Monday Morning Music with Superorganism

My 11yo has been tagging along to shows with us since she was small. Usually, she didn’t care much about the music, even when her dad was in the band. She was there because we were there, and that was that. She would come prepared with a bag of small toys or a notebook and crayons. She would connect with whatever other kids happened to be there, or maybe a playful grown up, as she would call them. And that’s where she would spend the duration of the show. It has only been in the last couple of years that anything has changed.

It took a while, but eventually she started listening to the music we were playing. Even having favorites. Metric was one of her first favorites. Then Catbath, which became her first show where she actually cared about what was happening on stage. How’s that for a milestone?

This summer she hit another big milestone: her first show at First Avenue. Superorganism, if you haven’t heard them, is a weird, fun, poppy band that we couldn’t stop playing last summer. I love them as much as my 11yo did, and when they came to town, we were first in line for tickets, metaphorically speaking.

The show was as fun as we could have asked for. It was made even more memorable by the fact that lightning struck nearby and knocked out some of the sound equipment. The technical difficulties delayed the show by an hour or so. But once the band started playing, we forgot all about the wait. It was worth it to dance it out with my kiddo to a band we both loved.

By the kindness of an acquaintance, we happened to be given tickets to the Superorganism micro-show the day after the mainroom show. So we followed up one show with another. The stripped down set that they played for the micro-show was very different than the night before. First, we sat on the floor. Second, well, see for yourself. Watch how they made the sound effects. That’s not how they made the crunch sound on the mainroom stage.;)



Women in MN Music

The Local Current blog has covered some of the most notable women in Minnesota music history here and here for Women’s History Month.  I’m sure they’ll also highlight the fantastic all-women bands that are playing out locally right now, but I wanted to share a couple of that I think deserve some attention.

  • echoKitten Forever is a riot grrrl inspired punk band.  Rift Magazine reviewed their 2013 release Pressure: “The band’s anthemic axiom ‘Do you wanna get loud? Yeah you know you wanna.’ aptly initiates the album of 13 poignantly short songs.  Listeners needn’t be well-versed in riot grrrl ideology in order to enjoy the listen, since this release strips the genre down to its essential pieces: unabashed femininity, honesty, partying, and punk rock.”
  • L’Assassins are surf rock with a bit of rockabilly thrown in.  The Current said, “These ladies aren’t following anyone’s rules. That attitude is what makes L’Assassins one of the most refreshing bands in local music right now.”
  • Puff Puff is the newest of the three all-women bands I’m featuring today–and I should note that their current line up includes a non-female after bass player Tanja Sturges relocated out of state–but they are my personal favorite.  Their surf/garage/twee sound is the sort of thing that has me spinning Puff Puff’s music frequently.  They promise a new 2015 EP recorded with the original line up, and the one song released from it is well worth the listen.  This is a band to watch, and I’m not just saying that because they are friends of mine. ;)

recordcollectingforgilsIf you have any interest in women in music, check out Record Collecting for Girls by Courtney E. Smith for a fun and opinionated look at women in music that takes on everything from not being taken seriously as a female music geek to questions about the universality of the female voice.  Fascinating reading.  I’ve recommended it before, and I’ll probably do it again.

Also check out some of my previous music posts featuring female musicians: Speaking Music, Caroline Smith, Lucy Michelle, and Zoo Animal.

Or, if you’re like me, you’ll want to read some music-related teen fiction.  I’d recommend Supergirl Mixtapes, The Disenchantments to start with.  More great titles are on my Book Lists wiki.

What women have you been listening to?

Sugar & Stories


When your mom is a Book Mom (as my daughter refers to me), you don’t just visit the neighborhood candy shop, you read a book first.

I hadn’t yet mentioned the existence of Sugar Sugar–the Kingfield candy shop–when I suggested we read Stella Batts Needs a New Name by Courtney Sheinmel next. It is a sweet chapter book about a girl who wants to change her name after a classmate makes fun of her (no one wants to be called “Smella”).  In the book, Stella’s family owns a candy shop and some of the action takes place there.  That’s where Stella and her friends decide they will all change their names to some sort of candy.

Each night before bed, I would read a chapter aloud, and my daughter and I would imagine the sorts of candy we would find in a store like Batts Confections or talk about the candy we would like to be named after.  After we finished the story, I hinted that we might go somewhere special this weekend, and my six-year-old’s eyes widened with excitement as she imagined Batts Confections might be a real pace.

Even with all that build up Sugar Sugar got just the response I was hoping for.  And why wouldn’t it? It’s adorable, pink, and filled with sweets of all sorts.  It’s a little girl’s dream–at least, it certainly is among my little girl’s dreams.  We chose our candy–sea salt caramels for me and purple rock candy for my daughter–and walked home with smiles.  I’m sure we’ll be back soon.

Meanwhile, maybe we’ll try some of Stella Batts’ favorite recipes.

Free Art Fridays

A zine hiding at the Minneapolis Central Library last week.
A zine hiding at the Minneapolis Central Library last week.

Art is everywhere.  I say that all the time, but on Fridays, that’s actually a little more true because there are people in the Twin Cities hiding art in unexpected places for you to find.  I’ve done it the last couple of Fridays with my zine about becoming a mother, Will There Be Smoking?.  You can join too as a hider or a seeker.  Read more about it in this article from the Pioneer Press:

Here’s how it works: Artists are invited to create a small piece of work, hide it somewhere in the Twin Cities, then on Friday, post photo clues on Facebook and/or Twitter. The finder is asked to post or tweet a photo to let the group know the art has found a good home.

Of course, not all of the art is found by group members. A random passer-by could just as easily snag a piece, adding to the mystery.

“There’s some joy thinking about who discovers it and thinking about where to hide it,” Wang said.

There’s a Facebook group and a hashtag to use.  Keep your eyes open.  The whole city is a potential hiding place for some little treasure.  If that isn’t a happy thought for today, I don’t know what is.  :)

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.


Thoughts from my Local Precinct Caucus

I’ve lived in Uptown for three years.  In that time, I’ve had a lot to say about local issues and city politics, but I’ve said it all in my living room to my friends who know even less about local politics than I do.  They nod or shrug depending on my tone of voice, and we move on because none of us really know what to do about it.  It’s hard enough to stay informed about the national or state issues that everyone is talking about.  City and neighborhood issues take some commitment to stay current.  I have that commitment, but I have stayed firmly in my armchair while I sought out stories and opinions about local issues and elections.  Until now.

This past week, I put aside the anxious I’m-not-welcome feeling that comes with being a newish, non-home-owning resident coming to the political table mostly occupied by older, longtime residents with homes that rival the size of my entire apartment building.  I attended the DFL precinct caucus.  For those who are new to politics (as I am), a precinct caucus is where the party chooses delegates to attend the ward convention, which is where the party decides endorsements.  This is a pretty big deal since in Minneapolis, the candidate with the DFL endorsement usually wins.  Or so they say.

righteousmindAnyway, it sounded pretty simple.  Elect some delegates, maybe get to know some neighbors, go home.  Right?   . . . right?  Well, now I know.  It was nowhere near simple.  In fact, the complications escalated pretty quickly.  Here’s the MinnPost write-up about it for more of the details.  My take is a bit more personal thanks to my reading material of late.  I am currently reading Jonathan Haidt’s book about the social psychology of politics and religion and just finished reading Chris Stedman’s book about his interfaith work bringing together theists and non-theists.  My worldview has been thoroughly invaded by thoughts of civility between opposing (or seemingly opposing) groups and a renewed sense of optimism that cooperation is possible.

I spoke with people who live within a block or two of me who cite crime as this neighborhood’s big problem, which surprised me.  I generally feel safe here even after dark, but it is interesting to know that not everyone does.  That’s the perspective I was looking for when I showed up.  But then the conversation then turned to that one gas station (you know the one) that they see as a haven of drug dealers and criminals.  Now, I’m not going to say that nothing criminal has ever happened at that gas station.  I know that isn’t true.  But I do know that most of the people at that gas station aren’t criminals.  That long-haired, tattooed, black-clad guy buying smokes?  Not a criminal.  He’s a local rocker on his way to play a show.  He isn’t as scary as he looks.

Uptown is increasingly diverse–the Wedge especially.  It’s a wild mix of large homes with residents who have families or older folks who have already raised their families and rentals occupied by all sorts of people who live here for its urban feel and proximity to night life.  In this neighborhood, you can turn a corner and find a very different demographic.  My demographics are a bit muddled. I’m a mom with a professional career, and my partner is a musician who plays shows at local bars.  I can sort-of fit in with the moms at the park and the late night bar crowd, and I can tell you with confidence that both groups care about Uptown.  We might disagree with each other on what the big issues are, but we are in this together.   It’ll be a better place if we can accept and engage everyone.  That’s the kind of leadership I’m looking for in our next city councilor in Ward 10.


As I sneaked out of the caucus room before any decisions had been made to get home for my baby-sitter, I felt exhilarated that we had so many people who wanted to participate.  We have a lot of people who care what happens here.  I’m happy to be among that group.


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On the last day of spring break…

I’m typing next to my living room windows.  It is sunny outside, and there is a steady stream of bike and pedestrian traffic providing me with a soundtrack of conversational snippets as people pass.  It has been spring for weeks, but on a day like today, it feels like spring.

My five-year-old has already brought out her bicycle and played at the park today, and we’ve indulged her whims perhaps more than usual because she has only just returned from a week’s stay at her grandparents’.  A week is a long time to be away from your little one.  Although, I swear she doesn’t seem as little today as she did a week ago when my parents drove away with her.  Did she grow so much in six days?  She did lose another tooth while she was gone.  Perhaps that’s the difference I’m sensing.

I had big plans for those six days, and I only crossed about half of the items off my to-do list.  I always have such big dreams for my kid-free days, like the freedom of not having a little one trailing after me wherever I go (or arranging for her to follow someone else around for a while) will make anything possible.  In the end, though, it’s the little things that make me that happiest.  For example, I spent one evening lounging around reading while my husband was at band practice.  I was able to finish a whole book in an evening.  That used to be a common practice for me, but these days it’s pretty rare.

sigurrosIt wasn’t all small stuff this time though.  There were a couple of big events I was very happy I was able to attend.  The first was Sigur Ros at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, and I do not feel like I am over-hyping the event by saying that it would be on my top ten concerts in 2013 list, if I were to make one.  It was my second time seeing them live, and it was just as amazing as it was back in 2005 at the State Theatre–though I will say that the theater seating was more comfortable than the general admission floor at the Roy Wilkins even if it does make me feel every bit of my age to admit that.  There are some photos and thoughts on the show here, and video a friend took from the show here for those that are interested.  Photos and video can’t really do justice to the experience though.  I wholeheartedly recommend seeing Sigur Ros live if you can.

The second big event for my kid-free week was a chance to give back to my community.  Mikey Max Heals the World is an annual birthday charity event that features local music and supports local causes.  This year the lineup featured some of my friends’ bands, and the charities were organizations I was very happy to support.  My personal highlight was Fort Wilson Riot, who have been featured on this blog several times before.  It had been way too long since I had seen them live.  They have been touring an awful lot in the past year.  Great for them, not so great for me.  In any case, they played a great set of their indie-pop awesomeness.


I have yet to hear the final total of money raised for the charities, but there was a great turnout.  It is one show that I don’t mind when the audience gets a bit crowded.  I’ll endure a bit of crowding for the knowledge that we’re all there supporting organizations like the Neighborhood Involvement Program (provides health services for the uninsured), Perspectives (supports at-risk families trying to break the cycle of poverty), and the Chicago Avenue Project (a theater mentoring program).

Life gets back to normal tomorrow.  Fewer nights out, more time at the park.  That’s okay too.  There’s plenty of time to read while my girl bikes circles around me.  Maybe I’ll get through this book club pick yet…



I might not make it out to all the shows that some of my childless (childfree?) friends do, but I can’t help but think it’s a good life.  :)

Weekend Picks: April 5th & 6th

It has been a while since I’ve posted Weekend Picks on the blog, but I can’t resist promoting a couple of cool events I’ve been excited about for a while.


  • Mikey Max Heals the World at Cause Spirits and Sound on Friday, April 5th.  Mikey Max is a friend of mine, and this is the third year that he has turned his birthday into a charity event.  This year all proceeds go to benefit the Neighborhood Involvement Program, Perspectives, and the Chicago Avenue Project.  The line up includes some local favorites and friends of mine.  It’s going to be a great show, and it’s supporting great organizations.  
  • Icehouse Kids Concert Series with the Bunny Clogs on Saturday, April 6th.  I have been wishing some venue would do a regular event like this for a while.  It should be tons of fun for families looking for some musical entertainment on a Saturday morning.



Friday Find: Yellow Fever

I grew up going to a lot of community theater.  My mom loves theater, and she made sure we went to whatever community production we could find in our small suburb.  Very occasionally we even went into the city for a real show at the Chicago Auditorium.  All the shows we saw were fun, but the few professional shows we saw were really quite extraordinary.

yellowfeverI am embarrassed to note that it had been years since I’ve seen anything outside of children’s theater until this week.  A friend recommended a show at the Guthrie, and we jumped at the opportunity to do something new.

Yellow Fever” turned out to be a great show for non-theater people like us. It took on serious topics without taking itself too seriously.

It is a comic mystery set in 1970’s Vancouver that explores the racism of the era and the lasting effects of Japanese interment camps during World War II.

Here are a few reviews of note:

  • Play off the Page recommends it “for the laughs, the mystery, the colorful characters, and the parts that make you think.”
  • The CityPages review was mixed, but it notes that it is a mix of humor and more important issues.
  • How Was the Show recommended the show saying “The trick with this play is to capture the era capturing another era, playing to an audience of another era – without flat-out stereotypes marking the path.  This production does this deftly; we get the laughs – and we get the point.”

The show runs through March 24th, and I recommend it.

I have to admit that part of my enjoyment came from revisiting a part of my childhood that always felt magical.  And knowing how excited my mom would be when I told her all about it.  :)

Friday Find: Glam Doll Donuts


I have fond memories of bakeries and donut shops from my childhood, and I tried to share my donut-related memories with my family while we waited in line at Glam Doll Donuts this week.  But my 5 year-old was more interested in the sweets in the display case than in my old stories of being her age and hanging out in the back room of the bakery where my mom worked at the time.  Once our donuts had been consumed, she just wanted to explore the shop’s unique decor.  The photo booth was a great source of curiosity, and the stage-like steps leading to the back door were screaming “put on a show” to anyone under age 6 or so.

You don’t have to be a kid to let Glam Doll capture your imagination.  It’s retro and stylish, and the idea that you can drink coffee and eat sweets into the wee hours is a good one.  It’s well worth checking out.  I know I’ll be back.  There is a donut with bacon on top that I have yet to try… :)