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Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Published April 19, 2024

Alive, but barely breathing

The Rolling River Music and Film Festival wasn’t necessarily a bad dream … it was just too big. In fact, the event which aspired to give St. Paul a much needed night-life boost sounded like a pretty good idea in theory. For a city that’s hungry for more live music and starved for a consistent indie cinema, concerts by both local and national bands, as well as an independent film festival seemed to be the nourishment St. Paul needed. But the high-hopes for Rolling River to gather over 100 bands and pull in an anticipated crowd of 50,000, pushed the ambitious first-year festival into a downward spiral. Poor promotion resulted in low ticket sales for headliner Alanis Morissette, and after organizers were unable to secure a down payment, Morissette, along with the other “big names” (Lisa Loeb, Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish, and Vanessa Carlton) canceled their appearances. Consequently, once the passe-mid-’90s-alternative hit-makers and wishy-washy pop star ditched the scene, the film portion of the festival followed in their foot steps, separating itself from the music portion and relocating to Columbia Heights.

With the departure of the national acts and movies, the Rolling River Festival now comes across as a run-over dog – while it’s still breathing, some vital organs are missing. The remaining limbs however could be enough to keep the dog alive, or at least partially intact. Many under-the-radar local bands will still be playing smaller venues around St. Paul such as The Lab, Vine Park, Minnesota Music Cafe, and others. The glitz of a major music festival may be gone, but there are plenty of committed local musicians are worth checking out and supporting.

martin Devaney Band
Vine Park Indoor
Saturday Sept. 21, 9:15 – 10:15 p.m.

It is hard not to fall in love with Martin Devaney. Songs like “Steal Your Girl” and “Landlord’s Daughter” are reminiscent of a perfect first kiss. And amazingly, the gooeyness in his songs remain sweet instead of eventually testing your gag reflexes. Honest songwriting and classic folk guitar strumming make Devaney a praise-worthy artist. With a new CD in the works, expect to hear your favorite tunes in addition to new ones.

Vine Park Outdoor
Saturday Sept. 21, 8 – 9 p.m.

In an ode to themselves, the boys of Brice prove theme songs rock! As they ridiculously rap over spunky guitars and shout “Brice!” you can’t help but smile along with these crazy kids. Other goofy ditties like “Ninja #9” further establish Brice as a fun energetic band. Playing outside in Vine Park, this could be one of your last chances to see an outdoor show before the snow falls. Brice’s charismatic energy should be a pleasant final farewell to summer.

st. Paul Style
Raspberry Island Outdoors
Saturday Sept. 21, Schubert Band Shell Stage 1 -2:30 p.m.

With the Rhymesayers acquiring much attention lately, the other hip hop collectives in the Twin Cities are often times unjustly overshadowed. For all the Atmosphere fans that have yet to experience the rest of the fertile local hip hop scene, St. Paul Style is a good place to start. Featuring Jimmy Donn, DM, N.E. Time, Mo Angles and Sterteotype Click, the talented pool of MCs and DJs combine solid lyricism with steady-jamming beats.

Artist Quarter
Saturday Sept. 21, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Tucked away in the basement of the beautiful Hamm building centered in a pedestrian mall, the Artist Quarter provides a loungy atmosphere ideal for chain-smoking beatniks. TerraMara’s jammier rock sound strays from the usual jazz and poetry scene at the club; they include enough densely layered melodies with subtle hints of jazz to suit the AQ well.

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