Minnesota music: 2016 in review

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Prince Memorial Block Party
The devoted crowd at The Current's Prince Memorial Block Party outside First Avenue. April 21, 2016 (MPR / Nate Ryan)

For our Local Current team, 2016 started much like any other year. We were spotlighting new releases by up-and-coming bands, keeping tabs on venue news, and of course following all the doings at Paisley Park. Prince was living at the Chanhassen venue, throwing parties, welcoming guests, and playing solo concerts.

Those Jan. 21 "Piano & a Microphone" performances would prove to be the last public shows Prince would ever play in his home state. Though he appeared at Paisley Park to assure fans all was well after he was unexpectedly hospitalize, just a few days later the world was stunned to learn that Prince had died of an initially unknown cause that turned out to be an overdose of a powerful painkiller.

Suddenly we were no longer covering Prince's life: we were covering his legacy. That news continued to dominate our coverage for the remainder of the year, as Paisley Park became a museum and the stars came out for an official tribute concert in St. Paul.

Even as we grieved, life went on in the music scene that Prince did so much to build. There were some big stories — Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize win, the closing of Nye's, the epic viral success of a "Baby It's Cold Outside" remake — and some small stories.

There were also the wacky stories — remember the Justin-Bieber-moving-to-Minnetonka hoax, and the Vikings video kid? — as well as lots of memorable concerts. Rock the Garden was hot and awesome on Boom Island, and a massive day of music saw simultaneous shows including a mini-festival of new local talent, a Wilco show on Hall's Island, and Metallica breaking in U.S. Bank Stadium. Here at The Current, we said hello to Brian Oake and goodbye to Kelsey.

Look back on this intense, exhausting, and often exhilarating year in Minnesota music with an interactive timeline assembled by Nicholas Trahan.


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