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Country AND Western at the Tannehill Opry

After visting Tannehill Historic State Park in Alabama (Interesting history, check it out), Carly and I passed the Tannehill Opry along the road to Birmingham.

Tannehill Opry

Check out the sign:

Old time Music Association

Music with no booze can be a tough sell. What’s their secret? Free air conditioning.

And, Tater Wallace, the 92 year old lead singer of the house band:

We missed it by a day.

Brother Ali at Breakfast with Gary Schiff

Brother Ali at Breakfast with Gary

I had a chance to attend Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff’s monthly Breakfast with Gary this morning where Brother Ali was a guest speaker. Normally, I don’t make it to 7:30 events, but for Brother Ali I made an exception.

It turns out that this was well worth it. Brother Ali shared a ton of stories about his life, including growing up in Michigan, then North Minneapolis and later South Minneapolis. As an albino hip hop artist who came from nothing, moved a lot, lived in some of the poorest and blackest parts of the city, growing up Christan and converting to Islam, he’s lived in the middle of nearly every major cultural conflict in the United States in the past two decades outside of Terri Schiavo.

Of the many awesome stories he shared – often peppered with rhymes that pop into his head, including the above Fruit Pebbles commercial from 1992 – was one about how a police brutality incident in North Minneapolis helped fund his first CD.

As Brother Ali tells it, a friend of his was pulled over at around 3am in North Minneapolis. He handed his license to the cop through a slightly rolled down window. The cop asked him to get out of the car, so he asked why. At that point, the cop smashed his window, dragged him out of the car, beat him, and later wrote him up for drunk driving. The driver was not a drinker or even use caffeine.

The driver ended up having his day in court due to pro-bono representation from a young lawyer by the name of Keith. Keith Ellison, to be precise. The city ended up settling out of court with Brother Ali’s friend, and Ellison managed to make additional sensitivity training for cops part of the settlement. Of the money Brother Ali’s friend received for getting hiss ass kicked, some of it ended up being used to help Brother Ali create his first cassette only release.

Now, Brother Ali is traveling the country, internationally, and making one heck of an awesome living doing something that he loves.

On top of all that, we had scrambled eggs and tamales for breakfast. Awesome.

Thanks to Brother Ali for speaking, Gary Schiff for hosting, and Gary’s awesome staff for pulling together such a great event.

Also, Hart Van Denburg from CityPages was sitting next to me and you can read his perspective here.

2009’s British Invasion of MSP

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment has landed. They’re in town from the UK to participate in the St Paul Chamber Orchestra’s International Chamber Orchestra Festival.

The OAE’s project manager, Ceri Jones, is blogging about her experiences traveling to St Paul (how ya like the weather, Ceri?), and has had some fun nuggets to share, such as enjoying Northwest Airlines, getting from the airport to her hotel without ever going outside, the full workout facilities at her hotel, and free cookies:

Journey to the twin cities

Anyway, it was now early afternoon, (early evening in London) and time for a nap maybe? Only I was a bit too awake for that so went for a swim in the hotel pool and had a bit of a wander and got a bit excited about the free chocolate cookies in the hotel foyer (in Europe it’s usually fruit on offer. Need I say more…..)

Ceri, if you’re craving some healthy fruit to go with your cookies, take a bus up to the Mississippi Market. Or, for a truly American experience, go to Cub Foods instead, and hit Wal-Mart while you’re in the neighborhood.

Here’s a promo for the OAE’s Night Shift performances in the UK – a series of late night concerts targeting a younger crowd:

Culture Bully is Helping Our Schools

Local Music blog, Culture Bully, is running a 60-Hour Blogathon where fresh content will go live every hour for the next 2 1/2 days. This is being done to fundraise for music programs in Twin Cities classrooms. The donations are processed through (a great organization profiled here before) where donors can pick exactly which programs and classrooms they’d like to support. Here are the deets: is teaming with for a three day fundraising campaign supporting music development and literacy within local Twin Cities schools. Beginning at 10:00am (Central) on Monday, October 20 Culture Bully will be posting exclusive content at least once an hour, every hour for 60 HOURS!

With the support of over 50 local and national musicians these posts will include exclusive commentaries by the likes of Josh Grier of Tapes ‘n Tapes, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, YouTube legend Tay Zonday, Kid Dakota, Maria Isa, Kristoff Krane, M.anifest and many, many more! Additionally, Culture Bully will be debuting brand new music from 14 local acts including Jeremy Messersmith, Roma di Luna, Little Man, Nobot, Dan Israel, Heiruspecs and Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles.

Good luck to Culture Bully and thanks for supporting music programs in our schools.

Top Celebrity Appearances on Sesame Street

After watching this video of Feist on Sesame Street (awesome):

I decided to take a look on YouTube to see which other celebrity appearances have been popular. As of this writing, Feist’s video has a bit over 169,000 views, but it’s also only been on YouTube for six days. The videos below are the top-10 most popular Sesame Street segments on with celebrity appearances on YouTube. Great stuff.

10. Patti Labelle – 256, 050

9. Natalie Portman – 256,754

8. Norah Jones – 258,737

7. Alicia Keys – 282,384

6. Martina McBride – 323,280

5. Destiny’s Child – 422,371

4. James Blunt – 785,278

3. Stevie Wonder – 1,147,770

2. Andrea Bocelli – 1,482,338

1. Chris Brown – 9,001,686

Should I Care about Digital Watermarking

I’m having a hard time getting worked up about digital watermarking.

The most annoying thing about music with DRM “protection” was that it made it tougher to play on the device of your choice.

With watermarking, a song purchased from iTunes, for example, could have your email address embedded in the file, so if the MP3 you purchased ended up on a P2P network you’d have some explainin’ to do.

DRM Is Dead, But Watermarks Rise From Its Ashes

Art Brodsky, of Public Knowledge, was quick to provide an answer.

“They’ll do anything they can to get ammunition, including submitting the information to Congress, publishing research and whatever, so long as they can blame everything on piracy,” Brodsky said.

EFF’s Von Lohmann speculated that watermarks could even enable ISPs to filter out peer-to-peer traffic when they detect a copyright work in transit.

If those are the best arguments against watermarketing, I don’t get it.

Couldn’t watermarking also be used to show that major labels are selling less because they’re putting out uninspiring music?

Wouldn’t filtering copyright infringing content be a good thing?

What am I missing here?

New MacPhail Center Coming Soon

Todd Melby has a great write-up of the history of the MacPhail Center’s new construction and move across downtown Minneapolis to near the new Guthrie.

While the Guthrie gets much more press, the MacPhail Center may be an even larger draw to the old mill district with families swinging by for lessons and performances. Cool stuff.

The new building is on 2nd St South (same street as the Guthrie) at 5th Ave S.