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Music News: Low’s Battle Against UMG, Local Radio Updates, and U. S. Bank’s ‘Major’ Buzzkill

Plus live local music suggestions for the weekend ahead.

Nathan Keay|


Low Fans Rally Against Corporate Behemoth

It all started with a fairly simple question. A fan tweeted at Low’s account, asking if they could reissue I Could Live in Hope, the band’s debut album. Low’s Alan Sparhawk responded regretfully that Universal Music Group, the biggest label-gobbling multinational conglomerate in the world, owned the rights to the band’s first three albums and an EP. Low had attempted to secure the rights from UMG, he said, but instead, “They keep licensing to crappy reissue companies and we see nothing.” 

In response, Low fans and critics of the music industry alike shared behind Low. Sparhawk’s original reply has 367.8K views, 396 retweets (including quote tweets) and 1,469 likes, and a screencap of that tweet he later posted has spread even further, with 1.1M views, 904 retweets, and 6,555 likes. It’s no easy task to shame a corporation into treating the little guy right, but you never know, so I’m happy to amplify this conversation here. Despite apparent reservations that UMG would ever budge, Sparhawk summed up his long term optimism in another tweet: “The system will crumble—they have a chance here to adjust and be useful to the future or fade to dust, clinging to their pieces of silver.”

Some Personnel News

As they’re listening to the station’s new blues program tonight, Jazz88 listeners may wonder “Who’s Lady Luca?” It’s not much of a mystery, though: That’s the alter ego of musical polymath PaviElle French, who’ll host the new show on Friday nights, from 9 to 11 p.m., as part of Jazz88’s 12-hours blues block. French plans to “take listeners on a journey through the traditions, evolution, and legacy of blues music” on her program, called Luca’s Juke Joint.

In other radio news, 89.3 the Current has found a new assistant program director. Kendall Stewart, previously the program director and morning host of WCNR The Corner in Charlottesville, Virginia, will start her new job in February. The station has had quite a few shake ups in the past few years, with many departing staffers offering on- and off-the-record critiques of the station's policies and internal culture.

It’s Always Billy Joel. It Will Always Be Billy Joel.

When U.S. Bank Stadium teased a “major concert announcement” was coming this morning, our foolishly optimistic imaginations ran wild for a minute on the Racket staff chat. Could it be Beyoncé or someone of that superstar caliber? But Jessica, wisely, set us straight: It would be Billy Joel, just like it always is. And guess what…

(The delay before the applause in the second tweet is priceless.) 

And yes, whenever a Minnesota venue promises a big concert announcement, the easiest way to stave off eventual disappointment is to just assume they’re talking about Billy Joel. Those of us who endured the build-up to Joel’s 2014 Target Field show know the drill. Apparently, this is Team Billy’s requirement—there must be a press conference to let each lucky city know that Joel is coming to town. Aside from coming off as big-headed, this seems custom-designed to annoy everyone who doesn’t want to sing along to “Piano Man” with their drunken grandparents. Anyway, at least Stevie Nicks is co-headlining this time.

Now, to start your weekend off right, here’s a video of… I guess it’s Billy Joel haranguing a woman during phone sex?

Let’s Plan Your Weekend!

First off, some disclaimers: This discussion assumes a) you want to see live local music this weekend and b) your car isn’t still snowed in. Now that we’ve cleared that up, on to Friday night. Urban Classic, featuring Prince alums Tommy Barbarella and Michael Bland, will be offering tribute to Earth Wind & Fire at Crooners, a show that was planned before the death of drummer Fred White earlier this week but will obviously be more resonant now. If you’re in the mood for something more competitive, musicians will be battling each other in SongSLAM at Icehouse, which offers a cash prize to the winners. 

Saturday night, an event called “Punx for a Cause” at Palmer's will raise money for the Sanctuary Supply Depot, which provides resources to Minneapolis encampment residents. The lineup includes Sparrowhawk, Wish Wash, Honey Dick, Crush Scene and Identity Crisis. And speaking of Palmer’s, you can catch owner Tony Zaccardi and his band Eleganza! at the Turf Club that same night. These, of course, are just suggestions. You can find lots more options in our weekly calendar.

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