The Current Rewind goes to First Avenue

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The Current Rewind
The Current Rewind (Kaitlyn Bryan | MPR)
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Announcing season two of your favorite Minnesota music history podcast, The Current Rewind!

The Current Rewind is the podcast putting music's unsung stories on the map. In season two, we're tracing the 50-year history of Minneapolis club First Avenue, using 10 pivotal dates to explore how a city, a scene, and popular music have evolved since the dawn of the '70s. The Current's Cecilia Johnson and Mark Wheat — along with special guest hosts — will meet you at the barricades for opening night, drop in on life-changing shows, and take an inside look at the present-day #SaveOurStages campaign.

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The Current Rewind is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment's Arts and Culture Heritage Fund.

Transcript of The Current Rewind season two trailer

["Hive Sound" by Icetep plays on a loop]

Mark Wheat: "First Avenue is really famous. A lot of bands make it after playing there." That's how Apollonia put it in Purple Rain. That movie, of course, would make the downtown Minneapolis club really famous — known around the world for its association with Prince. First Ave turns 50 this year, and while there's a reason Prince's star is the only one painted gold on the club's outside wall, the tale of Purple Rain is just one of many stories to tell about a club that's hosted thousands of thrilling performances in one of America's great music cities.

["Hive Sound" fades up, plays for a few seconds]

Mark Wheat: The Current Rewind is a podcast that tells unsung stories from Minnesota music history. In season two, we're tracing the 50-year history of First Avenue in nine episodes, using specific shows as the jumping-off points for explorations of how a city, a scene, and popular music have evolved since the club opened at the dawn of the '70s. Think of it as the podcast equivalent of a stage dive.

I'm Mark Wheat, a host on The Current. I'm inviting you to join us this season as we welcome a series of rock star guest hosts to pilot our time machine back to nights like April 3, 1970, when Joe Cocker became the first headliner at the former Greyhound bus depot. We'll drop in on November 1979, when the Ramones and Pat Benatar played back-to-back nights. And, yes, we'll talk about Prince. We'll take you back to August 3, 1983, when Prince debuted his song "Purple Rain" live at a benefit concert for Minnesota Dance Theatre.

All this and more — including the dramatic story of the club's bankruptcy and recovery in the early 2000s — on season two of The Current Rewind.

[rewind noise]

Cecilia Johnson: Hi, I'm Cecilia Johnson, the producer of The Current Rewind, and a lot has changed since we started working on season two. Let's see: A global pandemic hit, live music went on hiatus, and Mark Wheat, our wonderful host, left The Current. Our team had already done most of the interviews we needed, so we had a pile of tape and transcripts, plus three episodes' worth of Wheat's voiceover. We decided to keep the episodes that Wheat worked on, but I'll be voicing the rest of the season.

In a strange way, I'm almost more drawn to these First Avenue stories than I was when I was regularly going out to shows. Right now, I really miss live music, so I've been sheltering inside these memories of a thousand people facing one stage in just one room.

Like many others, I dearly hope First Avenue survives the pandemic, but I know it's not a guarantee. So when I'm feeling unsure about First Avenue's survival, I go back to these stories that I've been studying for months. I know First Avenue has been through bankruptcy and reinvention. It has witnessed violence and euphoria. It has been held together through literal and figurative duct tape.

["Hive Sound" fades back up]

Cecilia Johnson: And I know the club has only lasted these 50 years because of the amazing music fans who have bought tickets and merch, invited their friends to shows, and otherwise supported independent venues. So when you have a second, go online and check out NIVA, the National Independent Venue Association, and their #SaveOurStages campaign. And once you've done that, catch us back in this feed for our first full episode, which comes out on Tuesday, September 22.

["Hive Sound" fades out]

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