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Is Live Music Going Away Again?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Plus a farewell to a bluegrass king, a new Cactus Blossoms vid, and a belated record release show in this week's local music roundup.

The Cactus Blossoms haven't cancelled any shows yet. (Hope that's not a jinx.)
Courtesy of High Road Touring

Too many exclamation points and question marks? Not enough? Sound off in the comments.

Live Music Isn’t Quite Dead Yet

You’re not gonna find a lot of pro-COVID voices over here at Racket. We’ve been pretty clear from the start that this thing is Not Good. And in addition to the death, long-term disability, and social upheaval it’s causing, it’s still taking its toll on local culture too. If you scroll on down to this week’s listings (I’ll wait up here for you to get back) you’ll notice fewer shows than you might expect. Partly that’s just a seasonal lull—it always takes venues a few weeks to ramp back up in the new year. But the spread of the Omicron variant, with Minnesota’s infection rate hitting a record 15.6% today, has also led to a series of postponements and cancellations, even pushing First Ave’s treasured Best New Bands showcase to March 4. While this might give you uneasy flashbacks to the full shutdowns of 2021, the idea is that a momentary pause might be enough to keep more drastic measures at bay. Let’s all hope this will “flatten the curve,” as we used to say in the early pandemic days. Many shows are still happening, but if you do go out, double check to guard against last-minute cancellations.

RIP Alan Jesperson, godfather of Twin Cities bluegrass

If you know Twin Cities bluegrass, you know Alan Jesperson. A mainstay of the scene since forming the Middle Spunk Creek Boys in the late ’60s, he hosted a long-running show on KFAI, booked bluegrass at Dulono’s for years, and organized the annual Labor Day weekend Laughing Waters Festival at Minnehaha Park. This week, it was reported that Alan Jesperson died, age 74, of natural causes on December 30, 2021. Jon Bream has a nice obituary for Jesperson over at the Strib to round out the story for ya. And if Jesperson’s name sounds familiar to the non-rootsily-inclined, that’s because you know of his brother, Peter, who nurtured Minneapolis music as Twin/Tone Records co-founder and Replacements manager. Neat detail from Bream’s obit: Peter J. rented the mandolin that Paul Westerburg played on “I Will Dare” from brother Alan’s bandmate in the Boys.

Residen-Season Soldiers on

The rise of winter music residencies seemed like a nice new little tradition to ease us through the dark and frigid months, but these showcases, like a whole lot else, have been endangered by our old friend SARS-CoV-2. Andrew Broder has cancelled two of his planned residency shows (though he’s still on board for the latter two), and Kiss the Tiger has postponed their weekly series of rock ‘n’ spoken word performances, Stone Baby, till March. But rest easy, fans of musical regularity: Charlie Parr and the Cactus Blossoms are still residencing away (on Sundays and Mondays, respectively) at the Turf Club. The latter, who have a new album, One Day out next month, just released a video for one of its tracks, “Everybody,” which features vocal assistance from the great. As Stereogum put it, “A lot of cool people seem to be very impressed with the Cactus Blossoms.”

It’s Never Too Late for an Record Release Show

Annie Mack’s Testify EP came out almost a full year ago. But, as you may remember, last January the live music scene was shut down for real. So the Minneapolis-born, Rochester-based bluesy, gospel-tinged singer will be at the Dakota tonight to belatedly celebrate her recording’s birth. What is time anymore anyway? (Without looking, tell me what year it is. See?) A lovely rootsy recording, Testify was cut during the pandemic, with great playing from drummer Noah Levy, bassist Aaron Fabbrini, and guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker and vocal support from Tonia Hughes and Sara Renner. If you haven’t listened yet, you still can. That’s the great thing about recordings. You can listen to ’em years after they’re made. You can even buy the EP here.

Friday, Jan. 7 

Brian Charles Tischleder and Friends Album Release @ Aster Cafe

R Factor @ Bunkers

Annie Mack (Album Release) @ Dakota 

Beneath Green, Killed by Kiwis, Full Catholic @ Day Block

Common Choir, Ex-Regime, Junior Choir, Linus, Clothesline @ Eagles 34

JVP: Little Trios @ Icehouse

Mr. Peter Parker & DJ Snuggles Present: The Main Ingredient @ Icehouse

Nitti Gritti @ The Loft

Matt Arthur, Erik Brandt @ 331 Club

Saturday, Jan. 8

The High 48’s Bluegrass Brunch @ Aster Cafe

Taylor James Donskey & Friends @ Aster Cafe

Belfast Cowboys @ Bunkers

Jay Young & the Lyric Factory @ Dakota

Via, the Issue @ Day Block

Cash Flow @ Eagles 34

Wanaku @ Icehouse

The Neighborhood Trio @ Icehouse

Yetep @ The Loft

Dosh with the Nunnery @ 7th St Entry

Anima, the Lake Effect @ 331 Club

Fit For An Autopsy with Enterprise Earth, Ingested, Signs of the Swarm @ Turf Club

Hipshaker @ Uptown VFW

Jung Yeller @ White Squirrel

Sunday, Jan. 9

Swing Brunch with Patty and the Buttons @ Aster Cafe

Dr. Mambo’s Combo @ Bunkers

Red Hot Django Peppers @ Icehouse

Charanga Tropical @ Icehouse

Cornbread Harris: Church of Cornbread @ Palmer’s

Kal Brewster’s Millions @ Palmer’s

Free Truman, Vanity Plate, Getting By, With Iowa In Between,  Ready Ready @ Part Wolf

Charlie Parr (Sunday Residency) with Kyle Orla @ Turf Club

Monday, Jan. 10

Mother Banjo & Friends @ 331 Club

Matt Arthur & Friends @ 331 Club

The Cactus Blossoms (Monday Residency) with Humbird @ Turf Club

Subtle Transients @ White Squirrel

Tuesday, Jan. 11

International Reggae Allstars @ Bunkers

Paul Harper Quartet @ Dakota

mewithoutyou with Unwed Sailor @ Fine Line

Fuzzy Math Jazz @ 331 Club

Trevor McSpadden & Mary Cutrufello @ White Squirrel

Kinda Fonda Wanda (Tuesday Residency) @ White Squirrel

Wednesday, Jan. 12

MN Songwriter Showcase hosted by Nick Hensley @ Aster Cafe

Dylan Saifer @ Bunkers

The Sweet Remains @ Dakota

Rotimi @ Fine Line

Neal Francis with Dos Santos @ 7th St Entry

KFAI House Party Presents Mark Cameron Band @ 331 Club

Dan Israel @ 331 Club

Nights With Tim @ White Squirrel

Thursday, Jan. 13

Jay Bee & the Routine @ Bunkers

Hot Club of Cowtown @ Dakota

Inner Wave with Girl Ultra @ Fine Line

Yellow Ostrich with Fruitpunchloverboy + Lupin @ Mortimer’s

Front Porch Swingin’ Liquor Pigs @ Palmer’s

The Dodos @ 7th St Entry

Annie Frazier @ 331 Club

Led Zeppelin 2 @ Varsity Theater