Ipso Post-Facto

The Brothers McFarlane: Ipso Facto gave Minnesota the world
Daniel Corrigan

The most popular reggae band ever to emerge from the Minnesota tundra has just released a greatest hits package, The Best of Ipso Facto (Mouthpiece), and will perform a reunion/farewell/CD-release show this Saturday at O'Gara's in St. Paul. The rock-style reggae band was formed more than 15 years ago by three brothers, Wain, Juju, and Greg McFarlane. Raised in Worthington, Minn., by a Jamaican father who loved reggae and an African-American mother who loved gospel, the siblings sewed their influences into a danceable pop hybrid, and toured with everyone from UB40 to Tracy Chapman before gradually drifting apart in recent years.

The other siblings left the band's moniker to Wain, who continued with other musicians in recent years, before setting it aside to focus on his new pop-rock outfit Zydeco Blue. "I still think world music is big and important, but it's just not as big here in the Cities," he says. McFarlane describes his new material, which he developed during a three-year stay in Hawaii, as "straight-up American rock 'n' roll," and the band should diverge even further from reggae than Ipso's rock-like shows.

With the era of Black Rock Coalition bands like Living Colour over, Wain says he's returning to a club scene that's dramatically changed from the roaring '80s that bore Ipso. "The black scene has disappeared," he says. "There's certainly no black club for black local music." (Call 644-3333 for more information on Ipso Facto's last show.)

Thursday Night Videos

Perhaps you're a fan of Yo La Tengo, Everything But the Girl, Superchunk, Stereolab, or Cornelius, and you're eager to see one of their videos. Well, up until now that's been pretty near impossible around these parts. MTV plays fewer vids than ever these days, and its all-music-video affiliate M2 remains unavailable to cable customers in the Twin Cities. So it's not surprising that cable access should fill the void with various locally produced shows airing national and local bands that don't make it on the music channels' skimpy playlist.

Earl Root's heavy-metal video show, The Root of All Evil,is still going strong on MTN Channel 33 in Minneapolis (Tuesdays at 10 p.m.) and SPNN Channel 33 in St. Paul (Thursdays at 11 p.m.). You'll find Kiss's new video here, but not on MTV--apparently the network returned the tape to the band. And Root's director, Jim Francis, also produces the local music variety show, TC Musique, airing live on Channel 33 in Minneapolis every Thursday at 8:30 p.m.

And now Radio K (KUOM, 770 AM) has entered the fold, launching its own cable-access show, Video K, airing Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. in St. Paul on SPNN (Channel 33) and Thursdays at 10 p.m. in Minneapolis on MTN (also Channel 33). Sporting videos by all the bands mentioned above, the half-hour show also mixes in rarely seen vids by locals such as Polara and Likehell, plus rare cult items by everyone from ska legends Madness to this year's hip-hop bonus babies, Black-Eyed Peas. The premier episode features no VJs, but does show alt-rockers 12 Rods preening through a surreal, big-production video for "Split Personality," which alternately sells and lampoons their sex appeal. Given the low cost of cable access, maybe the arrival of a Radio K-run music video network isn't far off.

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