I Hate 2004: Part One
2004 kicked ass. 2004 kicked our ass. In addition to the anecdotes that make up today's City Pages Local Music Yearbook '04, and quotes from four notable local musicians of '04, here are a bunch of stories about the year in Minnesota music, as told to me in email by some of the artists and writers who saw it all up close. Chris Monroe is a cartoonist for the Ripsaw and the Star Tribune who recently published an anthology of her "Violet Days" weekly strips, Ultra Violet (X Communication). She also exhibited her art work at the Frank Stone gallery, and her hilarious drawings have graced everything from SpinOut Records CD covers to Pizza Lucé menus.
2004 kicked ass. 2004 kicked our ass. In addition to the anecdotes that make up today's City Pages Local Music Yearbook '04, and quotes from four notable local musicians of '04, here are a bunch of stories about the year in Minnesota music, as told to me in email by some of the artists and writers who saw it all up close.
Chris Monroe is a cartoonist for the Ripsaw and the Star Tribune who recently published an anthology of her "Violet Days" weekly strips, Ultra Violet (X Communication). She also exhibited her art work at the Frank Stone gallery, and her hilarious drawings have graced everything from SpinOut Records CD covers to Pizza Lucé menus.
Duluth now has the MAC but I don't go there that much because they don't have booze and apparently that means a lot to me.
Willie Nelson cancelled his performance at Greenman and it was really fun except Saturday there just seemed like there was something missing... oh, it was WILLIE NELSON. But it was fun to see you at Greenman, Pete...
And the Black-Eyed Snakes in the tent was very cool, very fun.
I really enjoyed Kraig Johnson at Pizza Luce, with Ed Ackerson, etc. That was a great show with the perfect amount of vintage guitars and Mpls. hairstyles. I actually missed Mpls for a few hours...
Mark Mallman provided the year's most surprisingly heroic musical moment when he played one song, "Marathon 2," for 52.4 hours straight at the Turf Club over Labor Day Weekend--and rocked the camel's ass. Mallman's latest album of alternative piano-rock is Mr. Serious (Badman).
For me, the funniest part of "Marathon 2," aside from the lyric "I got kicked in the Unicorn," was around hour 48, when Martin Dosh played drums while Paddy from D4, myself, and Kermit from Superhopper rocked out ultra fast. Ultra ultra fast. Everybody was hyper as hell and we were all laughing cause Marty is used to playing this beautiful, sophisticated Jazz stuff, and here we were all playing hard and sloppy and fast as hell. I remember at one point the three of us were all yelling stuff at him, like, "Come on you fucker, play faster, PLAY FASTER!" as we jumped off of chairs all hyperactive. Marty was scheduled to play for two hours, but at the end of the first hour he looked up at me and said, "I canӴ do it anymore." He raised his hands at me and they looked like they were covered in bubble wrap, but it was BLISTERS! I donӴ think IӶe ever seen a drummer play that fast for 60 minutes straight before. And to top it off... it was his BIRTHDAY!!! It was an impressive display of dedication and pain! His new record is really good, by the way.
I played a John Kerry rally with Linda Ronstadt on election night in Tuscon, Arizona. Peter Anderson (my drummer) and I had absentee voted before we left on tour, but by the time we got to the club, there was a terribly unsteady vibe in the air. To top it all off, I was an emotional mess, having proposed marriage over the phone in a desperate attempt to win my ex-girlfriend back the day before--she replied "DonӴ get your hopes up," which was understandable, but I was a fucking wreck about it anyways. To make the night even weirder, the club had us play AFTER Linda on this big outdoor stage. She did her whole singing in Spanish thing with the mariachi band, and it was very cool. I, however, was a little apprehensive on how these people would react to my show. When everything was staged, just before we started my set, the promoter of the event comes up to me and says, "hey, IӶe read all about you and I know how you can be on stage, but maybe tonight you should mellow it out, you know, donӴ freak out up there. Play a songwriter set." But I must have not heard him right, because half way through the second song I was straddling a top my keyboard screaming, "They call me Mr. Serious!" I got no self control, man, shit.
The next morning I remember walking through the hotel and everybody was looking real bummed. My brother called me shortly after. HeӤ spent every weekend for the passed year campaigning for Kerry in Los Angeles, "This sucks, man. This really sucks." He was sad. Everybody I called was dazed and dreary, and to be honest, I never thought Bush would get re-elected. That night we drove through northern Texas to see snow falling, three inches deep, frozen to the emergency lane--it was terribly fitting. November 2 found me with crossed fingers, November 3 found me lost in an enveloping sadness of more war, more terror, and more greed. That night, it didnӴ feel like America anymore, it just felt like emptiness.
Zine historian and Walk the Plank blogger Erik Farseth showed his woodcut and xerox art at January's punk poster show at the Speedboat Gallery. He writes the J. Cruelty Catalogue fanzine, and is the author of the recently reprinted essential DIY punk history, Wipe Away My Eyes. Here's his email on 2004:
The abrupt closure of the First Avenue nightclub and the early election returns had cast a noticable pall over the Twin Cities music community. At the Triple Rock Social Club, Happy Hour was about as happy as a funeral. All eyes kept returning to the big screen T.V. overhead. As the clock struck 9:00, all evidence seemed to point towards another (or should I say the first?) victory for George W. Bush. Meanwhile, in downtown Minneapolis, a small crowd had gathered on the sidewalk in front of (an empty) First Avenue to watch The Knotwells play an acoustic concert. The Knotwells had originally been scheduled to play in the Entry. Then the news came: show's cancelled, First Avenue has filed for bankruptcy. Undeterred, The Knotwells were giving the nightclub an Irish wake.
In the light of the giant neon billboards of the Block E Entertainment Complex, singer Arik Knotwell scraped his vocal chords raw, screaming like a demented carnival barker, while his bandmates hammered on acoustic guitars and an upright bass that looked like just an oversized banjo.
Passing cars slowed down and started idling their engines in the middle of the intersection. Passersby wanted to know what the big to-do was all about. A Mexican immigrant stopped and launched into an impassioned rant about the two Major Party candidates. And one woman yelled out the window of a passing automobile: "Allan Fingerhut is an asshole!" To which Arik Knotwell replied: "Fuck Allan Fingerhut!"
The audience, which never numbered more than 15-20 people, laughed in appreciation as The Knotwells performed not one, but two ragged covers of the Circle Jerks' anti-government anthem 'Coup d'Etat.'
Dan Israel recently released the wonderful pop album Time I Get Home, and wrote an entertaining review of his own release show for Howwastheshow.com.
The only truly good anecdote I can come up with was this one...nothing too earthshaking, but kinda funny... On Sat. July 10, 2004, Dan Israel and the Cultivators were playing a show at Mayslack's (home of the world-famous roast beef sandwich) in NE Mpls. It was our drummer Dave Russ' birthday show and everybody was in a pretty good, silly mood (and drunk too).
We were doing a particularly boozy version of the Stones' "Dead Flowers" (everybody's favorite drunken cover song) when a guy walked into the music half of Mayslack's selling flowers (you know those guys who walk into bars late in the night, hoping to convince drunk guys to buy flowers for their girlfriends)....we spotted him, and without hesitation, Dave Russ and I both changed the words to "live flowers" and, seemingly reading each others' minds, changed the entire chorus to these words (yes, in tandem...amazing): "Send me live flowers every morning, send me live flowers to Mayslack's, send me live flowers on Dave's birthday, and I won't forget to put roast beef on your plate" that's all i got!
Richard Paske relocated to Los Angeles in 2004, after 25 years of performing jazz in the Twin Cities and hosting hugely fun and adventurous jazz shows on KFAI.
Last April there were two gigs I didn't want to miss - Eddie Palmieri's Ritmo Caliente and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring performed by the Minnesota Orchestra. Unfortunately, they were both the same night. Fortunately, Eddie was at the Convention Center at 7 PM and the Rite was after intermission at Orchestra Hall. Before the gigs I timed the walk between the two venues so that I could hear as much Eddie as possible before speed-walking to OH for Igor. My planning paid off by providing me with a musical experience I'll never forget--hearing perhaps the seminal work of the 20th century performed LIVE by one of the world's great orchestras.
Hearing the Rite on recordings is one thing; hearing it in the room as it happens is something else entirely - fine gossamer webs interwoven by reeds and flutes, clouds of ether in the high strings, raucous eruptions in the brass, growling low strings, a bass drum that walks the Earth like an apatosaurus - all of it alive with harmonies and melodies that laid definitions for so much music across the genres in the years after 1913. If you've never heard the Rite live and you care about the evolution of music in the modern, post-modern, and/or post-post-modern worlds, my advice to you is to run, or at least speed-walk, to hear it the next time it comes nearby.
Rich Mattson produced a number of bands at his Flowerpot Studios this year, including the Gleam, and released a new album by his band Old Yeller, Sounder.
Ah, 2004. Let's start from the top. New Year's Eve I was wearing a dress onstage at Lee's. I'll never do that again. It was stupid. The year started off pretty slowly, uneventful, somber even. It was the dress. I had no business putting it on. There was some fun in February, my band got a new bass player and that was exciting, taking him on the road and seeing great bands like the Preacher's Kids and the Dynamite Brothers, hanging out in NYC... Going to SXSW with Ben Hayter, who hates everything, was a cryptic good time. We saw Patty Smith and somehow I just knew we were going to lose the election. Kris Kristofferson gave me some hope though, that we'd live through it. In April The Strokes played at First Avenue and I realized why I hate rich kids who start rock bands, they got no drive but for selling out and being cool. Nothing to do with sticking it to the man. It sounded funny in "School of Rock" but he was right, ya know. Have kids forgotten the very essence of rock? I think my favorite show at First Ave. this year was the Detroit Cobras, opening for the Rev. Horton Heat. I didn't even stick around for the headliner, he couldn't hold a candle to the depraved loveliness of Rachel and her sleazy cohorts..and that hip-shake--ah, BABY!! There were some cool Swet J.A.P. shows, notably at Big V's, I'd never seen them before and after a couple one-hits seeing them come down all OVER me just standing at the bar, I was befuddled, amused, amazed. Their 20 minute set was like a flash flood of rockenroll goodness, all those smiling faces in the audience.
I finally got my band into the Triple Rock in June, and we got a new guitar player too. Our best buddies from Austin, Grand Champeen came to town and woo'ed everyone in attendance, like they always do, luv luv luv. Then I went on a folk tour with Baby Grant Johnson and Charlie Parr..here's one of my favorite musical moments of 2004: After a night of playing for 5 hours straight to 5 people in Lawrence, we wind up at a young college couple's shoebox apartment, all hanging out on the bed/chair while Baby Grant sings "LA Freeway" with more passion and raw emotion than I've ever seen, feet all twisty and voice all spitty and spent. Summertime, and we went crazy in Eveleth, my hometown, and showed that town what freedom means..to us anyway, on the 4th of July. Fall, September 5-6 exactly, Mallman's Marathon was the closest I've ever been to seeing the light. I mean the end, the grand finale, not so much the ongoing thing, but the ending, when he came out draped in the American flag and they dropped the "Mission Accomplished" banner, it brought tears of joy to my eyes it was so awesome. That was my favorite rock and roll moment of the year, bar none. Aside from that, my favorite had to be Paul Westerberg at Pantages. I hadn't seen Paul since the last time the Replacements ever played, that cameo at First Ave. in what..'97??? Seeing him play made me realize why I do it, and I remember saying to myself, "Oh yeah, THAT's why he's my idol. He fucking BRINGS it."
Of course, after that, my band goes to Texas and has a blast, spare some incident in Ft. Worth working over the one-legged bartender for pay..we had to tear out of that parking lot very swiftly..dance party in Duluth, do the limbo...2004 turned out okay.
G.R. Anderson Jr. [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 2004 10:20 AM
To: Peter Scholtes
And go shopping instead
I've got a mind to give up living,
And go shopping instead
Pick me up a tombstone,
And be pronounced dead
Hair Police founder Sonia
If the year 1999 wore a party hat, then 2004 wore a shroud. This was the year that lots of people and things died. It seemed like every couple of weeks one of my heroes or a pop culture icon passed on: Spalding Gray(who once signed a book to me: to Christ Trout), Ron O'Neal(Super Fly), Captain Kangaroo, Julius Schwartz (who ushered in Comics silver age) Mercedes McCambridge (the voice of the demon from the exorcist), JJ Jackson (the first MTV VJ), Peter Ustinov, Tony Randall, Ray Charles, Marlon Brando, Weezie from the Jeffersons, Jerry Goldsmith (who wrote the theme for Planet of the Apes), Rick James, Julia Child( I really did learn to cook from watching her show), Elmer Bernstein(who did the music for The Man With the Golden Arm and Going Ape 1&2), Laura Branigan, Fred Ebb(who wrote the words for Chicago and Cabaret), Russ Meyer (whose Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens stands outs out as a secret classic of cinema), Richard Avedon, Janet Leigh, Rodney Dangerfield, Christopher Reevec(strangely enough, the guy who was Superman�s voice on the radio in the 40�s and 50�s died too), John Peel (the only one on this list who brought me to tears, and a week of sadness), the guy who did the First Family records in the 60�s, Terry Melcher (the man best known for not signing Charles Manson and triggering the Sharon Tate murders; he went on to write Kokomo, so he is sort of doubly cursed), and of course America�s favorite shrieking violet Fay Wray. Not to sound too much like a Jim Caroll band song, but these are people that died, and all of these people for better or worse had a small influence on me, and probably you as well.
Death is relative. To someone the death of Laura Brannigan was the worst day of their life, one that they may never recover from. To me it�s just the lady that sang Gloria. That�s the downside of life in the public eye, the crass and unfeeling public. The deaths that got me were the smaller ones, the people that were part of my life, not abstract personalities. There were three big ones in six months; to say this was a tough year is a bit like calling the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald a minor boating accident.
I hate funerals. Of course I can�t think of anyone who particularly likes funerals; well, maybe mortuary science majors or the inherently creepy. Either way no one you would want to have dinner with, unless you�re into that kind of thing, in which case I am busy Tuesday night. I find the smell of funeral homes disconcerting: lavender perfume, like the stuff that little old ladies tend to wear too much of while riding the bus. Maybe it is because old people tend to spend a lot of time at other old people�s funerals. Perhaps for them it is somehow comforting. I know it sometimes as the smell that comes from my garden from the great big lilac tree that lives there. On certain wet afternoons it�s a grim reminder of men in black suits with solemn expressions, firm but comforting handshakes, and more boxes of Kleenex then can be found in a chain of peep shows.
It�s because I had to go to too many funerals that I would have to declare �04 suckiest year of the new millennium. Granted we are only four years into it and �01 certainly was a drag, but �04 is depressing. It might be because I am living through it now but it still sucks.
The first death of a friend hit hard and fast, it was in January. From the public viewpoint Carty Fox was a lot of stuff: a publisher, writer (Servo, Cake), a bass player in Pleasant Stitch, Overblue, Control, A Most Happy Sound, and for about a week 12 Rods. He was the publicist for Twin Tone, where he taught me to eat better, be more patient, and where to get shirts tailored. He was support to hundreds of recovering addicts. Carty was my friend, is my friend, since he is still in my life, just on much quieter level. He�s a semi frequent guest in my dreams, where we usually meet in airport bars, which was funny since he was recovering in real life. Not that he ever drinks in the dreams; apparently in heaven there is no need for beer.
Carty had brain cancer; once thought defeated, it snuck back in like the villain in a bad sci-fi film and had another attack, though sadly like in real life the cancer won out. Still it was a surprise, even though you knew it was somewhat inevitable, ok well� all death is inevitable, but you know what I mean�. The real importance was in his life and how he lived it.
One of the many things I hate about death is how in it everyone becomes a saint. Sure, funerals are a really bad place to point a person�s failings, but we take it to an extreme. When Reagan died everywhere you looked it was talked about in sacred tones and hushed reverence. There was serious talk of putting him on the dime. New Deal gives way to Reaganomics, that�s a sobering thought. The nicest thing I can say about Reagan is that under his totalitarian rule, punk rock flourished, he was nice dresser, and he was good in the Killers, look even I am trying to be nice, damn it.
In death everyone is sainted and had an incredible indelible faith in the Lord. They are good and loyal and true. In Carty�s case it was true. He was by no means perfect, but he tried and that�s really the best you can hope for. At his wake a guy said �Carty was always looking to find God in other people.� I think that summed him up, in a very simple way. Maybe not as glamorous as a resume of stuff that he did, but it summed up the man. He was many things to many people; I suppose everyone is. But he touched my life, and I miss him dearly. Luckily I will probably run into him in one of the airport bars of my dreams soon enough.
It was shortly afterwards that the second of the hit parade fell, and that hit me harder than Mike Tyson in a fit of �roid rage. They say the first cut is the deepest; well let me tell you, the second one ain�t no picnic either.
Sonia, she didn�t use a last name, in fact she once got quite mad at me for giving a magazine a quote when they asked about her last name: �she was too big for a last name, an icon, like; Madonna, Cher, or Lassie�. Sonia was dressed in the fabric of possibility. She had a wide and varied life: black pantheress, waitress, mom, new wave roller skater, scandafarian, empress of a small hair empire, event producer on a most epic level, philosopher, inventor, someone who was never afraid to say yes. She lived life on her terms, the kind of thing you can only do after you have spent some serious time living on other people�s terms. When I met her she was in her early 40�s and ran the coolest hair salon you could imagine. I was 20, confused, perpetually heartbroken and looking for meaning in the hazy crazy days of the late 80�s. That time when Punk was really dead, but before the electronic loops of techno had taken over as the soundtrack of the hep. She showed the way of dealing with the details, and letting the universe sort out the rest. Sonia taught me to think beyond the boundaries of genre, to understand the genius that is Robo-Cop, to let my inner Nerd be free, and most importantly to believe in myself. Now that might seem like a trite sentiment, and perhaps it is, but that doesn�t make it any less true. It really is something to know that you can get through something, rather then just �thinking you can�. It�s those small but crucial differences that make life more interesting.
I can�t paint a great picture of her; instead I leave you a few glimpses that make me smile, and occasionally make me cry: her setting the stove on fire at my parents house while cooking a turkey for the first orphans Thanksgiving (a tradition I still do: having an orphans Thanksgiving that is, not setting the stove on fire). The day we got busted by six cop cars and two cop dogs for one of our parties, and we got off without so much as a fine. A conversation we had at the White Castle on Lake Street, where she convinced me to quit my job and come work with her. Going to Pops on Hennepin everyday to play Narc, and the day that we beat it.
One of my biggest regrets is that we grew apart. It�s dumb, it happens, circumstances just move all of a sudden, and you shift. I hadn�t talked to her in two years when she died. It just always seemed like we would reconnect like we always did. If you never met her then it�s a true shame; she would have changed your life, she seemed to do it to everyone else.
The third tine in this trident of death happened soon after, when a late night car crash took the life of Jack �Blackjack� Robinson. He was my boss, Jack was not my friend. I can�t say we saw eye to eye, but that�s not always necessary. He completely changed my life and the lives of countless others. Jack was part of a group, which started a school called the Institute of Production and Recording. A school about teaching the fundamentals of production, recording and the music business, by musicians for musicians. He helped to build a place where they could learn and be challenged. He told me he wanted it to be tough, because it wasn�t an easy business. For me teaching started as a lark, a fun part time gig. It became an integral part of me; it forced me out of the jaded hipsterdom that the city affords some of us. For that I am eternally grateful. In a very real way Jack lives on, because the school lives on.
These three lives, or deaths as the case may be, aren�t unique. An estimated 2,314,000 people died in the US this year. That�s a lot of aunts, uncles and ornery neighbors. But these three are worth remembering. They helped to build this city, oddly enough to some extent on rock and roll, but not in that icky Starship kind of way. Think of them as new pioneers; iconoclastic, on their own trying to make their corner of the world in the way that they thought it should be.
There is a Zen saying about two guys walking into a river. One guy says to the other that you can�t walk into the same river twice because by its very nature it is constantly changing, then the other guy says not only that, but you can�t walk into the same river once as it is constantly in motion and that your very presence in the river changes its being. Of course the problem with Zen sayings is that they sound silly being said in anyone�s voice except some sort of elderly Asian man or some creepy little kid like in the Matrix. I tend to think of people like rivers; constantly in transition. I think because that is the case that maybe death is just a shifting of energy. But even more so I think of people a bit like rocks skipped into that river. Some maker bigger splashes than others, but they all make ripples and those ripples continue on for a mighty long time.
There's the one I already sent, plus these:
--Pollard in handcuffs at Grand Old Day, by Cecile Cloutier
--Christ at First Avenue on Halloween byLisa Venticinque
--Links to photos of Ian Lehman by Tony Rohr -- Jen Boyles would know how to get hold of him if these won't work:
[ Jen Boyles, Regional Editor
[ Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc.
[ Office: 651.365.4079 | Cell: 651.260.6059
[ AIM: ibsjenb | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
[ 1333 Northland Drive | Mendota Heights, MN 55120
--This might be good for generic purposes, though I didn't write about it, and Melissa's in it.
--Again, the following isn't in the piece, but it's a great photo, if Melissa wants to remember another story from that night: Dre Day.
--Har Mar. I know I have a photo somewhere of this, but I bet your photogs have better ones... Har Mar in Loring. http://www.harmarsuperstar.com/index.php?set_albumName=album22&;option=com_gallery&Itemid=30&include=view_album.php
--You have the Sean Smuda Babylon photos.
Tony's photo of Grant Hart and Bob Mould is essential:
--You can contact Tony for any of these, which generically have to do with the election year.
--You could scan Rift magazine, left on your chair.
Minnesota Music Awards 2004
Acoustic/Folk-Group ArtistDan Israel
"It's Your Weakness That I Want" (Romantica)
Electronica-Recording"Halloween, Alaska" (Halloween Alaska)
Jazz Acoustic-Group /Artist
Wolverines Jazz Trio
Jazz Recording"Give" (The Bad Plus)
"10,000 Years" (The Honeydogs)
"The Soviettes LP II" (The Soviettes)
Rock-Recording"New Infection" (The Melismatics)
Hard Rock-Recording"And Blood Was Passion" (Zebulon Pike)
Rock-a-Billy-Group/ArtistHillbilly Voodoo Dolls
Jack Brass Band
Spoken Word Artist
"Seven's Travels" (Atmosphere)
Hookers & Blow
MN Produced Radio Show
MN Produced Audio/Visual
"Nate on Drums"
Best Music Media (Print/Web)
Sound Technician of the Year
Best National Recording
Best Indie Label Recording
"The Fuse Refuses to Burn" (Olympic Hopefuls)
Best Self-Released Recording
"Alicia" (Alicia Wiley)
New Group/Artist of the Year
Producer of the Year
Songwriter of the Year (It's a TIE)
Song of the Year
Artist/Group of the Year
Jen Vogel's "Daddy Was a Bankrobber" story
Lindsey's "allergic to winter" story
Mosedale's winter sucking through history article
Paul's con-man lawyer story
Beth's snitch story
Tortorello's Team America review
Ritter's Gengis Khan book review
Molly's road-kill art thing
Steve on "Derail the vote 2004"
Rob on Scorsese
Walsh on the First Avenue Massacre
Melissa on getting in the van
Dylan's RNC armies of the daytime
Jerry's police chief cover
Britt's Usher appreciation
Walsh on the guv as young weenie
Greil Marcus's Bush obit
Rob on The Passion of the Christ
Mosedale's "Bury the Truth at Wounded Knee"
Paul's St. Thomas torture item
Lindsey's MN Roller Girls piece
Beth's corporate self-help story
Mose's river arts story
Articles by me:
First Avenue's Black Tuesday
Mallman's Marathon 2
oral history of local hip hop
MPR = Clear Channel?
Prince's funky 1970s
review of 'My Architect'
cartoon review of Madvillainy
Al Green Q&A
I'm already remembering ones I forgot: Wilder's Battle of Algiers piece for starters:
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