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“Get Out Those Old Records” by Georgia Gibbs

free records 2 free records 1Yep, Sunday is not only Open Streets day here on East Lake Street, it’s also the day we clear out the storage space and let everyone dig through all the extra records. There’s sure to be a lot of Barbra Streisand records in all those boxes, but probably some gems as well. Some are things we see entirely too often, others are mostly good albums with a fatal flaw (like a scratch so bad it skips) which we can’t have in the shop. Many of these are records people have donated to our shop for this very purpose, to try and keep them out of the landfill just a little longer.

If you’ve dug through the free boxes at our Record Store Day block party each year, you know what to expect. This summer’s haul includes a large selection of Mantovani albums, goofy church records, and a collection of seventies rock and pop which was used by a cat to sharpen its claws! You don’t even have to bring any of them home, maybe you’ll just listen to our friends Tree Party who will be performing outside at 1pm and have a laugh over these relics of the past. Either way, this is your shining moment hoarders and collectors and crate diggers. See you Sunday for Open Streets East Lake!

Whatever you think about his films or his personal life, Woody Allen still has enough celebrity cachet to get away with the sort of indulgences we’ve come to expect. Reading this story in today’s Star Tribune about the seventy-nine year old filmmaker’s side gig as clarinetist leading a traditional jazz septet, we couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.

This weekend fancy folks will spend fifty to a hundred dollars to hear this self-described “terrible musician” at the State Theater simply because he’s a famous movie director, but the old saw which says you get what you pay for doesn’t apply in this case. New Orleans is not a museum showpiece to be preserved, and it doesn’t take star power to make it exciting to music lovers.

In the story, Allen inaccurately assumes only one in five million people would be familiar with New Orleans jazz. Writer Colin Covert describes the art form dismissively as “a simple, blunt, antique style,” which couldn’t be further from the truth — there is, in fact, a traditional album (The Hot Sardines’ self-titled second disc) on Billboard’s top jazz sellers list this week. People love this music and pick it up more quickly than we can find play-able records. Here at your friendly neighborhood record shop, we can’t keep good New Orleans jazz albums on the shelves!

 

You don’t have to look far or spend fifty dollars to find that New Orleans jazz is actually a complex, elegant and vibrant art form, familiar to far more than one ten-thousandth of the population. Perhaps if Covert can’t stick to writing his peremptory film reviews, he could take the time to check out the Southside Aces, whose regular second Thursdays gig at the Minneapolis Eagles Club #34 in our neighborhood offers the best New Orleans jazz for a mere five bucks.

And if you really want to hear some hot clarinets, you should have heard them this month when Butch Thompson sat in with the band. Regular player Tony Baluff is no slouch himself: check out the Ace’s take on Jimmy Noone’s “Japansy” on their latest album (below) or Baluff’s own original “Little Duke,” which opens the disc. We reviewed the record when it came out early this year, and its sure to be on our list of favorites in December.

Next month the Southside Aces are playing the music of Louis Armstrong, so expect to hear the best of trumpeter Zach Lozier and a lot of familiar, fantastic New Orleans tunes. The Minneapolis Eagles Club website is here, and the Aces calendar is here. We promise you’ll have more fun than spending a small fortune to see a movie star surround himself with ringers, and there’s a lot more room to dance at the Eagles than in the aisles of the State Theater.

This Sunday is “Open Streets” day on East Lake Street. The street will be closed from 11am to 5pm, so you’ll want to take 29th Street or 31st Street to get to visit your friendly neighborhood record shop. From the Open Streets website:

For the past five years, streets in Minneapolis have transformed to allow residents to experience their city in a whole new way — by bike, by skateboard, however they please. We call this Open Streets Mpls, and it has grown from one event in 2011 to eight in 2015 events all across the city!

We see Open Streets Mpls as the perfect chance to promote healthy living, local businesses, sustainable transportation and civic pride in Minneapolis. On multiple days throughout the year, we create miles of safe, car-free streets so that residents of all ages can walk, bike, shop, participate in spontaneous play activities, and get to know one another. 

We hope you’ll join us this year on a street in your own neighborhood, and enjoy it from a different perspective. Come wander the Open Streets and have some fun! You can even bring your dog.

And of course, it’s free!

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There will be all sorts of things on East Lake Street instead of the usual traffic, so you’re sure to have fun along the way if you choose to ride a bike or walk. We’re celebrating with some live music in front of the shop by Tree Party at 1pm. They’re of our favorite bands in town.

We’re also cleaning out the storage space and we’ll have thousands of FREE RECORDS out on the sidewalk, just like we do each year at the block party in April.

 

The second album is where push comes to shove, where you have to prove what you can really do. The Chinese say its time to “break the kettles and sink the boats,” literally do or die time at the Battle of Julu in the second century BC as recalled to this day in that phrase. And it might be, as it was for the army of the Chu and Xiang Ju, a turning of the tide.

These days a working band who wishes to write, work and record will find its members making enormous sacrifices, often placing that second project as a priority over the other things one ought be doing with their twenties. Maybe this is why so many bands never make a second album and why those who do develop greater depth and substance in the process.

Black Diet’s debut, Find Your Tambourine, wasn’t recalled with much enthusiasm by the group in Zack McCormack’s great Gimme Noise story about them this week, but its a disc we still put on pretty often here at Hymie’s. Yes, it feels a little like a merch table “rush job” and we recall members telling us about the challenge of coalescing what was then a fairly fresh band. We wish Tambourine were a little longer and sounded like less of a hodge podge, but we still placed it on our list of favorites of the year.

black diet good oneTambourine‘s true weakness implies Black Diet’s innate strength: the disc didn’t translate their stage presence with much success. Here’s a group who could explode into a celebration of pop so perfect you’d swear you’d heard it before the first time you saw them, and moments later smolder with soul so sweet you’d like to learn every word.

With The Good One, their second album out this weekend, we can finally welcome these moments into our living rooms or our earbuds. Here is what every band wants their second album to be, the turning of the tide which realizes all that yet untapped potential.

The Black Diet of The Good One is a world away from the band on their first single (which we debuted here just over two years ago). The disc is distinctly darker, helping the band effect a modern interpretation of the Stax Studio sound on “Brother” and “Do A Little Wrong,” while also exploring new wave with equal enthusiasm. Where these two impulses meet The Good One touches on magic. True to Piñata Records’ solid tradition, these retro leanings hardly define the album, as they’re blended and then pressed through a modern sieve. This is what keeps Black Diet connected to label-mates Southside Desire, who released their exceptional sophomore album last year. The Good One also often reminds us of one of our favorite albums of all time, Lambchop’s Nixon, which likewise revived retro leanings with enthusiasm and sincerity.

Black Diet sounds far more collaborative on The Good One, which allows for shining moments for percussionist David Tullis (especially in “Fever” and “The Last Person on Earth”) and Sean Schultz, who’s usual supporting role on organ gets a spotlight in “Loving Me Still” in the album’s most joyous solo. The band includes members of other local favorites we have posted here recently, including Black Market Brass (playing live at Hymie’s here) and What Tyrants (whose No Luck is so far our favorite album of the year). Tolliver still reminds us of a tougher Aaron Neville, but his range and expressiveness in The Good One is enormously expanded. There are stunning moment in “Find a New Love” where we realize how much he can sound like H.R., even if Black Diet is worlds apart from Bad Brains. There are also moments where Tolliver has the touching, earthy delivery of Bill Withers (even phrasing “I know, I know…” like Withers did in “Ain’t no Sunshine”). His interactions with backing vocalist Mugsy feel less forced than on Find Your Tambourine. consistently natural and moving (check out “Puddle Jumpers” for a sense of the band’s smoldering soul potential).

Black Diet’s increasingly independent sound is often founded on just the right touches by the lead guitar. We singled out guitarist Mitchell Sigurdson when we wrote about Tambourine last year, and on this album he is all the more inventive while also supportive of his bandmates. This is one of the things which separates Black Diet from other retro-soul acts.

So many things, in fact, distinguish Black Diet, we’re glad they’ve made the commitment to continue collaborating. their dynamism was on display when they released Find Your Tambourine here at our 2014 Record Store Day Block party and Tolliver turned trickling rain into theatrics by hopping from the stage to dance with a little boy in the crowd (Radio K photographer Shannon Glenn captured the moment here). The sextet’s capacity to captivate crowds along with back-to-back “best new band” wins (well deserved, we’d say) placed a lot of pressure on them to break after releasing an album, rather than break up, as it seemed for a while. With their second album they’ve lived up to every expectation.

The release show for The Good One by Black Diet is tomorrow, July 24th at First Avenue. Also performing are Southside Desire, Bloodshot Records’ distinctive soul act JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, and the uniquely Minnesotan country-rock Red Daughters. Details here.

The Declaration of Independence wasn’t actually signed on July 4th, although the final language was announced by the Continental Congress on this day in 1776.  The vote itself, inside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall (then known as the Pennsylvania State House) took place two days earlier. It made for a suspenseful scene in second episode of the miniseries John Adams — you can learn a lot more from cable television than you ever did in school.

The most remarkable part of the story is that nobody’s certain King George II ever received a copy. There There were about 200 broadsides produced by a Philadelphia printer (you know, keepin’ it local) John Dunlap.  There are 26 known copies today, including one recently found in England’s National Archives in Kew, and another found in a Pennsylvania garage sale. Whether or not an actual Declaration, listing grievances against the King, was ever delivered to his highness is highly uncertain.

This 1961 documentary album by Stan Freberg recreates the conversation between Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin as the thirty-one year old member of the Second Continental Congress traveled to Franklin’s home to get his signature on the Declaration of Independence.

Both Jefferson and Franklin were members of the “committee of five,” who were assigned the task of declaring independence from the British crown. The other members were JohnAdams, Roger Sherman and Roger Livingston — you can thank Livingston that you and we, here in Minneapolis, are part of these glorious United States, for it was he who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

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Adams had nominated Jefferson for the job of creating the Declaration’s first draft. The two became bitter political enemies over the course of their lives, only to reconcile through the encouragement of Dr. Benjamin Rush, who also signed the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd, 1776. The correspondence between Adams and Jefferson, now elder statesmen removed from the political fray, has provided historians with enormous insight into the United States’ formative years.

Adams and Jefferson both passed away on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826. Adams was at home in Quincy, Massachusetts, and Jefferson on his plantation at Monticello near Charlottesville, Virginia. They were preceded in death by Franklin (1790) and Rush (1813). The last surviving signer of the Declaration was Charles Carroll, who lived until 1832.

We hope you have a safe fourth of July as you pursue happiness. Your friendly neighborhood record store will be closing early at 5pm.

We’ve always offered a 15% discount on pride weekend, but with the recent Supreme Court decision it seems like this year it’s more special than ever.

Probably, there are more appropriate pride-themed records we could post but we’ve always been fans of the Dynamic Superiors. Lead singer Tony Washington expressed his homosexuality in a way which went beyond the fairly timid early 70s standards at Motown. The group waited a decade for their break, and didn’t waste it with several hit off the four albums they made for the label — all of which were ahead of their time. We think they’re the single most under-rated Motown group.

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 “Romeo”

Their biggest hit was “Shoe Shoe Shine” — one of the best new songs to come out of the seventies throwback to doo wop and vocal groups. This performance from Soul Train captures the group’s showmanship and old-fashioned devotion.

Our favorite Dynamic Superiors songs is “Nobody’s Gonna Change Me.” We never really understood why it hasn’t been adopted as an anthem, except that its not as catchy as “I Will Survive.” The group’s performances (check the choreography in that Soul Train appearance!) and class were legendary. Washington passed away in anonymity in the early 80s — we were told someone somewhere in Hollywood was working on a biopic about him.

In the meantime we have some records: four on Motown and one on another label. It wouldn’t be fair to pigeonhole the group as a “gay group,” but Washington is an unrecognized icon. Also, their albums were some of the best stuff Motown released in the mid 70s.

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“Nobody’s Gonna Change Me” by the Dynamic Superiors

The story in yesterday’s Star Tribune about Krista and James Botsford, the North Dakota couple who have refused to accept payment of $50,000 to allow the Sandpiper pipeline to pass through their land, had for us a David vs. Goliath feeling.

It also reminded us of the long battle in Minnesota over what was called the CU Project. This proposal to build high-voltage direct current power lines across several central Minnesota counties led to substantial protests from farmers. All were worried about future use of their land, its value, and the safety of the lines. Most of all, we wrote when first wrote about the events here on the Hymies blog, “middle-Minnesota residents felt their lives and land were being disrupted to serve urban populations.”

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“Pope County Blues” by Larry Long

The post went on: “Opposition to the CU Project led farmers to use ingenious guerrilla tactics – Construction sites were vandalized with tractors and farm tools. Trucks were used to block construction and their ignitions damaged. By 1978 incidents were increasingly serious – A crowd of a hundred or more farmers chased powerline crews from a worksite. Soon after, in the famous ‘Battle of Stearns County’ farmers sprayed state troopers with anhydrous ammonia. We are not making this up.

There were also nonviolent protests. Just a month later eight thousand people marched from Lowry to Glenwood in protest. Temperatures were below freezing. Regardless, the CU Project was ultimately completed nonetheless, using land owned by nearly 500 farmers, and the Coal Creek Station, which creates the power transmitted through the lines, is today the third largest producer of coal ash in the country. It is supplied by the Falkirk Mine in Underwood, North Dakota, one of the largest such operations in the country. It may be powering the computer on which you have just now listened to Larry Long’s song.

Other Minnesota folk singers wrote about the events (including Nancy Abrams, Dana Lyons and Charlie Broten) but Larry’s was the only recording we could find.

Whether someone will write a new song for the Botsfords fight against the Sandpiper pipeline seems unlikely to us — dramatic as they could be, court battles are hardly as exciting as protests. Like the Botsfords, who can trace the land’s legacy in their family back generations, we’re uncomfortable with the precedent set by the State of North Dakota using eminent domain law to force the family to comply.

Historically, these controversial provisions have been used to serve the public good, usually in the form of utilities. They seem increasingly to be used to further private interests, as in several cases here in the Twin Cities. Does it truly serves the public good for North Dakota Pipeline Co. to run $2.6 billion worth of line through three states to deliver Bakken fracking oil to Superior, Wisconsin? We have pretty simple lives here in the Longfellow neighborhood, and we’re glad to pay more for the little gas we use, the airplane tickets we rarely buy, and so on — especially if it means we’ll continue to live in a country with family farms.

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