By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
What's the point of going on?
As you must already know, a groundbreaking new radio station called "the Point" has finally made space on the airwaves for neglected acts like the Dave Matthews Band, Barenaked Ladies, and Sheryl Crow. Bucking the market trend toward smooth jazz, CBS Radio's KMJZ (104.1 FM) switched formats on September 24 at 4 p.m., when, after a moment of dead air, a zany new voice came on to inform listeners that those other stations just don't program enough alternative music these days. The station then kicked out a Wallflowers tune, and by morning the rioting in Hopkins and other outlying suburbs was so fierce the National Guard had to be called in to quell the unrest. "What is this new, wild music?" commented one freshly minted student collectivist. "I...I've been living a lie, my entire life, a lie!"
Okay, sorry about that stab at satire. But really, what is the goddamn Point? In math terms, the word denotes a dimensionless node with no properties except location, which aptly describes the station now. Readers looking for an alternative to alternative (or who are content to just go out and buy the five CDs the Point plays) could do worse than to tune in to 1280 AM, where, as of press time, Beat Radio still broadcasts dance music on Friday and Saturday nights.
After broadcasting nationally for seven months, Beat Radio threw two crowded September farewell parties at First Avenue in anticipation of the frequency's imminent sale to the Catholic Radio Network, which will take the old format off the air. Now the club has decided to continue the Friday broadcast bashes until the plug is pulled on Beat Radio in October. With the station's departure a foregone conclusion, my concern lies elsewhere along the AM dial. CBS Radio has also acquired Solid Gold Soul (950 AM) and one can only hope they allow this fine institution to continue, soul intact. (For current information on Beat Radio, call 391-BEAT or visit www.beatworld.com.)
What's in a name?
Rumor has it that the Star Tribune is planning to review every one of Garth Brooks's nine concerts this week. For more marginal music coverage, you'll need to search the zine racks of your local bookstore.
Starved for new local-culture fanzines, I've pored though this summer's premiere issue of Bikes & Spikes, a motorcycle magazine for women, and even perused First Avenue's new in-house rag, which is 10 times better than the Uptown/Lagoon movie theater newspaper. Then I happened upon Sweet Ass, a fine, new, free music-and-miscellany zine with peerless local space-rockers Skye Klad gracing the September cover.
Reminiscent of the free-form Squealer and the brainchild of former staffers Julie Hill and Laura Brandenburg, Sweet Asssports conversational columns and concise reviews, plus an article by Holly Day called "Penis, Penis, Penis," which offers a few choice factoids and stories about cocks. Her suggested pet names include Mr. Microphone, The Boss, Simon Le Bon, and Jennifer. Write Dig Yer Drummer Publications at 3534 Grand Ave. S., #201, Mpls., 55408; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jump, jive, and kah-ching!
Though free swing-dance lessons abound in every major city of the union (and reportedly Puerto Rico and Guam), Simitar Entertainment is hoping to capitalize on beginner shyness with a new instructional dance video starring none other than local singer-songwriter Pablo. Swing Craze is a helpful vid that starts with the basics--what is a beat, anyway? But the companion documentary on the swing revival should interest anyone wondering where this questionable retro-phenomenon came from.
Short of licensing copyrighted material by today's leading big royal voodoo poppers--or showing clips from Swingers--the vid provides a decent, if uncritical, overview of the phenomenon from a local perspective. Dropping by Lee's Liquor Lounge and the Rendezvous Ballroom for interviews and dance footage, the doc gives a good history of the Lindy Hop, complete with jaw-dropping black-and-white footage of the Harlem dancers who invented it--suit-clad acrobats who make the khakied Gap kids look stiff. The only corny bit is a voice-over guide to swing slang, which is only educational in a cultural studies sort of way. Next time I call a beautiful woman a "barbecue" or a person I admire a "gasser," I'll have some explaining to do. Look for Swing Craze in a video or record store near you.