Live Letters celebrates one-year anniversary tonight

Live Letters celebrates one-year anniversary tonight
Photo by Sara Montour

One year ago, Sara Montour and Steve Korf launched Live Letters, a brand that documents local music around town and also hosts small, intimate house shows at Montour's loft. Since Live Letters started, it has gained notoriety in small groups of fans and amongst musicians around Minneapolis as one of the cities' best-kept secrets.

The house shows provide an experience for both concert-goers -- who get to see a band in a new light, without the barriers of a traditional concert experience -- and the musicians, who have the freedom to experiment with a different format and truly connect with their audience. It's the sort of thing that calls for a community to be built around it, and that's just what Live Letters has fostered.

This evening, Montour and Korf will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of Live Letters with a special show, featuring a stunning lineup from Ben Lubeck (Farewell Milwaukee), Ben Weaver, Brianna Lane, Chris Koza, Danny O'Brien (The Farewell Circuit), the Ericksons, Hannah von der Hoff, James Diers (Halloween, Alaska), John Mark Nelson, and Jonathan Sunde (The Daredevil Christopher Wright). We caught up with Montour ahead of the show to talk about how Live Letters has grown over the last twelve months.

Gimme Noise:Tell me about how Live Letters started. Sara Montour: Live letters originally started the concept... Steve Korf is the other half of Live Letters. We were going to concerts together for like ten years, and I've been shooting photos, and he does audio recordings. We talked forever about collaborating on one website that housed his recordings and my photos, and kind of on a side note we also had the idea to host smaller concerts and recreate the concert experiences that mean the most to you -- like when you go to a show and you walk away being like, "Holy shit, that was amazing." We kind of broke that down into what was most amazing for us, and it was like the artist does something different, like they jump down and the artist feels like they're part of something, and that all kind of added up to hosting sort of like small concerts. That's kind of an overview. You're at a point now where Live Letters is a pretty established thing. How does it make you feel?

It's kind of crazy. Steve and I have been talking about how it's already been a year and it's only been a year -- this thing that we kind of only dreamed about. It's been a far-off thing and it's already been 11 shows, and it's exciting. I'm glad that people are really connecting to it, and the artists are connecting to it. There's this cool community that's kind of built around it. If you had to briefly explain Live Letters to someone who was unfamiliar with your concept, what would you say?

Basically, I tell people that Live Letters is a passion project, and as a whole, the umbrella of it is documenting the music and live experience and stuff like that, and then part of that are these live shows, these small house shows. It's like, literally walking into my house. You walk into my house, I make you cookies and tea and coffee and whatever, and you sit with a bunch of rad people and watch some amazing musicians that are able to let their guard down a little bit and have the freedom to do whatever they want.

LIVE LETTERS presents // The Farewell Circuit - "We were Wolves" from Chris Wegner on Vimeo.

What do you see happening for Live Letters in the long term?

We're growing it. We're gonna keep doing what we have here for as long as we can. We're also looking at collaborating with some places around town that are not traditional venues that could be perfect for music, and also talking to more national bands about small sets before or after their shows or the next day or whatever, like an acoustic set or a smaller set at our space. There are also some different things with documenting, like locally documenting things that are happening around town. How has this affected your life and the way you enjoy music?

It's taken over a little bit, but that's all right. In terms of how I enjoy music... We're kind of creating our ideal concert scenario, so for me, it has this weird after effect of like, whenever I go to venue shows I'm like, "Oh, I wish this was in my living room."

It's still amazing. If anything, I guess, it's given me appreciation for the musicians around town even more, the music I already love. It helps push it a little bit. They're really, really connecting to it, and telling other musicians that they have to play at our place and stuff, and so providing something that people actually want and need, and that's important. I'm putting a lot of time in and it's worth it if the musicians are actually getting something out of it.

The Live Letters One-Year Anniversary Show is taking place this evening. There are a handful of tickets left available for purchase here. Tickets are $10. Doors at 7 p.m. The location will be revealed with a ticket purchase.

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