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Katharine Seggerman reflects on a sad yet inspiring month in Minnesota music

by Katharine Seggerman

April 29, 2016

Something surprising I learned as the Local Current DJ in Residence: being a radio host is exhausting. Programming six hours of music can be draining when you're as indecisive as me, biting your nails over which Lizzo or Hollow Boys song to play next, and then you spend a good chunk of time talking to yourself in an isolated edit booth...all while trying to sound interesting! Luckily I created the simple solution of 1) repeated visits to The Current's coffee supply, and 2) Bringing Bigger Sandwiches.

Something totally unsurprising I learned while DJing: we have some seriously good music here in Minnesota. As a transplant musician and chronic (self-)doubter, I sometimes wonder if the local music community and its infrastructure are overly affirmative and insufficiently critical: Are our standards high enough to draw out everyone's best work? Are we sweeping the scene's negative aspects under the rug? Are we too self-congratulatory?

I still think those are important questions to evaluate on an ongoing basis, but after working with The Current's catalog for a month, I admit I am floored by the concentration of talent here. Minnesota is home to some very fine hook-writers, beat-makers, verse-smashers, and love-translators. During one of my last sessions, an impressed friend in California texted me, "Wait, these are all local bands?" I was proud to answer in the affirmative.

I have to wonder, now that Prince is gone, how many of those great Minnesota musicians are here — or moved here or decided to stay here — because of him: his music, his mystique, his hometown pride. Also, I wonder how many MPR staffers fell in love with music because they fell in love with Prince. Being at The Current's office the week Prince died was like seeing a family in mourning: everyone felt it, and everyone was there for each other.

The show had to go on, so last Thursday I recorded my Friday afternoon program while the people at The Current worked with First Avenue and the City of Minneapolis to throw a block party concert to celebrate our fallen musical hero. Then First Ave announced three nights of dancing until the wee hours, and then local bands started organizing tribute shows. Through all our grief, it was inspiring to see so many groups of people come together to appreciate music and support each other.

It was an honor to be Local Current's guest DJ for April. I relished coming in each week, and I loved discovering new Minnesota music by combing through The Current's extensive catalog or by hunting down songs by my favorite local bands to share with all of you. Thanks to everyone who listened!


Lunch Duchess

Hear Katharine Seggerman's last shift as Local Current DJ in Residence today — Friday, April 29 — from noon to 6 p.m. on our stream of Minnesota music. Tune in to Local Current every Friday in May to enjoy our next DJ in Residence, Greg Grease.

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.