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Archive for April, 2010

Ryan Paul & THE ARDENT - Patches & Gretchen

This week we will be performing with the critically acclaimed Patches & Gretchen. Gretchen Seichrist is Aimee Mann’s sister. However, I don’t hear any of Aimee in what Gretchen has done with her music. In describing Patches & Gretchen, the Star Tribune said, “Imagine Chrissie Hynde if she were really into barbecue, or Patti Smith if she knew how to make hot dish, and you get an idea of the odd charm and meaty power.” Yeah. That. But in a rad sorta way.

I remember seeing Gretchen posting video after video of her songs on facebook. The woman is certainly prolific.

When we juggled the idea of where we wanted to do this gig, Palmer’s came up. I’ve never played in there. I haven’t actually been in there since college. So this is going to be a first time adventure for me. I keep on telling people that I’m not sure what this gig is going to be like – because I don’t have a clue. However, I think that with the ingredients going into the night, it will probably be one we talk about for a long time…

Join us:
Thursday, April 29
10pm
Palmer’s
500 Cedar Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55454-1224
$3

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I’m really excited to announce that our song, “Meet Me Where I Am“, will be part of Wing Huie’s “University Avenue Project”.

Presented by Public Art Saint Paul, Wing Young Huie’s University Avenue Project: The Language of Urbanism, a Six-Mile Photographic Inquiry, will transform a major urban thoroughfare in Saint Paul, Minnesota, into a six-mile public gallery of over 400 photographs. Wing’s images reveal the dizzying socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic realities of the citizens who work, live, and go to school along this corridor that is jammed with storefronts, taverns, big-box retailers, blue-collar neighborhoods and condominium communities.

Built and still sustained by immigrant populations of the late 19th century, the University Avenue corridor is now home to one of America’s highest concentrations of new immigrants. Blending documentary photography with revelatory statements by his subjects, Wing has created a tapestry of images and words that raise complex issues of race, class, gender, sexual preference, immigration, religion and cultural disconnection. The University Avenue Project is a chronicle the colliding and evolving American experience.

More than than 70 store windows and surfaces form the gallery and stretch from the Minneapolis border to the Minnesota State Capitol. Large mural scale images on building walls will be visible for blocks.A spectacular Project(ion) site created by Northern Lights.mn will nightly project Wing’s images onto billboard-size screens, accompanied by recorded soundtracks from local musicians.

This opportunity was a huge honor for me as a songwriter. I am not only an appreciator of Wing Huie’s work, but credit him as partially responsible for a song like “Meet Me Where I Am” existing in my songbook.

At twenty years old, I lived in Uptown Minneapolis. As a young adult who had been raised in the suburbs, lived in Uptown, and played gigs downtown and in Dinkytown, I had never ventured into the Chicago/Lake area of South Minneapolis. I had been warned for years about how dangerous it was and avoided it at all costs.

In July of 2000 I had to take the 21 Bus down Lake Street all the way to downtown St. Paul. I remember passing by the boarded up Sears building (now the Midtown Global Market) and seeing Huie’s photos up from his “Lake Street USA” exhibit. I peered out the smudged bus window with eyes wide open and curiosity piqued.

On the way back to Minneapolis I nervously pulled the stop cord on the 21 Bus and stepped out onto Lake Street and Chicago Avenue. I wandered up and down the street all afternoon looking at Wing’s stunning photography. When the sun was starting to creep below the buildings I noticed that I had been on those “dangerous” blocks for hours and had not yet been robbed or beat up. In fact, no one even looked at me funny (which is something that happens to me daily in the Uptown neighborhood).

Fast forward a few years and you’ll find me riding in a car driving around the urban neighborhoods of South Minneapolis and writing down some of the thoughts that would go into “Meet Me Where I Am”. I also spent nearly two years living at Oakland Ave. and Lake St., which is the very same neighborhood I had been so terrified to set foot in.

To me, Wing Huie’s work does not say that these neighborhoods are impoverished and in need of assistance. I don’t see gangs, crime, drugs. These images do not strike me with fear. No, I look at those photographs and see beauty that I may not have ever seen without his nudge to get outside myself and off of the bus. In the eyes of the people Huie has photographed, I see hard years which have apportioned them rich with cognition, substance, and plenty of joy.

Please join me and several others as we celebrate the opening of this extraordinary exhibit on May 1, 2010. Details can be found HERE.

Ryan Paul
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