50 cool facts about the Minnesota music scene

Categories: Lists, Local Music
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Here's a not-so-secret fact about Minnesota music: People love to talk about how much they love the scene here. Musicians from both out-of-state and the Twin Cities have gone out of their way to pen odes to our town and its vibrant community, from Atmosphere to Lucinda Williams Tom Waits to Mark Mallman, who just dropped his new single, "Minneapolis," this week.

What's all the fuss about, anyway? We decided to crack open the history books and a few back issues of City Pages to compile a list of lovable facts about the last several decades of Minnesota music, ranging from the obvious (yes, Prince and Dylan made the list) to some lesser-known facts that just might surprise you. 

Read on, and feel free to leave your own factoids in the comments. We love this stuff.

50. The song "Funkytown" by Lipps Inc. was about the band's desire to leave Minneapolis for New York.

49. Before Epic was an event center it was called the Quest, a club owned by former Prince bodyguard and business manager Gilbert Davison. 

48. The late Sonia Peterson, founder of Hairpolice, is responsible for creating many a rock star's famous 'dos, including that of George Clinton and the lead singer of Information Society (who was her longtime boyfriend).

47. Janet Jackson credits the city of Minneapolis for much of her early success.

46. Ms. Jackson worked closely with production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who rose to fame in the '80s recording Twin Cities acts like Mint Condition and Alexander O'Neal and national musicians like Janet's brother Michael, New Edition, Boyz II Men, and Patti LaBelle in their Flyte Time Studios. Flyte Time was also the name of their early-'80s funk band, which later morphed into the Time.

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City Pages file photo
The Loring Pasta Bar, formerly Grey's Drug Store
45. Before moving to New York City, Bob Dylan lived above what is now the Loring Pasta Bar in Dinkytown, then Grey's Drug Store.

44. In 1969, Tom Jung and Herb Pilhofer opened Sound 80 in Minneapolis, the first studio in the world to engineer and release digital recording. Sound 80 went on to record many Grammy Award-winning musicians, like Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens.

43. In addition to historically being a Midwest hub for genres like hip-hop and indie rock, the Twin Cities also have a rich classical music scene. The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, for example, is the only professional, full-time chamber orchestra in the country.

42. Famous musicians used make appointments with Let It Be Records owner Ryan Cameron to sift through his private collection in the basement of the legendary but now defunct shop on Nicollet. The store closed in 2005 to make way for a condo project that never took off. 

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Andrew Broder and Yoni Wolf as Hymie's Basement
41. Before starting popular hip-hop/indie rock/folk band WHY?, lead singer Yoni Wolf and Twin Cities-based Andrew Broder pioneered a similar eclectic sound in a collaborative called Hymie's Basement. The band was named after Hymie's Vintage Records, a Minneapolis music store where much of their only album was recorded.

40. Prince recorded portions of Purple Rain during a live performance at First Avenue in 1983. Enough said.

39. In the late '90s, Bassgasm promoter Woody McBride, Sound In Motion founder Jack Trash, and Compass booking agent Rich Best (who is now VP of booking at Live Nation) formed a trifecta called "Mile High" promoting DJ parties in the Twin Cities. From 1997 to 2002 (give or take), they threw some of the sickest dance events Midwest and put this region on the rave map. One for the record books: The "Soundburnt" all-night party at Roy Wilkins in St. Paul.

38. In 1968, a Hibbing-born musician outsold the Beatles. The Minnesota-related version of the Fab Four was named Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and bore no relation to Kirby.

37. Sound 80, the legendary studio that gave birth to Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks," is considered the world's first digital recording studio. It's now the headquarters of Orfield Laboratories and home to an anechoic chamber considered "the quietest place on earth."

36. Yanni attended the University of Minnesota in the late 1970s and played keyboards for several local rock bands.



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56 comments
brinktastee
brinktastee

I sure miss the uptown bar's breakfast.They had really good coffee too. <sigh>

bhunt12
bhunt12

Does anyone here have any information about a band called The Criminals?  They played the Stroh's Winter Carnival at the St. Paul Civic Center in February 1988.  Thanks!

alexjarvis88
alexjarvis88

Before it was the Quest, that Epic space was called Glam Slam, which was owned by Prince (and Gilbert, I believe), and it had his Prince emblem set in the dancefloor.  For some time during that Glam Slam/Quest era, there was an extra room in the venue called the Ascot room.  It was decorated to look like a garden and had painting on the wall by a woman whose name I would love to be reminded of because her art was awesome in that spiritual/astrology/tarot card kind of style.  The upstairs was also decorated, to look like it was outer space.

mikerose55413
mikerose55413

Don't forget about the MN metal scene ! We matter too !!!!!

arexandra
arexandra

lets not forgot the role minneapolis plays in punk music beyond HUSKER DU, BABES IN TOYLAND  or D4. for example HAVOC RECORDS as well as PROFANE EXISTENCE   are labels that have existed for 25+ years in a DIY capacity. they continue to put out records for bands all around the world. also EXTREME NOISE RECORDS has been serving minneapolis for 20 years as an all volunteer, collectively run record store serving exclusively punk/hardcore/metal costumers with hundreds of titles.  people all around the world know about that shit.   not to mention VINTAGE MUSIC COMPANY the largest and only all 78s record store in the country.   

arexandra
arexandra

lets not forgot the role minneapolis plays in punk music beyond HUSKER DU, BABES IN TOYLAND  or D4. for example HAVOC RECORDS as well as PROFANE EXISTENCE   are labels that have existed for 25+ years in a DIY capacity. they continue to put out records for bands all around the world. also EXTREME NOISE RECORDS has been serving minneapolis for 20 years as an all volunteer, collectively run record store serving exclusively punk/hardcore/metal costumers with hundreds of titles.  people all around the world know about that shit.   not to mention VINTAGE MUSIC COMPANY the largest and only all 78s record store in the country.   

Colleen
Colleen

All of these facts are not helping at all

TomDunn
TomDunn

Good list. Also, Bobby Vee recorded "Suzie Babyat Soma Records, Mpls. in 1959 and some of his children play in a Minnesota based band knownas, "The Vees."

Guest
Guest

Funkytown was written by Steven Green one night when he came home drunk

Matt
Matt

Book with Absolute ProductionsGet your band out there! Get shows! Get results!Let us help you plan your next event.www.bookabsolute.com

Dowghouserob
Dowghouserob

Why have I not heard of the Band Johny Trash before last Saturday! They did a reunion show at Deans Tavern. I was not planning on staying to watch them, but I am glad I did. They Rocked! A cover band that did not play 80s crap. They are like this psyco billy rock country in your face fun to watch band.

Rustedeccentric
Rustedeccentric

Its called prince is overrated and and nobody cares.

Barbie
Barbie

Yanni lived in a house where the Wedge Food Co-op now sits in the Whittier neighborhood with my brother-in-law

Andy
Andy

Goldfinger Bassist Kelly LeMieux is from Faribault, MN.

Minneapolis band Spymob used to tour with N*E*R*D. They might still, I have no idea..And how is there NO mention of Pachyderm Studios down in Cannon Falls??Nirvana recorded In Utero there. Live, Soul Asylum, Mudvayne, and a ton of other big names have recorded there as well..

countrygirl
countrygirl

No mention of the Flame Cafe!!!  Maybe there need to be 100 cool facts...

pots and pans
pots and pans

That's what I'm talkin' about. Minnesota has two of the best things in this country: Great music and great lakes. Gotta love the "up north" cabins!

Westbankal
Westbankal

You left out the "Prairie Home Companion".  You didn't mention the national Soma hits "Muleskinner Blues" (the Fendermen) and "Six Days on the Road" (Dave Dudley) released on their Golden Wind sub-label. And Wilebski's, the Triangle, the Extemp, the New Riverside or the Rainbow Gallery. Or the Rolling Stones at Big Reggies. Or the film "Survivors". Or the international Vaudeville star in the 20s, Olle i Skratthult, whose record "Nikolina" sold over 100,000 copies.Perhaps these are all beyond the scope of this little article or the City Pages target audience. 

Leonard Fischer
Leonard Fischer

Less than 12 hours ago, I was boasting to a buddy here in DC how I was spoiled by the richness and diversity of the Twin Cities' music scene when I lived in Minneapolis from 1993 to 1997. Live bands at First Ave., concerts at Orchestra Hall and the Ordway, Broadway shows at The State and The Orpheum -- I have fond memories of all of them from my time in Minnesota. Your article brings back even more memories, and I look forward to sharing your article with my buddy. 

Some constructive criticism: You mentioned the wonderful St Paul Chamber Orchestra but nothing about 10-time Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin's ("Don't Worry Be Happy") connection to it. If memory serves me correctly, he was hired as the orchestra's creative director during the mid 90s, and he might still serve today in that or some other capacity with the organization. That tidbit seems just as notable - and arguably more notable -- as Yanni attending the University of Minnesota in the 1970s.

Cincinnati is spelled with two "n's" and one "t." Your piece will have some search-engine "cred" so I'd save yourself from future embarrassment and fix the misspelling straight away. You or your editor can probably update the piece in a minute or two.

Again, thanks for the memories. 

studiocitizen
studiocitizen

Anybody remember a folk singer named Kathy Braaten?  She lived in Minneapolis and played the college circuit back in the '80's.  She was great.

Skipast75
Skipast75

hey Taxpayer... Anything Rhymesayers produces is pretty big. Especially out West. They live in Minneapolis. Most came from Minneapolis. Big stuff is still happening there.

Skipast75
Skipast75

Amazes me how people from Minneapolis always forget that 'WEEN' got there start in minneapolis. 'God Ween Satan' was recorded at Twin/Tone and there first show was at 7th Street Entry.

bb
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don't bother to comment about the author.she will delete your comment!!!

Bobsmith
Bobsmith

52. Yanni studied at the U of M

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#2 Um, Courtney love was NEVER a member of Babes In Toyland!!!! more like a groupie...DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!!! or call Lori...haha!

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#23 Nirvana played the Uptown bar...

K6
K6

The Replacements cover house is on Bryant and 26th, give or take two number streets

p-ro74
p-ro74

It should also be mentioned that the beatles had there big meltdown when they were here.after that they pretty much quit touring,started taking acid,and getting more experemental mucically (revolver,ect.)

Big Hits of the Midwest guy
Big Hits of the Midwest guy

The list could have been so much better with a little accurate detail discovered by talking to someone over the age of 30 who has been around the Twin Citys music scene.

Whatever9
Whatever9

#49 - It was called GLAM SLAM when Prince ran it.

Westbankal
Westbankal

Whoops! the Soma sub-label was Golden Wing, not Golden Wind. My proof-reader had the day off.

Blah
Blah

actually just got out of a rhymesayers show....between them, doomtree, and Astronautalis moving there, im convinced that Minneapolis is the only city in existence if you love underground hip hop.

bb
bb

wikipedia is wrong as well...

StP
StP

And recorded In Utero at Pachyderm.

FQwerty
FQwerty

>> the beatles had there big meltdown when they were here

If you made it up, it must be true.

bb
bb

PRINCE never ran it, his manager did. however your right, it was named Glam Slam.This speaks to the age of the writer...I guess a hipster 20something???

bb
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I was replying to "Whatever9"

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RESEARCH!!!!

Corey
Corey

Yes, but it was originally Glam Slam.  Prince didn't own this Glam Slam, but he owned others around the country.

bb
bb

how come you keep deleting my comment?talk about freedom of speech...geez!

THE COMMENT WAS IN REFERENCE TO WHATEVER9!!!Maybe you should put up a disclaimer saying you only approve comments you like...

bb
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I was replying to "Whatever9"

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PS. I was also commenting to "Whatever9"

bb
bb

how does that tell the reader it was called "Glam Slam" there were several around the country...

Reed Fischer
Reed Fischer

That bullet point clearly reads "a club owned by former Prince bodyguard and business manager Gilbert Davison."

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