Friday, October 31, 2008

Cedar Story Part Two

No venue is an island. The Cedar subsists on the unique energy of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Over the past 20 years, the Cedar has been a mainstay in the changing environment. Through Bohemians, Hippies and high waters, the neighborhood has maintained a diverse, friendly community in which The Cedar has been able to thrive. Tragedies like the loss of the Viking Bar have been lessoned by new additions like the Cedar-Riverside Light Rail Train stop.

Another benefit gained from the Cedar’s West Bank location is its proximity to like-minded organizations like the West Bank School of Music, KFAI and Radio K. These partnerships increase all four organization’s abilities to introduce Twin Cities’ residents to an amazing array of music and culture. The next time you plan on attending a show at The Cedar, be sure to allow yourself some extra time to take in some of the neighborhood. Don’t have a show lined up that you want to see? Visit to look at our calendar of upcoming events. While you’re at it, you can visit other Cedar-Riverside music organizations online, too.,,

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Darol Anger Connection: What Crooked Still Learned from their Elders

You've heard me go on and on about Bruce Molsky in this column before; amazing moments he's performed at the Cedar, how much I respect his cross-cultural jamming, and just as important, what an important teacher he is. He shares his magic not only to his fiddle students, but to the participants at workshops and those who jam with him.

As we find one of Bruce's former students, Brittany Haas, fiddling in the new Crooked Still lineup at the Cedar this Friday, I'd like to give a little background on another huge influence on this band from an older generation, the mighty Darol Anger. [Darol's got his left arm in a cast right now...ouch! read about it...] Although he has collaborated with musicians from all over the world, (and brought a number of these combos to the Cedar over the years) Darol's name is perhaps most often associated with his Republic of Strings project. A think tank for sting players? Maybe more like a germination chamber. Let's let them explain themselves.

What is the Republic Of Strings?


It’s a nation of string musicians and music listeners, tied together by mutual respect and love of music.

Our shared Republic Of Strings’ imaginary borders extend through all geographical or other imaginary borders, and we accept no unsightly cultural boundaries. We revel in variety and seek to deeply understand.

Our band, The Republic Of Strings, chooses string band music and other music that we love, from anywhere in the world, and figures out a way to play it.

Our musical material ranges from Scandinavia down to Africa and Brazil, with stops anywhere from the Appalachian mountains to the far-off isle of Manhattan, Ireland, Chicago, suggestions from our fellow citizens, and our garage.

More inanity, insanity and misgovernance. But hope springs up again. Can music get us through? Not all by itself!

Take a look at the current lineup. Love Darol ginning away as his young collaborators tear it up!

Say, didn't I just see that cello player somewhere? Why yes, Tristan was actually at the Cedar for Nordic Roots 2008, playing with Annbjorg Lien's Waltz with Me project. And there on fiddle is Brittany Haas.

If you're wondering about former Crooked Still cello maniac Rushad Eggleston,[also a Rebulic of Strings alum] he's now in California playing rock cello. Really. Here's what banjo man Greg Liszt had to say about his departure.
When founding member and cellist Rushad Eggleston announced his intention to leave the band. "It wasn't a huge surprise," Liszt says. "That guy played in the folk world for so long and played so many folk shows and had such a huge impact on the whole scene that it kind of made sense to me that he would want to go off and play crazy rock music for a while and just sort of recede from the scene for a little bit.

"He's an envelope pusher, and he is also a very restless personality, which are two things that lead him to develop that cello style, and they are also the same two things that would lead him to move to Los Angles with his actress/model girlfriend and dress up and play crazy rock music on the cello."

Eggleston now plays the California region with his group Tornado Rider performing with a drummer and occasional guitarist melding his cello to riff-based rock 'n' roll songs with a fantasy theme.
Here's a glimpse of his wild stage persona - and stripey clothing stylings!

Here's a vid of his onstage goodbye speech. Good luck out there Rashad!

Maybe the Crooked Still would've found Tristan anyway through his connections with Darol Anger, but Greg also told this story. "The first time I met Tristan was at a bluegrass festival in California, I believe. He had this crazy double cello jam with our old cello player in the middle of the night, which, again, kind of just blew me away," Liszt says.

Read the full text of his interview about their new disc and new band members in Country Standard Time right here.

I thought this was a great tidbit about the recording of Still Crooked. The entire album was recorded "live" in one big room, with everyone playing together. Merrill captured most songs in one or two takes. "I was outside in the hallway, because my voice is so quiet," O'Donovan says. "Recording live, you don't have an option to overdub; that always makes a better album."

Following are a couple of Republic of Strings stories I like that were floating around here and there on the internet. First up, a review from the the Baltimore Fiddle Fair, Baltimore, West Cork, Ireland.
Next up were the wonderful Republic of Strings and their spiritual leader Darol Anger. We're always that bit extra excited when we host Irish Premieres and present someone making their first ever Irish appearance and we were all blown away by this remarkable group. Top class musicians and great craic as well, I'd be pretty confident we'll be seeing more of this Republican Expeditionary Force at future Fiddle Fairs.

Then check this out from deeper within Darol's site. Say, don't these tall guys look familiar to Cedar regulars? There is Darol and collaborator Mike Marshall playing with Vasen!


Darol reports:
Wintergrass, up in Tacoma, was an incredible experience, with the Swedish music heroes VASEN coming all the way out from Stockholm to play with The Duo… Yes, peoples’ lives were changed. That’s the report. Those guys always seem to add 3 or 4 months on to my life when we play together. Unbelievable grooves and air space to take it all in.

Gotta love that kind of respect for fellow musicians! Gotta love the way this amazingly energetic guys passes on his passion and talent to the younger generation!

Thank you Darol and take care of that wrist!

See the rest of you at Crooked Still on Friday!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tips For Experiencing Live Music

1. Loud music? Earplugs. But wait, not those industrial use foam earplugs for blocking out jackhammers. These Etymotic earplugs are designed for LISTENING, without muffling the sound. With these I can make out vocals and hear distinct instruments, no matter what the volume, and I'm protecting my hearing. Plus they're reusable. Seriously, I swear by them.

2. Feeling crammed in at sold out or standing room only show? Many times at First Avenue or the 7th Street Entry it may appear packed, but if you can get a view of the front you'll often see that there is plenty of space. Maybe there's something about us Minnesotans that cause us to "Nice" ourselves into a corner and not want to be the one up front. But when you're short like me you get used to just walking right up, and surprisingly often there is a perfect spot for me.

3. Avoid Will Call and buy your tickets in person or have them mailed. More people are buying tickets online and then they have to wait in another line to pick up their tickets at the venue. It's always nicer to just walk on in, and with winter coming soon you'll want to get inside as quickly as possible.

4. Did you get free tickets to a concert? Or just want to give more support to the artists? Do 'em a solid and purchase some music directly from the performer at the merchandise table. Most club shows will have reasonably priced CDs and t-shirts, and the majority of the profit goes directly to the artist. Musicians make very little money from selling CDs in stores.Touring and selling their own merch pays the bills allows them to continue doing what they're doing. Plus you're likely to find interesting limited edition items, such as a self-produced CD or record, a tour poster, or a home-made t-shirt. I've picked up national band's t-shirts and CDs for as little as $5. Several years ago at a Robyn Hitchcock show at The Cedar I bought a one-of-a-kind hand drawn cone, directly from Robyn.

5. Is somebody chatting too much for you? Don't like your view? Move around. You may find that the sound is sweeter in another spot, or maybe the company will be sweeter. Even at reserved seating events you will typically find empty seats to try. Whether you came to party, came to dance, or to listen to every word and every note, you can generally find some compadres by roving from time to time. Don't be shy.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Saturday Edition

Yesterday I was so occupied listening to music that there was almost no time to write about it, so please excuse the late post and next week I will return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Minneapolis had almost too much music going on last night. From Dressy Bessy at The Whole music club to Diplo at the First Avenue mainroom, the choices were many and varied. There were at least three shows I wanted to see on the West Bank alone. Fortunately I got to see a number of acts, and was joined by my fellow bloggers Mama E Dub and William Call at a few of them as well.

At the Acadia, music started early. The Wake Student Magazine at the University of Minnesota held a celebration of its seventh anniversary with music that began around 5 p.m. and ended sometime around 11 p.m. Zombie Season got things rolling with a set of noise influenced, spacey rock and roll. Spacey in this case is a compliment, referring to otherworldly tendencies and not jam-band-style self-indulgent extended solos. The group in its initial arrangement consisted of bass, guitar vocals, cello and drums. However as frontman Ali stated “This is the part in the set where we take a really long time to switch instruments.” Something about wanting the audience to know they were cool and could play lots of instruments.

While the group really was a package deal, the “demonic” looking cello really sealed the deal. They played a short set because they had to get to another gig at the Kitty Kat Klub in Dinkytown. That’s right; they’re in demand. If you haven’t already, go back and click on the link to this group’s Myspace. Seriously.

Next was local darling Lucy Michelle, playing solo for a change. What can I say about Lucy that hasn’t already been said? She is a genuine, sweet, multi-instrumentalist who also happens to be an excellent songwriter. If you’ve somehow managed to miss her, check her out.

After Lucy took it down a notch, Words brought it back up. Way up. By far the loudest act of the night, Words reminded the crowd what a rock band sounds like. Out of the ashes of their former group Night of the Vampire, named after a Roky Erikson tune, Words came screaming songs that they have difficultly cutting down to less than five minutes. I didn’t hear anyone complaining. They don’t have anything up on their Myspace page, but a recording is on the way. Watch for it.

“Just don’t call me MC Hammer” MC Harv told the Wake staffer set to introduce the MC. A skinny guy with glasses hops up on stage and transforms into a mass of tension and energy. This guy is it. He dances because he obviously can’t help it. He spits so fast you’ll miss something every time you blink. Dang.

Headliners Military Special had everyone wishing we could put the tables away and open up a dance floor. But they all danced anyway. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a group that looked like they were having as much or more fun than the audience. But Military Special was all smiles and dance moves. If you missed them, they will be playing at The Whole music club. Don’t plan on sitting down.

Not far away, it was night of the psychedelic sixties at the Nomad World Pub. I came in on the end of the set Shy played and Mama E Dub and I had to drag ourselves away from First Communion After Party. I know the blog has already discussed the group’s awesomeness, but they really just have things together. They even have their image down to a “T.” They are transfixing. For real. Watch for them at The Cedar as part of the 416 Club on November 7.

I bet I’m not the only one who heard some beautiful music last night. Let’s hear it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

One Wish List : French Culture Clash

My partner is a college prof who likes to introduce the concept of culture clash at borderlands regions in the world by mixing together vinegar and baking soda on a dish in front of the classroom. What happens? A chemical reaction! Fizz! Bubbles! Foam! Transformation into something new.

I'm a believer that culture clash is producing some of the most interesting music out there these days as populations emigrate, walls are torn down, internet reaches isolated areas, and traditional instruments meet digital technology.

Since my "wish lists" for bands to come to the Cedar are always about a mile long, and because so many of the bands I love are in that "never gonna cross the Atlantic" category so the list never gets any shorter, today's post is going to focus on in on one country where culture clash sometimes brings about some violent headlines...and sometimes gives us some tasty music - France.

Put away any notions of bad French New Wave and check out these three bands, any of which would be very Cedar-friendly, should they ever choose to make the trip.

Let's start in Marsailles, a cultural crossroads for over 2000 years. Check out Watcha Clan rocking "Goumari" from their release earlier this year Diaspora Hi-Fi. Here's what the review in Rootsworld had to say. "..."Goumari," is an absolute monster track: a raging electric guitar line pulses through the song, which sounds like a mutant Moroccan-Tuareg disco. "Goumari" is relentless; the chanting grounds the groove, and feedback occasionally spirals and squalls right above the mix..."

Frontwoman Sista K takes center stage singing the Yiddish songs of her childhood as well as songs in Arabic, Spanish, and French before a backdrop of Afro-Pop guitar licks, beats, percussion and samples. They draw from all over that end of the Mediterranean and the sound includes everything from North African to Gypsy to reggae to rap to dance. Or as the folks at the Calabash site described it "From the Balkan mountains to Mediterranean shores, oral traditions from Maghreb to the London dance scene, Watcha Clan propose a musical and spiritual journey both political and mystical where each member of the group, from different musical backgrounds, brings their skills and their secrets. Gypsy sorcerer, elephant surfer from the mountains... the musicians of this strange cooperative of sound invites you on a voyage of multiple layers. The sound of the entire world intertwining with samplers, or ancient languages, in the image of Hebrew and Arabic, answering to rap styles to be reborn in an energetic style, mixing traditional and cultures to modern expression of electro hip hop."

Here's the full text of the Rootsworld nice review of Diaspora Hi-Fi, hitting some of the same political notes that I did. The BBC says "Drum 'n' bass and reggae are their preferred rhythmic templates, onto which they graft gnawa (Goumari), Balkan gypsy brass and Ashkenazi/Sephardic flavours (Balkan Qoulou, Marashtein, Tchiribim), Egyptian-style strings and rai flute (Les Courbes De Ton Corps), to name a few examples." Watcha Clan did actually cross the ocean to play at the the Droma New York Gypsy Festival last month, but I would love to see them travel a bit deeper into our country sometime soon.

Head northwest and check out Orange Blossom from Nantes. This a cool little promo vid with concert clips interspersed with bits of interviews. Yes, there are subtitles.

What 's going on now with Orange Blossom? They rocked WOMEX in 2006, put out the very cool disc Everything Must Change in 2005. [Then I called it "a soundtrack for the French immigrant experience"] but I'm not sure about their current status. Their former website is a dead link, but their record company still lists them on the roster and says a new disc is coming out in 2008 sometime. Hope so. Anyway, it's a cool video montage withbits from some of their more trance tunes as well as their really driving loud stuff.

Everything Must Change works as a cohesive whole or as a set a wildly disparate tunes. Brooding bass lines underpin samples. Raging guitars take over from careening fiddle. Hand percussion and Arabic melodies give way to lush vocals and string arrangements. Horn charts and electro beats make you get up and shake it. Yeah. Really. But listening to the disc as a whole is like taking a journey, coming around corners to scenes of incredible light and beauty, then turning around to harshness and anger. Culture clash ethno techno. Mmmmm. My favorite kind. Here's a video clip with lots of percussion.
Check out the energy and watch for the fiddler's famous leaps!

Don't ask me why a French band with an Algerian singer, a wild Mexican beats guy, a one very athletic fiddler (I love it when the classically trained ones cross over to the dark side!) and a hand percussion player who's very into African drumming would call themselves "Orange Blossom." Like the old fiddle tune "Orange Blossom Special?" ??? Trying to Google this band is interesting; you get the aforementioned fiddle tune or websites that sell soap. Here is their MySpace; how's your French?

OK, one more band from France and I'm going to quit for the week.

Not too far away in Angers in a sprawling communal household on a farm of sorts live the six current members of the Lo'Jo tribe. They've been around in some form for almost 20 years, incorporating a crazy variety of influence including, but not limited to street performance, French chanson, Afro Beat, Desert Blues, Arabic, funk, Berber, dub, Indian, Gypsy. Sounds like it could be a mish mash, but no. It just sounds like them. Founder Denis Pean's gravelly voice speaks the wise poetry but the B-52s-esque harmonies of the Nid El Mourid sisters are what really make it for me. Fiddle, percussion, piano, bass, kora or clarinet may be part of the mix on any given night. Here's an interview from a few years ago that gives more of the band's history.

Now if a BBC radio review says "If this group comes within 100 miles of where you live, make the trip to see them” you would take that seriously, right? How about knowing that they were one of the founders of the Festival in the Desert? That they're good pals and often tour with Tinariwen? The BBC also give them a World Music Award in 2007, noting "Their magpie mix of chanson with funk, dub/reggae, North and West African sounds and touches of Gypsy music constitutes a candid sonic portrait of a truly polyglot nation, where the majority of the population (56%) claim to have a foreign background."

I'm just going to wonder for moment that all three of these bands have their website in French, not English. You can think about what they mean by that. (I'm kinda inclined to say "More power to ya!")

Although I am a fan of all three bands, none of them really sound like each other. Judging by this little sample from my wish list, you might imagine that I'm into high energy culture clash ethno techno with female vocals.

Sometimes, yeah.

You can think about what I mean by that.

* * * * *
I'm psyched for the Crooked Still show at the Cedar on Halloween!

* * * * *
Hoven Droven put up some very fun photos from their Nordic Roots 10 adventures on the website. Check them out! Thanks guys!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cedar Wishlist

Today I picked up a copy of Ray LaMontagne's new album "Gossip in the Grain." Though I am not as impressed by it as I have been by his two previous albums, there are still a couple tracks that are just exactly what I want to be listening to on a sunny fall day. This one and this one in particular. 

But Ray is one artist I have always wished would play at The Cedar. He's played in town on at least two different occasions, but never at a venue I thought fit his music very well.

What's your Cedar wishlist? Or maybe you have other dream artist/venue parings, whether they've actually happened or not. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hurdy Roots: The next Generation Starts Cranking in Poland and Switzerland

I really have been wondering if some of the Pagan Metal bands using instruments like hurdy gurdies and bagpipes were influenced by Hedningarna or Garmarna 10 or 15 years ago. I mean check out the Swiss band Eluvate ("el-WAY-tee") cranking out "Inis Mona."
More hair for sure, but don't ya think there's a connection there? Plus as my sister said when I showed her this vid, "Hey, is that Gimli son of Gloin on the bagpipe?" It's a gaida actually, but her point is well taken. One of their other videos is pretty much just a closeup of the hurdy the whole time! Eluvate's most recent disc, Slania, is actually a pretty interesting concept piece. Many of the lyrics are in Gaulish, and detail the history and battle of the Helvetica tribe of the Gauls. If you know your Roman history, the Helveticae were a people basically anihilated by Julius Caesar just to make a name for himself before returning to Rome to take over. And to think I missed them when they played in St. Paul on the Paganfest tour this spring!! Aaargh!

The heavy drone thing is baked to perfection in the Polish "bio-techno" group Village Kollektiv, which yes, does share a few members with Warsaw Village Band. The Kollektiv is the hurdy gurdy/throat singing/jaw harp/Bulgarian vocal harmonies/techno beats and samples cousin of Village Band, however. Close your eyes and listen to "Blow Wind Blow" on their MySpace page. I let a pan burn on the stove in the other room the first time I heard that track, just standing there lost in my living room, ears and brain open wide. I searched the web over for a decent vid of Village Kollektiv and they are all pretty low-fi, but here is one from an outdoor festival earlier this year, and you can see Maciej Cierlinski there in back with his hurdy. (That name will resurface later in this post.) Anyway, can't wait until their new disc comes out; Motion Roots Experimental was one of my top recordings of 2007.

Or how about the Polish "Psychodelic Proto-Slavonic Music" of Zywiolak.

Tell me that's not influenced by some of the same Nordic bands. Oh, why look! Hurdy Gurdy Project is their first MySpace friend!

Or check out this Polish band ich troLe,
which was an earlier project of Zywiolak's Robert Jaworski. Apparently he's also an alum of an early version of Warsaw Village Band.

So I set out in search of the ancient Hedningarna connection in the most modern way; I sent a MySpace message with a few questions to Robert Jaworski. After a few week's delay because he had to travel to Germany to see Hedningarna in concert (aha!) he sent me back this great message about how he got into playing the hurdy and where he is heading with this music. It also gives an insight into Polish folk music.. who knew they were all into the Celtic thing? Polish Catholicism clamping down on the mythology and folklore more than Nordic Lutheranism?

The man and his hurdy

Here's what he has to say (with a tiny bit of editing to tidy up his past tense verbs.)

Basically, how did you get into playing the hurdy?

That's not easy question.. ( :
It's better to answer how did I find this instrument?
Few years ago I was typical happy "folky boy" from small town looking for something unusual in music ...
I was fascinated in sea songs which were very popular at young people fire-parties in Poland. I finded that most of tunes singing by the people around fire are Polish versions of Irish and English folk songs...
So I started to listen "Celtic folk music"..
In Poland it's almost like a fashion in some groups of young people...
Most of young musician don't dig in our folk culture.. It's easier to find Irish than Polish folk tunes in the internet..
True is that "Warsaw Village Band" proved to young people that we have something interesting in our Polish folk music too..
But.. I found Polish hurdy gurdy at "Celtic Music Festival" in Poland..
It was my friend Maciej Cierlinski performing with Polish band called "Slainte".. They played some of most popular Celtic melodies with Spanish gaita and something really strange with the crank outside...
It was Polish hurdy gurdy.. The sound of this instrument was so raw..(the pickup he used was very easy thing)... It was totally different from sweety spanish gaita playing to the microphone... The other way was that both of them played totally similar bordun music whiche was so cool and I loved this sound...[I'm guessing "bordun" like drone? The Swedish word for drone is similar. -M.E.]

After the concert Maciek show me his Polish - (not high quality) hurdy gurdy..
I loved this "cheap instrument sound".. My rock'n'roll soul told me that it is the instrument I was really looking for..
There is no the ending of this story... Some time after I bought almost the same model from the same folk luthier.. And I have played this instrument since that day..

Who are the influences?

That's really good question now..
Some time before I started to play with "Warsaw Village Band" I found one thing which changed my thinking about music.. It was recordings of Scandinawian modern folk bands.
Hedningarna, Garmarna, Hoven Droven etc .
It was something totally fable(y?) in comparing to our Polish folk music stage. The other way is our Catholic Polish system removed us from our reach Slavonic mythology. And I think that is the main reason why the young people of Poland are not interested in playing and creating new Polish folk music. Our folk art is beautiful but quite boring the same way. Most of the lyrics refer to polish religiousness or something.
Those Scandinawian bands showed that playing folk music not means playing and singing only village melodies ... They just use their heritage.. That's a big difference between Polish and Scandinavian folk music..
The other way are similarity between Polish and Scandinavian music...
Most of tunes playing by Hedningarna or other mostly Swedish bands are "Polska tunes" - traditional Swedish melodies..
They come from the time of the “Swedish Deluge” of Poland, and are related to Polish violin music of the time.. Of course most of them are totally new but the character is still the same..
So it's not so hard to find similarity in aranging of new melodies.
I'm really happy I can draw from Nordic music which is "southic" the same way ( ; .
I think my band called "Żywiołak" is good example to understand those things..

Where did you get your hurdy?

As I told I ordered it from folk luthier of south-east part of Poland - Mr.Stanisław Wyżykowski and it is totally "raw folk work"..
I 've made plenty of modification in quite similar way like Totte Mattsson's hurdy gurdy from Hedningarna..
Meeting with him inspired me so much. If I could only say I had any teacher in my profession I would say this is Totte...

Why the rocking' primal sound rather than than something more traditional?

"rocking primal sound"? - it sounds really funny.. ( :
The answer is very busy..
Cos I'm a rock'n'roller first but I also really love Polish tradition.. (;

YEAH! Wow! Thank you so much Robert and I hope we get to see one of your projects at the Cedar someday.

(Or when do I get to go to Poland?!)

Monday, October 13, 2008

More local flavors

Rollin' off of The Professor's posting, here's a taster of a few of my favorite local artists...


Roma di Luna

Awesome Snakes

Meg Ashling

Dance Band

Dreamland Faces


Charlie Parr


With my ears still spinning from the weekend's double-shot of Fleet Foxes shows at The Cedar, I went looking for some videos and stumbled upon this beautiful cover of one of their songs, as performed by two teenage girls from Sweden.

First Aid Kit

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cedar Story

Due to illness and technical difficulties, my posts have been a little delayed. But, this one is worth the wait.

In honor of our 20th Season, Magnificent Maggie and Angel of Rock proudly present “Two Decades Backstage: Behind the Scenes at The Cedar.” During the season we will bring you 10 installments exposing a side of The Cedar that you’ve never seen before. Be sure to check the back for updates.

Once upon a time in 1948 a movie theater opened on the West Bank. Because no one could think of a better name, its location on Cedar Avenue led to its title of the Cedar Theater. It has a nice ring to it, right? “Cedar Theater.” Although the marquee only hinted at the sorted affairs that occurred on and off screen, its reputation alone soon brought droves of eager, albeit awkward, patrons.

It was later discovered that in addition to showing films of questionable content, the Cedar Theater also served as a regional meeting place for the Midwestern leg of a secret society during the Cold War. Yes, it looked like a theater from the outside, and before anyone was clamoring for stadium seating and removable arm rests, theater patrons still complained that the floor was too flat for a proper viewing experience. The society’s goal of converting Minnesota’s crops into rocket fuel ultimately failed, but they came up with some fantastic casserole recipes along the way.

Cedar lore holds that society members were also the first to move chairs aside to indulge in fits of uncontrolled dancing, a tradition that The Cedar continues to inspire in even the most modest Minnesotans.

As Cold War fears subsided and the technological minds of the 1980s concentrated their brainpower elsewhere, the society relocated downriver to try their luck at harnessing the power of the great Mississippi. Without the society shouldering their portion of the building rent, it only took three letters to seal the movie theater’s demise. V-H-S.

In the late 1980s, the Theater was reclaimed by a group tired of dancing to Prince at the “Hub of Hell.” These free spirits wanted a safe haven where they could let loose and expand their cultural horizons, man. And so, 20 seasons ago today The Cedar Cultural Centre was born.

Watch for the next installment of Two Decades Backstage: Behind the Scenes at The Cedar

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Fond Farewell to Nordic Roots Fest

Well, I just can't seem to let go of the last Nordic Roots Fest. Although I did miss Fest number 1, I was there for all the other nine and spent the last I don't know how many as the Green Room maven, keeping all the musicians fed and rested.

Although there were a few musicians keeping it going in the Green Room until 6 a.m. (Welcome to Minneapolis, Detektivbyron!!), the atmosphere backstage this year was really, well, sweet, for want of a better word. Lots of fond hugs, fiddle jams, proud musicians showing off photos of cute kids, more cute kids sleeping during afternoon rehearsals... Really, at one point there were two different kids snoring away in their strollers in the Green Room as Frigg ran over the finer points of their set a couple of feet away.

Proud mama Emma from Triakel shows off baby Hampas to former Garmarna tour manager Patti. >>

As Bruce Molsky carries the flame of Appalachian music in our country, seeing the Nordic spelmanen (folk musicians) of our generation carry on the little traditions of their ancestors made me happy. Hoven Droven's Kjell-Erik is often the first guy to pull out his fiddle at the end of the night and start a session( or play along with whatever somebody's cranking on the stereo!) Learning tunes, teaching tunes, jamming with Bruce Molsky or Annbjorg Lien or whoever else had a stringed instrument nearby. Both Petri and Antti from Frigg seem to carry on this role in their band. I don't know how many generations of the Jarvela family have been rocking the Kaustinen area, but you can tell Antti, Alina and Esko are chips off the old block, teaching and learning tunes. When Petri asked me to help round up some strong drink for the traditional "Piiska" toast before their set (early in the afternoon!), it felt like another bit of tradition coming through to the next generation. Some old grandma and grandpa fiddlers are grinning on their front porches somewhere.

One of my co-bloggers did a great job of posting photos
last week (Hey , my kid got on the blog!) but I have a few more to add to the mix. (Thanks to Blanche Sibley from KFAI for a couple of these choice photos - and for geeking out with me all weekend!)

KISS fandom knows no boundaries - Cedar house manger Micheal and Hoven Droven drummer Bjorn share the love

Finally, after all these years! Frigg's secret revealed... they all have 4 hands! and play with 2 bows at once!! NO WONDER they can play so fast.

How do they DO that? A six song medley for an encore...and they played so fast the whole works took about 10 minutes!

Vasen did what they do so well, and their minor key beauty made me start the fest out in a melancholy mood. The long legged Vasen dance, swaying back and forth without moving their feet, as Roger and Michael laid down the groove on viola and guitar behind Olaf's nickelharpa melody. The grins, the eye contact, then swirling off in another direction. Oh yeah, and their encore was a four song medley, linking such disparate audience favorites as "Josephine's Vals" and "30-Year Jig" into a tune of joy that spiraled up into the clouds and was surely heard by Jay McHale somewhere up there.

I think I had little snatches of "One Hour in Hungary" playing sweetly in my head for a week afterwards.

Those darn whippersnappers in Frigg brought tears to my eyes a couple of times too. I knew that "Kaidas" (Oasis) has that vocal bit at the end, so I knew they were going to just belt it out, but somehow, knowing it was coming made the beauty even sharper. Inviting all the students from their workshop onstage for a number was a very classy move...and it sounded great. You should have seen all the proud parents taking pictures!

How cool was it when drummer Jon from Detetivbyron turned to me during Hednigarna's set and said, "Hey, that's "Min Skog" isn't it? I stole my dad's vinyl of Tra and never gave it back!"

Hurdy Gurdy turned in their most psychedelic NRF set EVER. Here is a tiny piece of Skallstyggen. The video quality is extremely low, but the sound quality isn't too bad.

Their set put me in mind of a Diamanda Galas show I attended once long ago at First Ave. Just her voice and her piano. She'd get you so strung out on some crazy dissonance, your ears would be begging for mercy, then when you thought you couldn't stand it any more BANG! key change into some sweet major thing that would lull the audience a bit before taking us somewhere far away again. That's a bit what I felt like during the Hurdy Gurdy set. Strung out to the edge on drones and dissonance, then one note would change, and the whole thing would ground itself in a major key so we could catch our breath before spiraling out of control again. I loved every note!

NOt only did they play us an AMAZING "Manic Depression", just look what else those sweet Hoven Droven guys did! The very top of their website has a thank you and fond farewell to the festival along with an image of the limited edition H.D. t- shirt's backside.
Here's the text of their thank you note. The last waltz" was actually a polska ..
On Sunday night Sept. 28 the last notes of "Årepolska" echoed in the sold out Cedar Cultural Centre in Minneapolis. That was it. After three days of great music, and the meeting of old friends celebrating the great ten year run that was the Nordic Roots Festival, Hoven Droven closed the last night with a lengthy set that made sure everyone got what they came for. Guest appearances were among others Bruce Molsky and Annbjørg Lien who joined the misty eyed band for "Kom Hem". As always a BIG thank you goes out to Rob, Mark, Drew, Michael, Bill, Dave, Chris and all you other great people at the Cedar (past AND present) who made this festival an unforgettable experience for all us musicians who visited you during the last ten years. We hope you all understand how much you have meant to us, and the impact you had creating a meeting place for us that is unsurpassed, even here at home in Scandinavia.

Till next time; LOVE from Hoven Droven!

I hope all you musicians understand how much YOU have meant to us over the years. Thanks for all the tunes and memories!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Shows I've seen so far this year...

01/05/08 - Birthday Suits, The Blind Shake, Skoal Kodiak, Vampire Hands @ Turf Club
01/07/08 - Nada Surf @ The Nomad
01/12/08 - Cafe Accordion Orchestra @ The Cedar
01/17/08 - Orange Mighty Trio with Dean Magraw @ The Cedar
01/18/08 - Haley Bonar with Pieta Brown and Bo Ramsey @ The Cedar
01/20/08 - Carolina Chocolate Drops @ MacPhail Center For Music
01/20/08 - Carolina Chocolate Drops @ The Cedar
01/21/08 - Carolina Chocolate Drops @ The Cedar
01/26/08 - The 416 Club with Jon Rodine, Jennifer Markey, Molly Maher, The High 48's @ The Cedar
02/01/08 - The Mad Ripple Friday Night Hootenanny hosted by Stook! with Chris Pericelli, Roma di Luna and Tom Vick @ Java Jack's
02/04/08 - Tim Finn with Alice Peacock @ The Cedar
02/09/08 - Spaghetti Western String Co. with Deviated Septet and Fat Kid Wednesdays @ The Cedar
02/10/08 - Dave Alvin, Chris Smither, and Tim O'Brien @ The Cedar
02/11/08 - Dean & Britta and Keren Ann @ The Cedar
02/11/08 - Cat Power and the Dirty Delta Blues @ First Avenue
02/13/08 - open stage @ The Cedar
02/16/08 - The 416 Club with The Copperheads, Summit StuntPilots, Cooker John, Nikki & her RueMates, House Of Mercy Band @ The Cedar
02/18/08 - Holy Fuck with A Place To Bury Strangers @ Triple Rock
02/21/08 - Imaginary Jack @ Acadia
02/22/08 - St. Vincent with Foreign Born @ The Cedar
02/23/08 - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas @ The Cedar
02/23/08 - The Hillbilly Voodoo Dolls @ Memory Lanes
02/24/08 - New York Dolls @ The Fine Line
02/28/08 - The Hives with The Donnas @ First Avenue
02/28/08 - Black Lips with Quintron & Miss Pussycat and France Has The Bomb @ 7th Street Entry
02/29/08 - The Brass Kings with Black Audience plus guests Baby Grant Johnson, Nate Sipe, Dave Babb, Molly Maher, Jon Rodine and Jayanthi Kyle @ The Cedar
03/04/08 - Altan @ The Cedar
03/08/08 - Slavic Soul Party @ The Cedar
03/08/08 - Chooglin' @ Triple Rock
03/14/08 - Jonathan Richman with Vic Chesnutt @ The Cedar
03/14/08 - Dance Band @ The Nomad
03/15/08 - Tom Russell with Jon Rodine and friends @ The Cedar
03/25/08 - Boredoms @ First Avenue
03/28/08 - The Current Fakebook featuring Greil Marcus and The Mekons @ Fitzgerald Theater
03/28/08 - Jon Langford & Rico Bell art opening with The Mekons @ Rogue Buddha Gallery
03/30/08 - Carbon/Silicon with Matt Pond PA @ Varsity Theater
04/02/08 - Haale @ The Cedar
04/03/08 - Andy Statman Trio @ The Cedar
04/03/08 - Vampire Weekend @ Triple Rock
04/05/08 - Bo Ramsey with Phil Heywood @ The Cedar
04/10/08 - Anoushka Shankar with Tanmoy Bose @ Orchestra Hall
04/11/08 - Debashish Bhattacharya @ The Cedar
04/13/08 - Glen Phillips with Jonathan Kingham @ The Cedar
04/16/08 - Kimya Dawson with L'Orchidee D'Hawai and Angelo Spencer @ The Cedar
04/24/08 - Cut Copy @ Filter Magazine Coachella pre-party
04/25/08 - Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival: Black Lips, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, The Verve, Datarock, Aphex Twin, The Raconteurs, Diplo, Sandra Collins, Goldfrapp, Mum, Vampire Weekend, Jens Lekman, Architecture In Helsinki, Black Kids, Battles
04/26/08 - Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival: Prince (with Morris Day, Jerome Benton, Sheila E.), Portishead, Kraftwerk, Death Cab For Cutie, Cafe Tacuba, Bonde Do Role, 120 Days, Man Man, Carbon/Silicon, VHS Or Beta
04/27/08 - Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival: Justice, Chromeo, Black Mountain, Murs, Roger Waters, Sons & Daughters, Sia, Love And Rockets, My Morning Jacket, Metric, Spiritualized, Gogol Bordello, Swervedriver
04/28/08 - Hot Chip @ The Mayan (Los Angeles)
05/03/08 - Geoff Muldaur with Charlie Parr @ The Cedar
05/06/08 - Mirah and Spectratone International present "Share This Place" @ The Cedar
05/07/08 - First Communion Afterparty @ 7th Street Entry
05/07/08 - Devotchka @ First Avenue
05/09/08 - Chicago Afrobeat Project @ The Cedar
05/10/08 - Justin Roberts and the Not Ready For Naptime Players @ The Cedar
05/13/08 - Flight Of The Conchords with Arj Barker @ Orpheum Theater
05/14/08 - Mad Ripple Hootenany with Stook!, Meg Ashling, Rick Robot, and Ashleigh Fumich @ U of M Medical Center, Fairview
05/14/08 - Stacy K And The Groovestains @ Acadia Cafe
05/17/08 - Chooglin' and Awesome Snakes @ Grumpy's NE
05/20/08 - Th' Legendary Shack*Shakers @ The Cedar
05/28/08 - Wendy Rule with Kari Tauring and Felonious Bosch @ The Cedar
05/29/08 - These Kids Today: A Showcase, featuring Best Friends Forever, Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles, DJ Relax and Johann @ The Cedar
05/30/08 - The Breeders @ First Avenue
05/30/08 - Roma di Luna @ 7th Street Entry
06/05/08 - R.E.M. with Modest Mouse and The National @ Xcel Energy Center
06/06/08 - Nation Beat @ The Cedar
06/06/08 -'s 6th Anniversary with The Haves Have It, The 757s, The Evening Rig @ Turf Club
06/07/08 - Feufollet @ The Cedar
06/11/08 - Iron & Wine with The Ugly Suit @ First Avenue
06/12/08 - Vagabond Opera @ The Cedar
06/12/08 - Gogol Bordello @ The Cabooze (outside)
06/12/08 - Mr. Gnome, Mute Era, Gay Witch Abortion @ Hexagon Bar
06/13/08 - Billy Bragg with C.R. Avery @ The Cedar
06/14/08 - The Wars Of 1812 @ Stone Arch Festival Of The Arts
06/14/08 - The Owls @ Red Stag Block Party
06/14/08 - Roma di Luna with Spaghetti Western String Co. and Tiritimundi Flamenco @ The Cedar
06/18/08 - The Black Angels with The Warlocks @ Turf Club
06/19/08 - Yid Vicious with Brass Messengers @ The Cedar
06/20/08 - Stook! @ 331 Club
06/26/08 - Willie Nelson & Family with 40 Points @ Big Top Chautauqua (Bayfield, WI)
06/27/08 - Hayden with Haley Bonar @ The Cedar
06/28/08 - Farmer Jason @ The Cedar
06/29/08 - Siyaya @ The Cedar
07/04/08 - King Khan & The Shrines, Jacuzzi Boys, Gaye Blades, Howlies @ Lenny's Bar (Atlanta, GA)
07/05/08 - Tom Waits @ Fox Theatre (Atlanta, GA)
07/13/08 - New York State Blues Festival featuring Jimmie Vaughan @ Clinton Square (Syracuse, NY)
07/17/08 - Robert Cage with Hezekiah Early, Chooglin', Pure Country Gold @ 7th Street Entry
07/18/08 - Adam Svec with The Daredevil Christopher Wright @ Kitty Cat Klub
07/19/08 - Ween @ Roy Wilkins Auditorium
07/19/08 - Bob Log III and Scott H. Biram @ Triple Rock
07/20/08 - Fleet Foxes with The Dutchess And The Duke @ 7th Street Entry
07/25/08 - Lucky Brown @ Nightlight Lounge (Bellingham, WA)
07/30/08 - CSS with The Go! Team @ First Avenue
07/31/08 - Koo Koo Kanga Roo @ The Nomad
08/02/08 - Palm Fest featuring Cadillac Kolstad and the Flats, St. Pauli Grla, The Brass Kings, Chooglin', Spider John Koerner, Black Audience, Daughters Of The Sun, Dreamland Faces Party Band @ Palmer's Bar
08/06/08 - Habib Koite and Bamada @ The Cedar
08/14/08 - NOMO with Solid Gold @ 7th Street Entry
08/17/08 - Califone @ Loring Park
08/21/08 - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings @ Minnesota State Fair Bandshell
08/22/08 - Self Sound Orchestra @ The Cedar
08/24/08 - LOUDRAY with Pocahontas County @ Acadia Cafe
08/31/08 - The Liberty Parade featuring Dillinger 4, Building Better Bombs, Happy Apple, STNNNG, Vampire Hands @ Loring Park
09/03/08 - Wake Up World featuring Billy Bragg and Mad Ripple Hootenany with Terry Walsh, Billy Bragg, Martin Devaney, Stook, and Brianna Lane @ The Parkway Theater
09/04/08 - Kevin Kling, Lucy Michelle And The Velvet Lapelles, Orange Mighty Trio @ The Cedar
09/05/08 - Punch Brothers @ The Cedar
09/06/08 - Damien Dempsey with The Sweet Colleens @ The Cedar
09/07/08 - Eight Head with Steve Tibbetts and Ruth MacKenzie @ The Cedar
09/10/08 - Plastic People Of The Universe @ The Cedar
09/10/08 - Spiritualized with Grande Ole Party @ First Avenue
09/12/08 - A Night In The Box with The Brass Kings @ Lee's Liquor Lounge
09/13/08 - Joan As Police Woman with Aviette @ The Cedar
09/14/08 - Balkan Beat Box @ The Cedar
09/20/08 - Thunderball: An Evening of James Bond featuring Revolver, Bella Koshka, Mercurial Rage @ The Annex
09/22/08 - A Place To Bury Strangers, Sian Alice Group, First Communion After Party @ Triple Rock
09/24/08 - KatJonBand with Dollar Store @ 7th Street Entry
09/26/08 - Nordic Roots Festival 2008 featuring Väsen and Waltz With Me @ The Cedar
09/27/08 - Nordic Roots Festival 2008 featuring Hedningarna and Detektivbyran @ The Cedar
09/28/08 - Nordic Roots Festival 2008 featuring Frigg @ The Cedar
09/28/08 - Nordic Roots Festival 2008 featuring Höven Dröven and Hurdy-Gurdy @ The Cedar
10/02/08 - My Morning Jacket @ Orpheum Theatre
10/03/08 - Ani DiFranco @ State Theatre
10/03/08 - Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby @ 7th Street Entry
10/06/08 - Hollywood Undead @ 7th Street Entry

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

European World Music Charts

Well, I came down with the Nordic flu or something yesterday, so I don't have a fancy post for this week. Promise to upload those NRF photos and film clips by next week with maybe a few choice reminiscences. I did also hear back from one of my Polish hurdy gurdy contacts who gave me a great little interview so that's in the hopper as well.

This week's short and sweet post is on the joys of the European World Music charts, seeing as how this is the first of the month and there is a new one waiting in my in box to check out.

I like this chart because not only do I get turned on to new artists, or find out when old faves have anew release, they have samples of several songs right there on the charts plus links to record company home pages, etc.

You can just bookmark it and know that a fresh chart is up on the first of every month, or you can click on "newsletter" (I think) and they will send you an email every time a fresh chart comes out.

So, here's the link.

You can also buy music right from the charts and read up on the djs and retailers who make up the committee. It's also kind of helpful that they list what country an artist is from right on the charts.

It's a handy resource, but remember just because you see it here doesn't mean a recording will be easy to find on this side of the pond. Not to mention the Euro vs. the dollar thing is still bad news. But it may mean a link to a free download of a really fun song, like when they had Magnifico's "Land of Champions" as a freebee on his site.

Gotta go. See you next time.