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Posts Tagged ‘Erik Koskinen’

Quickly: I was a last minute side-note to a very cool event that happened last weekend at The Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. Local music legend, Adam Levy, and Lily Troia of Invisible Button Entertainment put together a sold out show called “A Tribute to Al Kooper: Featuring Al Kooper“.

If you are unaware of the name Al Kooper, you wouldn’t be the first. However, I promise you that you have heard Al and you didn’t know it. Have you ever heard “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones? He produced that. Have you ever had a voyage into Southern Rock by listening to Lynyrd Synyrd? He discovered and produced them. You know that amazing organ part on “Like A Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan? You guessed it, Al Kooper.

The first half of the evening was thick with talent and anticipation as local musicians Adam Levy, Alicia Wiley, Alison Scott, Kevin Bowe, Erik Koskinen, Brian Just, David Campbell, Martin Devaney, Kate Murray, Joe Savage, Ashleigh Still, John Eller [there are more… my hands are tired] performed Kooper’s songs with Al giving a pre recorded intro and story to each. After a short intermission, Kooper himself took the stage.

The encore was especially cool to me as I was able to take the stage with all of these fine folks to sing half a verse of “Like A Rolling Stone”, sandwiched between Erik Koskinen and Martin Devaney and Mr Al Kooper to my right grinding away at the Hammond organ. What a thrill!

I sat back and recalled the short period of time that made that experience possible. You see, we played Palmer’s on Thursday with Patches & Gretchen. It was hot and sticky and sweaty and awesome. With the absence of Steve Goold, we had our friend Jeffrey Dunitz beating on some noise makers and Cory Eischen provided us with a robotic drummer to fill in the rest. It was so weird!

Halfway through that set, the door flung open and there was Lily, Adam, and Al. My first internal reaction was You brought him to this gig!?!? I tried to forget that there was a musical legend in the room and the five of us rocked the end of that set as hard as we could with what we had (Levy hopped on some percussion for our closer, making it extra cool and unique).

To make a long story short, I was able to have a really nice conversation with someone I never thought I’d meet (much less at Palmer’s) and I got an invite to sing on stage with them all on Sunday.

Al Kooper Tribute by Stephen Cohen
Photo by Stephen Cohen

My lesson: You never know who you’ll run into at Palmer’s.

Thanks Lily, Adam, and Al.
.rp

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Coming up on Friday(March 26) of this week is the “Jennefit“. Cute name, right? I’ll spit some specifics and then get into my thoughts on the show. Proceeds from the show will be given to photographer, Jenn Barnett, to buy a new camera so she may begin anew her undeniably indispensable job of documenting the Minneapolis music scene.

When? March 26th, 2010
Where? The Turf Club in St. Paul, MN
Who?

How Much? $10 (advance tix available via Indietickets)

I know Jenn pretty well at this point. It didn’t take me long to develop a relationship with her because she was everywhere I went on a weekend. I think Rebecca Lang from the Star Tribune put it best with: “Minneapolis has its share of photo pit junkies who manage to post galleries of the previous night’s shows on Flickr before the rest of us have had our coffee. One of them (being) Jenn Barnett.”

Music mastermind, Ed Ackerson, said,  “Jenn is golden, a huge asset for our community as a whole.”

I find it so cool that Ed used the word “community“.

We live in a world that is gasping for air in our current economic climate. It seems that every single industry (including the music industry) is asking the same question: how will we survive today? I’ve sat by and watched as dreams of Motley Crüe limousines have turned to aspirations to make rent. Many have argued that the shift has been one that has been good for the industry. In theory, I agree. However, the shift is not as temperate as one would like to believe.

Instead of leveling the income playing field for musicians, this economy simply has those who made more, making a little less. It has those who were making some, making none.

I will acknowledge that our enterprise does not have a measurable imprint on those who are pinched by the recession. We don’t offer goods or services that will keep  roofs over heads or food in the bellies. No matter how much we want to play ourselves off as “artists”, the fact of the matter is that we work in the entertainment industry. When budgets get snug, the first belt-tightening goes around the waist of our craft.

Lately, one hears pep talks and Presidential addresses telling us to “pull together” in order to triumph (or even make it through a fiscal quarter). When I hear phrases like “pull together”, I almost automatically think of a community.

The word “community” has become a bit of a buzz anthem, but I don’t believe the concept has lost all meaning. However, it’s NOT a gathering of a few people who get along reasonably well and have the same ideals. Communities give life to the whole body. A community contains people of all different sizes, races, colors, talents, drives, etc. With all of these differences, the group can work together far better than one alone. I have often dreamed of an artist/musician community, not just here in Minneapolis, but around the world.

It’s easy to mention artist/musician comradeship, but is a bit of a challenge to plan and implement. There are so many steps and not one of them can happen overnight. But I have a few ideas on how to start…

Who am I?
I think the first step to moving into an artist/music community is to know yourself. It’s important to know your own strengths and weaknesses. If someone approached me asking me to play on a punk record, or to sub at a punk show, my immediate response would be to pass it off to a member of the community who specializes in that genre. That may be an easy example, but if I add that this particular punk gig was high paying, then maybe I would have you thinking twice. (I am aware of the irony of this example. There is no such thing as a high paying punk gig.)

My hope with passing on the punk gig would be that if he/she were approached with an indie or alt country opportunity, that it would be passed on to me. The funny thing is that once I became aware of areas where I am lacking, it became easier for me to plug areas where I am effective.

Give first – Take last
It is witnessed over and over again that when an organization like The Red Cross offers relief to an impoverished area, the concern of the starving civilians starts with their neighbors instead of themselves. When a small portion of food is given to a famished and malnourished victim of poverty, the first thing they do is turn around and give the ENTIRE food package to another member of their community. Can we learn something from this?

How about this: In order to join most co-ops, unions, or other social affiliations, one must pay some kind of entry fee. These funds go into a pot that will benefit the entire outfit. Upon paying our ante, we know that for us to succeed, the entire group must succeed. Jerry Greenfield (Ben & Jerry’s) once said “If your support the community, they will support you.” This can/does relate to the musical community.

It has always interested me to watch the ways that musicians support one another. Our greatest tool for giving is our mouths*. In a world of social media, this should also be the easiest way for us to contribute to the overall community. A few months ago I went to see Chris Koza and The Honeydogs. At one point in the show I became overwhelmed by Peter Sieve’s (Chris Koza) guitar playing. My first reaction was to tell everyone I knew via twitter about my appreciation for his playing. My hope was to catch the attention of someone who may not have heard Chris’ music.

In January of 2010, I was given the opportunity to give Metro Magazine my top 5 local and national records of 2009. That was a thrill for me as I am always telling anyone who will listen about my appreciation for some of our talented Minneapolis musicians. Some are friends. Some I have never met. It doesn’t matter.

*I once saw a band finish a set in Brooklyn and were handing flyers out to people after they had torn down their gear. I asked their guitar player if they were plugging friends of theirs. He said, “Never met em. Love their EP though. We printed these at Kinko’s ourselves. You should go.”

Inclusive vs. Exclusive
Last summer, I sat with a musician who has gold records hanging on the wall in his studio. He’s written songs that have won awards I will most likely never touch. He had just gotten off the phone with a talent buyer at a local venue and was (understandably) miffed. The more he processed his frustrations verbally, he said “Do you know that Austin has nearly the same demographic as Minneapolis? They have SXSW. We have Ribfest.”

This musician went on to voice his love for the inclusive music communities all over the USA and being heart-broken by the exclusive scene here in Minneapolis. I wrote him off as being a little dramatic, but started to take notice around the city. He was partly right. We have locked ourselves into our genres and friend groups. We’ll support those who participate in our tiny “labels”, but only if they support us back. Because, on a Saturday night, we’re “in it for ourselves”.

I can’t count the green rooms I have been in where I have seen bands hurriedly thumbing through calendars in publications looking for their “competition” on the evening. Competition? Are you serious?

It doesn’t have to be that way. The Jennefit is a prime example.

Speaking of competition…
If I were to pick out an industry in Minneapolis that is “competitive”, I would easily point at the photographers of our city. Like Rebecca noted (above), there are tons of them at every venue shooting every show. When I was contacted about playing the Jennefit, I was shocked to find that another local photographer, elli rader, was the driving force behind it. In a cut-throat business, elli wants nothing more than for Jenn to get her camera fixed so she can jump back into business and potentially take customers from her. Does that blow your mind? If it doesn’t, you might need to read it again.

Our models…
elli rader is a classic example of “Give first – Take last” as she has spent a great deal of time and energy on the Jennefit. Musicians who are out night after night, paying door covers, and supporting local musicians are good illustrations. Local musicians who walk straight to the “local” section of record shops are the ones who show me how this is done. Artists and musicians, plugging one another, working together, giving first and taking last.

I’d like to claim that I practice all of these principles day in and out, but I don’t. I am still learning and growing. I have good prototypes to follow (people like elli rader). Younger musicians and artists watch all of you who have been creating successfully for years. Don’t think an eye is taken off of you for a second.

If this type of living is something that interests you, get to a show, a record store, or maybe even the Jennefit. And if you hear something you like, tell everyone you know!

Ryan Paul

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Just a quick heads up about an event being held in March…

I’m not going to tell you about Jenn Barnett. Either you already know, or you can read the posting below. I will tell you that Jenn is a close personal friend and I am delighted that elli rader has put this together and asked @RPandTA to be a part of it. So mark your calendars!

*p.s. isn’t that a rad picture of Chris Morrissey? That was a cool show. Bill Mike CD Release at the Cedar. Lotsa lights. Lotsa notes.

Ryan Paul

From Minneapolis Metblogs: http://minneapolis.metblogs.com/2010/02/03/the-jennefit-for-jenn-barnett/

Image by jennbarnett

Speaking of photography Paperlily is hosting a benefit to help local photog Jenn Barnett replace some gear.

Elli writes,

jenn has done *so* much for local musicians and helping to promote them, both through creating amazing images of their bands and telling people about their music . . . surely some of them would rally to help her replace her camera. and they would! they are! the bands i approached immediately embraced the idea of donating their time to help.

so i contacted the turf club and got a date for a benefit, and i started contacting bands. as of yesterday, we have the final lineup – although i’m certain that any of the bands on the bill would be willing to work in a cameo if anyone else wanted to get in on this. i started calling it the Jennefit (because i’m hilarious) even though that’s basically painful in it’s dorkiness. it’s super fun to say! say it out loud. do it! jennefit.

here’s what we are going to do, and i TOTALLY need your help, if you are reading this. we are going to the turf club on march 26th and we are going to watch these kick ass bands play until they make us all go home:

the honeydogs
molly maher
erik koskinen
ryan paul & the ardent
the mad ripple
(jim walsh)

Sounds like a pretty great line up, for more great pics check out JENN BARNETT PHOTOS

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