Andrea Swensson departs City Pages for the Current
It was almost four years ago now that I sat down at my new desk, opened up my new email account, and read a note from my new boss: "We need a name."
I was about to file my first in a series of stories that would fill the City Pages music section in the coming years, and we needed to figure out what to call the damn thing and set it apart from the din. It was around the period when the entire Replacements discography had been reissued, and I was listening to a lot of 'Mats at the time, especially gravitating toward the album Stink in all its vulgar, unfinished glory. When I pulled the CD off the shelf and ran my finger down the tracklisting, it became obvious: "Gimme Noise" was it.
At first Gimme Noise was the brand associated with my print column, a space where I could wax poetic about my musical musings and run interviews with local bands. But it wasn't long before I realized that I had more to say than a once-per-week, 800-word column could contain, and so did my vast, multiplying army of passionate freelancers. It only seemed natural, as the physical space of the print section grew tighter, that we start migrating our work online, but we certainly didn't have a master plan, and I certainly didn't realize I would end up leading the cavalry that became the Gimme Noise blog, Twitter feed, Facebook page, and mammoth Gimme Noise-branded banners that unspool across stages and behind merch tables around town.
Now that I am at the end of my journey with City Pages, there is a temptation to run down the laundry list of anecdotes I've accumulated while working as a music journalist—being called gay and getting my own personal "Fuck You" from Cee Lo Green; sitting in a hedge with Grant Hart at SXSW; cramming into tour vans with Solid Gold and Mark Mallman; lying in a flowery field with Haley Bonar. The list goes on and on. But those are stories for another time, because my career as a writer is, in many ways, just beginning. No, what I'm thinking about now is how proud I am of the work that has been done under the Gimme Noise name, and the village that sprang up around the silly little notion that there's enough happening in Twin Cities music that we can report several stories about it every single day of the year.
A couple of years ago, when I was the weekly guest on a webcast by former City Pages columnist and longtime radio host T.D. Mischke, I was asked to estimate just how many bands were performing actively in the metro area. I think Mischke was expecting me to say something like 100 or 200 bands, but I replied without hesitation that there are easily thousands, with new acts springing up every day.
Just last month, during a taping of The Local Show with my new employer, 89.3 the Current, host Dave Campbell asked his guests if we thought we were living through another golden age of Minnesota music. Without pause, Chris Riemenschneider from the Star Tribune, Ross Raihala from the Pioneer Press, and myself—all longtime documentarians of the local scene—nodded our heads and answered in a unanimous "yes."
Whether you believe the hype or not, it's a time of great prosperity in Minnesota music, and the many overlapping subgenres and micro-communities are pulsating with the same restless, relentless vitality. Where it was once common for musicians to hone their skills in the Cities before moving on to larger markets to prosper, now rappers like Astronautalis are migrating to the Twin Cities to take part in our vibrant community and reap the rewards of our homespun efforts. And now Northfield-born writer and editor Reed Fischer is following suit and making the brave decision to return to his homeland from Florida during the bitterest of months to take the reins as your new music editor and ringleader of all things Gimme Noise.
Today marks my last day with City Pages, and I'm happy to move aside and allow Reed to forge a new era of music coverage for a paper that has always remained a significant part of my life as a local music fan.
As for me? I think you'll still hear me humming these words from time to time: "I can't figure out/Music for boys ... Give it to me/Gimme noise, gimme noise, gimme noise."
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