Music Posts

Highlights: UMD Choir and Vocal Jazz Fall 2020 Concert

Singers at the University of Minnesota Duluth overcame great odds this semester during the COVID-19 pandemic. They wore masks and rehearsed online, outdoors and in large lecture halls, ultimately sharing their musical talents in a virtual concert on Nov. 13. Some highlights are in the clip above.

An audience of more than 150 joined together on Zoom to hear the University Singers, Concert Chorale, Chamber Singers, Lake Effect and Chill Factor perform on location in Weber Music Hall, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, and around Duluth and the UMD Campus.

Release of Sofia Logan’s debut album

Stillwater-based artist Sofia Logan has released her debut album, Waiting for You, Waiting for Me. The album was recorded in December 2019 in a home near the University of Minnesota Duluth that houses what is believed to be one of the city’s first recording studios.

Teague Alexy – “Christmas Bells, Holiday Drums (Jingle, Jangle)”

New Christmas music from Teague Alexy, featuring Brian Wells on bass.

Produced and written by Teague Alexy, mixed and mastered by Jake Larson, recorded at the Igloo in Duluth. Artwork by Heidi Feroe, art direction and graphic design by Joshua Priestley.

Some of My Indie Rock Guitar Goddess She-roes

My favorite musicians are women. Who’s the coolest member of the Pixies? Kim Deal! You don’t even have to think about it for a second. And my favorite genre is indie rock. Indie is not major label, and not pop enough to score strings of giant hits. The term is frequently applied to punk-lineage garage-y guitar bands, but not exclusively.

The past few years I’ve discovered many indie chick rockers and all-female bands. Here are some highlights. This (not comprehensive!) list showcases indie women who play guitar or bass, either solo or in bands, who have been active in the past five years. Therefore many of my classic faves have been excluded — for instance a suite of 1980s and ’90s rockers. I will write about them one day, but here the focus is on contemporary artists.

My descriptions are fleshed out with links to music videos, interviews, rig rundowns, and live performances. Consider this part one of a projected series as I have more to write about, including Duluthians who will get their own essay. Here goes — some of my indie rock guitar goddess she-roes:

James G – “No Pressure”

Here’s the latest from former Duluthian James Geisler, aka hip-hop artist JamesG.

Eric Thiegs – “Duluth”

There’s not a lot of info about musician Eric Thiegs available on the internet, but we do know a song called “Duluth” appeared on his 2005 album Distant & Clean. Maybe he’s “a boy from Duluth” singing with “a girl from the city.”

enTraance – “Quarantine”

“Quarantine” is the first music video for Twin Cities-based band enTraance, featuring the beautiful landscapes of Duluth and the north shore of Lake Superior.

Breanne Marie & the Front Porch Sinners – “Central Hillside ’91”

Presenting the world premiere of “Central Hillside ’91,” the new single and video from Breanne Marie & the Front Porch Sinners. The song is full of early 1990s nostalgia, and the video was shot and edited by David Syring, with scenes captured in Duluth’s Central Hillside neighborhood, of course.

The Musician as Inventor

The recent passing of Eddie Van Halen reminded me of a favorite topic: the musician as inventor. I refer to the invention of objects, techniques, and concepts. It’s invention in the service of an art form. For instance, musical instruments are invented, then shaped with further inventions which make additional modifications possible. Musicians have always been inventors. Here are some of my favorite examples.

Rock and Roll Itself

The invention of rock music, with its pedigree of blues, gospel, and so on, is these days commonly attributed to Chuck Berry in the early 1950s. Berry produced the musical mutant that would conquer the world when he combined rhythm and blues with country and western guitar licks, then packaged it with guitar solos and other showmanship. His signature duck walk may be considered a lasting invention, still in use by Angus Young of AC/DC who credits Berry for, well, everything. Berry was influenced by Sister Loretta Tharpe, whose 1944 song, “Strange Things Happening Every Day,” is sometimes considered the first rock record.

The Slice: Ian Alexy

Musician Ian Alexy is documenting his life and career during the COVID-19 pandemic through a documentary titled Making it Shine.

In its series The Slice, WDSE-TV presents short “slices of life” that capture the events and experiences that bring people together and speak to what it means to live up north.

Gavin St. Clair “Goodbye” EP Release Show

Duluth-based folk singer Gavin St. Clair has a new EP titled Goodbye and performed a livestream concert last night on Facebook. The show starts around the 3:25 mark on the video above. Fundraising campaigns can be found at paypal.me/gavinstclair and venmo.com/gavin-clair.

Matinee Musicale: 120 Years of Chamber Music

Matinee Musicale has been putting on chamber music performances in Duluth since 1900. This year the entire season of performances will be online, for free, released monthly on Matinee Musicale’s YouTube channel.

The Slice: Jazmin Wong

Jazmin Wong, a pianist from Superior, shares about how her family inspires her to compose music.

In its series The Slice, WDSE-TV presents short “slices of life” that capture the events and experiences that bring people together and speak to what it means to live up north.

The Brothers Burn Mountain – “I Just Walk Away”

The third video release from the Brothers Burn Mountain‘s new album The Dark Exchange was shot by Ryan Dermody. The brothers are joined musically on this track by Alan Sparhawk on electric guitar and vocals, and Brooke Anderson and Dawn King on vocals.

Creating Apart: Lyz Jaakola

Lyz Jaakola is a musician and teacher from Cloquet, Minnesota. In this video by documentary filmmaker Mike Scholtz, Lyz talks about how her family responded to the pandemic with music.

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