Ever since seeing my first show at the Cedar Cultural Center on the West Bank, I have held it in high regard as one of my favorite non-rock venues in the Twin Cities. In addition to providing audiences with impeccable sound, the venue has a longstanding tradition of showcasing an eclectic array of highly talented and renowned musicians from around the world.
Much of the Cedar's history and reputation can be attributed to Artistic Director Bill Kubeczko, who has worked at the venue for a large portion of its almost 20-year existence. Yesterday, the Cedar announced that Kubeczko has resigned from his position.
"He just felt that it was time," said Executive Director Rob Simonds in an email. "15 and 1/2 years is a helluva long time, and it's a very high-pressure job. He had told me years ago that he hoped he wouldn't be here for our 20th anniversary, and that's coming up."
To commemorate Kubeczko's service to the Cedar and to the music community at large, here is an excerpt from the 1995 City Pages Artists of the Year issue, in which Will Hermes penned an ode to the then-new Cedar employee:
Since taking the helm of what was essentially a sinking ship in 1993, Kubeczko has transformed the Cedar from a mismanaged, moribund performance hall into an internationally recognized world music club. It hasn't been easy. First there was the massive debt inherited from the previous regime. Then the collapsed air-conditioning system. Then two office robberies in one week. Then a mortally wounded heating-oil tank. But through it all, he never lost sight of his priority: Bringing to the Twin Cities the best musicians from around the globe, and making them feel as comfortable as possible given his limited resources. In the past that's meant putting artists up at his home (some, like British guitar great John Renbourne, for days at a time), showing them the sights (like spending an afternoon with Mali's road-weary Ali Farka Toure at Minnehaha Falls), or dealing with disasters (driving to nearly every music shop in town when the musicians in Brazilian superstar Marisa Monte's band arrived to find their delicate traditional instruments destroyed in shipping). Even the little things--flowers onstage for Canada's McGarrigle Sisters, a favorite red wine for Irish folkies Altan--get done religiously, the idea being that the best concert experiences happen when everyone feels at home. Judging from this year's embarrassment of musical riches, it's been working.