An Evening at Torch

Live music doesn’t have to be about huge arenas and screaming fans or late nights at crowded rock clubs.  Sometimes it’s about connection.   I recently had the pleasure of attending an event at Torch, a new performing arts space in Minneapolis that puts the audience-artist connection at the forefront of the experience.  It’s a great space with a strong vision, and I am excited to see what’s next there.

I caught the final date in the Raw Deal concert series that ran on Sunday evenings in December and January.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect at Torch, but I couldn’t help but smile when I walked in to find friendly faces and the smell of brownies baking.  “Homespun” is the way it is described on the web site, and I think that describes it well.  Torch has a homespun feel to it in the most complimentary way possible.  This is a venue where you introduce yourself to your fellow audience members and you talk about what brought you there.  It’s a venue where you can, not only meet the artist, but also have a conversation with them.  When the show started, we all paid attention.

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Hannah von der Hoff performed first.  Her bluesy style radiated warmth and fit perfectly with the setting.  There was no set list.  The audience drew the song names from a couple of hats, which kept things conversational and open.

Matt Latterell closed the night with songs that told stories.  His album Life on Land has been in regular rotation on the playlist at our house for a while, and my husband and I were happy to have the opportunity to see him perform in a venue like  this one.

Monday Morning Music with Falcon Arrow

falconarrowMy partner and I don’t agree on everything. But we do agree on post-rock. Friday night we were out together without the five year-old for the first time a what felt like a long time, but it wasn’t really a date night. His band was playing that night and celebrating the release of a split EP, so he was busy with last minute details for the show and networking–the life of a local rock star is a glamorous one–while I enjoyed the music.

Falcon Arrow, a local post-rock duo, opened the show. They have been around for a couple of years, but they were new to me. And I loved it. When I re-connected with Chad later in the evening, he had procured a Falcon Arrow CD. It seems we still have something in common, after all. :)

Check out Falcon Arrow on Bandcamp for their latest. Here’s a video from the album:

Want to be in a band?

wanttobe

I came across Want to be in a Band? at work recently as I was going through some new picture books, and I paused.  It isn’t often you find a picture book that is one part memoir, one part instruction manual for the music industry.  And it’s illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators?!  Love.

I wasn’t familiar with Suzzy Roche of the family folk-band The Roches before this book.  I’ll add it to the list of trivia I have learned from my work in the book industry.  In any case, Ms. Roche reveals the secrets to successful musicianship. Here they are for anyone secretly harboring a desire for family folk band stardom: A lot of practice, a lot of shows, and not letting the critics get you down.  Most of all, it’s about love.  Love for the music and love for your sisters.  That’s the important thing, she says.

Maybe I liked the book because I have a thing for memoirs and picture book memoirs are so rare.  Or maybe it’s because I really do want to be in a band despite my ridiculous lack of musicality.  Actually, it’s probably because I’ve been listening to a lot of The Ericksons (a local sister band with a folk/rock sound) lately, and I can’t help but wonder if they sing at breakfast.  Because that’s what being in a family band is like, right?    Perhaps Roche spoiled the fantasy a little bit with her pragmatism, but next to Giselle Potter’s folk art style illustrations, I’ll allow it.

Whatever the reality, sisters can make some lovely music.  Here is “Where Do You Dwell?” for you to listen to while you imagine a life in which you practice a lot, play a lot of small shows, ignore the naysayers, and just love music.

Find Want to be in a Band? from your local library or support an independent bookstore. No affiliate stuff here.  Just trying to support my fellowbook people. :)

Also, you can name your price for The Ericksons music here.

Dessa Deconstructed

DESSA_PARTS_OF_SPEECH_COVERI always seem to grab my notebook when Dessa is on the radio.  Her songs have a way of sparking my own creative spirit, and her commentary on her craft become journal entries and eventually  blog posts.  Today, as I listened to the rebroadcast of Dessa Deconstructed on the Current’s Local Show, I once again found myself jotting down quotes and scribbling poetic jumbles.  When you have some time, watch the program or listen to her latest record.  Perhaps it will have the same effect on you.

 

Monday Morning Music with Caroline Smith

My partner says I have a type when it comes to music.  He’s probably right.  Look at some of the artists I’ve blogged about: Haley Bonar, Zoo Animal, Lucy Michelle.  I can’t deny it.  I like female singer-songwriters, especially those who write folky indie pop.  For the record, I’ve also blogged about totally different music (See Bloodnstuff, M83, and GY!BE), so I’m not completely stuck in a genre bubble.

I bring this up because Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps is so my type.  The recent documentary about the Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter, My Way Back Home: Caroline Smith, highlights Smith’s evolution as a songwriter, her relationship to her family and hometown of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, and finding her voice.

Enjoy.

Monday Morning Music with Low

greatdestI’ve been listening to the Local Current radio stream lately, and I’ve been thinking about how long I have to live with things to give them a chance.  Low, Local Current’s Featured Artist of the month, has been around for 20 years, and I’ve known of them for at least 10-12 of those years. I never really gave them a chance until they released The Great Destroyer in 2005.  It was a departure for them, and I loved it immediately.  More than that, though, it put their backlist into context for me.  Everything clicked.   The songs that had been in the background for years weren’t background anymore.  They were the ground, and they have been ever since.

I didn’t get it for a long time, and now Low is a band I will always come back to.  Their latest record, The Invisible Way, will be released in March.

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Thursday 3: New-to-me Music of 2012

Welcome to Thursday!  I decided to take a page from one of my favorite kidlit blogs and use Thursdays to feature three things that relate to each other in some way.  It won’t be every Thursday, and it’ll probably be mostly books, but this week I have some music for you.  It may not be new to you, but it was new to me in 2012.

It feels right to start the Thursday 3 feature off with music I discovered in 2012 because it was a year of re-discovering music.  I don’t know if it is getting older (only in my early 30’s!) or busy or what it was that distracted me from music, but I was thoroughly distracted.  One of my goals for 2012 was to pay more attention, to seek out new music the way I used to, and write about it on this blog.  Perhaps you noticed?

In any case, here are three Minneapolis bands I discovered and liked in 2012:

  • Prissy Clerks – I was late to the party on this one.  When they were chosen as a Picked to Click band, I was clueless.  I also found myself going back even further in time to discover Clara Salyer’s previous band, Total Babe.  
  • A. Wolf and her Claws – Aby Wolf is a singer-songwriter with a powerful voice and a diverse set of influences.  With “Her Claws” she creates minimal electro-pop.
  • Now, Now – Okay, I’m cheating a bit on this one because I’d heard of Now, Now for a couple of years at least. But I’m including them anyway because this year, I actually paid attention to them.  Of course, a lot of people are paying attention to them these days, including Jimmy Fallon.   Here is the video for “The Pull”:

What new music have you discovered recently?  How do you find new music?

On Being a Mother & an Artist

Will There Be Smoking?I’ve written before on this blog and in this zine of the creative block I experienced upon becoming a mother.  People have always said that having children changes you, but I didn’t expect that I would have to fight to keep my identity as a writer just because I had a baby.   It used to be easy to put words to paper, and I thought it would always be easy.  I’m a different person because I had to decide to keep creating myself as a writer.

Bad Reputation by Haley Bonar One of my favorite local artists, Haley Bonar, spoke of her transition to motherhood in this interview:

“She’s a really amazing baby, and she’s so sweet and smart, and I do everything because of her — including that time I have to myself. I use it very constructively, and I write songs way more than I did before I had a baby — which sounds insane — and I’m so inspired by it, because there’s so much joy and so much pain and so much everything that goes into that first year. Everyone that has a kid goes through that, and it’s not anything new, but you kind of grieve yourself a little bit, and you have to get over that, and you become the most strong and powerful and confident version of yourself, because you are essentially caring for this other person. Yeah, motherhood is amazing.”

I can relate to that.  It is pretty amazing, and so is Ms. Bonar’s music.  Here is a video of a song from Golder:

 

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Monday Morning Music with Communist Daughter

An NPR segment has people reminiscing about their parents’ record collections, and it is probably not a surprise to anyone who knows me, but I am feeling nostalgic.

My parents didn’t have a record collection, but country radio played in the background of my childhood.  I know the stereotype of country music is something about heartbreak and dead dogs, but that isn’t what I remember.  I remember songs about small towns, tractors, and farming, and family.  It didn’t mean much to me as a suburban kid, but it meant something to my parents who stuck to their small town roots despite being forced to live closer to the city for their jobs.

They say you always have a soft spot for the music of your family, and for me, it is certainly true. I find myself strangely drawn to songs that speak of my parents’ past, that mysterious time in their lives before they were mine.

The latest video from Communist Daughter, a Minneapolis indie-folk band, takes me to the country.  It’s not quite what my parents would listen to, but I wonder what they would think of it.

Here is “Speed of Sound.”  Enjoy.

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