Minnesota Now with Cathy Wurzer

Minnesota Music Month: Local stars to see in April

A musician performs on an outdoor stage
Planet Afropunk Live brought out more than a dozen performers for a music festival at Sheridan Memorial Park in Minneapolis on June 19.
Awa Mally for MPR News | 2022

On Wednesday, The Current will be playing Minnesota-made music all day long for Minnesota Music Day.

Governor Walz declared April Minnesota Music Month back in 2019. It’s a time for recognizing the local musicians who contribute to culture and understanding of one another through music.

Minnesota Public Radio’s music station The Current is celebrating all month long with live music events along with their programs Carbon Sound and Radio Heartland.

Diane Miller is host of The Current’s Local Show and she joined MPR News host Cathy Wurzer to play music and talk about upcoming gigs.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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Audio transcript

CATHY WURZER: Tomorrow, our friends at The Current will be playing Minnesota-made music all day long for Minnesota Music Day. That's part of their month-long celebration of Minnesota Music Month. It's a time for recognizing the local musicians, who contribute to culture and understanding of one another through music.

MPR's music station, The Current, is celebrating all month long with live music events, along with their programs, Carbon Sound and Radio Heartland. Diane Miller is host of The Current's Local Show, and she is here with us to play some music. Good to hear your voice again. Welcome back.

DIANE MILLER: Thanks for having me. Always a pleasure being on the show.

CATHY WURZER: You're the host of the Local Show on The Current, so you're eyeball-deep in Minnesota music all year long.

DIANE MILLER: I sure am, all week long.

CATHY WURZER: Why is this needed? Why this celebration?

DIANE MILLER: Great question. And well, Governor Tim Walz proclaimed April to be Minnesota Music Month about five years ago. And this is our way of recognizing the deep influence of artists and their contributions to foster an understanding of one another through music.

And the month is a chance to honor the creativity, the energy, and the rich history of the Minnesota music scene. It's so flush with many different styles. And I mean, you know how profoundly music can impact anyone's life, so.

CATHY WURZER: Oh, sure.

DIANE MILLER: So we're just celebrating our local music community.

CATHY WURZER: We have a library that's just really extensive. So you've got enough to go for 24 hours.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

CATHY WURZER: --music I like that, all day tomorrow. You could have done any show, right, Diane?

DIANE MILLER: Sure.

CATHY WURZER: You could have done whatever on the air, but you decided to focus your energy on local music. Why is that specifically so important to you?

DIANE MILLER: Oh, man. I specifically was raised by a local music scene. I am a product of a local music scene. I've been in so many different facets of the music industry, from being a talent buyer to being a lead singer, backup singer.

I'm so moved by how much being a part of a local music scene has made me into who I am. And I love being able to give back to the people who are doing the same that work that I am doing and even in different ways. And to be able to explore it is just so enriching and exciting to be able to share it with the rest of the Minnesota music lovers like myself.

CATHY WURZER: Sure. I was talking to musician Annie Mac, who I adore. And she was--

DIANE MILLER: Me, too.

CATHY WURZER: --talking about, yeah, growing up in north Minneapolis, and obviously, listening to Prince and The Time. And I mean, there's obviously Prince and Dylan and The Replacements. And you can just keep going down the list, right? What the heck is in the water around here that has fostered such amazing talent, do you think, and continues to foster amazing talent?

DIANE MILLER: Definitely the legacy of artists like Prince and The Replacements and Bob Dylan, those artists that you named off, is, of course, going to make a lasting impact on the artists that we are having today. And that's another reason why we go back to why do we celebrate Minnesota Music Month-- because there is a Prince and there is a Bob Dylan right now in our Minnesota music scene or one that you might not know about yet.

But there's so much talent to keep fostering and keep nurturing. That is 'cause you know that they're going to keep building the rich history of our great state. And yeah, I don't know. I don't know. The cold maybe? [LAUGHS]

CATHY WURZER: Keeps people inside playing music-- I don't know. So, OK, let's talk about one person in particular here, Jeremy Messersmith, one of the artists you're highlighting this month. We're going to play some music because we have to. This is Jeremy with his song "New York Times Crossword Puzzle."

[JEREMY MESSERSMITH, "NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD PUZZLE"] Without a doubt

This is the sound of selling out

I don't want to know how far I'd go, how low I'd stoop

If you only knew the pandering I'm prepared to do

Because I have seen my name in shining lights

But I wish it was in black and white

For the world to see immortalized

As a crossword clue in The New York Times

CATHY WURZER: Yes, yes! Why did you pick this song?

DIANE MILLER: Jeremy Messersmith is one of the most celebrated musicians in the Minnesota music history books, still active to this day, releasing actually a live album he just recorded just a few months ago. It's called The Summit Avenue Swinger Society Presents Jeremy Messersmith Live at Bryant Lake Bowl. And that is a cut off that album.

It's going to be released on April 11th. And it's funny. That's part of his charm. He's such a wordsmith. He's a slight comedian as well, him literally trying to become a clue on the New York Times crossword puzzle.

CATHY WURZER: I wish him well--

DIANE MILLER: Me, too.

CATHY WURZER: --on that goal, yes. We're going to listen to another song that you picked, and this one is called "You Got Me" by MMYYKK.

[MMYYKK, "U GOT ME"]

(SINGING) Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey

This is how you make me feel for real

So let me be specific

I want to have a real thing, real thing

With you all my life

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

I found out the hard way, the hard way

Took my lumps with a crab cake on the side

CATHY WURZER: So what do you like about MMYYKK?

DIANE MILLER: MMYYKK, gosh, for a person who loves rich history of soul music-- think about the greats like Marvin Gaye and Sam Cook-- and then to bring that style of music and have this modern influence, I feel like his music spans a lot of different generations of Black music, MMYYKK, from the classic soul to almost like that '90s R&B of D'Angelo.

Oh, he's so smooth. He's such a great live performer, from right here in our music community. So active and such just a great guy and has a great message to his music as well. And yeah, he's performing this April 19th at Amsterdam. You can sign up for tickets for that one as a part of our Minnesota Music Month programming.

CATHY WURZER: Excellent. One more, we got to do this. This is called "Made to Love Someone" by Anna Graves.

[ANNA GRAVES, "MADE TO LOVE"]

(SINGING) Maybe I don't got it yet

But I know you're not the answer

'Cause my bitter heart's still on the run

Maybe I ain't said it yet

I would rather take the chances

And die without the chance of being loved

So let me go

Baby, you can chase your dreams, and I'll chase mine

Let me know

CATHY WURZER: Ooh, pretty. Nice. Tell me about Anna.

DIANE MILLER: Anna Graves, she's from a small town in Minnesota, Webster, Minnesota, and grew up without a television on a horse farm. And so, she was encouraged from an early, early age to really explore creativity and to use her imagination through painting and writing and spending time outdoors. Anna Graves has also spent time in LA and Nashville, but came back to Minnesota to pursue music and continue to do so. And she's just outstanding, such a great performer. Also going to be a part of Minnesota Music Day, which is tomorrow. We're doing a live Local Show broadcast here in the building, and she will be one of our guests.

CATHY WURZER: [GASPS]

DIANE MILLER: I'm so excited.

CATHY WURZER: What? I'm going to have to go up-- I'm going to have to see you guys.

DIANE MILLER: You got to.

CATHY WURZER: If I'm lurking outside the studio window, that's me. [LAUGHS]

DIANE MILLER: I would love it if you were there.

CATHY WURZER: And of course, for the full rundown of events, just go to thecurrent.org. Is that right?

DIANE MILLER: Mm-hmm.

CATHY WURZER: OK.

DIANE MILLER: Current.org/mnmusicmonth.

CATHY WURZER: Got it, got it. All right, always a pleasure, Diane. Thank you.

DIANE MILLER: Thank you.

CATHY WURZER: That was The Current host, Diane Miller. You can learn more about the Minnesota Music Month events, as she says, at thecurrent.org/mnmusicmonth.

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