Twin Cities musicheads already flipped over the announcement earlier this week that an all-star cast will perform Memphis indie-rock heroes Big Star’s final album “Third/Sister Lovers” in its entirety with a string orchestra at First Avenue on Sept. 30. Participants will include Big Star drummer (and Golden Smog alum) Jody Stephens, R.E.M. bassist and Minnesota Twins hater Mike Mills, Posies co-leader (and R.E.M. tour vet and Big Star reunion tour player) Ken Stringfellow and dB’s co-leader (and longtime Big Star associate) Chris Stamey.
Sounds like a great tour, right? It’s not a tour, though. First Ave is the only place the crew is currently scheduled to perform the album this year. Turns out, the club’s talent booker, Sonia Grover, attended one of the all-star crew's handful of 2014 performances at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., and enjoyed it so much she made a strong case for the show to be revived here.
“Sonia was very complimentary,” Stamey confirmed via email. “We'd tried to work it out before our Chicago concert last fall but the timing wasn't right.”
The guy who arranged all the string parts for the concerts, Stamey said it’s fitting for the tribute to land in Minneapolis: “It's got to be considered one of the capitol cities of rock ‘n’ roll," he said, "and not the least because it's where Alex Chilton famously produced the Replacements’ major-label demos.”
Big Star’s leader, Chilton passed away in 2010, just a few months before bassist Andy Hummel’s death and 31 years after guitarist/co-vocalist Chris Bell. Chilton's rather peculiar life story is movingly and inspiringly recounted in a new bio by veteran rock scribe Holly George-Warren, titled "A Man Called Destruction." He died just days before the revamped version of Big Star was to play a gig at Austin’s South by Southwest Conference, which led to an impromptu tribute show at Antone’s nightclub that became something of a precursor to these “Third” concerts.
Stamey said there also might be another “Third” concert with a renowned classical ensemble in another city booked after the First Ave gig that will be “a more tuxedo event.” So, he added, “I'm glad we can get sweaty in First Avenue [first].”
Tickets for the show go on sale Friday at noon for $20 via eTix.com and First Ave outlets.