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.

Marissa Mathy-Zvaifler, a 16-year-old Atmosphere fan, is raped and killed at the Sunshine Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico, within hours of the group's concert there. Hearing the news days later, Slug dedicates Atmosphere's album Seven's Travels to her, and the group plays a Santa Fe benefit in October for a teen foundation set up by her mother.

For the first time in more than 20 years, percussionist Phil Hey and saxophonist Pat Moriarty, two of Minnesota's best improvisers, collaborate for an evening of free improvisation at Brilliant Corners in St. Paul. After a seismic 40-minute set, one listener tells the pair, "There was a Buddhist temple in there somewhere."

Recorded in 1968, Michael Yonkers's Microminiature Love is reissued on Seattle alternative rock label Sub Pop. Yonkers plays the CMJ music festival in October, where he sees what he calls "a sea of green squares" in New York's Bowery Ballroom. It's not a psychedelic flashback: Hipsters in the audience are broadcasting the show to friends on their cell phones.

The Foo Fighters invite Grant Hart onstage at Roy Wilkins Auditorium for a version of his classic Hüsker Dü song "The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill." Grant's 17-year-old son watches from backstage along with a friend, who is writing a high school paper about the Foo Fighters.

Somebody steals Spider John Koerner's guitar, a rare Gretsch with an unmistakable defect: The headstock says "Gretsrh." After Pulse of the Twin Cities publisher Ed Felien reports the story, a music columnist at the paper reads it, shows it to a friend, roadie Ron Shreiner, who knows a guy who bought the guitar from a stranger on the street for $80 a few days earlier. Retrieving his guitar, Koerner graciously recoups him the 80 bucks.

 

AUGUST

Former rock roadie and current Republican senator Norm Coleman emerges as Washington's surprise voice of reason on the issue of online file sharing. While Democrats Rep. Howard Berman (Texas) and Sen. Joe Biden (Delaware) push proposals that would clamp down on the free exchange of copyrighted music, Coleman scolds the Recording Industry Association of America for their "shotgun approach" to the crime--i.e. suing hundreds of individual song-sharers for amounts of up to $150,000. A 12-year-old honor student and an elderly grandfather are among the most notorious culprits.

At the Twin Cities Celebration of Hip Hop at Intermedia Arts, rap duo the C.O.R.E. sets off an outdoor mosh pit as graffiti writers cover a wall in spray-paint art. It might be the first time in history that these two activities take place together. When the bloody noses of dancers dry, and the dust clouds settle, a four-year-old starts doing headstands on the concrete.

At the Kitty Kat Club in Dinkytown, local rock band Coach Said Not To barely kick off their set when liquid bleach starts raining down from the ceiling, scattering the audience. Apparently Annie's Parlour upstairs has decided to mop the floors early, and the stuff leaked through.

After nearly two years of wrangling with Highland Park neighbors over noise complaints and at last receiving a reprieve from the St. Paul City Council to host all-ages shows, Eclipse Records owner Joe Furth tires of the daily skirmishes, packs up the store, and waits to move to the right downtown St. Paul location. In November, he makes an unsuccessful bid for City Council. With the closing of the Fireball Espresso Cafe in Falcon Heights, TC Underground (at 405 W. Lake St.) becomes the Twin Cities' flagship all-ages punk club.

 

SEPTEMBER

Plagued by low attendance and rumors of closing, First Avenue staff watch helplessly as the club's primary property owners, childhood friends Byron Frank and Allan Fingerhut, feud in Hennepin County District Court over just who owns how much of what. (The two settle out of court later.) Coming to the club's aid, House of Large Sizes, the Jayhawks, and the Suburbs play benefits for First Avenue's nonprofit arm, the Developing Arts and Music Foundation. Covers of "Closing Time" are verboten.

Having cut records by Lifter Puller, Girls Against Boys, and Semisonic, legendary Minneapolis studio Seedy Underbelly relocates to Hollywood, where new L.A. resident Har Mar superstar is slated as the first client.(He plans to record with Beck.)

On September 11, Muja Messiah hits the stage of Urban Wildlife rapping his new song "Fuck Bush." The next day, Johnny Cash dies. Opening for Wanda Jackson at Lee's, local country musician Sherwin Linton rises to the occasion with a series of covers that brings the entire crowd to its feet. "It was like the spirit of Johnny Cash came down and took Sherwin over for the evening," says Accident Clearinghouse singer Quillan Roe.

Spoken-word artist Desdamona dances to Linton at O'Gara's Garage in St. Paul during the Minnesota Music Awards--local music's equivalent of the Grammys. Relocated from a ballroom in St. Paul's RiverCentre to the more cozy nightspot, the event sees groups from every imaginable genre mingling while the "Minnies" are passed out by Vikings cheerleaders. Accepting his trophy for best eclectic recording, a bemused Andrew Broder (of Fog) raises the award in a toast, and delivers the Joe Pesci speech of the evening: "Cheerleaders!"

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