A Minnesota music golden age might be going on right now!
Minnesota Public Radio has just introduced a new feature posing the question, "Is Minnesota Music in a golden age?" MPR reporter Chris Roberts interviewed local figures covering music, booking music, playing music, and a fella who's a fan to try and answer that inquiry. It's a fun question to pose, but a hard one to answer definitively.
When Roberts and I spoke for the piece, he said that one of the motivators to report this now was recent TV appearances by local acts -- Polica on Fallon and Trampled by Turtles on Letterman -- but there are plenty of other angles that figure into the story. He even got your Gimme Noise editor on tape saying "I think the short answer is 'yes.'" Of course, my longer answer was ... longer and not as coherent for a radio report.
A "golden age" is something like "a period in a field of endeavor when great tasks are accomplished" and it's a wildly subjective topic. I threw a lot back at him about how to measure this age's gildedness. "Do we have enough strong local labels for a golden age?" I asked. "Do labels hold the same level of importance that they once did?" he countered. And so on and so forth.
We also spoke a bit about whether or not Minnesota was a place that outsider musicians and music fans would flock to strictly for its draws in that area. Although the Minneapolis music scene was named second-best in the U.S. in this poll, which omitted most of the major music hotspots around the country, most people outside of the region I've spoken to seem to know more about our abundant bike paths than they do about Jordan Gatesmith's cocky stage banter or how oversaturated with rappers we might be.
On the one hand, a couple of the successful bands mentioned prominently in the story, Howler and Polica, are relatively new on the scene -- albeit with members who are veterans, in some cases. Roberts also mentions Doomtree and Trampled by Turtles, a couple of groups with a longer history who are undeniably at glistening points in their respective careers. Are these bands -- and a few others, like Now, Now, who get interviewed in the piece -- enough to look back at the early 2010s as a golden period? Perhaps, but it'll have to come a few years down the line when we're truly ready to look back.
Getting back to that longer answer I gave about our current golden age, it was pretty noncommittal. Everyone's personal golden age usually comes when they have the most time to attend shows -- and some disposable income to do so. For now, I was most comfortable saying that we have an all-time high of local music news sources -- blogs, newspapers, radio stations, and even venues -- contributing heavily to the local music conversation in nuanced ways. And then you have the added impact of social networking. Finding the local music that resonates with you is easier than it has ever been.
Put in another light, if you've got the time and some money in your wallet, there's no excuse to not experience the local music scene for what it is in 2012. When is the last time in Minnesota history that the statement wasn't true?
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