Here’s some of the pictures people have sent us from yesterday’s block party. We’ll have more to share by and by, but right now we’ve got to start cleaning up.
Thanks to everyone who was here. It was a really wonderful day.
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Here’s some of the pictures people have sent us from yesterday’s block party. We’ll have more to share by and by, but right now we’ve got to start cleaning up.
Thanks to everyone who was here. It was a really wonderful day.
We’ve unpacked and organized all of this year’s special Record Store Day releases (and in spite of what Dave said to The Star Tribune, we’ll have copies of the A-ha single). There were more titles than ever before this year, and we have the largest selection of special releases we’ve ever had for the event.
We have it all organized and we’ll do our best to let you know how many copies we’ll have available if you give us a call or email today.
In addition to setting aside some gems for the day — including the cache of Replacements albums at the left — we’ve got some giveaways from our neighborhood comic book shop, Nostalgia Zone, and from Red House Records, who brought us a whole box of 45s by Charlie Parr, whose new album next week will be his first for the label.
The folks at Modern Radio Records also have a special single, which we’ll have for sale in limited quantities: It’s a reissue of the ultra-rare single by Smart Alex, a legendary late 70s Minneapolis band. Modern Radio only made 100 copies of the reissue!
As we have in the past, there will also be thousands of free records on 39th Avenue. Boxes and boxes, more than we can count and surely more than we want to haul around ever again — we just can’t toss ‘em out. Sure, there’s an awful lot of Mitch Miller in there, but also a gem or two hidden just for fun. You know you can resist digging a little — you’ll probably even find an A-ha single!
What we’re most excited about is the bill of live music this year, which is split between returning friends and acts new to our annual block party. On Monday we featured the Dumpy Jug Bumpers, who are not only making their Hymie’s debut tomorrow but are releasing their first album, too. We’ve also got both the bands whose records we’ll be releasing later this year — Jack Klatt and Whiskey Jeff and the Beer Back Band!
Once again the one and only DJ Truckstashe will be providing music in between sets. This year you’ll also be able to enjoy drinks and food outside at Peppers & Fries, our new neighbors across 39th Avenue who are as excited for the event as we are. If you haven’t already visited them we hope you’ll try out East Lake’s latest awesome restaurant!
And now a word from our sponsors…
We couldn’t put together this block party year after year without help. We’d like to thank Pabst Blue Ribbon and Radio K for their ongoing support. You’ll find the Radio K crew here again this year — you can always count on them to support local music.
Across the street at the Frattallone’s Ace Hardware they’ll once again have activities for kids, including a bouncy castle and, by popular demand, the return of Terry Odegaard’s World of Reptiles from 11AM to 2PM.
Sound for our fifth annual block party is provided by Mother of All Music, and most of the tables and tents we use on 39th Avenue are provided by our East Lake neighbors, Northern Sun. Posters for the event were created by two of our vendors, Vinyl Afterlife and Dwitt.
People make a lot of jokes about the weird things Minnesotans do to survive the long, cold winters, although we’re so used to weird around your friendly neighborhood record shop that there’s not a lot left to surprise us. One tradition which has over more than three decades become a local institution is the Minneapolis Battle of the Jug Bands.
The rules are fairly simple: Your band gets 20 minutes. Your band has to include at least three traditional jug band instruments instruments — examples include jugs (duh), comb & tissue (ie, kazoo), washboard, washtub bass, spoons, etc. No electrified instruments. The competition for the coveted Holliwood Waffle Iron provides for a weekend of rowdy fun split over a couple West Bank bars.
Each year’s bill reads like a “funny band name” list — last year’s included The She Goats, The Hump Night Thumpers, The West Bank Temperance League and Show Me Your Jugs, for instance. Few of these pickup groups play regular gigs — although a striking exception is two-time winners of the Waffle, The Roe Family Singers, who have been playing every Monday night at the 331 Club for nearly a decade. The Minneapolis Battle of the Jug Bands has grown in recent years, in terms of the crowd and the number of contestants. It’s even the subject of an upcoming documentary (though we can’t say the trailer has us enticed to make it our once-a-year trip to the movies).
“She Broke my Heart in 3 Places”
One veteran of the annual event is the Dumpy Jug Bumpers, who have been playing a lot of show — just last month they had two residencies, one at Fulton Brewery’s Tap Room and one at the 331 Club. Their debut disc, Dumpin’ at the Savoy, will celebrate its release this weekend at our fifth annual Record Store Day Block Party, where the Bumpers will be joined by fourteen other awesome acts in a fun-filled full day of live music on two stages.
Dumpin’ at the Savoy is a lively tour of string and jug band esoterica. Nearly everything on the album comes from the twenties and thirties. The songs come from folks like the Mississippi Sheiks and the Hoosier Hot Shots, a big little jug band which enjoyed an extraordinary half-century run on records and in film and influenced none other than the man who murdered music himself, Spike Jones. Others are from lesser-known sources, like “Take A Look at that Baby,” a kazoo-y tune first recorded by the Two Poor Boys in the late 20s.
Some of the songs had a short hippy revival, like Gus Cannon’s “Viola Lee Blues,” written by his harmonica player Noah Lewis in 1928 and recorded by the Grateful Dead as an extended jam on their first LP. Still don’t confuse their “Take a Look at that Baby” with John Fahey’s song (he just used the title) or their “If You Don’t Want me Don’t Dog Me ‘Round” (originally the “Alabama Blues”) with J.B. Lenoir’s alarmingly contemporary 1965 song, “Alabama Blues.” The thing about traditional music is it’s not as static as the sticks in the mud would like. Titles come and go, and jug band music is a magically informal format.
Even their name is flexible: You can rearrange the letters and always come up with something fun. The Dumpy Jug Bumpers, The Juggy Dump Buggers, The Buggy Jump Duggers. Drew Temperante tells us the band evolved out of Alas, Alas, a great band which rarely plays because its members are scattered around the country. Hymie’s first heard Alas, Alas through our friends in El Le Faunt and his Travelling Circus, and we were lucky enough to once host a memorable Alas, Alas show around the holidays.
Teperante goes on to explain how the band went through nearly a dozen players before settling on its current line-up last fall, in which he’s joined by Tom Phelan on the harmonicas, Aaron ‘Muskrat’ Barck on the parlor guitar, kazoo and all-essential jug, and bassist Liz Draper. Rather than a jug band, the Dumpers consider themselves “a string band on the more blue, jazz and ragtime end of the spectrum,” he explains. “We pay close attention to detail in trying to emulate the feel in all these styles, including the classic jug band sounds, and tha’ts something we strive for as a band, whichever style song we’re playing.”
There’s an awesome revival of what we called “the good stuff” (in our post about Patty & the Buttons’ XXX hokum album) — folks are discovering songs nearing their centennial and giving them a new spin. The Twin Cities is full of bands playing traditional folk and blues, but enthusiasm for tunes from this era has been a growing nationally for years. The commercially-acclaimed Carolina Chocolate Drops have featured Charlie Poole’s “Milwaukee Blues” and our favorite Gillian Welch song (“Wayside/Back in Time” from Soul Journey) borrows lines from “Peaches in the Springtime” — They might not seem like it at first, but the Jumpy Bug Dumpers aren’t so far behind the times.
Of course, one thing which makes Dumpin’ at the Savoy especially fun is the band’s single original, “I Got the Stuff.” Just like Patty and the Buttons and so many other local favorites of ours, the Dumpys fit a new tune into a set of old ones seamlessly. We were genuinely surprised it was a new song!
“I Got the Stuff”
When we asked if the band would bring in more new songs, Temperante said they’ve been writing new material since recording Dumpin’ at the Savoy, but they’ll continue to focus on the making the original numbers fit in with the old stuff. “Learning the old songs is just so fun for us. We love the music so much we want to learn it and play it and make it exist beyond just the old recordings. It feels different than covering a contemporary song. It doesn’t feel like covering a song at all actually. It feels like the old songs are something we all own now, as a part of American cultural heritage.”
Our friend the Southside Aces perform at the Minneapolis Eagles Club #34 on the second Thursday of each month (hence the title of their new disc earlier this year, which we featured here). To keep their arrangements lively and exciting for all the dancers and jazz fans, they chose from the catalog of traditional jazz performers and composers. Last month, for instance, they played songs by Jelly Roll Morton.
Tonight’s featured artist is cornetist Wild Bill Davison, who lived into his eighties but early on earned the nickname Wild Bill for his drinking and womanizing. His playing was equally explosive, though he showed a sensitive side by releasing two very lyrical albums accompanied by strings in the 1950s.
Davison made his debut on record in the 20s. He was in the auto accident on Leap Day 1932 which killed trumpeter Frank Teschemacher, and spent several years afterwards living in Milwaukee. Davison became known to most dixieland fans through his appearances with Eddie Condon’s band starting around 1945, and continued to tour and lead bands for the rest of his life. Like many traditional jazz musicians, he spent a lot of time in Europe after the 1950s.
Here is Davison performing one of our favorite Jelly Roll Morton tunes, “Wolverine Blues,” from a mid-50s session for Jazztone Society which features a fairly unknown band who rise to the occasion.
The Southside Aces will perform the music of Wild Bill Davison and others tonight at the Minneapolis Eagles Club #34, starting at 8pm. There’s a $5 cover which also gets you a raffle ticket, with which you can win some great records.
Last December we took pride in posting about the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra’s 1958 recording of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, which is a remarkable record for both artistic and technical reasons. Fans of Tchaikovsky are certain to have recordings of the Minneapolis Symphony (today the Minnesota Orchestra) in their collection –in addition to making the first recordings of the 1812 Overture to include the bells and cannons as originally composed (in mono in 1954 and stereo on that second recording), the Minneapolis Symphony produced the first complete recordings of the composers three magnificent ballets.
All of these recordings were made for Mercury Records during Antal Dorati’s eleven year residency as the Orchestra’s conductor — he is often regard as one of the finest interpreters of Tchaikovsky’s music on record, later conducting recordings of all six symphonies with the London Philharmonic, but the recordings he made at our own Northrop Auditorium are still regarded as some finest you’ll ever find. You have likely seen a copy of their 1812 Overture since there are more than a million of them out there. The gold record awarded by the RIAA hangs today in the office of current musical director Osmo Vänskä.
Because we are the best place to live in the entire world, the Twin Cities is home to not one but two world-class orchestras. The other is the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, which is the only full-time professional chamber orchestra in the United States. The SPCO is every bit as awesome as the Minnesota Orchestra — each has in the past decade or so tackled the monumental task of performing Beethoven’s nine symphonies, and each has made many albums which are both best-sellers and critically acclaimed.
As the Minnesota Orchestra was, in its Minneapolis Symphony days, associated with Tchaikovsky’s three ballets, the SPCO has a deep connection to one written by another composer. It happens to be one of our favorite pieces of American music.
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s July 1979 recording of Aaron Copland’s ballet Appalachian Spring was awarded the Grammy award for best chamber music performance, an honor only slightly sullied when then two-year-old Kanye West insisted it be taken away and given to Beyonce. Its a beautifully paced interpretation of the ballet, and a uniquely-engineered recording, making it of enduring interest to collectors. The record was made at the Sound 80 studio here in our neighborhood, overseen by engineer Tom Jung. The conductor was Dennis Russell Davies, a Juilliard graduate who spent eight years directing the SPCO, and is currently with the Symphony Orchestra in Basal in Switzerland.
On the flip side is presented Three Places in New England, one of Charles Ives’ most popular and distinctive pieces. That same July, the SPCO also recorded Schubert’s fifth symphony, and a third album by jazz group Flim and the BB’s was produced using the same 50.4 kHz digital recorder as a alternate to the intended direct-to-disc lathe. These three records are the earliest digital recordings made at Sound 80, and among the first digital recordings made for commercial release anywhere.
All three are of interest to audiophiles and record collectors, but the SPCO recording of Appalachian Spring is also a welcome return-to-form for the fine piece as well, as it is presented in Copland’s original instrumentation for a small chamber orchestra of thirteen musicians. While it had been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Music after its debut in 1944, it is usually performed in an a weightier re-orchestration first composed soon after and popularized by Leonard Bernstein.
Copland himself conducted a revival of the original arrangement a few years earlier, commissioned by Columbia Records as part of its hit-or-miss “Copland Conducts Copland” series, a recording which likewise captures the earthy appeal unheard in the overlarge orchestra suite. As originally planned, his the ballet — which a bemused Copland often remarked was not inspired by the rolling mountains of Appalachia — presents a pastoral setting characterized by an inspiring sense of community and optimism. It is, along with his other ballets and his incidental music for Our Town, definitive Americana, while also something very much like our own version of Beethoven’s sixth symphony.
Until it was suggested he borrow its title from a Hart Crane poem, the piece was simply his Ballet for Martha, as he was working with legendary choreographer Martha Graham. In short it is the story of a congregation building a farmhouse for a pair of Pennsylvania newlyweds. Graham had commissioned Copland’s composition for a performance in the hall inside the Library of Congress, and its size determined his decision to arrange it for a small chamber orchestra. Like what we learned looking into the history of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture when posting the Minneapolis Symphony’s recording, the final score was influenced by utterly pedestrian circumstances.
The SPCO has performed Appalachian Spring as recently as on year ago, where it was conducted by Steven Schick (a recording of which you can hear here). Their original recording with Dennis Russell Davies on the Sound 80 record remains a monumental moment in Minnesota music, in many ways just as remarkable as the Dorati recordings which put the Minneapolis Symphony on the map in the fifties.
This weekend the SPCO will be performing Schubert’s Quartet in D Minor, Death and the Maiden, along with other pieces featuring violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. There is a free open rehearsal tomorrow afternoon.
We’re very excited to welcome Tuscon, Arizona folk singer Karima Walker to the shop for a performance on Wednesday night. She will be joined by Sterling Roots and Crow Call, one of our favorite local traditional groups. Today’s post is for them. Details about the show can be found on our events page here, and on Facebook here.
Crows lent their latin name to the constellation Corvus, a quadrilateral pattern seen in the southern hemisphere near Virgo and Hyrda. Its largest star is Algorab, which is the Arabic word for crow. Writing in The Fixed Stars and Constellations in 1923, Vivian Robson characterizes the star by its “destructiveness, malevolence, fiendishness, repulsiveness and lying.”
Crows have been with us since the dawn of history — Ovid claimed it was Apollo’s ire which made their feathers black, and aboriginals in Australia believed the birds performed the promethean task of the theft of fire itself. Crows are, in some ways, second to dogs as our first friends — although they remain distant relatives. Recent studies have proven crows can recognize and recall individual human faces. Its possible they can report to others the worst of us — crows may be one of the very few non-human animals capable of displacement, meaning they can communicate about things that are happening in a different spatial or temporal place than their current location. Crows can tell stories.
Creatures in the corvus genus has one of the highest measurements of relative brain size in the world (this is called the encephalization quotient, in case you’re wondering). In fact, we’re finding crows to be a smarter and smarter the more we study them, even capable of understanding causality, as demonstrated in this experiment.
While it was once believed crows lived for centuries, their actual lifespan is about twenty years — a captive crow named Tata was believed to be fifty-nine when he died in 2006, as reported in the Washington Post. Most crows are monogamous, and offspring remain with a breeding pair for several years to help protect the nest from raccoons, snakes and cats. Their communal roosts, commonly called a murder, can include as many as tens of thousands of birds. The poor residents of Danville, Illinois are believed to be outnumbered 4-to-1 by crows.
Crows are naturally curious and playful, clear signs of their intelligence. They will often toy with inedible objects such as litter, but they do not steal and collect shiny objects as is sometimes said. They would best be described as scattered hoarders, since they don’t keep their treasures in a single location such as a nest.
Inventor Joshua Klein presented a vending machine for crows at a technology conference in 2008. The crows would learn to pick up garbage and receive a treat in exchange. The indigenous crows on the island of New Calendonia create their own tools for extracting insects. Hooded crows in Israel have learned to use bread crumbs as fishing bait. Farmers have crafted a variety of traps to test the intelligence of crows for centuries, creating the anecdote of the counting crow. No account suggests any corvus could count as high as seven, however, as in the last song on the Counting Crows’ first album, August and Everything After.
“A Murder of One”
The band likely takes its name not from crows who count, but from a once-familiar nursery rhyme. One could count crows to receive a premonition of the future. Here is one variation, which you’ll recognize reflected in the song.
One for sorrow, two for mirth,
Three for a wedding, four for a birth,
Five for silver, six for gold,
Seven for a secret not to be told.
Eight for heaven, nine for hell,
And ten for the devil’s own self.
Given the crow’s role in human mythology and superstition, it’s not surprising they appear frequently in our music. For instance, one of the strangest songs on the early Dylan albums is “Black Crow Blues,” notably for being the first on which he accompanied himself on the piano.
“Black Crow Blues” by Bob Dylan
Its surprising how the song presages Dylan’s sound from the late sixties and early seventies, where his jaunty and idiosyncratic piano style steps to the fore. That an alternate version more in the style of the other songs on Another Side of Bob Dylan was left on the cutting room floor suggests he was already interested in expanding the range of folk music as early as his second album.
Fans of local music surely remember Crow, the bluesy rock band from the late 60s whose early hit “Evil Woman” was covered by Black Sabbath. Crow has broken up and reunited several times over the years. The cover of their second LP, Crow by Crow, depicts a gigantic crow as a member of the band.
A “black bird” plays a lead role in the second song on Brian Laidlaw’s extraordinary concept album about Bonnie and Clyde, Amoratorium. A crow is seen on the cover of the album.
“Know my Rider” by Brian Laidlaw
The crows in Walt Disney’s Dumbo were endowed with wit and insight, and while it has been suggested by some that their appearance is representative of endemic racism in classic Disney cartoons, it should be noted they are the only characters besides Timothy the Mouse who treat Dumbo with kindness. The tragic singer Cliff Edwards performed the lead on their song, “When I See an Elephant Fly.”
This last song is from Crow Call, who inspired this little expedition into the spooky awesomeness of our black feathered friends.
They’ve described this song from their self-titled debut disc as being “about crows as messengers, being aware of their presence as harbingers in our lives and listening to what they have to tell us.” We chose Crow Call as one of our favorite local albums of 2014, but our previous posts about the disc have hardly hit on its eerie darkness. “They Know” is a fine example of how their music feels like Black Sabbath if filtered through Charlie Parr.
“They Know” by Crow Call
Wednesday night’s show here at Hymie’s starts at 7pm and features The Sterling Roots, Crow Call, and Karima Walker from Tuscon AZ. While shows at Hymie’s are usually free, we are asking for a $5 donation since there is a touring artist on the bill.
Five years ago we moved the record shop five blocks east, and we’ve celebrated the anniversary each year with a block party on 39th Avenue! It also happens to be Record Store Day.
Saturday April 18th we’ll present fourteen of the best bands in town on two stages, and welcome a wide variety of local artists to set up on the street outside the building we share with the Blue Moon Cafe. We’ll have an awesome selection of special, limited-edition Record Store Day releases, plus all kinds of rare records we’ve been saving for the occasion.
Our new neighbors, Peppers & Fries, will be providing delicious scratch-made burgers and burritos, as well as pouring tasty pints on their patio across 39th Avenue. What’s more our old friends at the Frattallone’s Ace Hardware across Lake Street will have all kinds of fun, family-friendly activities.
Once again the awesome sounds on stage will be mixed by Mother of All Music, and the one and only DJ Truckstashe will spin every jam you can imagine between sets, and those local music lovin’ folks from Radio K will be here too!
As we’ve done in the past we’ll be clearing out the storage space and put crates n’ crates of FREE RECORDS on 39th Avenue!
Best of all will be the bands…there’s not a single person performing this year we wouldn’t call a friend, and there’s not a single act we wouldn’t call one of the best in town. Here’s what you’ve been waiting for, our Record Store Day 2015 lineup…
Once again, that’s Saturday April 18th. Free live music on two stages throughout the day, plus crates n’ crates of special Record Store Day releases!
“Record Machine” by Pennyroyal