On Curtiss A (tonight!), the silencing of Mischke, and more

MONDAY MORNING PLAYBACK

Curtiss A, “Tribute to John Lennon” (tonight, First Avenue). Highly unprecedented to break from Monday Morning Playback tradition to preview a show, but this one is always a gas, the reviews always stellar, and there aren’t many places can you can find Ernie Batson and Eric Eskola front and center, worshiping. Plus, Instant Karma should be in full effect tonight, given that the bums are being thrown out and Hope is arriving in dribs and drabs. Which reminds me: As long as I live, this phoner with Curt and Yoko will be one of my all-time favorite things. It was conducted in 2000, at a time of relative peace, so tonight when the question of, “So this is Christmas, and what have you done?” rises up, the answer for all concerned must be something like, “Helped replace Worst President Ever with an adult.”

Tommy Mischke (KSTP-AM, 1992-2008).
Everyone and their brother is getting laid off these days, but some hurt more than others. Management fired Mischke on Friday, and when they did, a palpable chill went out over “big time Minneapolis and good ol’ St. Paul.” Sure enough, times are tight, but after eight years of wearing the Bush chastity belt, they are also opening up intellectually and artistically, and KSTP’s move seems woefully behind the curve. Which is to say that seasoned minds are rare in these times of mass punditry, and voices as genuinely authentic, outraged, imaginative, and community-connected as Mischke’s won’t be silenced long. Stay tuned.

Lori Barbero’s going-away party (Dec. 7, Grumpy’s in Roseville). Last night I went to Bikram Yoga and ran into ex-Wallet Steve Kramer, who told me he recently did yoga 60 days in a row, and damned if the old mofo-guru didn’t look like it. With the sounds of “Totally Nude” and “Lost My Billfold” freshly planted in my head (not to mention images of Kramer ripping the cash register off its hinges in the old Entry and then running down 7th Street), I headed over to Tom Hazelmyer’s big bar, a sort of a punk-rock combo of Culver’s, Cracker Barrel and Champps that would look great in my, or any, neighborhood.

Pat Dwyer played all the hits (“New Rose” by the Damned sounded especially great), and people talked about the old days, the way our parents talked about their time at the Prom Ballroom. Ms. Barbero herself was in full-on dance mode, and it got my inner Barbara Flanagan to thinking that if something like this can happen, someone should commission a Mary Tyler Moore-esque statue of Lori, now that she’s off to the warmer climes of Austin, Texas. Happy trails, babe.

Holly Gleason, “What You Don’t See: What the Dreamers, Stars and Singers of Songs Do When No One’s Around.”

Gleason is one of the most passionate country music reporters/essayists in the land, and this kind of breezy riff too rarely hits the page anymore. A sample:

“At a time when it’s easy to blame the mainstream, these are the moments that prove how wrong that notion can be. Business is as business always will be: about the numbers. But for the people who live for the music … here far away, only for themselves, it is the piano fills rising and falling, the acoustic guitar chords chopping up time like rocks of emotional cocaine.

“In this space, it’s obvious what matters. Unseen, though it is, it is absolutely something for the fans to know… and believe in. This is the kind of thing that can’t be faked or conjured. It is in embracing the notion that it happens that faith in at least a certain kind of singer can be restored.”

Jenn Barnett with the Tisdales and the Belfast Cowboys, “Bike Ride On 35W” (slide show from the CD release bash at First Avenue, Dec. 3). Speaking of faith in a certain kind of singer, these images and tune do the trick and then some. “Wanna live before I die,” indeed.

Bootlegger’s “Sour Mash and Original Songs Sundays.” Across the street from the Fine Line (free parking on the street), this cozy college bar joins Vera’s, Plum’s, the Acadia, the Cedar  and a few others as an instant player in the acoustic music scene. Last night’s line-up of newbie songwriters was often excellent, and the 100 or so who took in the maiden voyage of this sure-to-be-sweet series were serious listeners — as long as the songs were serious and up to snuff. For my part, I got into an argument with a complete stranger about one of the songwriter’s tunes about divorce — an ultimately healthy and decidedly non-Minnesota discussion about music, motive, and magic. Here’s to many more.

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