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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.

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The Current Rewind: April 21, 2016

The Current Rewind: 4/21/16
The day Prince passed away, thousands of Minnesotans congregated outside First Avenue to dance and cry. Although the street party might've seemed like magic, of course real people made it happen - and we talked to a few of them for this episode. It's the last full installment of our season, and it celebrates Prince, parties, and Minnesota music. [Songs sampled: Prince - "Sometimes It Snows In April," Cameron Kinghorn - "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore," Lizzo - "The Beautiful Ones"] Read more

Aug. 12, 2015: The day the sky fell

The Current Rewind: 8/12/15
A piece of First Avenue's ceiling fell to the ground during a concert in August 2015. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt. But throughout the music industry, concert safety has been a huge issue during the last decade. How can we keep each other safe? [Songs sampled: Icetep - "Hive Sound," Stereo Confession - "Tonight," Theory of a Deadman - "Angel"] Read more

Nov. 2, 2004: The day the doors closed

The Current Rewind: 11/02/04
When First Avenue entered bankruptcy on Election Day 2004, some saw it as the end of an era. But others - including devoted employees, local music fans, and a certain stage-diving ally in City Hall - would not rest until they'd saved the club. [Songs sampled: Icetep - "Hive Sound," Mojo Nixon - "Are You Drinkin' With Me Jesus," Lifter Puller - "Lifter Puller Vs. The End Of The Evening"] Read more

March 4, 1991: Ice Cube/WC and the Maad Circle

The Current Rewind: 3/4/91
One day after the LAPD beat up Rodney King, an Ice Cube concert went down in history as one of the most violent shows ever held at First Avenue. Hosted by Jay Smooth, we ask rap experts and former First Ave staffers about gangsta rap, security, and the uneasy relationship between the Minnesota music industry and Black hip-hop artists. Read more

Oct. 22, 1990: Sonic Youth/Cows/Babes in Toyland

The Current Rewind: 10/22/90
Alternative rock stayed underground throughout the '80s, but in the early '90s, that distorted, furious sound burst into the mainstream. Experimental bands who'd been playing First Avenue were suddenly going global. In this episode, members of Cows and Babes in Toyland talk about sharing a bill with Sonic Youth at First Avenue. [Songs sampled: Sonic Youth - "Tunic (Song For Karen)," Kiss the Tiger - "Bad Boy," Sonic Youth - "Kool Thing," Babes in Toyland - "Swamp Pussy," Cows - "Memorial"] Read more

Bonus: Mark Wheat on his DJ career, love for music

Mark Wheat at the MPR booth at the Minnesota State Fair
Mark Wheat left The Current in May 2020, but not before recording an interview with Cecilia Johnson for The Current Rewind. In this conversation, Mark talks about how he got a star on First Avenue's wall, how music intertwines with his spirituality, and what he sees as his greatest impact on Minnesota music. Read more

Aug. 3, 1983: The birth of Purple Rain

The Current Rewind: 8/3/83
Most casual Prince fans know 'Purple Rain' was partially filmed at First Avenue. But did you know the title song is a live recording, taped at First Ave a few months before filming started? In this episode, we meet Prince and the Revolution at a benefit show for Minnesota Dance Theatre, where they debuted "Purple Rain" in support of dance and community. [Songs sampled: Prince - "Purple Rain," Purple Playground - "Purple Playground"] Read more

Sept. 27, 1982: Bad Brains/Sweet Taste of Afrika/Husker Du

The Current Rewind: 9/27/82
Almost 40 years ago, D.C. rockers Bad Brains played First Avenue with two Minnesotan openers: Sweet Taste of Afrika and Husker Du. While Husker Du are relatively well-known today, Sweet Taste of Afrika are all but forgotten. Meanwhile, Bad Brains are world-famous, but their hurtful behavior has flown under the radar. In this episode, we tease out the complicated relationship between the three bands on the bill, their genres, and their identities. [Songs sampled: Bad Brains - "Banned In DC," Husker Du - "Pink Turns To Blue," Sweet Taste of Afrika, "Children Of The Nile," Gully Boys - "New Song No. 2," The Smokes - "2 I Luv"] Read more

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