Local Music Yearbook '06

Prince went to Vegas. Smokers went to Maplewood. Tapes 'N Tapes went to the moon. And sometime after the last zombie dance party got busted, we wrote it all down for you.

The Quest opened. The Quest closed. Atmosphere rocked Conan O'Brien. As we look back over 12 months of Minnesota music, the minor chords and major changes blur. The West Bank scene got the book it deserves—and lost the bar it loves. Tom Barnard blamed hip hop for violence, and rap mixtapes asked, "What you know about the App?"—meaning Minneapolis. Here's what we remember, anyway, between Conrad's haircut and the new P.O.S. video. Raise those cell phones in the air!

january

• Longtime First Avenue manager Steve McClellan resigns from the club, citing differences with owner Byron Frank. "Let's just say we came to a fork in the road regarding career and long-range goals," says McClellan. Retained as a consultant, he continues putting on shows through the Diverse Emerging Music Organization (DEMO), while teaching venue management at McNally Smith College of Music.

The club itself gets a makeover with the addition of a kitchen and flat-screen TVs; plans are drawn up to raise billboards over the marquee outside. In celebration, the VIP Room bursts into flames. (No one is hurt, and the room eventuallly reopens.) For his own reasons, production manager Conrad Sverkerson cuts off his dreadlocks. (In September, a benefit to help Sverkerson pay medical bills from his back surgery features Soul Asylum, the Jayhawks, and Trip Shakespeare.)

• The band Brother and Sister play a show in Shakopee's old Scott County jail. It's the endpoint of a daylong rock 'n' roll scavenger hunt, in which participants ride the light rail to the Mall of America, get "arrested" (by Faggot singer Tim Carroll in a cop uniform), and are bused to the concert site, where they are issued prison jumpsuits. During the show, audience members mosh, jump on beds, and hang from bars.

• Transgender rockers All the Pretty Horses play a farewell show after nine years together. Singer-guitarist Venus goes pop on a subsequent solo album, Trashed and Broken Hearted (SkinDog), as the bassist and drummer crunch forward in Harsh Reality. Other ex-bands of 2006: the Soviettes, Sicbay, the Bleeding Hickeys, U Joint, Katastrophy Wife, Cardinal Sin, the Cave Deaths, the Vets, Malachi Constant, Signal to Trust, and Metallagher—a Metallica cover band fronted by two Gallagher impersonators. "Why do you ever want me to come back to this?" says one of the Gallaghers during their mayonnaise-jar-smashing farewell show at the Triple Rock in April.

• Though ostensibly set in 1995 on Lyndale Avenue South, the second issue of hot-selling alternative comic Local (Oni Comics) contains fun-to-find musical anachronisms: Low's 2005 CD sits on the shelf at Oarfolkjokeopus (renamed Treehouse Records years ago), plus, there's a Heiruspecs CD and a Soviettes flyer.

R.I.P.: Larry Batson, columnist. Bob Feldman, president of Red House Records. Johnny Lopez, drummer with the Augie Garcia Band and the Buddy Davis Trio.

february

• Zombies in full makeup invade frozen Medicine Lake in Plymouth, swarming the ice around the Art Shanty Projects with a harmonious moan. Months later, participants in a "zombie dance party" are arrested in downtown Minneapolis for "behavior that was suspicious and disturbing," Lt. Gregory Reinhardt tells KSTP-TV.

• Closed since mid-December 2005 after losing its liquor license, the Quest reopens. But five months later, the roof of the Wyman Building catches fire, and the resulting water damage forces the club to shut down for the rest of the year. Promotions company Mr. Chan Presents spreads shows around town, introducing thousands of fans to the Varsity, Station 4, Trocaderos, and some club called First Avenue.

• Onstage at the Terminal Bar, singer Kevin Bowe recalls recently trying to pitch Joan Baez a protest song: "She said, 'I don't do war songs anymore.' And I was like, 'So you think war is good now? What the hell is wrong with you?'" Semisonic's Dan Wilson has better luck this year with Bush administration opponents the Dixie Chicks, for whom he co-writes six songs on the Rick Rubin-produced Taking the Long Way (Sony), including "Not Ready to Make Nice." Wilson later joins a host of locals, including fellow former members of Trip Shakespeare, on a children's CD, Down by the Riverside, to benefit Reuben Lindh Family Services.

• Tapes 'N Tapes play a packed show at the Terminal Bar, and then pretty much do nothing for the rest of the year—except perform on the Late Show with David Letterman, become the buzz band at South by Southwest (in Austin, Texas), receive raves in Rolling Stone, sell out dates in the U.K., sign to XL Recordings, and open a club in Las Vegas named after their latest album—oh no wait, that one was Prince.

• Prince kicks ass on Saturday Night Live this month, kicks ass at the Orpheum (inviting guests back to Paisley Park for a Legendary Combo afterparty), then refrains from kicking ass on the road—instead launching a scheme to turn Elvis on us, taking up residence at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and performing there regularly. Album sales of 3121 (NPG/Universal) dwindle, but Grammy voters give up a flush of nominations—as if maybe they just want to see the guy play at the ceremony.

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