much like my hair,” Mould quips outside the salon.
More on the heavy side, Stinson talks about his family’s old home on Bryant Avenue, famously featured on the cover of the Replacements’ 1984 album “Let It Be.” That prompts a discussion about his late brother Bob Stinson, the ‘Mats guitarist who bribed Tommy into learning to play bass when he was 12. “I owe it all to Bob," he says. "He gave me this life that I cherish.”
Meanwhile, Finn wisely skips City Center and instead shows us the bench between Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun that commemorates Bob, who often fished the channel there. As Finn affectionately notes, “In true Replacements fashion, it’s not much.”
The only local music star from today’s scene in the 9-minute clip -- also the only current local resident, period -- is Lizzo, who takes them to Hidden Beach on Cedar Lake but makes it clear the site is not a year-round destination. “This last winter wrecked lives,” the Houston native rightfully tells the cameras.
Yes, come back in January, Noisey, and you’ll really get a taste of Minnesota. That said, nice job.
Right on cue for next week’s release of their seventh album, “Wild Animals,” Trampled by Turtles are predictably picking up steam. The band just announced it will return to “The Late Show With David Letterman” next Tuesday night, July 15, the day the record comes out. That’s in addition to other East Coast media gigs that week including a CBS “Early Show” appearance (airing July 19), a WXPN/World Café Live noontime broadcast on July 18 and a “Tiny Desk Concert” at National Public Radio headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Trampled will head east right after its special hometown release concert Thursday at the Cedar Cultural Center, tickets for which were given out free with pre-orders of the album from the Electric Fetus. Otherwise, the fellas won’t have another gig locally until their Sept. 20 Festival Palomino at Canterbury Park.
Meanwhile, NPR got the exclusive “First Listen” stream of “Wild Animals,” which debuted this morning. Writer Stephen Thompson called it “a thoughtful, stately grower of a record.” You can stream the album in full here via NPR. Here's the recently released video for the new title track, directed by local filmmaker Phil Harder and starring a less-than-Har-Mar-like Har Mar Superstar.
The Hold Steady has been changing its set list rather dramatically from night to night and city to city this summer. There weren't any big surprises in the mix at the Minnesota Zoo on Saturday, just in the order they were played.
Look for the full concert review at startribune.com/music. Here's the set list:
Positive Jam / Stuck Between Stations / I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You / The Swish / Sequestered in Memphis / You Can Make Him Like You / Rock Problems / Magazines / Constructive Summer / Sweet Part of the City / The Only Thing / Spinners / The Ambassador / The Weekenders / Chips Ahoy! / Southtown Girls / Your Little Hoodrat Friend ENCORE: Citrus / Hornets! Hornets! / Massive Nights / Slapped Actress / Killer Parties
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