If you’ve been to a few summer block parties in the Twin Cities, there’s a good chance that Foxy Tann was the emcee. The sassy, big-haired, burlesque loudmouth has been riling up crowds since 1997. This summer, she’ll be behind the mic at Barbette’s Bastille Day (July 16) and the Red Stag Block Party (Aug. 6) in Minneapolis, gigs she’s held for the past decade. “She owns that stage,” says Anne Saxton, director of marketing and events at the Bartmann Group, which runs those block parties. “She puts on a great show. We love her.”
Q: What is it about block parties that you enjoy?
A: I think it’s a really amazing way for a neighborhood to come together.
Q: What techniques do you use to excite the crowd?
A: They’re already excited. Beer helps with that. I expect a lot from them. And then I yell at them.
Q: Have you always been a yeller?
A: Yes. People do what I tell them to do, so that’s OK.
Q: Do you do anything to prepare when you’re emceeing?
A: No. I’m totally dependent on the crowd.
Q: Are there a couple of experiences from block parties past that stand out in your memory?
A: A good memory is one of the final Bryant-Lake Bowl block parties. [Rapper] Brother Ali was the secret guest. He came up behind me while I was introducing the next band and started rapping behind me. Then he made everybody applaud for me, so that was really nice.
And then on the horrifying side was the final Loring Block Party [in 2002]. It was the infamous brick-throwing incident. There was a sanctioned team, from the venue, of people running around in full hockey padding, with a wheelbarrow full of mud, and somebody throwing a brick supposedly to be caught by the wheelbarrow. And then the brick went into the crowd.
Q: Would you say there are a lot of surprises at these block parties?
A: There can be, yeah. It depends on the day. Actually, it depends on the block party. Some of them are a little bit crazier than others. But there aren’t as many as there used to be, unfortunately.
Q: Why do you think that is?
A: I think they’re expensive and I think the weather has been really iffy for people. Uptown Pride [Block Party] got rained out many years so they’re not doing it anymore ’cause it’s too risky, which is a super big bummer. Cedarfest is gone. They used to shut down the West Bank: bands everywhere, street food vendors, it was amazing.
Q: Given that some of these block parties go for hours and hours, how do you keep energized and stay focused?
A: They don’t occur that often, so you just gut it out for 10 hours. Then you go home and sleep for 12 hours. I love them, though. They’re wonderful. Block parties are an amazing thing. They add to the coolness of the metropolitan area.
Q: What other events do you enjoy participating in during the summer?
A: Oh, my goodness. All sorts of shows. I travel a lot during the summer so I go to a lot of burlesque festivals. I go to a lot of music festivals. I like the art festivals. You have to do as much as you can outside in Minnesota while you can.