A few of my favorite things from the year that was:
Black Lives Matter. It took a 14-month-old hashtag and an historic movement to inspire me to have new conversations with friends and strangers about race, privilege, and the welcome sea change that’s afoot and gaining steam and smarts. More, please.
Stevie Wonder, March 29, Target Center. He came with “Songs In The Key Of Life” and a massive backing band, but it was his huge heart and soul that connected directly with the faithful, many of whom, like yours truly, felt truly lucky to be basking in his presence for the first time.
Sleater-Kinney, Feb. 14, First Avenue. Touring on their killer comeback “No Cities To Love,” Portland’s finest indie rock outfit ripped through a set that felt meaningful and important in a way that too little art or rock achieves, spurred on by chunky chiming guitars and otherworldly passion.
Theater: Joe Minjares, “River Road Boogie: The Augie Garcia Story” (History Theater), Novi Most, “Rehearsing Failure” (Southern Theater), Joe Tougas and Ann Rosenquist Fee, “The Ballad of Hank and Rita” (Bryant-Lake Bowl).
Movies: “The End of the Tour,” “Spotlight,” “Miss Tibet,” “Ricki & The Flash,” “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” “Cobain: Montage Of Heck,” “Love & Mercy,” “The Martian,” “Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll.”
Books: Maggie Nelson, “The Argonauts,” Carrie Brownstein, “Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl: A Memoir,” Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Between the World and Me,” Rick Shefchik, “Everybody’s Heard About The Bird: The True Story Of Rock-N-Roll in Minnesota,” Jessica Hopper, “The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic,” Marlon James, “A Brief History Of Seven Killings,” Peter Guralnick, “Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock & Roll,” Kim Gordon, “Girl In A Band,” Michaelangelo Matos, “The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America,” Holly George-Warren, “A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton,”Alan Light, “Let’s Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of ‘Purple Rain,’” Elizabeth Gilbert, “Magic,” Jon Bream, “Dylan: Disc by Disc.”
The Rolling Stones, June 3, TCF Bank Stadium. The 70-something rockers turned in their most satisfying area show of all time, highlighted by the sight of 60,000 rain-drenched Satan worshippers hoo-hoo-hooting along to “Sympathy For The Devil” as high-def flames and a red feather boa-clad Mick Jagger licked the Dinkytown night.
The Belfast Cowboys, June 24, Lake Harriet Bandshell. Marvelous night for a moondance. True story, from my column a couple days later: “Last Wednesday my brother’s 10-year-old big band The Belfast Cowboys transformed Lake Harriet and its storied if often snoozy bandshell into what had to be the happiest place on the planet. With a glorious sunset on the horizon and a couple thousand people gathered on the benches and lawn, the Cowboys conjoined every heart there with as memorable a performance that has ever graced that stage, including Barack ‘Amazing Grace’ Obama’s visit there last June.”
More live music: Bash 15 (Grumpy’s), Molly Dean (Cedar Cultural Center), Honky Tonk Fest (Grumpy’s), Bottle Rockets (Turf Club), Christopher Raymond Lynch (Dan Israel’s Folk Festival), Ike Reilly (Grumpy’s and First Avenue), Bloom (Red Stag), Brianna Lane (Icehouse), Luna (Cedar Cultural Center), Jeremy Messersmith (Harriet Brewing), the Erik Koskinen Band (Icehouse), J.W. Schuller (Driftwood Char Bar), Venus (Bryant-Lake Bowl), Billy Dankert (Palmer’s), John Louis (Aster Café), Belfast Cowboys, Van Morrison’s 70th birthday and Foothold Twin Cities benefit (Driftwood Char Bar), Mother Banjo (Lake Harriet bandshell), Wilkinson James (Harriet Brewing), Belfast Cowboys featuring Graham Parker (Brit’s Pub), Run Westy Run (Amsterdam Bar and Hall), Junior Ranger (Icehouse), Babes In Toyland (Rock The Garden), the John Eller Piano Bar Experience and St. Dominic’s Trio (Nye’s Polonaise Room).
Most exhilarating live sports moment of the year: Minnesota Lynx win the 2015 WNBA championship in front of the home crowd.
Dig the new breed: Miguel Sano’s epic home run swing; Teddy Bridgewater’s cool commandeering amidst chaos; Andrew Wiggins’ elevate-and-radiate Eurostep; Zach Lavine’s gravity-defying hops and dunks; Karl Anthony-Towns’ graceful bruising beauty. The future is nasty.
Cheers to the neighborhood pubs: Champagne supernovaing it at St. Genevieve; bistro blissing-out at Studio 2 Café; ski lodging it at Harriet’s Inn; pho and sushi heaven at Kings; community feasting at Grand and Birchwood Cafes. Truly an embarrassment of riches.
Pretty in the city: Bob Dylan mural on 5th & Hennepin.
Lizz Winstead and Maggie Macpherson, “V To Shining V MN 2015,” Sept. 26, The Third Bird and the Stutz on Loring. Best pro-choice party of the year.
Best reason to go to the art museum: “International Pop” (Walker Art Center); “Mark Mothersbaugh’s Myopia” (Mia); “Regarding Elliott: Photographs by Elliot Erwitt” (Weinstein Gallery); “Dead Reckoning: A Site Specific Drawing by Alyssa Baguss” (Soo Visual Arts Center); “Faces of War: Russia in World War I (1914-1918)” (The Museum Of Russian Art).
Music (national): Ike Reilly, “Born On Fire,” Beach Slang, “The Things We Do To Find People Who Like Us,” Iris DeMent, “The Trackless Woods,” Sleater-Kinney, “No Cities To Love,” Keith Richards, “Crosseyed Heart,” “Courtney Barnett, “Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit,” Jason Isbell, “Something More Than Free,” Lucero, “All a Man Should Do,” Bob Dylan, “Shadows in the Night,” Tame Impala, “Currents,” Sufjan Stevens, “Carrie & Lowell,” Boz Scaggs, “A Fool To Care,” Wilco, “Star Wars,” Patty Griffin, “Servant Of Love,” Pop Staples, “Don’t Lose This,” Alabama Shakes, “Sound & Color,” Richard Thompson, “Still,” Hot Chip, “Why Make Sense?”
Music (local): Slim Dunlap, “My Old New Records: The Old New Me/Times Like This,” Billy Dankert, “Sleep Late,” Adam Levy, “Naubinway,” The Belfast Cowboys, “Upside To The Downslide,” Jayanthi Kyle, “Hand in Hand,” Pasadena 68/Dakota Shakedown, “EP,” Bad Bad Hats, “Psychic Reader,” Rich Mattson and the North Stars, “Rich Mattson and the North Stars,” Lizzo, “Big GRRRL Small World,” Bruise Violet, “Survival Of The Prettiest,” Sarah Morris, “Ordinary Things,” Matt Latterell, “Phase and Field,” Sarah Streitz, “Take One,” Vicki Emerson, “Wake Me When The Wind Dies Down,” Prince, “HitNRun Phase One,” Joe Fahey, “Somnambulist Chaser,” Katy Vernon, “Present,” The April Fools, “The April Fools,” Erik Koskinen, “Live at the Real-Phonic Radio Hour,” John Louis, “Drift,” Low, “Ones and Sixes,” Brianna Lane, “The Navigators Club,” Junior Ranger, “Monster Masks,” Courtney Yasmineh, “Red Letter Day Unplugged,” Street Hassle, “Record Store Day EP,” Barbara Jean, “Darker Than Blue,” The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, “American Shuffle,” Frankie Lee, “American Dreamer,” Wilkinson James, “Wilkinson James, ”Dan Israel, “Dan,” Venus, “Flesh & Wire,” The Frye, “The Best of Hank and Rita: A Barroom Operetta,” Shawn Stelton, “Sample Platter,” Natalie Lovejoy, “Hiding In The Light,” various artists, “VOICE: Words & Songs for Those Who Are Silenced,” The Meadows, “The Meadows,” Anonymous Choir, “Anonymous Choir Sings Leonard Cohen,” and Mary Bue, “Holy Bones”
The Mad Ripple Hootenanny, various nights, Harriet Brewing, Studio 2 Café, First Avenue, Papa Charlie’s at Lutsen, the DEMO Center For Music headquarters, Moe’s of Moundsview, Hi Fi Hair and Records. So often this year when tragedy struck, I and friends grabbed guitars and sang our hearts out as a way of making sense of the world. Hell if it didn’t work. More to come, and see ya in Sweet ’16…
Jim Walsh lives and grew up in East Harriet. He can be reached at [email protected]