By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Eau Claire neo-folk group Bon Iver, led by Justin Vernon, blows up. Though their debut record, For Emma, Forever Ago, was released locally in 2007, it is pushed into the national spotlight with a release on Jagjaguwar early this year. Bon Iver is not technically local, but Minnesota's love is apparent: Every show they play in the Twin Cities in 2008, whether at the Turf Club, the Electric Fetus, or First Avenue's Mainroom, sells out and leaves audiences silent and stunned.
Radio Homegrown bids a final farewell with a compilation CD, Silage: Foreclosure and Eviction, and a "Homegrown funeral" at the Turf Club, complete with a coffin full of memorabilia from the show. The local radio program ended its 10-year run in late 2007, when the Clear Channel-owned Drive 105 canceled the program. Host David Campbell goes on to fill in for Chris Roberts on 89.3 the Current's Local Show before landing a regular slot as a DJ for Radio Free Current.
Ubiquitous local violinist Jessy Greene is invited to tour with the Foo Fighters and spends most of 2008 flitting around the world and appearing on national television shows like Letterman and the Grammys. At the end of February, the Foo Fighters play the Target Center and Dave Grohl showers Greene with praise in front of 10,000 people. "It took us 14 years, but we finally got some Minneapolis in the band," he says during the show. "In fact, we had never even played an arena until she joined the band! We had never won a Grammy before, but now that Jessy is in the band, you know what? We won two fucking Grammys!"
Half of the music scene flees to Austin, Texas, once again for South by Southwest. The Modern Radio record label, the crew from Voltage, and Reveille Magazine all host Minnesota-bred showcases. Tapes 'n Tapes ride on the buzz they built at last year's festival, and reps from the Rhymesayers street team parade When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold picket signs down Sixth Street. The Current takes over an entire parking lot and hosts some of the best outdoor performances of the festival. Despite the fact that everyone is 1,200 miles from home, Minnesota hometown pride is everywhere.
April is a banner month for local bands made good. Four groups in particular do a stellar job of breaking out on the national scene and raising awareness of our fair state:
Musician and all-around metal-scene staple Earl Root passes away due to complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which he battled for 10 years. Root played guitar in local metal bands Disturbed, God-Awful, and Aesma Daeva, hosted the KFAI radio show Root of All Evil, was the owner of Root Cellar Records, and founded the Root of All Evil label to promote independent bands. In August, roughly 20 local metal bands throw an Earl Root memorial party at First Avenue, featuring headliners Impaler.
Local rock 'n' roll label Modern Radio celebrates its ninth anniversary with a handful of shows and releases. The label has helped promote local punk-infused rock acts such as Vampire Hands, the STNNNG, and His Mischief alongside national bands like Yellow Swans and Mirah, and has cultivated a community of underground rock enthusiasts on its busy message board.
Minneapolis record store the Electric Fetuscelebrates its 40th anniversary with a week of stellar in-store performances, including a jam-packed set by Brother Ali and Atmosphere. Mayor R.T. Rybak declares June 13 "Electric Fetus Day." In an interview on the Fetus website, Rybak says, "It's important to have a great independent local music store that doesn't homogenize. This is a great music town, and you can come in here and find something that is not out of some kind of box or the big chain stores."