Danny Sigelman: Spreading the Joy and Community of Music
Danny Sigelman discusses his musical journey from Minnesota to China and back again and how he has found joy in exposing people to music.
Danny Sigelman, artist, DJ, drummer, and author of Heyday: 35 years of Music in Minneapolis
- Danny got early exposure to music promotion working at the independent record store Electric Fetus, helping local musicians sell CDs in shops across the state.
- After some DJ work in Minneapolis, Danny was hired to host a show in China that many listeners used to hone their English skills.
- Danny teamed with famed music photographer, Daniel Corrigan, to create a book documenting the Minneapolis music scene through stories and never-before-seen images.
- After a year of COVID social distancing, Danny is eager to start performing and interacting with the music scene again, but he has concerns about how quickly the scene will be able to recover.
- The Electric Fetus - https://electricfetus.com/
- Danny Sigelman Youtube Page - https://www.youtube.com/user/sanpeeps
- Heyday: 35 Years of Music in Minneapolis - https://www.mnhs.org/mnhspress/books/heyday
- Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/papersleeves/
IVAN STEGIC: Hey Everyone! You’re listening to the TEN7 Podcast, where we get together every fortnight, and sometimes more often, to talk about technology, business, and the humans in it. I’m your host Ivan Stegic. My guest today is Danny Sigelman, artist, DJ, drummer, author, radio host, producer, drum instructor. Danny’s work with photographer Daniel Corrigan on the book Heyday: 35 years of Music in Minneapolis is a look back at more than three decades of music in Minneapolis through the lens of one of the most prolific and renowned photographers on the scene. So, I’m looking forward to talking to Danny about that. Danny’s also written for the City Pages, Star Tribune and Vita.mn, worked for KFAI, APR, Secret Stash Records, and the way we know each other is through my wife’s time at the Electric Fetus Records in downtown Minneapolis.
Danny, it’s great to have you on.
DANNY SIGELMAN: Great to be here. Those were really the days at the Electric Fetus. Is that how you guys met?
IVAN: That’s how we met. I walked in for some Jungle and Drum and Bass and walked out with an email address.
DANNY: Oh, there you go. Those were really great times, and I think of it as the golden age of the CD during those times, because people were still buying CDs like in mass quantities [laughing].
DANNY: It’s funny to think about now because it’s definitely a different animal in terms of the music business and the scene. That was such an amazing time, because we were definitely considered one of the cooler places in the Midwest in terms of music and where stuff would break. I mean in our store, and gain traction elsewhere, and so we were really catered to by the industry. Anything we wanted. I’m sure you heard stories. [laughing]
IVAN: I’ve heard many stories, yes. [laughing]
DANNY: [laughing] The joke was we are promosexuals, because we would get everything, we wanted music wise for free. It’s not the type of job you do to make a living, it’s more about the money you don’t have to spend on what you’re passionate about, which is music and going to hear and see so much music. So that was a really fun time. I don’t know that people are catered to the way we were back then with all the freebies. [laughing]
IVAN: I remember Suzie used to have promos up to the wazoo that she would bring home. And not just that, but access to all the local shows. You wanted to get on the guest list at First Avenue because there was some show you forgot to buy tickets to, yeah, that was easy. That was easy stuff.
DANNY: It was really fun. I was just talking about this the other day with somebody. This is during the time that the Targets and the Best Buys were really trying to gain traction with music and trying to wipe out all the independent stores essentially. You could get really into that story, it’s really what I feel made a better case for downloading. Because the labels were just dropping so much money on these big box retailers, and then we were like the little pilot fish that would actually take advantage of the cool stuff.
And the labels really respected us for that because we actually cared about the music. I remember seeing the band, ColdPlay, playing at First Avenue. This was the first time they ever played in the Twin Cities, to give you an idea of when this happened. They were playing at First Avenue, and we were wined and dined by the record label, Here’s our new band, you’ve heard all about them, what an amazing opportunity to see them in this context.
And I was standing next to the person that was the music buyer for Best Buy, and I turned around and I said, Oh, man you must be so excited. Isn’t this cool? And she just kind of eye rolled and was like, Yeah, I guess. Then out comes ColdPlay, and it’s almost like she couldn’t even be bothered with the music. I’m talking about ColdPlay, like I’m not even that excited now about them, but at the time there was a lot of energy, and it felt like the industry was really catering to the people that just didn’t have the passion necessarily to realize that they were in a really amazing position to see a band like that at the time.
So, it was all really topsy turvy and upside down, and I took full advantage of it any way I could really. That was a really fun era. I feel like it was the last bastion of music retail the way it had been for so long. I remember when Napster came around, and all these same label people were freaking out. I remember thinking, Why have they been fostering this trend so much now that people don’t have to pay for it at all. The rug’s really being pulled out from under them, and they didn’t really know what to do. So, realizing that it really opened our eyes to the way probably things are now.
IVAN: It’s been 20 years when you think about it. You’re talking about the late nineties, 1999 through 2002 through 2005, when CDs were just being sold by the hundreds of thousands from all these stores and scaling through the big box stores. And then Apple created that iPod and 1,000 songs in your pocket all of a sudden, and that’s a big threat. So, let me take a step back.
You’re Danny Sigelman, you love music, I love music, you made yourself a career out of music doing all kinds of things in the music industry, and that’s what I want to try and get to. Before we get to that I just want to say, Wow, things have really changed in the music industry in the last 20 years. The Electric Fetus CDs are not as popular as they were, they kind of went out. But now vinyl’s back, and back big time right?
DANNY: Yeah. The way I think of it is people collect antique , and you might spend a lot of money on a really nice antique chair, when you could really just buy a really cheap, brand new one. I feel like the music connoisseur tends to like the old vintage style of listening to music and are willing to invest in that, because something smaller and plastickier and something that doesn’t even exist, doesn’t really satisfy that urge.
I could probably guess that vinyl hasn’t filled the gap that the lack of CD sales. The kind of boutique stores like Electric Fetus are able to serve that type of listener. I don’t know that necessarily will sustain so many stores the way it had for so long but now you’re noticing that the chains don’t really have a piece of that, cause they’re not going to be able to sell the numbers on something the way they maybe would need to. I’ve gone to Target and I’ve seen they have five records for sale, and that’s really about it. Whereas before they were really fighting tooth and nail for that.
The Indy Stores of which there are a lot in the Twin Cities have kind of muscled through it. So, you go to a shop like Roadrunner Records, where I actually also used to work at one point in time, and you could sell a really cool, old vintage record that might not have had that many pressings for a lot of money, just like you could a vintage chair that is like a mid-century modern design, and that kind of thing. So, it’s interesting. I don’t think there’s one way to do anything, and I think that’s kind of the beauty of it. I hope that ultimately the artists benefit. It’s really giving the power back to the artist to generate what they do and how they present themselves, because there isn’t that ability to do it through a label like maybe there used to be. But then again, I don’t necessarily know what anything is anymore. [laughing]
IVAN: I totally agree with you. [laughing]
DANNY: I saw who won the Grammys, and I maybe knew who two of them were, so I don’t know. [laughing] I think peoples listening habits as they get into music is probably really different than how it was when I was a kid, and that’s okay. I’m not the type of person to really judge what people listen to and why they like and how they get to it. I just hope people find it and enjoy themselves as much as I always have through the years. I got into music literally as a newborn. My dad was in radio when I was growing up.
IVAN: Oh really? That’s what I was going to ask you about. I know you studied at the U of M but where did you get into music? What are your earliest memories of music?
DANNY: Well, we can go really far back. Before I was at the Electric Fetus, I worked at the University and helped start the student station Radio K.
IVAN: Oh, really?
DANNY: Yeah. That was my outlet, kind of my education. I was an art major in college and I still make art and still consider myself an artist but having the opportunity to volunteer at the radio station and make so many connections with people in bands and labels and putting together a show every day and putting on concerts and promoting shows for the venues in town, that was truly my education. And that really stemmed out of what I learned as a child, when my dad was in radio. I was originally born in Minnesota, but we moved around the country a little bit, and as much as he was involved in radio, he wasn’t necessarily a DJ, but I was surrounded by that from a very young age, and I would say I got used to getting free records at a very young age. [laughing]
IVAN: [laughing] So, the Electric Fetus was a natural extension of all of that?
DANNY: Yeah. I did so much around town. At the time I was playing in two bands when I was in college and eventually somebody, when I did graduate, right away somebody said, Oh, there’s a perfect job for you at the Electric Fetus, and what I was doing at the Electric Fetus was actually working in the One Stop. So, I worked in music distribution. What we were doing was a long tradition at the Fetus of warehousing the music, and then selling it wholesale to other stores in the area, and that gave them a better relationship with the major labels, which is why the labels really loved us, because we would be able to sell the one or two copies of a new release to the mom and pop shop up in wherever, New Ulm, Hibbing, the small towns. They wouldn’t be able to buy direct from the label because they would maybe only need a couple copies at a time, and then again that’s really how we would help these labels break stuff. We were doing a lot of work for them.
I’d send posters, and I’d send all their stuff with the orders that they were making through the One Stop, and then at the same time as it became easier for bands and artists to make their own CDs, we would also sell the local music to all the stores, out state but also in town. So you had your Applause or Cheapo, even Best Buy was buying the consignment stuff that we were selling. So, in that regard, we were kind of a distributor for all the local bands in town. And certain local bands, one of them at the time were the Rhymesayers record label.
IVAN: [laughing] I may have heard of them.
DANNY: [laughing] As their popularity started to increase, we were one of the only distributors that had their stuff. So, I was actually selling a lot of the local music to the chains that we were competing against, but also helping the musicians in town get their records in some of those stores and some of those towns were all they had was a Best Buy for a music store. That was super cool. It was just really fun and rewarding. I was getting it from all directions, and I think what I learned as a child in being in radio is sort of the joy in being able to share music with people, but also help musicians and artists along the way.
IVAN: You were at Electric Fetus for quite a while, for about four or five years, and then you moved on and became a DJ at The Current? What was that like?
DANNY: That was fun. It was really interesting at the time. This was at the very beginning of when it started MinnesotaPublic Radio. I don’t even remember the year offhand.
IVAN: 2006 maybe? 2005? Something like that? I remember it being 15 years ago, I think.
DANNY: Yeah, I think they did just celebrate their 15th. At the time I was an overnight sub, and I got a real rude awakening in terms of how competitive the radio business is a little bit. To be honest it hadn’t really taken off when I was there so there was a lot of anxiety about what to do and how to make it sound. Being the overnight DJ and working part-time, whenever I was working, I was the only one in the building sometimes, so I don’t feel like I really got recognized. I wasn’t necessarily a part of the machine in what I thought would be the best way to go about what we were doing.
And there was a lot of back and forth and eventually as kind of the honeymoon ended for the radio station, they really tightened the reins, and I found myself having a show that I kind of helped build in terms of the weekend overnights start to be programmed for me. I’d be up all night listening to music, you know. I had to take direction. Not that I can’t handle taking direction, but if nobody’s really listening to my input and I’m the one having to go through it, I didn’t really enjoy that at a certain point. And I started recognizing how competitive a lot of the personalities were.
To be honest it sounds kind of presumptuous, it might sound a little snotty, but I kind of thought I was a better DJ than some of the people that were full-timers. [laughing}. Having to wait for somebody else to get sick, or to really be able to be on during the day and shine and make a case for myself, I just didn’t see those opportunities. And as soon as my shift started getting programmed for me, I’m just like, Well, why am I saying overnight here? I still had to work day jobs the next day sometimes, and it just didn’t really work for me. I can’t say it was very sanctimonious when I left, but ultimately something came along where I was asked to be a pop music DJ in Beijing, China in 2009.
IVAN: China, that’s a pretty big step from St. Paul and working for The Current. Now all of a sudden, you’re in Beijing. Do you speak mandarin?
DANNY: Beijing isn’t as wild as downtown St. Paul is. [laughing] I can speak some Mandarin. It’s a pretty wild story. It’s something I think about. This was due to a connection at Minnesota Public Radio. The DJ Mindy Ratner, classical music DJ. I believe she’s one of the first women to be hired at MPR, and she had done a similar job in Beijing years before as a classical music DJ. And the idea is that the Chinese government’s trying to open up to the world in hiring westerners to come over and kind of be ambassadors for the culture. She called me one day, this was a few months after I’d left The Current, and she said, You know, you remember how I used to talk about China all the time? They asked me if I knew anybody, and I thought of you. Would you be interested in doing this?
I was kind of speechless. I remember I typed up my resume, and I made a nice cover letter, and I sent it over there, and literally about 20 minutes later they were like, Okay, you got the job. [laughing] But that was before I realized when I got over there kind of how low the bar really was. I take it with a grain of salt.
It was a very weird experience. They really taut themselves as the BBC of China, but I don’t think anybody there actually knows what the BBC is. [laughing] I worked for the Chinese government. All my bosses were Communist Party bosses. I had very weird situations where I was given a lot of power by people who have more power than you could imagine, and I got away with quite a bit actually. In terms of being an artist, I’m always thinking about my own creative expression, and this was just the penultimate opportunity for me to become a character, but also to kind of fuck with people without them realizing it.
IVAN: So, you get there and how do you find an apartment? Where do you live? Is that all prearranged? What does the commute look like? Tell me about that experience.
DANNY: Well, it was scary. This was a long time ago before smartphones and everything. And I got there, and they put me through this rigorous medical examination. It was super weird. I got there, and we drove 45 minutes out of town to this hospital. I can’t imagine what it’s like now. That was part of it, but I eventually they have people that are kind of your chaperones, if you will, and they helped me get a phone, and they helped me deal with the lease that I was going to sign. They provided me a place to live, but I still had to sign a lease and pay rent, but being able to walk me through that was helpful. I worked maybe 50 feet from where I was living. It was kind of a little hotel that they had for all the foreigners.
The company, China Radio International, who I was working for, they hired people from something like 30 to 40 different countries to do programming in their own languages, and the idea is that this programming gets on the air in China but also gets distributed somehow around the world. So this is somebody who might speak Farcy having their program broadcast from China in Iran or in Australia. There was an English speaking department that I worked for that had Canadians and Australians and English and South Africans, but it was wild at first. I had to take a giant leap, and once I found my footing there, I realized the cultural differences and the things that I could kind of push a little bit and still get away with, but also be really mindful to people's lives and the way they operate in their responsibilities.
But there’s so many quirky aspects to Chinese culture that when I imagined being there, I thought there would be the Mao Tse Tung guy behind me with a cane hitting me whenever I played a weird record [laughing], but it wasn’t like that. My first interaction with my boss, who I was just petrified by, she had a bunch of us out for dinner. This is maybe a month after I’d been there and I was sitting next to her and I asked her, What do you think? How’s things been going? Have you enjoyed the show we’ve been doing? This is the woman that’s in charge of the English department, and she said, Well, I don’t know, I’ve never listened to your show. [laughing] She said, Nobody’s ever said anything, so I guess you’re doing a great job.
DANNY: We played music. I did bring a hard drive over and I uploaded a bunch of files of cool stuff that I wanted to play. I had a co-host who was Chinese, Lucy, and she was a great friend. And the whole premise of the show was more about, in the English language for people to listen to. My show was actually broadcast in Beijing. It was there to provide people the ability to hear programming in English, to potentially be able to speak English better if they were studying. I know that a lot of the taxi drivers listen to our radio station religiously, because they’re really wanting to be able to communicate with other English speakers that they might be driving around. And there was a handful of times I would be in the cab, and our radio program would be on the air and one of my friends would tell the cab driver, That’s the guy on the radio. And they’d turn around and hear my voice, and they just didn’t understand how that could even happen. [laughing]
IVAN: [laughing] Awesome. You were there for about a year? Was it a fixed contract and then you were coming home?
DANNY: It was a year contract. It was the type of thing, like I still had an apartment here and I had my girlfriend here. It happened so quickly that I ended up going over there. I didn’t necessarily see myself staying longer than a year, although I definitely could have. They did appreciate me.
But everything outside of the radio station too was an adventure, and that was an experience I never thought I would ever have, playing music in Beijing and playing in three jazz bands and putting together shows over there. I even had people sending me boxes of records that I would sell whenever I’d go out and DJ or whatever. The whole thing was a trip. I can say that my proudest moment was, on my last show I played the Replacements, Fuck School, on the air.
IVAN: [laughing] That’s so great.
DANNY: They didn’t stop me at the airport, so I figured I got away with it.
IVAN: Were you a drummer back then?
DANNY: Yeah, I did play drums over there quite a bit. What was really cool about Beijing and probably a lot of the bigger cities, a lot of people don’t necessarily drive. And going to clubs or bars they have all their backline there. So as a drummer you know that there’s going to be a drum set on stage at almost all these clubs, and you’re able to kind of join people, sit in, or put together shows. The band I had there, we would just show up and play. That to me was worth the trip outside of just the job experience. At a certain point I really didn’t take the job experience too seriously, because I could tell nobody else did. [laughing]
IVAN: Do you have any pictures and videos and photos of your time there?
DANNY: Oh yeah, I do. I have a YouTube channel which is just my name, Danny Sigelman, and I think I have a playlist on there of all the videos I made in China. That was another part of it, my job was so easy I taught myself how to edit video, while I was on the air, while I was working. The real reality is that it was like window dressing for them to feel like they were doing something, opening up to the rest of the world.
There’s a term in Chinese, it’s escaping me now, about making something bigger. This is the whole trick of the Chinese culture and the Communist Party is they make things seem bigger and more important than they actually are, and behind it, it’s very much like the Wizard of Oz, everything you see on TV from China isn’t necessarily the majesty that you imagine it is, so realizing that I’m kind of just here to be a white guy.
When I started there, I got really angry about something. I was like, How can you guys – why don’t you let me say, blah, blah, blah, blah? This woman, she was Brazilian, she said to me, Danny, your job here is to be the white guy. [laughing] It really made sense.
That’s not to say my work wasn’t appreciated, but a lot of times people come and go there and it’s just up to the staff there to keep it all going. Her point was to just enjoy the ride, you’re not going to change everything the way you think it really should be. There was a woman that was a former BBC announcer that got there, and she was all professional and ready to go, and she was flabbergasted about the lack of professionalism that was going on there. In a weird way it was like a huge community radio station funded by the Communist Party. [laughing]
IVAN: So weird and so interesting.
DANNY: I feel like there’s so many stories between myself and all the other people that I was working with that a really good book about the media climate in China could be really interesting.
IVAN: You’ve written a book. It’s a book that’s actually received a fair amount of critical acclaim here. It’s called Heyday: 35 Years of Music in Minneapolis. You wrote it with Daniel Corrigan who basically is the guy who takes pictures of legendary music bands in the Twin Cities and has so for decades now. Tell me about the origin story of your involvement with this book Heyday.
DANNY: I called him the original Instagrammer. He was taking photos of music, very often being the only person in the venue at the time with the ability to do so with his camera. I think our stories parallel quite a bit. One of our mantras in terms of being in the scene and doing this kind of work is that you always want to look like you’re supposed to be somewhere. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten better seats, or just walked into a club or whatever by just making it appear that this is what I do. It’s almost like you manifest your own destiny in a lot of ways.
So, with Dan I always loved what he did. I think Dan’s most well-known for some of the album covers he did in the eighties – the Replacements, Sole Asylum, Hüsker Dü, used him quite a bit. Dan was there at a time and place when the Minneapolis music scene was really hoppin. And being on the front lines like he was, he was able to capture quite a bit, and worked as a photographer professionally for many years. Knowing what he had in his archive of photos, I had this idea. I think he attempted something similar.
I was at this event where Dan was showing off his photos, and I met this guy Josh who works for the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Josh said, Yeah, I just love Dan’s stuff. I’ve always loved what he does. He’s very well known. I thought it would be so cool to do a book with this guy, but I haven’t gotten much response from him. I don’t know if he doesn’t use email. You have to kind of help me. I said, Josh, I’m your man. I’ve had this idea for a long time as well. I’m friends with Dan, and I think it might be a little bit of a level of trust thing. With us working and nudging him, I think he’ll give us the access.
Being a writer, once I came back from China, I really started covering music as a writer. I used my skills of interviewing as a writer, but also as a DJ to get Dan really going and telling the stories that I wanted for all these photographs that we were finding. It’s incredible how much stuff he has, and eventually the book came out and it was no surprise. It was really well received. I feel like it was the beginning of a lot of music books that have come out of the Twin Cities, especially from the Minnesota Historical Society Press, and it’s been really cool.
It’s something I always thought would be well received and it really was. I feel like it gave Dan a little bit of notoriety that was maybe a little overdue. To say that his images from that time are synonymous with the Twin Cities is an obvious thing. We could do more volumes. It was great. It was hard to get him out of his shell initially, but then I think it was very rewarding to see him get the praise that maybe people hadn’t really known whose pictures those were all this time and to have it in the book was great.
IVAN: I read somewhere that there were tens of thousands of images and slides, some that he hadn’t even seen, that I believe Josh went through to identify the ones that were potentials for the book.
DANNY: That became my job just as much as the writing, was to go through all this stuff and a lot of it were on negatives. To find the outtakes of the Replacements, Let It Be album cover was really fun for me as a fa. But to also realize, This was all the work that went into the image that we know, makes it super fun, and then also gives Dan a little bit of an opportunity to describe the process of how it came to be, especially considering that wasn’t his first choice. There were thousands and thousands of pictures, and then when we were all done, he’s like, I found another box of pictures. I was like, Come on man. [laughing] Who knows, I would love to say that maybe someday there’ll be another edition of that, a sequel to Heyday.
IVAN: That’d be great. Do you have a favorite photo?
DANNY: Well, there is a picture from that Let it Be session that’s a little more straight on from Across the Street. The Stinson’s had a dog that was out on the rooftop, and Bobby’s pretending like he’s about to kick the dog off the roof [laughing]. It’s kind of an evil shot, but knowing the band and their sense of humor, it’s definitely one of my favorite pictures.
IVAN: That’s the Replacements right, just to be clear, on the roof? That’s the album cover?
DANNY: Yeah, Replacements Let It Be. There’s another great photo from the Walker Art Center of David Burn that’s like a profile shot. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at it, but there were so many great concert photos, and then the ones that I’d never been before really stuck out, there’s a picture of the Clash playing at Roy Wilkins Auditorium or maybe the St. Paul Civic Center.
It’s crazy because I think it really plays into what I love to do, is to unearth the ephemera of music and the music culture. And that’s something I feel I do with DJing and bringing music over to China like that and putting it in a different context. Heyday really solidified my passion for that type of stuff. So, finding those little nuggets it's just like digging for records, when you’re going through bins and trying to find the one thing that sparks your interest, and it turns out to be really cool, to me it’s very synonymous with the project like that.
There was another book I worked on, I’m not the author of, but I discovered this guy named Allen Beaulieu, and we did a book with him at the Historical Society called Before the Rain. It’s a book of Prince photos. It was the same type of thing. I met this guy, and he’d been sitting for years on all these really amazing Prince photos. And I told him, I don’t need to be the author for this book, but I absolutely as a fan, feel it’s my duty that other people, fans, need to see this stuff. Not just for its historical importance, but just because it’s really fun. It’s so cool to see Prince eating a piece of French toast in the morning. [laughing]
There’s something to be said when you’ve been so deep in the trenches like this, it’s the minutiae of the music culture that starts to fascinate me more than the obvious, you know, the obvious hits. So maybe working at Minnesota Public Radio where it’s a little tighter in terms of having to cater to a certain style or sound or recognizability, that isn’t where my passion is. It’s really about finding all the nuggets in the essentially kind of a little bit behind the scene stuff. And eventually I kind of worked more in presenting.
And eventually I did move on to helping present music a little more in working at the Dakota Jazz Club, and I’ve also done some booking at the Minnesota Historical Society, and I helped with their First Avenue exhibit, and also the Mill City Museum. It’s what I’ve been missing most during this quarantine was not being present in music and in the moment and the audience. That’s been really hard.
IVAN: What has the pandemic done to the music scene in Minneapolis and what are you doing right now? How do you see it changing as we start to optimistically see the beginning of normal life at some point this year, I would guess?
DANNY: I think it’s really hard to say. I think all of us are going to kind of jump back in, in different ways. I see myself hopefully getting back into presenting music. But being a drummer, I’ve spent the last year really trying to perfect my skills as a musician myself. So, I could see doing that a little more. But how are people going to eventually feel comfortable enough to congregate? I watch videos of huge concerts, like the Foo Fighters playing at Wembley Stadium, and it just gives me the heebie jeebies. [laughing]
IVAN: I know. I feel the same way.
DANNY: Metallica in France, or whatever. It’s like whoa. I wonder if people are going to tiptoe into it a little more. I could see musicians and artists maybe scaling down the necessity to have such high numbers in their audience. Maybe the record or the recorded music aspect has become more of a connection. Taylor Swift is an obvious example of that. Maybe that’s giving the recorded work a little bit more of a cache. I feel like in the last five years, live music has really been the bread and butter, and so has been more of the emphasis.
There was a time the concerts and the tour promoted the record and then the record started promoting the tour that would happen, and now it’s almost like both are even, because I don’t know that the huge, enormous festivals are really going to kick in until maybe later in the year, or early next year. But that puts the emphasis on the artist a little bit to really hone their craft and their vision about what they’re doing. I think music gets turned into such a numbers game in having to have that popularity quotient, and there’s maybe a little bit more of a level playing field now that the limitations might still be in place for a little while.
IVAN: I miss going to shows. I love going downtown with Suzie and going to First Ave and seeing a band that I’ve never heard of come on before a band that I came to see and discovering music like that. I’m just worried that those shoulder to shoulder shows at First Ave are not going to be back anytime soon.
DANNY: No, I don’t think so. It’s going to take a while. Even if they do come back are people going to be willing to go into that? I don’t know. I think there’s going to be another layer of innovation on the artists part to connect to the audience that I’m excited about. I don’t know what it necessarily will be, but is it a pop-up, is it a hybrid of being able to watch a band that’s in town? And then are the tickets only going to go to the highest paid bidder. I hope that doesn’t happen. We’ll just have to see. I’d like to think that the possibility for the artist to really do more of what they want is there. It’s just more about having the ability to present it either in a venue or online. Hopefully there’s going to be a lot of great, new music coming out, since everybody’s been holed up during this time.
IVAN: Yeah, the year of forced creativity for all the musicians.
DANNY: And there’s always been the joke that in the Twin Cities the music is so good because people are kind of holed up for so long during the winter, and then the springtime comes about, and everybody’s got their new releases. I think there’s some truth to that, and now the whole world has kind of experienced that in a way.
IVAN: Yeah. Are you looking forward to anything in particular that’s coming out?
DANNY: Well, man, it’s such a bummer. I was really looking forward to my first concert, The Bad Plus, the kind of modern jazz trio that has been around for 20 years, and I used to present them at the Dakota all the time. A friend of Dave King, the drummer who is one of the best drummers in the world, they announced the show and then five days later it got cancelled. But I did see that the Hinterland Festival is happening in Iowa in August, and I did see that First Avenue announced Dinosaur Junior in September. That’s a band I’ve probably seen a hundred times, but it might be my favorite time ever seeing them.
IVAN: Yeah, Dinosaur Junior, I think I saw them in Hyde Park, or somewhere in London when Suzie and I were there. We just happened to be in the right place at the right time and were able to see them play live. It was great.
DANNY: Nice. What I really miss especially in Minneapolis is the block parties. Every bar has a block party at some point during the summer. And I realized, I’d say one of the biggest things I realized during quarantine is how much of my network of friends and people that I see continually are through the music scene, and that without that standard in my life, without that continual habit of going to see music, you really do feel disconnected and having to make an effort to see people that I normally would see all the time was pretty daunting. Those are just the casual faces in the crowd, you really start to realize that you relied on to bond in that way. I’m looking more forward to that almost than anything, to be honest.
IVAN: That’s awesome. Well, I can’t believe the time has gone so quickly. It’s just been great talking to you and talking about the music scene in Minneapolis and your experience with it. I just am so grateful that you came on the show, and I appreciate all the time you spent with me today. It’s just been awesome talking to you Danny.
DANNY: Thanks so much. You’ll have to say hi to Suzie and the gang for me, and promise that once things open up, I get to DJ another party at your house.
IVAN: You know what? You’re the guy that we’ll call when that happens, for sure. [laughing]
DANNY: Right on, man.
IVAN: With me today was Danny Sigelman, author, DJ, drummer, freelance journalist and so much more. You can find him on Twitter as @paper_sleeves and on Instagram as #papersleeves.
You’ve been listening to The TEN7 Podcast. Find us online at ten7.com/podcast. And if you have a second, do send us a message. We love hearing from you. Our email address is [email protected]. Until next time, this is Ivan Stegic. Thanks for listening.
This is Episode 113 of The TEN7 Podcast. It was recorded on Month 16, 2021 and first published on Month 31, 2021. Podcast length is 45 minutes. Transcription by Roxanne Chumacas. Summary, highlights and editing by Brian Lucas. Music by Lexfunk. Produced by Jonathan Freed.
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