R.T. Rybak: My motto is, "Party like you can't be impeached"

R.T. Rybak: My motto is, "Party like you can't be impeached"
Photo by Erik Hess

Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak is counting down the final days of his run in office, and is throwing a bash at First Avenue to say goodbye. He's enlisted Dave Simonett from Trampled by Turtles, Chastity Brown, Francis and Liam from Strange Names, Devon Gray, and DJ Shannon Blowtorch to amp up the sendoff.

Since 2001, he's been vocal in his support for local music, has been a fixture at concerts, and he even introduced Strange Names at City Pages' 10 Thousand Sounds festival earlier this year. His proclamations have honored Har Mar Superstar, Trampled by Turtles, Doomtree, the Suicide Commandos, and Slim Dunlap. But makes it clear in this chat with Gimme Noise that he couldn't stay connected to the music community here all by himself.

Why did you decide on this format for a farewell bash?

Mayor R.T. Rybak: We wanted to say goodbye, but I didn't want to do anything stuffy. Once we laid that out, it was pretty clear the ideal place to have it would be First Avenue. Thankfully, they said yes. We wanted to have an informal place for people to have a good time. Andy Holmaas is the secret to why people mistakenly call me hippest mayor in America. He's my press person, and the unofficial minister of culture in our office. He made it happen, really. Andy's a musician by trade, goes to many concerts, and tells an unhip mayor what's really going on in the community.

What has it been like to work with the vibrant music community as your backdrop?

Minneapolis-St. Paul gets great credit for being an arts center, but sleeping giant of our cultural community is local music. I was lucky enough to be just coming of age when the Minneapolis sound was hot, and I would be at First Avenue three to four nights a week for a couple years. I'm an older, squarer middle-aged guy now, but I have a huge appreciation for what the music community has done for who we are. I also think there's a through-line between local music, local beer, local food, and local bikes. All are about creating a vibe. Austin has gotten a long way by being seen as a music capitol and more. The reality is that our community has dramatically more potential. We need to do a better job of telling our story. Anyone who thinks I'm done promoting local music doesn't know me very well. I'm not buried yet.

R.T. Rybak: My motto is, "Party like you can't be impeached"
Photo by Tony Nelson

 Are you planning to launch another one of your now-legendary stage dives during the bash?

At my farewell at First Avenue, do you actually think I'd do a stage dive? I guess we'll have to see how the night goes.

What about singing?

I was planning on about a 45-minute policy address, but Andy talked me out of it. I'll talk for just a couple minutes. The promise that I make for everyone is that I will not sing. As for everything else, my motto is, "Party like you can't be impeached." I hope others also take that literally. It'll be a real kick-ass good time. I turned to Andy, and asked can I say "kick-ass"? I can't really be impeached and he can't be fired, so this is dangerous.

The other thing that's really important is that we wanted this to be a benefit for my favorite charity, the Step-Up Summer Job Program. We kept the price very low so that everyone could get in. Instead of doing a big, black-tie dinner where a limited number of people could pay a bunch of money to rub elbows with the mayor for the last time, everybody could be part of that. So we kept the ticket prices at $7. I hope that what people do is come and consider writing a check to Step-Up or create a summer job next year. We're pitching that we kept the price low, but we want people to consider offering a job to a kid next summer.

When are you unemployed?

January 2, at 1:45 p.m., the inauguration ends. At 1:46 p.m., I take my cardboard box south and start my new job. I'll be unemployed for about three minutes. I plan to take a three-block stroll through downtown Minneapolis. I'm going to be executive director at Generation Next.

Mayor R.T. Rybak's Unauguration Party. $7, 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday, December 18, at First Avenue. Info here.

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