To: Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar
From: Citizen Jim Walsh
Re: Joel Bremer, Terrorist of Love
Date: Feb. 9, 2011
Dear Sen. Franken and Klobuchar:
Lord knows you’ve got enough on your plate, but I wouldn’t bother you with the following predicament if it wasn’t very important — politically significant, even — to me and a lot of other Minnesotans. Here’s the story, and I will keep it brief:
Our friend Joel Bremer is an extremely gifted fiddler who lives in Sweden. He visited here last year and fell in love with the Twin Cities’ original music community, and vice versa, and ever since he has served as the greatest ambassador for Minnesota music I’ve had the pleasure of being around. Seriously, he is a one-person state tourism department. Good energy, as they say.
I know I speak for many musicians, songwriters, writers, bartenders, music fans, etc., that Joel Bremer knows that music is special, and therefore he makes you feel special, like your work is important, like the madness that swirls around all this art and love and music is worthwhile and meaningful. He hugs you. He bugs you. He loves you. He inspires you.
(Read my testimonial to him in the Southwest Journal, watch him in action, and read songwriter/guitarist Jennifer Markey’s love letter to him.)
Here’s where you come in. Last month Joel tried to return to his home-away-from-home for another visit, but Homeland Security nailed him at the gates of Minneapolis-St. Paul International, because Joel confessed to having made $600 playing pick-up gigs during his last stay. Note: While there are plenty of professional musicians in Minnesota, many play mostly for the love of it, and the kind of money Joel Bremer made came from tips, and from musicians who insisted on paying him, on showing their appreciation for a job well done.
After grilling him for a few hours and turning him into a sweaty, nervous wreck, the officers escorted young Joel down the ramp like he was a terrorist, not the brilliant soul that he is, and put him on a plane back to Sweden. Sensitive artist that he is, Joel was mortified; he curled up in his room for a couple days.
In Minneapolis and St. Paul, from Palmer’s to the Aster Café to Kings and the 331 Club and Turf Club, the WELCOME HOME JOEL parties were scotched. People started talking about it on Facebook and, sure as hell, something amazing happened.
How do you say “revolution” in Swedish?
Markey and her longtime man Jonny Imperial joined forces with a bunch of other Bremer faithful to put together a killer benefit that happens Thursday at Palmer’s on the West Bank. The money goes to Joel, in hopes he can recoup his lost-mission plane fare and take away the sting of having had his apartment burglarized this week. A bunch of bands and songwriters are playing, there are “Free Joel” buttons and T-shirts being made on the spot, and it’s certain to be an atmosphere of memorable music and camaraderie. (See the “Free Joel Bremer” Facebook page.)
To put it bluntly, Senators, tomorrow night will be a great night, made greater by any news you can give us on how you might be able to help out, vis-à-vis when we get to see our friend again. You’re both invited to the gig; stop in and do “Walk Like an Egyptian” with St. Dominic’s Trio.
Lastly, please forgive me for the crassness of putting this letter in a column and not first going through proper channels to get it to you. To be sure, I’ll email a copy to both of your offices. But time is tight, and your attention to the matter would be a shot in the arm to a bunch of us this frigid February.
As I said, this may not be the most important thing going on in the world. But the “Free Joel Bremer” movement is something every artist or musician dreams about being part of, even just once, and it simultaneously mirrors everything that’s right and wrong with everything. Joel Bremer came here, played music, the universal language of love, and made a lot of people happy, sad, dance, drink. He made a lot of friends, and we want you to help us.
We have a dream: We want to play music with Joel Bremer on Valentine’s Day in Minneapolis. Can you help get him here and restore our fading faith in humanity and its governments?
Thanks in advance; people have the power, etc.