On March 8, "Alternative" Zone-105 (105.1, 105.3, and 105. 7 FM) goes "rhythmic gold" as V105. The shift to classic soul marks the third format makeover in five years for the signal. The station promptly fires on-air personality Mary Lucia, and her weekly live-local-music show disappears from the air. Four months later, Cities 97 (97.1 FM) lays off Bill DeVille, who had hosted his own weekly local-music program for ten years. As Minnesota as It Gets, the charity CD he compiled for the station, is released in June.
On March 23 Guided by Voices frontman Bob Pollard name-checks obscure local groups Rifle Sport and Neomort during onstage ramblings at the 400 Bar. Members of other obscure local bands Va-Voom!, GST, and Man-Sized Action seem unconcerned by their omission. The following night, Pollard apologizes for having said the Replacements "sucked" the evening before. "What I meant to say is that Soul Asylum sucks," he says. Standing in the audience, Dave Pirner looks unperturbed.
Celebrity has its upsides: In the R&B arena, R.L. of Next manages to squeeze "Good Love" onto the soundtrack of The Brothers. The ensuing months yield high-profile collaborations with a living Snoop Dogg--"Do U Wanna Roll (Dolittle Theme)" -- and a dead Tupac--"Until the End of Time." By year's end, his Web site (www.rl-ements.com) is announcing that it will auction off his trademark necklace. No word yet whether it will fetch as much as the tchotchkes at Prince's summer garage sale.
Local dance-music promoters Housecat throw their annual "4/20" party at the Gay 90's, calling it "Channel 420." The title is a swipe at WCCO 4 News, whose coverage of the rave scene strikes partisans as sensationalistic and irresponsible. The flyer reads: "The powers that be do not understand that this crackdown will only spur much smaller and potentially dangerous events by new rogue promoters who will not [be concerned with] safety." Channel 4 does not cover the event.
Sursumcorda opens in the same downtown Minneapolis location where the all-ages Foxfire Coffee Lounge closed last year. The new 21-plus venue features DJs, live music, and computers--a modern mix duplicated by the Dinkytowner (which, along with the Lab and Big V's, rallies under a new booking regime). At some point during Sursumcorda's grand-opening weekend, Twitch member Kevin Baltus performs buck-naked save for his sparkly blue guitar. This stunt establishes something of a trend: Months later, Punky Bruiser frontwoman Lisa Ganser takes the tiny stage topless.
With the Foxfire gone, Eclipse Records stands as one of the few local venues for all-ages rock. That is, until mid-May, when the business is pressured by the City of St. Paul to discontinue in-store concerts. The news comes in a month when all-ages punk heroes Dillinger Four are voted "artist of the year" by the Minnesota Music Academy.
A clash of generations occurs on Grand Old Day when an Elvis impersonator competes with amplified techno DJs across the street. Middle-aged partiers cheer the Big E as teenagers in visors stand bemused.
The following weekend, Jan singer J.J. Gauthier tops other local exhibitionists by performing entirely in the nude at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, and writhing around in spilled Fruit Loops that stick to her body when she stands up. (The night marks the temporary return of Mary Lucia's Popular Creeps to the stage, though not to the air.)
On an entirely different moral wavelength, Prince announces his newly strict spiritual beliefs at a June 7 press conference (his 43rd birthday), telling women, "Know your role," as prescribed by the Good Book. The sexist MF later summons City Pages music editor Melissa Maerz to Paisley Park for an off-the-record argument about her criticism of such remarks. Performing at the studio that evening, Alicia Keys sings "A Woman's Worth," and rapper Common leaves the curse words out of his songs in deference to his host's religion.
Elsewhere, renewal is in the air: The Fireball Espresso Café opens in Falcon Heights, booking all-ages punk, indie pop, and metal acts from around the country. The rave tradition temporarily revives itself on July 21 when Christian ravers throw "Redemption," an outdoor party in a barn less than an hour outside of the Twin Cities. Organizers use such old-school tactics as a map point and a shuttle bus.
Perhaps vibing off the summer elation, St. Paul Pioneer Press music scribe Jim Walsh devotes an entire July 27 column to the upsides of nudism. Others ride their own hot-weather high. On tour with Everclear, Flipp swap buses with R.L. collaborator Snoop Dogg and find a telltale hairnet in the bed. Everclear singer Art Alexakis later signs Flipp as the first act on his new label, Popularity Recordings.
In the course of one fevered night, a member of the local pop band Divorcee is spotted handing his new CD to a parking attendant and later throwing one out of a car window at a nearby bicyclist. The publicity efforts behind an entirely different event are probably more successful: The Gospel Music Workshop of America brings national recognition to our scene, drawing more than 10,000 visitors to downtown Minneapolis hotels between August 15 and 17.