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With their biggest local gig of the year coming up, the Twin Cities’ two best-known kids-music makers have dropped details and previews of their upcoming albums. Each is performing two sets at Rock the Cradle at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts/Children’s Theatre on Sunday, details of which can be had over at the Current’s site.
THE OKEE DOKEE BROTHERS: This time last year, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing were still basking in the glow of their Grammy Award win for best children’s album with “Can You Canoe?” and planning their month-long hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail. On May 20, the bluegrass-picking childhood buds will issue the results of that adventure, “Through the Woods,” another album and DVD filled with songs about enjoying the outdoors and each other’s company. The duo posted a trailer video for the album yesterday, which shows them on the trail and in neighboring towns collaborating with some of the Appalachian area musicians. The Rolling Stones can sing about wild horses all they want, but I bet ol’ Mick and Keith never got up close to actual wild horses like we see young Justin and Joe do here.
KOO KOO KANGA ROO: Coming off their big profile boost from a fall tour with British rocker Frank Turner – like the Okees, the Koo krew also fare well with big kids – dance-rap duo Bryan Atchison and Neil Olstad earned a deal with a national indie label for their next album. Northern California imprint Fun Fun Records -- a childish offshoot of the adult-punky Asian Man Records (see: Alkaline Trio, Queers) -- will issue “Whoopty Whoop” on May 13. Just as they’ve given it up for unicorns and mini-vans in the past, Bryan and Neil champion another uncool subject in the record’s first single, available via iTunes and their Bandcamp page. Here’s a lyric video for the tune, "Fanny Pack."
Yup, sounds like Information Society. That’s the reaction you’re bound to have upon hearing the new single from Minneapolis’ ‘80s electronic pop hitmakers, which premiered today on the Huffington Post and is posted below as a lyric video. Titled “Land of the Blind,” the song is the first track issued from the first InSoc record since 2009, “_Hello World,” due this summer via bandleader Paul Robb’s label Hakatak International.
The album features Robb and the group’s two other co-founding members, singer Kurt Larson and bassist/keyboardist Jack Cassidy, all of whom helmed the biggest InSoc hits “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” and “Walking Away.” Their new material will also be accompanied this year by a reissue of their 1985 debut, “The InSoc EP,” from Brelin-based Mannequin Records. Also, Tommy Boy Records is releasing a new remix of the group’s 1985 dance hit “Running” in April.
All of this is a great excuse for Robb & Co. to return to the stage with a tour, also reportedly in the works.
Osmo Vänskä, who resigned as music director of Minnesota Orchestra in October of last year, showed up Friday morning at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. This photo (above) from the musicians' Facebook page shows Vanska, right, talking with Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who is conducting the orchestra this weekend in two homecoming concerts at the renovated hall. Principal cellist Tony Ross is at left.
Since the long labor dispute was settled last month, speculation has been rampant about whether Vanska would be asked to return to the orchestra. He resigned Oct. 1, 2013, when management and musicians failed to reach agreement on a new contract in time to permit the orchestra to keep two concert dates at Carnegie Hall last fall.
While Vanska gave a hint via Facebook a couple of weeks ago that he would consider coming back if invited, orchestra management has said only that it is considering its music-director options.
Vanska reportedly still has his residence in Minneapolis, but he has been guest-conducting all over, with recent stops in Lyon, France and at the San Francisco Symphony. He won rave reviews for his concerts in San Francisco, and Bay Area radio station KDFC-FM will rebroadcast (and stream) one of those shows (with music of Sibelius, Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff) on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. Pacific time.
Here in the Twin Cities, Friday night's concert, including music of Beethoven (Symphony No. 3), Bach (Toccata and Fugue in D minor, orch. Skrowaczewski) and Richard Strauss (Don Juan) will be simulcast
Some musicians will play twice on Saturday (Feb. 8), once at the memorial service for Joan Mondale, and again at the evening homecoming concert at Orchestra Hall.
Watch for full coverage of Friday's concert online at startribune.com and in print on Saturday. A concert review by Larry Fuchsberg will appear in the print edition on Sunday, and online Saturday afternoon.
The kind of two-tiered show that requires two rooms, Vita.mn’s Are You Local? showcase will move back to the best-loved twofer venues in town this year, First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, with a lineup topped off by the Cloak Ox and featuring a solo Dave Simonett, John Mark Nelson, Haley Bonar’s freak-punky side band Gramma’s Boyfriend and the three newbie finalists from the AYL? contest. Tickets go on sale today at noon via First Ave outlets for $10, and voting for the contest is under way at Vita.mn.
Despite their powerful reputation as a live band and the year-end acclaim for their full-length debut, the Cloak Ox will be making their headlining debut in the main room for the show. It will also be Simonett’s first high-profile gig away from Trampled by Turtles since the release of his first solo EP, “Razor Pony.” Nelson will be previewing tracks from his long-in-the-works sophomore album, which he plans to gain attention for at the South by Southwest Music Conference next month. Bonar is also readying her new, sonic change-up of an album but is always willing to cut loose with Gramma’s Boyfriend, which shares guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker with the Cloak Ox.
The newbie bands -- who range in quality on the AYL? voting site from "Wow!" to "Huh?" (such is the nature of the contest) -- will start off the night in the Entry. A "winner" will be chosen from the three finalists to perform a quick set in the main room before the Cloak Ox and then to perform at the Vita.mn/First Ave day party in Austin, Texas, during SXSW at Holy Mountain on Friday, March 14. Carroll won AYL? last year, preceded by Prissy Clerks, the 4onthefloor and Bight Club.
A festival that hews closer to the average Replacements fan’s music tastes than this year’s Coachella lineup, Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Fest announced this morning that the revamped ‘Mats have joined the schedule for their three-day bash happening May 9-11. Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson and their new bandmates are now listed on the festival poster under Alabama Shakes, the National and Modest Mouse and over Spoon, the Gaslight Anthem, Violent Femmes, Conor Oberst, Iron & Wine, Jason Isbell and fellow Minnesotans the Hold Steady and Trampled by Turtles.
Not only is it a great lineup for middle-age and NPR-attuned indie-rock fans, but Shaky Knees is also a lot cheaper than Coachella, with three-day passes now on sale for $150 (vs. $375 for either weekend of the big California desert fest). The festival is held at Atlantic Station in downtown Atlanta and thus not a campout kind of event like Coachella.
Shaky Knees will thus be the Replacements’ third gig of 2014 (counting two weekends at Coachella April 11 and 18) and their sixth gig since reforming for last year’s RiotFests. Word is they are looking at other dates, too – but your guess on where and when is as good as ours.
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