It took the singer of “Restless Leg” all of a week to grow restless enough in the quarantine to brainstorm what is literally the most colorful idea yet for helping other out-of-work music professionals.
Sean “Har Mar Superstar” Tillmann and his visual artist fiancé Laura Hauser have teamed up with a couple other talented Twin Cities illustrators, Stacey Combs (aka Stace of Spades) and Michael Gaughan, to launch "Coloring Books for a Cause." The new series of imaginatively drawn coloring books launches this week with a first edition based around First Avenue and the bands who’ve performed there -- appropriately timed to the club’s 50th anniversary next weekend.
“We came up with the idea last Tuesday and just sent our first book to print today,” Tillmann excitedly reported Monday, just a week after returning home from his new band Heart Bones’ abruptly canceled tour. “The idea was inspired, and we acted quickly.”
“The Big Coloring Book of First Avenue” officially goes on sale for pre-sale orders starting Wednesday via coloringbooksforacause.com. All proceeds from the $20 limited-edition books go to the Twin Cities Music Community Trust Fund, a longstanding nonprofit set up by First Ave to help music professionals in need (including stage crews, bartenders and other venue staff). Different subjects and different causes will be picked for subsequent editions in the series.
So what exactly can one expect of a First Ave coloring book? There are a few pages featuring the club itself, including the stage, a starry wall and women’s bathroom (keep your black crayons and markers handy, kids!). There’s also a paisley-shaped Prince maze. There’s a merch stand where you can design your own T-shirts and posters. And then there are a bunch of smile-inducing band pages, too, ranging from ‘80s darlings Soul Asylum, the Replacements, Babes in Toyland and Husker Du to ‘90s/’00s mainstays Atmosphere, Dillinger Four and Mark Mallman on up to Lizzo, Doomtree and current buzzers Nur-D, Dizzy Fae and Gully Boys.
Tillmann summed up the dual purposes for the books in a preface for this first/First edition: “We hope that, if this project becomes a success, we can make more coloring books to benefit many others while keeping you entertained during these uncertain times.”
Donations can also be made directly to the series' first cause at twincitiesmusiccommunitytrust.org.