Musical Minneapolis: An Online Tour
“Musical Minneapolis: An Online Tour” is a virtual musical tour of the City of Minneapolis, featuring diverse voices from the community. It was originally written and recorded for the 2020 annual meetings of the Society for American Music (SAM) and the American Musicological Society (AMS), both of which would have been held in Minneapolis if not for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Music by Louis and Dan and the Invisible Band
Daniel Groll – Vocals and stylophone
Louis Epstein – Bass clarinet, melodica, vocals
Filmed and edited by Chris Flicek.
1 – Minneapolis the Musical City
In this video we feature a number of locations introduced in greater detail later in the virtual tour. If you like this video, we hope you’ll make a contribution to the Lake Street Council, which is spearheading efforts to rebuild a historic corridor in Minneapolis’s most diverse neighborhood after it sustained widespread damage during the unrest following George Floyd’s murder.
2 – Prince House
It has come to our attention that we completely missed mentioning the second most important Minneapolitan musician of all time (after Olive Fremstad, naturally) in our “Minneapolis the Musical City” virtual tour opening number. We apologize! To make up for the omission, here’s Louis in front of Prince’s childhood home.
3 – First Avenue
Our second stop on the tour is the iconic First Avenue and 7th St. Entry, Minnesota’s top popular music venue. It’s another important place for charting Prince’s rise to fame, but it’s probably most significant for serving as a filming location for Louis and Dan’s smash hit music video, “Minneapolis the Musical City.”
4 – First Avenue (cont’d)
In which Louis and Dan warm up with a little motivational parody (can you identify the original?) before taking the stage at First Avenue … or not.
5 – Tall Paul
We’re excited to share a clip of Ojibwe/Oneida hip-hop artist and activist Paul Wenell Jr., aka Tall Paul, performing his eloquent 2018 Red Poets Society song, “Make America Great.” Minneapolis was founded on Wahpekute and Mdewakanton land following the 1851 Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, a treaty that the US government soon violated, leading to the tragic Dakota War of 1862. (“Minneapolis” combines the Dakota word for water, “mni,” with the Greek “polis” or city.) Minneapolis’s present-day indigenous community plays a vital role in the city’s cultural life. Tall Paul spoke with us about the Minneapolis artists he admires most, including I Self Devine, Metasota, Freeze, Greg Rease, Wahwahtay Benais, and Thomas X.
6 – Tall Paul (cont’d)
To recognize indigenous artists in Minneapolis, we encourage you to donate to indigenous arts organizations. Minneapolis-based Migizi “nurtures the development of Native American youth in order to unleash their creativity and dreams;” their brand new building burned during the uprising following George Floyd’s murder. Tall Paul is represented by Dream Warriors Management, founded by Tanaya Winder. To donate to the Dream Warriors Scholarship, which encourages native youth to pursue their artistic dreams, contact dreamwarriorsmgmt [at] gmail [dot] com.
7 – Plymouth Congregational
Plymouth Congregational Church is a musical landmark with varied concert programming and several top-notch performing spaces. Its music director is the superb organist and conductor Philip Brunelle. The church is also a critical anchor for social services in this diverse downtown neighborhood, and the congregation is working to repair the community in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing unrest. To support their efforts, consider making a contribution to the Minneapolis Interfaith Relief Fund.
8 – Hanna Landrum
Here we speak with Hanna Landrum, second violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra and a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, who previously held the position of second principal violin in the Rochester Philharmonic. As you’ll hear, Hanna grew up in Minnesota and has a long history with both the Minnesota Orchestra and Orchestra Hall. During the interview you will hear a recent Minnesota Orchestra performance of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, op. 48, streamed live from Orchestra Hall on October 2, 2020 and available here.
9 – Orchestra Hall
Orchestra Hall is the home of the Minnesota Orchestra, founded by Emil Oberhoffer in 1903 as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. The ensemble changed its name to Minnesota Orchestra in 1968. After several decades performing in Northrop Memorial Auditorium at the University of Minnesota, the ensemble started performing in its current downtown location in 1974. The building’s current design came after a major renovation that began in 2012. Osmo Vänskä has been music director of the Minnesota Orchestra since 2003.
10 – Jillian Rae
Minneapolis has an incredible indie rock and folk scene, and one of its exemplars is Jillian Rae (IG: @jraemusic). A multi-instrumentalist whose songs combine pop, bluegrass, and classical influences with an indie rock core, Jillian has collaborated as violinist with a diverse array of acts and was set to tour in China when the pandemic struck. We interviewed her about music in Minneapolis in her backyard.
11 – Cedar Cultural Center
Our next stop is the Cedar Cultural Center, a folk music mecca in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. Visit the Cedar Cultural Center’s website. (Unfortunately, while Louis and Dan are ok professors and songwriters, we’re terrible videographers who forgot to turn the mic on when we recorded this clip, so we went back and dubbed it afterwards. We also took the opportunity to try out a Ken Burns-esque documentary style.)
12 – Joe Davis
In this stop we interview Joe Davis, a hip-hop and spoken word artist. We‘re featuring Joe and several other musicians working at the intersection of music and activism because they are working to make the city more just and equitable and deserve our thanks and support. In particular, we want to highlight Joe’s arts-centered, community-building non-profit H-Cubed. We interviewed Joe in front of one of two copies of the iconic mural of George Floyd by North Minneapolis-based artist Peyton Scott Russell, aka Daesk. One is here, on Glenwood Ave. in N. Minneapolis; the other is at the George Floyd Memorial at 38th and Chicago.
13 – Joe Davis (cont’d)
In this video, Joe Davis performs his new piece, “Hold On,” written in response to George Floyd’s murder and the unrest that followed. Joe premiered this piece at a memorial concert in South Minneapolis on June 13th. If you like this piece, we encourage you to check out Joe’s YouTube channel.
14 – Lake Harriet Bandshell
The Lake Harriet Bandshell is a historic outdoor venue for summer concerts, perched on the northern shore of beautiful Lake Harriet. Normally the Minneapolis Parks Board features two performances a day throughout the summer. A bandshell has been sitting at this location since 1888. That first bandshell burned down in 1891; the second burned down in 1903; the third fell in a windstorm in 1925; then a temporary replacement lasted until 1986, when it was replaced by the current structure.
15 – Minnehaha Falls
If you feel your energy flagging, you might consider taking a virtual walk over to Minnehaha Falls, through which water from Lake Harriet and several other lakes travels before emptying into the Mississippi River. The falls were also the inspiration for Wadsworth’s “Song of Hiawatha” poem, and the Dakota etymology of the falls’ name is related to that of Minneapolis itself.
16 – Northrop Auditorium
We interviewed several Minneapolis musicians in front of historic Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium, which is at The U (aka The University of Minnesota). The Minnesota Orchestra performed here for over 4 decades before moving to their current, downtown location. The Auditorium originally seated more than 4,800 so as to accommodate the entire student body in the early 1930s, but a 2011 renovation reduced seating to 2,692. The venue hosts concerts, lectures, graduation ceremonies, and other events.
17 – Abbie Betinis
Here we interview Abbie Betinis, a Minneapolis-based composer, publisher, and the Executive Director of Justice Choir, a participatory, community- and activism-oriented new music project. You can find Abbie’s music at abbiebetinis.com and you can download the Justice Choir songbook for free (but you should make a donation, too) at justicechoir.org.
18 – Ahmed Anzaldua
Featured here, Ahmed Anzaldúa is co-founder of Justice Choir, co-editor of the Justice Choir Songbook, Director of Music Ministries at Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, and the founder and director of Border CrosSing Choir. Border CrosSing Choir’s mission is “to integrate historically-segregated audiences and musicians through the performance of choral music,” but since the murder of George Floyd they’ve been on the front lines of relief work in South Minneapolis. We encourage you to donate to support his work.