Sound Check

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

AFTER FIVE YEARS of sinking their teeth into power pop, Dixie and the Cannibals will bite only the dust come August. According to drummer Scott Elkmeier, band members have found it increasingly difficult to bridge their musical tastes, which run from Poison to U2. More blunt, bassist Eric Moe reports that singer Katie Spoden is moving in a mellower direction, while he wants to "keep rocking."

Dixie and the Cannibals formed as high schoolers in St. Cloud but quickly built a regional fan base with their breezy mix of 10,000 Maniacs hooks and Let's Active jangle. The Cannibals tied Mason Jennings for Best New Artist at last year's Minnesota Music Awards but lost momentum a few months later with the departure of guitarist Michael Kropp. Now Moe and Kropp are forming their own band.

"I joined Dixie and the Cannibals at 16," says Spoden. "We jumped in as babies. Five wonderful years later, we're simply on different musical paths." Having already collaborated with singer-songwriter Kevin Bowe, the group's vocalist has launched her own solo career. The band plays its final show on Friday, July 21 at St. Anthony Main, with Kropp returning on guitar. Before that, the group plays Friday, July 14, at the Hennepin Avenue Block Party. (Bill Snyder)

Total Eclipse of the Art

LAST MONTH, THE City of St. Paul moved to silence Eclipse Records, an independent store-cum-concert venue near the heart of Bob Mould's old Macalester College stomping grounds. On June 14 Robert Kessler of the Office of License, Inspections, and Environmental Protection (LIEP) notified Eclipse that the store would need to either apply for a cabaret license--which would involve costly remodeling to meet commercial codes--or cease its nightly free concerts.

Since opening its Grand Avenue doors last September, Eclipse has kept a small alcohol-and-smoke-free space where bands of all stripes play. "We have a lot of unpolished acts," admits co-owner Joe Furth. "But sometimes you'll see a 15-year-old kid come play a set, and think, 'Man, in a few years this guy's going to be something special.'"

The shop has also hosted a benefit for the Tony Basta Memorial Scholarship Fund, founded in memory of the St. Paul teenager shot in April. But despite such community involvement, neighbors have made noise complaints to police, who visited the shop in April. Co-owner John Culbertson complains that he has taken every measure to keep noise levels down, soundproofing the walls with insulation materials and carpet padding, and ending shows at 10:00 p.m. (shows used to run through midnight). Most recently, Eclipse implemented a "no clapping" policy.

"[The complaints are] really disappointing, since we've worked so hard in the community," says Culbertson. "To have a small minority of people who are not willing to face us, but instead call the police and get us into trouble, is really disheartening."

Kessler's hard-line stance surprises Eclipse's owners, who claim the inspector had previously given the store his blessing to operate sans license. "Last September he told us that we slipped through the cracks of the law, that as a record store offering free entertainment, we need not apply for a license of any kind," Furth says.

Kessler admits to initially giving Eclipse his clearance. But he insists that it was the result of a misunderstanding. "At the time, I didn't know how big their venue was," he says. "However, it is now clear to me that they are providing a level of entertainment for which a license is necessary."

Furth says the store can't afford to add the required handicap restroom facilities or parking. But he remains defiant. "As long as the police do not come and serve us with tickets," he says, "we will continue to hold shows and assume that we are not breaking the law." (Jonathan Kaminsky)

Hymie's Lives

WHEN JULIE WELLMAN came home from a long overseas vacation in March, she planned to return to her old job as a part-time clerk at Hymie's Vintage Records. Instead she learned that the venerable East Lake Street shop had been shuttered following the death of its owner James "Hymie" Peterson three weeks earlier (see "Hymie's World," March 1). Few in Twin Cities record-collecting circles--including Wellman--thought Hymie's would reopen. But Wellman and partner Auralee Likes, also a former employee, snagged the opportunity and purchased the entire inventory of hard-to-find blues, jazz, and rock at auction from Hennepin County, which had seized the store's contents to cover Peterson's outstanding medical bills.

Fittingly, the first day of business, June 3, coincided with a south Minneapolis record collectors' show that Peterson had founded. Wellman and Likes say they are expanding the stock to include more local music, and branching out into genres like reggae and contemporary rock. But they plan to retain the store's emphasis on classic Americana, as well as the name of its founder on the sign out front. "It's still his place," says Wellman. "You can still feel him when you come in here." (Mike Mosedale)

 
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