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?

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.  :)

The Stuff of Legend

Before I moved to the Twin Cities, I heard about Minnehaha Falls through friends.  They described it as a giant waterfall in the middle of the city, and I had a weird image in my head of an oasis-like park surrounded by skyscrapers.

That’s not quite accurate, but it is kind of an oasis from city life where Twin Citians can feel like they are exploring nature without having to go very far.

After almost eight years here, I’ve been many times, but it was only as we explored this past weekend that I really wondered about the park’s history.

It all started with a poem written by a man who’d never even seen the falls, but he still managed to make people curious about a far off land with wondrous waterfalls and fascinating cultures.  It so happens that Longfellow wasn’t terribly accurate in his portrayal of the Ojibwa, but it’s all part of the story now.  We are still sorting fact from lore around here.  Did you know that “Minnehaha” does not actually mean “laughing water”?

This slideshow from the Minnesota Historical Society has a century’s worth of photos from Minnehaha Park.

For us, last weekend was the perfect time to explore our park.  We climbed stairs, crossed bridges, left the path, and waded into the water.  Just the right amount of nature for this city girl.


Monday Morning Music: Birthday Edition

Hey, everyone! It’s my birthday this week. :)

Here’s my birthday request for you:  I know there are many, many good causes out there, but I’m asking you to remember to support the arts–especially local arts.  Consider contributing to these Kickstarter projects (or use the search feature to find projects in your own community!):

  • Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles are looking for funding for a new album.  They say, “We’re hoping to release this baby in late April 2012 and then tour it all around the country in the summer and fall. We want to share our music with as many folks as possible, so as part of this kickstarter we’re hoping to raise funds to promote the record in print and radio in the places we visit.”
  • Communist Daughter & Moving Walkway Productions want to make a music video.  They say, “We – Moving Walkway Productions — are making a music video for a remarkable band called “Communist Daughter.” Although they have been around the Minneapolis scene, they are on the verge of going national. In order to provide that all-important rockin’ video as a public face, they need a high quality music video to show their stunning talent.”
  • The Desert Vest is hoping to release their debut album. They say, “The Desert Vest is an alternative rock trio from Minneapolis. We are hammering out our debut album. You may have seen our name on many local lists of bands to see or heard samples of us on the radio. Our progress as a band can only last for so long without a tangible album.”

And because I can’t resist anything children’s book related, I must include this:

  • Think and Wonder, Wonder and Think is a project by Minneapolis artist that will put this Dr. Seuss quotation in lights along the Stone Arch bridge for the Northern Spark Arts Fest. She says, “My project will light the Stone Arch Bridge with the theme of Northern Spark, a short quote by one of my favorite authors and artists, Theodore Geisel, known to most as Dr. Seuss. The phrase THINK AND WONDER, WONDER AND THINK will span both sides of the bridge in the form of illuminated sign text and will be on display for the week leading up to the festival, turning off at sunrise on the morning of Sunday, June 10th.”  You might have seen Robin Schwartzman‘s children’s book inspired work around town before.  Ladybug and I encountered it at a family program at the Walker Art Center last year.

I’d love to see Dr. Seuss in lights, and I think Robin Scwartzman is just the artist to make it happen.

Monday Morning Music with Lucy Michelle

It has already been a very exciting morning in the children’s book world!  I was up early today, on my day off, sitting at my computer refreshing the #alayma hashtag on Twitter to get the award announcements as they happened.  I cheered some of my favorites from the year, including Breaking Stalin’s Nose (mentioned in The Year of Protest Reading List) and Ball for Daisy (mentioned in Exploring Character Ed with Picture Books) and Where Things Come Back (mentioned in If You Like… Sufjan Stevens), won awards or honors.  It’s a good day to be a kidlit geek. :)

Outside my window, snow is falling.  Perhaps we will have a real Minnesota winter this year yet.  Watching snow out the window when I have nowhere to go is one of my favorite winter activities.  My soundtrack to the snow is Minneapolis band Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lappelles.   I’m looking forward to their upcoming record, HEAT, which “is comprised of all original material written predominantly by Lucy Michelle during the bone-chilling Minnesota winter of 2010. Many of the songs center around the feeling of being trapped and isolated while yearning to be somewhere else; physically or psychologically.”  More about the new record in this video:

Happy Awards Day, Happy Snow Falling Day, Happy Monday.  Enjoy. :)

Friday Finds: Youth Media Awards, local music, and museums


  • The biggest thing in the kidlit/library world right now are the Youth Media Awards.  The big announcement is on Monday morning, and the kidlitosphere is abuzz with predictions.  My colleagues and I posted our picks on Books in Bloom this week, and A Fuse #8 Production has her Newbery and Caldecott picks here.  I will be among many other librarians who will wake up early Monday morning to see what books from 2011 will be honored this year.  It’s my Oscars. :)


  • The Local Current blog is  the latest project from Minnesota Public Radio. Among the first features is this post about Communist Daughter front man Johnny Solomon’s road to recovery.  I mentioned Communist Daughter in this post after seeing them at the Loring Theatre last June.  I’m a huge fan of the music, and Solomon’s story is remarkable.


  • The Minnesota Children’s Museum has a new exhibit opening this weekend based on the book Grossology by Sylvia Branzei, which is all about the icky parts of being human. I imagine kids will love it.  We are hoping to go in the near future!


  • As I mentioned in this post about graphic design, the Now in Production exhibit at the Walker Art Center ends this weekend.  If you haven’t yet had a chance to see the exhibit, I recommend taking it in before it is off to New York.


For more interesting stuff, find me on Facebook,  Twitter, and Google+.  Have a great weekend!

A Celebration of Design

Design is everywhere, and everyone thinks they can do it.  We’ve all sat through ugly PowerPoint presentations or scrolled reluctantly through web sites with garish GIF’s blinking. There are a few more days left for Twin Citians to immerse themselves in good design.  The Graphic Design: Now in Production exhibit at the Walker Art Center ends January 22nd, and it is well worth the visit, even for a non-designer like myself.

The exhibit explores design over the past decade including the art of typeface, branding, movies & television, etc.  It emphasizes that design has evolved dramatically and that it continues to evolve with the popularity of e-readers and tablet computers.  You can read more about it in this MSP Magazine article.

Most of what I know about graphic design comes from–you guessed it–a children’s book.  Mark Gonyea’s A Book about Design: Complicated Doesn’t Make it Good is the perfect primer for those of us who are not necessarily artists but still want to be able to create their own graphics now and then.  Gonyea isn’t the only designer to attempt a children’s book.

Some of my favorite picture books are from graphic designers.  I mentioned Along a Long Road in this post, and you can see more of Frank Viva’s work at his design firm’s site Viva & Co.  Patricia Intriago, of Intriago Design, published a seemingly simple concept book for preschoolers in Dot, but it also works as an early introduction to design with young children.  Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet is an alphabet book that both kids and adults will love.  The alphabet prints available on Thurlby’s online shop would make great kids’ room decor if you’re going for a retro look.

Michael Hall, of Hall Kelley Inc., is the designer behind A Perfect Square, which is a wonderful book to inspire kids to create art out of shapes as talked about in this post on the Artful Parent blog, and My Heart is Like a Zoo, which takes one shape and creates a kid-friendly menagerie from it.  Both of these books have appeal that goes beyond the preschoolers learning about the concepts.  These are the picture books I push on my art-oriented friends who don’t have kids.  It doesn’t matter how old you are or what you know.  They are delightful in a way that surpasses the usual categories.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the trailer for My Heart is Like a Zoo:

Monday Morning Music with Mark Mallman

I think I’ve made it plenty clear on this blog that I love my city.  I’ve only lived in Minneapolis for a couple of years (plus five years of living in St. Paul), but I already think of it as my hometown.  So does Wisconsin-native, Minneapolis-local musician Mark Mallman.  Here’s the video to prove it.

Here’s some more local love (with some book recommendations) for those who want to indulge their affection for Central Time.

Friday Finds: Fairy Tales, Social Networking for Librarians, and Weekend Plans

Some cool links for you from my week:

  • Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde is a collection of short stories that re-imagine Little Red Riding Hood in different ways.

    I’ve loved fairy tales for ages, so I listened to the recent MPR show about them (and their current popularity on television and in movies) with interest.  Did you know that Little Red Riding Hood is about rape?  I did not.  Brain Pickings also has fairy tales on the brain, but they are talking about fairy tales with architecture.  Unexpectedly cool.

  • If you are on GoodReads, you can now follow my reading for the year.  So far I have two books on my 2012 shelf.
  • Speaking of social networks, Pinterest has been a topic of discussion at work as my colleagues have been talking about how they use this visual linkfest, so it seemed appropriate that I ran across this post yesterday: Pinterest for Librarians.
There is a lot going on this weekend for Twin Citians making plans:

For more interesting stuff, find me on Facebook,  Twitter, and Google+.

Girls in Music–Minneapolis and Beyond

Honestly, I’m far from a music geek and I’m not the slightest bit musical, but somehow I always seemed to be connected to music–from my Sunny Day Real Estate soaked teen years to the twee of my early twenties.  I met my husband at a local music festival I produced with a friend, and he’s a guitar geek/musician who keeps me connected to the best new music.

So when a review copy of Record Collecting for Girls by Courtney Smith was floating around the office, I grabbed it immediately.  I might not be the music nerd the author is, but some of my favorite people are.  I loved that this book was unabashedly geeky, opinionated, and funny.  It is part-memoir, part-music commentary by a self-identified music nerd and MTV programmer.  She writes about the role of music in her life, women in the music industry, and the future of record collecting in a digital world, among other topics. Smith has a lot of strong opinions that she shares freely in the book that will either resonate with you or make you laugh–even if you’re not a girl.  I rather enjoyed it, and I found myself thinking back to the ways that music guided me through my teen years, soundtracked my relationships, and grew to be so much more than background in my life.

In particular, Smith has a lot to say about women in the music business.  In the chapter “Where Have All the Girl Bands Gone?,”  she laments that “girl bands have gone subterranean for the time being. . .” and she goes so far as to ask “Do women feel they have to remain on the outside because the female voice is not considered universal?”  

The female movers and shakers in the music business here in Minneapolis have their say on these questions and more this Wednesday (12/7) at the Celebrate Women in Music event at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall.  It will be hosted by The Current‘s Barb Abney and feature several great performances from local artists.  Read more about it in this Pioneer Press article or check out this video: