Local Music Yearbook '03

We Sang. We Danced. We Set things on Fire. And Sometime after the Bar Closed, We Wrote It All Down for You.

"That was the best payoff," publisher Mark Baumgarten says later. "For the first time, there was actually a dialogue with Clear Channel in a publication."

June is the 11th and final issue of Lost Cause: After selling his car to launch it, and doing everything from layout to distribution himself, Baumgarten steps down, citing exhaustion, and leaves town to edit the music section of Portland's Willamette Week.

Rockabilly band Jack Knife and the Sharps headline the second day of Mayslack's annual Memorial Day Music Festival, as always. But something isn't right: The normally pale singer/guitarist Rick Hollister turns the color of his gray shirt three songs in, and dashes from the stage without explanation. He is soon rushed to the hospital for a bout of hypoglycemia.

Kicking off his medley of hits with a sample of the "dearly beloved" intro from "Let's Go Crazy"--a ballsy move--Next's R.L. takes the stage at First Avenue for the first time ever during a show that pays tribute to the late Roger Troutman Jr. (a local musician who died January 22 after four months in a coma and who was the son of Zapp's Roger Troutman). The R&B pinup later joins Mint Condition on "What Kind of Man Would I Be," as A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad mans the decks.

The same month, Faux Jean covers "Let's Go Crazy" in German. Accident Clearinghouse washboard man David Campbell remarks, "Covering Prince at First Avenue is like whipping your dick out on stage."

 

JUNE

Lining the horizon at Float-Rite Park with enough port-o-potties to supply the next Woodstock, the two-day Soulstice festival of dance music and hip hop has everything: giant video screens, immaculate sound, high-profile talent (from techno headliner Christopher Lawrence to rap legend KRS-One). Only problem: nobody comes.

Having swallowed the 15-year-old magazine's parent company the week before, Best Buy closes Request. Best Buy later pisses off small retailers by making an exclusive deal to sell the Rolling Stones' four-DVD concert set, Four Flicks. The fact that it sucks doesn't comfort other stores.

About an hour after getting approval from city inspectors, the Triple Rock Social Club opens its new concert room, kicking off three nights of shows from legendary local synth-punks Lifter Puller, who reunite for the occasion. Fans sing along to every lyric at the artfully slanted bar, where gin and tonics keep sliding down the wood finish and onto their laps. Co-owned by Dillinger Four's Erik Funk, the club quickly becomes a punk haven, hosting the 14th anniversary of local zine Profane Existence, the 15th anniversary of hardcore band Misery, and the "last show" by beery screamers the Quincy Punx.

"I thought that a place run by punk rockers would be a dump," enthuses Dames singer Tony Bennet. "To my joy, it's cleaner than my apartment!"

Embroiled in a lawsuit with its landlord, the Quest announces that it will consider moving to a new location in 2004. Meanwhile, downtown Minneapolis gets more crowded and upscale. New clubs opening this year include: the Dakota Jazz Club (relocated from St. Paul); Club 3 Degrees (the re-christened Christian hangout New Union, relocated across the street from the Quest); DJ-oriented Tabu (formerly South Beach); Tabu's partner over on Block E, the uber-swank Escape Ultra Lounge; and the dance club Empire. A new burlesque club, Le Cirque Rouge de Gus, brings old-fashioned striptease to the sleaze district--and also lends its piano to First Avenue for Semisonic's rendition of "Closing Time."

Minneapolis singer Shirley Witherspoon dies of heart and kidney failure at age 62. The onetime Duke Ellington vocalist is fondly remembered for her jazz revues in local theaters.

Shawn (Celly) Neis dies unexpectedly at home in Duluth at age 26. The founder of the Dinkytown hip-hop shop Mindstate, Celly launched Mission Control nights at Mario's Keller Bar in 2000, kicking off a legendary series of underground shows that served boots full of beer to local hip hop's inner circle.

 

JULY

At the Quest one Saturday night, DJ Phenix M. returns backstage to find his crate full of rare trance records missing. For days straight, he watches the same six hours of security videotape. Friends lift images from the video and post them online, turning one suspect into a "most-wanted" face in the dance music community. Phenix even makes a T-shirt of the guy, with the caption, "This asshole stole my records and all I got was this fucking T-shirt."

Luckily for Phenix, the face shows up at Plush the following Saturday, wearing the same outfit that he wore on the night in question. The DJ chases him out into the street, where police arrest him, and soon Phenix retrieves his precious stash.

"It was pretty amazing how absolutely everyone came together to help find them," he says, "even though a lot of them hate the shit I play."

Minnesota passes a 2:00 a.m. bar time, allowing clubs to stay open later for an annual fee. In celebration, Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak drops by the Imperial Room on its new-wave Wednesday. With a quick tutorial by DJ Jake Rudh, Rybak takes over the wheels of steel with A Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran."

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