The Twin Cities music community isn’t going to let Friday’s 50th anniversary of First Avenue go unnoticed, even though the club itself is sitting dark through at least early May.
A cross-section of local radio stations — from Top 40 outlet KDWB 101.3 to classic-rock mainstay KQRS 92.5 and talk stations KFAN and MyTalk to the obvious 89.3 the Current — have all agreed to play Prince’s “Purple Rain” live on air in unison Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. Other participating stations include 93X, KOOL-108, Cities 97, Love 105 and Go 96.3.
Three hours later, one of the local bands to recently break big out of the club, Yam Haus, is going to perform live at 8 p.m. via Go 96.3’s Instagram account to raise money for the Twin Cities Music Community Trust, First Ave’s benefit fund for out-of-work music professionals. First Ave's Facebook page will also host a "toast" to the 50th anniversary at 7 p.m. on Friday with some of its staffers and Sean "Har Mar Superstar" Tillman, the latter of whom created a coloring book based on the club with local artists to also raise money for the trust.
One of the club’s favorite out-of-town stars, Philadelphia blues-rocker G. Love, will also raise money for the cause and honor the club with a performance on his Instagram feed Thursday at 3 p.m. CT.
In a press release, the venue’s staff said, “The foundation of First Avenue has always been about celebrating artistic expression—lifting up others, especially within our community, via a stage, a mic, and sometimes with a star. This week we’re taking a moment to celebrate that which brought us to where we are today.”
First Ave’s historic run in the former Greyhound Bus Terminal began April 3-4, 1970, as the Depot nightclub with a two-night stand by Joe Cocker. The song “Purple Rain” was first performed and recorded there on Aug. 3, 1983, followed by a film crew for the movie of the same name a few months later.
The club had to postpone all of this week’s 50th anniversary concerts with the Hold Steady, Neko Case, Golden Smog and other regulars due to the coronavirus. Makeup dates for those shows and other special 50th anniversary events are being lined up for after the club and all its sister venues reopen — which for now won’t be until at least early May.