Feelin’ Minnesota: Exclusive Interview with Jim Walsh

photo by John Botkin

If something was happening in the Minneapolis music scene, writer Jim Walsh was there to cover it. A former City Pages music editor (think, The Stranger) and award-winning columnist for the Pioneer Press, Walsh writes about music and culture. He is the author of the oral history The Replacements: All Over but the Shouting.

KEXP is Feelin’ Minnesota this Wednesday, June 7th, as a celebration of what would’ve been Prince’s 59th birthday, as well as a salute to the winner of the first-ever KEXP State-to-State challenge. From 6AM to 6PM, you’ll hear from artists like Hüsker Dü, Brother Ali, Poliça, and The Jayhawks, leading up to a four-hour extravaganza on The Afternoon Show with DJ Kevin Cole, former Minnesotan, featuring exclusive interviews, rare finds, and more.

If you could play one song that encapsulates the state, who, which song and why?

I love the song “Minneapolis” by That Dog, capturing as it does a club romance that feels particularly sweet and Minnesotan. The chorus is magical, too, and my friend Debbie Donovan made a cool video for it a few years ago:

What Minnesota artists are most meaningful to you, and why?

The Replacements, Prince, Bob Dylan, the Gear Daddies, Cows, Suburbs, Flamingo, the Suicide Commandos, so many current bands and songwriters and the Belfast Cowboys and on and on and on. Weirdly, they’re all fiercely original, yet hail/howl from the same state/hotbed, with perhaps the only unifying element being, perhaps, the relative solitude of the Midwest fostering a penchant for hard work and woodshedding. Minnesota goes through golden age after golden age of live and recorded music, and this area’s seemingly endless cumulative imagination and fertility is something to be celebrated, treasured, chronicled, and protected. Seriously, there’s no place like it…

What is it about living in Minnesota that informs your art?

The Twin Cities is home to tons of smart people via all the colleges, universities, and original music clubs, and it’s probably true that smart, talented, freaky people make for an especially creative environment. The place itself is extremely inspirational, I’m drawn to the area’s lakes, creeks, rivers, and beautiful and bountiful nature, and the distinct creative rhythms that come with the four seasons.

Why does music matter to you?

Music teaches me, consoles me, lifts me, rocks me, and loves me up like absolutely nothing else. I am constantly amazed at the ability of musicians to transcribe the heart and soul of the human condition and make poetic sense of it all.

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