Back in 2007, while still working his "meaningless" but successful job as a retail merchandising specialist, Scott Herold got the bad news that would change his life and the Twin Cities music scene for the better.

Herold's adopted daughter, Jade, learned that her Minneapolis charter high school, Watershed, faced possible closing. So the diehard music lover recruited the Alarmists and White Light Riot for a benefit that raised about $15,000. The event helped keep the school open and gave the musicians some good exposure and launched the creation of Rock the Cause.

One of several nonprofits operating full-time in the local music scene (see also: Vega Productions, DEMO, Twin Cities Music Community Trust), Rock the Cause raised about $250,000 for local charities last year -- and turned a lot of young rock and hip-hop fans into volunteers for other community groups. The organization's biggest event, Glitter Ball, takes place again Friday with an especially loud do-gooder call to arms.

"There's a lot of talk of how to pass the so-called philanthropy torch to the millennials and the next generation of givers," Herold said. "I don't know if there's a better way of doing it than through music."

He laughed (and complained a bit) about a recent fashion event at Envy nightclub that co-opted the Glitter Ball name. The organizer brushed aside concerns of confusing audiences with a snide remark, something about how everybody at Rock the Cause's Glitter Ball would be middle-aged and up. "As if a charitable music event wasn't cool for anybody under the age of 30," said Herold, who's 43 but targets the under-30 crowd.

Friday's Glitter Ball certainly sounds cool enough to cut across rock generations. Fellow arts org ArtSpace is lending a warehouse in the Grain Belt Brewery Bottling House, which Rock the Cause is turning into a re-creation of Andy Warhol's Factory.

Look for Warhol-inspired music, artwork and actors playing the roles of Andy's minions. Alicia Wiley and her band will pay tribute to the Velvet Underground (she's actually way overqualified to sing Nico's parts), the Arms Akimbo has an all-Kinks set lined up, Joey Ryan & the Inks will plug in as Bob Dylan, and Pictures of Then will cover David Bowie.

All of these bands, by the way, get a paycheck for Glitter Ball, as is the case at all Rock the Cause events. Said Herold, "The bands work so hard at these things, they deserve to still make their livings."

Pictures of Then frontman Casey Call recently got his first taste of Rock the Cause's impact when his band performed at St. Paul's High School for Recording Arts, an alternative school where most students are into R&B and hip-hop. Afterward, the band members worked with students on planning their own charity events.

"We were definitely not the kind of band they're used to seeing," Call recalled. "But it didn't really matter. We just did our thing, and I think they respected that. It showed us just how far Rock the Cause really reaches into the community, and the kind of unique, clever things they're doing."

Rock the Cause also partnered with Pictures of Then on last month's Rock for Socks concert (an actual sock drive for low-income families). RTC is also planning a free concert during the Minnesota AIDS Walk on May 15 with the Alarmists, Alison Scott and Pictures of Then, followed by the second annual Rock the Vine party at the St. Croix Vineyards on June 4 with Roster McCabe.

Mint time again

Mint Condition is back -- and in a big way. Fresh from opening a Prince show in North Carolina, St. Paul's R&B stalwarts issued their seventh album ("7...") on Tuesday. The disc shot straight to the top of the iTunes R&B chart and earned a three-star review in USA Today.

Meanwhile, radio stations are showing Mint some love again: The single "Caught My Eye" is racking up airplay. Another track, "Not My Daddy," is already a hit single for duet partner Kelly Price. The band has gigs lined up all summer, including the Essence Music Fest in New Orleans, but nothing booked at home.

Random mix

Treehouse Records is celebrating its 10th anniversary Saturday with a party at Hell's Kitchen featuring music by Koerner & Glover, Curtiss A, Paul Metzger and the Blind Shake, who will be joined by a "special guest" (10 p.m., $8). ... The bands are getting fitted, and tickets are going, going, going for next weekend's Voltage: Fashion Amplified show at First Avenue. This year's runway performers are Communist Daughter, Pink Mink, Fort Wilson Riot, Phantom Tails and Me & My Arrow. ...

Cloud Cult is back in action, following Craig Minowa's surgery for a heart condition and the departure of cellist Sarah Young. Minowa is reportedly recovering well, and the band has hired Daniel Zamzow of Liminal Phase and Molly Dean's band to replace Young (throwing off the perfect boy/girl ratio, but whatever). They're playing local campuses this month -- including a free Earth Day gig April 16 at St. Cloud State University -- while getting ready for an East Coast tour in May. Also, look for them at the St. John's Block Party in Rochester July 8-9. ...

An event that makes about as much sense as a happy enchilada, the fourth annual "half-birthday" tribute to John Prine takes place Saturday at the 331 Club with hosts Mother Banjo and Art Vandalay and performances by the Ericksons, Dan Gaarder (Trailer Trash), Jon Rodine, Ben Cook-Feltz and more (9 p.m., free). ... Gastro Non Grata lands at the Turf Club Sunday with music by the Sex Rays and Baby Boy, food by Cheeky Monkey deli and beer by Lift Bridge (7 p.m., $6). ...

After an unusually long wait, two of Minnesota's big kahunas finally drop their new albums on Tuesday on an international scale: Atmosphere's "The Family Sign" lands via Rhymesayers, while Sub Pop will issue Low's "C'mon." Low's disc is now streaming at as a "First Listen" selection (read: great promo). I looked online but couldn't find illegal torrents of either album. They might actually rack up some impressive sales.