First Listen: 'Live Current Vol. 10'

To celebrate The Current's 10th edition of Live Current, Minnesota Public Radio is releasing two albums, packaged together, Live Current Volume 10 and Live Current: Cover to Cover.

Rather than unveil a track per day as we've done in the past, Barb Abney hosted a listening party on the air. Barb played the in-studio performances from both albums along with memories of the sessions recorded by hosts and producers at The Current. Listeners followed along on Twitter with #LiveCurrent!

Live Current Volume 10 and Live Current: Cover to Cover are available when you become a member of Minnesota Public Radio. Donate now and select Live Current Volume 10 as your thank you gift!

Live Current Volume 10 Tracklist

As Barb Abney reveals the Live Current Volume 10 artists and songs during the live listening party on air, we'll post the tracklist here.


  1. Bon Iver - "Flume" (2008)

Bon Iver perform live in The Current studios

There was such a buzz around Bon Iver. If you think back to that time when everyone was discovering Justin Vernon and his music, the buzz around here was immense. So when we had him here in our studio, it was an event. Everyone knew! You could just sense that this was a guy who was about to explode and not because of hype but because his music was so affecting. He came in here and he did his first radio interview anywhere as Bon Iver and there was this crowd on the other side of the glass that was watching and then, you know, within a couple of years he was up there winning a GRAMMY and giving the most modest GRAMMY speech of all time. It's pretty cool to think that Justin Vernon came in here and he was just this scruffy dude with a CD that was literally in a brown cardboard wrapper. — Steve Seel, host, The Morning Show



  • The Hold Steady - "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" (2005)
  • The Hold Steady perform live in The Current studios

    I'm a really big fan of the Hold Steady. They were one of the first bands that we had into the studio at The Current and they did a stripped down acoustic version which is something they hadn't done many times before. This session was recorded about two months after The Current signed on the air and a couple months before the Hold Steady released Separation Sunday, so they were playing "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" for one of the first times in public. One of the great things about The Current sessions is that sometimes you get something really special like that. I have seen them play "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" probably a dozen times since then. They've probably played it a million times since then, but what you get in this version is like a little time capsule of the song, before the fans realized what the song was going to be, before the band even realized what this song was going to be. That's what I love about this version. — Steve Nelson, former Program Director



  • Brandi Carlile - "Dreams" (2009)
  • Brandi Carlile performs live in The Current studios

    Brandi Carlile's been in our studios many times but in September of 2009, it was a special time. It was right before the album Give Up the Ghost album came out, which the song "Dreams" comes from. This version is slightly fierier than the one of the record and I soon found out it was because the band was so fired up — it was the very first time that they'd been able to perform on the radio in a full studio with a full band! We hear that from so many bands when they come into Studio M. There's probably not another station in the country that has a studio as good. It was also special for Brandi because her parents were in the room! They had flown into the Twin Cities because they have extended family here, but also because the Twin Cities has an audience that has always reacted to Brandi. She was playing two sold out shows at the O'Shaughnessy, so the family wanted to see her play. It was great to have them in the room. — Mark Wheat, host



  • Dr. Dog - "Shadow People" (2010)
  • Dr. Dog perform live in The Current studios

    I remember when Dr. Dog came in because Mark Wheat asked me to co-interview the band with him because I knew them from when I used to live in Philadelphia, and that's where those guys are from. They've been in our studios so many times (five) that you can tell they're comfortable and they're confident, and I think you can hear that on this track. — Jim McGuinn, Program Director



  • Gary Clark Jr. - "If Trouble Was Money" (2013)
  • Gary Clark Jr. performs live in the Forum

    Gary Clark Jr.'s first visit to The Current was in the Forum in front a live studio audience here at Minnesota Public Radio. Gary had a band with him, so he had another guitar player, a bass player, a drummer and they were just really jamming out on this blues riff during the soundcheck. Usually soundcheck is the time when the producer will ask the band, "Alright, what four songs are you playing?" and Gary Clark Jr. said, "You know, I don't have a set list. I'm just gonna do what feels right." That generally makes a producer very nervous, but Gary Clark Jr., he could just feel the vibe of the room. The lights were kind of dimmed down, and it was just such a great environment for him to play. He plays with his eyes closed. He was feeling the music, feeling the audience and he knew exactly what he wanted to do. The progression of the songs was absolutely perfect. — Jill Riley, host, The Morning Show



  • Phoenix - "Lisztomania" (2009)
  • Phoenix perform live in The Current studios

    Sometimes we have bands coming into the studio whose primary language is not English, and we've had interpreters in the past and that's been a great way to be able to do a great interview and still have an in-studio session, like for Phoenix. They speak French, but they also speak English, so we decided, you know, we're obviously going to do this interview in English. But I thought, "Well, I've taken a little bit of French in high school and college, maybe I'll try to test it out on them." I remember saying a couple of things and they kind of looked at me sideways and just started laughing. I was clearly not speaking French very well, but they totally took it in stride and had a blast hanging out at the studios of The Current. — Lindsay Kimball, Assistant Program Director



  • Beach House - "Norway" (2010)
  • Beach House perform live in The Current studios

    The band Beach House stopped by The Current studios on Easter Sunday of 2010. While I was talking with Victoria and Alex, I was trying to ask Alex about the different loops that he used, and I couldn't remember the word for loop. If you go back and listen to the session, you'll hear that on the air as I completely space out and the word is gone. I cannot come up with it at all. And finally Alex, he kind of helpfully looks at me and goes, "Loops?" And I'm like, "Yes! That's totally the word I was looking for!" I was totally mortified that I'm talking to this band and I can't remember this very simple term that they used. It's one of those moments when you think you know what you're talking about and you really don't and yet you do at the same time. Beach House were really cool with it and they sounded great in the studio. — Mac Wilson, host



  • Mike Doughty - "27 Jennifers" (2008)
  • Mike Doughty performs live in The Current studios

    I remember when we did the Mike Doughty session that he was in town for maybe Thanksgiving or something — it was in November. The record [Golden Delicious] came out in February, so it was a few months in advance of the release of the record. He was sober, and that's something that stood out to me because I had seen Mike Doughty several times before he had become sober and he seemed kind of erratic. He's kind of like me in that he moves around a lot and is big and has a big voice. I thought that maybe he was drunk and it's like, oh no, that's Mike Doughty sober. That's just who he is. He's a lot like me, and I think that that's kind of why I've always dug him. I remember that that we had to hold on to the session so long before we could play it, but then we were early to play it [because the session was recorded three months in advance of the album release]. I felt like I had an inside scoop as to what the album was going to sound like. — Barb Abney, host



  • The New Pornographers - "My Rights Versus Yours" (2007)
  • The New Pornographers perform live in The Current studios

    The New Pornographers visited The Current studios back in 2007. It was made interesting because right before we went on the air A. C. Newman told a story. He was cutting it a little close to the live broadcast because we were going to go live. We told him, "Yeah, we have about 45 seconds before we go live," and he said, "Oh, this is a enough time to tell the story." There were a couple of naughty words in there and I think everyone in the booth turned white. What made it really funny is—I think, if I remember correctly—the Canadian consulate was visiting The Current studios because it was the New Pornographers from Canada, and then he told this story. We all remember that if we're going to go on the air even remotely soon, you don't say any bad words. That's not good. — Mac Wilson, host



  • Spoon - "Don't You Evah" (2007)
  • Spoon perform live in The Current studios

    The first time that Spoon came to play in our studios was actually pretty early on in the life of the station, 2007. Mary Lucia hosted the session and she's always been a huge Spoon fan, so she was just kind of mental about the whole event. Very, very excited. We were all very excited. There was a big buzz that whole day. When they had completed the session and they were going back to First Avenue to soundcheck for their show that night, I had to make a copy of something on the copy machine. I went over and I lifted up the lid of the copy machine and sitting there on the glass was Britt Daniel's driver's license and his American Express card. The first thing that I thought when I saw his driver's license was, "Britt Daniel is his real name?" As it turns out, he was born John Britt Daniel. I suppose his parents knew he was going to be a rock star, so they gave him the middle name Britt. I mean, like, made to be a rock and roller. So before we gave his driver's license and credit card to someone to courier it back over to First Avenue to get it back to him, of course I had to give it to Mary Lucia for her to hold for about five minutes. That was a very special experience for her, needless to say. — Steve Seel, host, The Morning Show



  • The xx - "VCR" (2009)
  • The xx perform live in The Current studios

    This track from the xx was recorded on Nov. 30, 2009, just a few short months since we'd introduce our audience to this new band from the UK who were having a storm of positive press around their debut. This was the very first time they'd visited the USA on a sizable tour, and size was the thing that stuck out. Romy [Madley Croft] said that she couldn't believe the size of the cup of soda when they went to the cinema. I mention in the interview that a couple of days before the session Rough Trade, a record label and record store in the UK, nominated their album as the "Album of the Year" for 2009. The band had just heard it, too, and were—as the British say—gobsmacked. In fact, the lead singer Romy said it was her dream to work at Rough Trade's record store, so having their first album as their "Album of the Year" was literally beyond a dream. — Mark Wheat, host



  • The National - "Don't Swallow the Cap" (2013)
  • The National perform live in the Forum

    People always ask, "What does a producer do?" We meet the band, make sure they're comfortable and see kind of where their head's at, so that we can communicate with the host and make sure everything runs smoothly for the entire in-studio session. Typically, bands aren't super chatty; they're up early, they're not used to that. They're just there to do the in-studio session. What was cool about the National is that the guys just really wanted coffee and I wanted coffee at the same time, so we went and we got some coffee and we started chatting, and they were actually one of the only bands that have ever asked me what I do; what it's like doing my job. It was almost like they were doing an interview on me and asking me about a day in the life as a producer for the Morning Show. It was kind of cool because they were sympathizing like, "That seems like a really early morning. That must be tough for you." It was hilarious namely because these are rock stars who have no need to be talking to me and sympathizing about a day in the life as a producer for The Current. — Jade, producer, The Morning Show



  • Lizzo - "Faded" (2013)
  • Lizzo performs live in The Current studio

    The session had taken place less than week after Lizzo's solo debut Lizzobangers was released. The album was a collaboration with Doomtree producer Lazerbeak and he had joined her in the studio that day to fire the tracks and to knock around on the MPC [drum machine]. They [City Pages] had also just published the Picked to Click winners had been crowned champion for the second year running and had grabbed the #3 slot with her trio GRRRL PRTY. She was—to use the vernacular— blowing up. The interview was hilarious. I do remember worrying about her ability to carry the performance by herself, which is hilarious to me now. Everyone knows Lizzo has the skills and charisma of at least five mortal rappers and is pretty much an entertainment tractor beam. It's not even a fair fight. If you're in the room, she's got you. — David Campbell, host, The Local Show and Radio Free Current



  • James Blake - "Retrograde" (2013)
  • James Blake performs live in The Current studio

    James Blake has been with us a couple of times over the years. The first time he was in, I think he was still getting used to the American press and all their questions about dubstep, and a lot of us still weren't quite sure what that meant. He was already trying to shake off that label in the UK, so he was both a little shy and a little prickly that first time which is just a great combination for an interview [sarcasm]. When he came back the next time he was so much more genial and I think maybe just so much more comfortable in his own skin. We had a great session, and I asked him how hard it is to make music that is both extremely quiet and extremely meticulous and complicated. He was just so open about how hard it is to perform this style of stuff that he writes. I mean, if you screw up a note, you're in big trouble because he does all this sampling and looping live in real time. But because of that kind of high wire act that is James Blake live, it's that much more effecting to watch him perform. — Steve Seel, host, The Morning Show

    James Blake is known for having an awful lot of bass in his music, and after he did his session I remember taking the audio. I was editing in this edit suite we have, which is a small room. It's just Pro Tools and a board, and I'm working on this session. I don't have it turned up super loud, but you can hear that the bass is kind of loud and all of a sudden I had a crowd around my edit suite wondering what was going on because all they could hear outside of this little booth I was in was this thunderous bass reverberating across the entire fourth floor. So that's James Blake and his 808's. — Lindsay Kimball, Assistant Program Director



  • Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - "40 Day Dream" (2009)
  • Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros perform live in The Current studios

    I've produced this band a few times when they've been in the studio and the first time they came in—well before anyone knew who they were—I remember this old bus pulling up to The Current. It was a hot summer day on a Saturday. They opened the door and it looked like 1968 walked out of the bus. It was fringe, leather, no shirts, no shoes. There was a small heard of musicians. It was hard to keep track of them. Someone would be in the bathroom, someone's out smoking, or someone's on the phone, or someone can't find someone else. So when we had them back to record this session in the UBS Forum that Barb hosted, I was like, "Okay, I'm going to try this again. Maybe they're a little more organized." Then I had a trumpet player taking a shower in the basement and I had a bunch of people still on the bus; I had a bunch of band members soundchecking. I'm one person running from all ends of the building trying to coordinate this session, and then we finally get all of the band into the Forum. They're sounchecked; every single person on the stage. One of the things we do before these Forum sessions is we have everyone go into the green room when they're done with the soundcheck, then the guests come in then when the host announces them, they come out and start playing their songs. Well I mentioned to the tour manager like, "Oh, we'll have them go into the green room and bring them back out when we're ready," and he said, "Don't do that. You'll never get them back on stage again." I'll never forget that! So as the guests are coming in, the band was just hanging out and went right into the session. Otherwise we would have lost someone. — Lindsay Kimball, Assistant Program Director

    James Blake is known for having an awful lot of bass in his music, and after he did his session I remember taking the audio. I was editing in this edit suite we have, which is a small room. It's just Pro Tools and a board, and I'm working on this session. I don't have it turned up super loud, but you can hear that the bass is kind of loud and all of a sudden I had a crowd around my edit suite wondering what was going on because all they could hear outside of this little booth I was in was this thunderous bass reverberating across the entire fourth floor. So that's James Blake and his 808's. — Lindsay Kimball, Assistant Program Director

    I was so nervous because I had never had a studio session in the UBS Forum, you know. I had never had a studio audience behind me as I'm trying to do an interview with a band in front of me. It was a little crazy keeping everybody in one place. Everybody was playing this instrument or that and they'd switch it up a little bit and that was kind of interesting. So when the interview started I was like, "Alex, would you introduce the band?" And then we went on to introduce everybody and talked about how long they'd known him; give them a chance to say their name on air on the microphones. It was kind of a big to-do when, you know, your typical in-studio session is like, "This is Bob and Jeff and Gary, let's go." It carried on a bit. — Barb Abney, host



  • Feist - "Secret Heart" (2005)
  • Feist performs live in The Current studio

    You know, Leslie Feist got her start in her native Canada during high school. Her first gig was opening for the Ramones, and if that doesn't set the tone for a fabulous career, I don't know what does. — Mary Lucia, host



  • The Avett Brothers - "Distraction #74" (2006)
  • The Avett Brothers perform live in The Current studio

    This was nine years ago! They were in town and I think they were playing the Cabooze on a Friday night. They were the opening act. I still remember when they came up, the band's sound changed so much. They already had kind of a good following around them, but they were just kind of up-starts. Their band had as much to do with punk rock as they had to do with rock or bluegrass or folk or anything. They were kind of a punk rock band bashing out these really fast songs. Little did we know that their sound would change and become one of the most successful bands of the past few years. — Bill DeVille, host, United States of Americana and Time Machine Tuesday



  • Mumford and Sons - "Reminder" (2013)
  • Theft of the Dial: Mumford and Sons

    Mumford and Sons could be said to be one of the biggest bands for The Current. At one point they were just cranking out tunes; we were playing everything off the record. They were huge; everything they touched was gold. We have a Theft of the Dial feature where we hand over the reins of the station to the band and let the band pick a couple songs. We've never done a live Theft of the Dial until we did one with Mumford and Sons. We did it in the big studio and the whole band was there. Live. It was kind of nerve-racking, but they're really nice guys. They sat there and they had thoughtfully crafted a bunch of tunes and I'll be honest, I didn't know a lot of the bands. A lot of the bands were bands they had worked with or were label-mates with or had label connections with. They introduced me to a lot of brand new bands that I might not have otherwise heard. It went just like any other Theft of the Dial would go except it was live and with the biggest band in the world. — Mary Lucia, host


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