Produced by

Minnesota's Musical Muscle

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 - 01:22 PM

Like many Americans who didn’t actually live there, I always thought of Minneapolis and St. Paul as the land of Mary Tyler Moore, snow, and the Vikings (whose games always seemed to be played in the snow – which was football the way God intended it to be. Moving that team indoors to a domed stadium was a crime against humanity and nature). But in the 80s, the Twin Cities showed their seamy underbelly to the world. First came Prince, who in his earliest years scandalized listeners with his overt and possibly omnivorous sexuality, but who calmed down enough to become a major pop star. Fortunately, the slack was picked up by some of America’s greatest punk and post-punk bands, like Hüsker Du and The Replacements.

But the Twin Cities seem to stand apart from the flavor-of-the-month nature of America’s rock scene – Athens, GA in the 80s, Seattle in the 90s, Austin in the 00s – because they never really had a single musical moment, opting instead to slowly but steadily produce terrific musicians of almost every stripe. Let’s not forget the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra was an early and important supporter of Bobby McFerrin when he took up the conducting baton. The Minneapolis Orchestra has a long history and has had a few internationally-acclaimed conductors. I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m betting you can find some of the best Scandinavian folk fiddling in America there too. And now we’re seeing a lively hip-hop scene developing in the Twin Cities.

So what’s going on there? Does having to spend 6 months of the year huddled indoors fire your creativity? And if YOU were going to the Republican National Convention there this week, and could see any Minneapolis/St. Paul musician(s) you wanted, who would it be?


More in:

Comments [2]


Great words on MN music scene. I was there growing up and again in the early 70's. The community simply goes for the best...Davies, Skrowaczski, Hugh Wolff,
etc. and even though they might leave for "better" turf, the orchestras stay fixed on strong work and great output. The Twin Cities is unique putting two orchestras back to back and in the black on top of it. Yes, the cold helps keep brains energized, but the state helps keep money in the front row for creativity in art. It shows and I miss my home state.

Sep. 02 2008 10:32 PM

Growing up there in the 90's you couldn't help but be apart of the midwests electronic scene, mixing milwaukee hardcore, chicago house (jungle l8r) Detroit techno, and minneapois acid. It was magical, the dj and moreso the machine ruled the postindustrial, and exurb warehouses. The experimental scence birthed with and influenced from that, The cold and snow turns one in and music is an obvious out. Wed drve thru blizzards to play KFAI. I'd go back to the first Further rave and see aphex twin again. Or a small mpls rave in 94. It was punks adoption of the machine, and it was special.

Sep. 02 2008 09:21 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.


About The Soundcheck Blog

Get hot takes and deep dives from John Schaefer and the rest of the Soundcheck crew, as fast as sound travels.