In our own backyard

The Summit Backyard Bash benefits the Minnesota Music Coalition, a nonprofit that supports local acts like Doomtree with an upcoming concert series called the Caravan du Nord.

by Joe Kleinschmidt

What: Summit 26th Annual Backyard Bash

Who: Doomtree, Now, Now, Halloween, Alaska, Heartbeats, and Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps

When: 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sept. 8

Where: The Summit Brewery, 910 Montreal Circle, St. Paul

Cost: $14 ($20 day of)

Age: 21+

 

Beer’s a particularly social drink, so it’s not difficult to imagine why the Summit Brewing Company holds a local music festival every year. Crowds booze while musicians croon at the Summit Backyard Bash.

There’s more to the festival than just audiences’ fondness for intoxicants and music. Half of the proceeds of the Bash, this year featuring headlining rap super-group Doomtree, go directly toward the Minnesota Music Coalition (MMC).

The nonprofit’s mission is to develop  a network of support for Minnesota’s independent musicians, said Anthony Mendoza, president of the MMC board of members.

Mendoza produced the Minnesota Music Awards during the 1990s. Now he serves the MMC, which includes local music luminaries like The Current’s Mark Wheat and former Suicide Commandos guitarist Chris Osgood. The MMC Board also includes Summit Brewery’s founder Mark Stutrud, a major contributor for the group’s expansion to promote statewide appreciation of Minnesota’s music.

“[Stutrud] has been really supportive of local music and helping this organization get off the ground,” Mendoza said.

The group initially held an open forum at the McNally Smith College of Music; and within 18 months, the organization embarked on plans for the Caravan du Nord in 2011, a series of concerts with acclaimed local acts like Doomtree, Low and Trampled by Turtles. The musicians traveled to areas of Minnesota usually ignored by touring artists.

“That project was about spreading music to the farthest reaches of the state,” rapper P.O.S, Doomtree member, said.

The upcoming 2012 Caravan du Nord, beginning Sept. 22, features Mason Jennings, Haley Bonar, and Tapes n’ Tapes, visiting towns like Grand Rapids, Fergus Falls and Faribault. But the concert series also displays Minnesota’s network of historic theaters.

“They’re just gorgeous, beautiful theaters that provided a great opportunity for us to fulfill that part of our mission …,” Mendoza said.

As one of the acts that participated in 2011’s Caravan du Nord, Doomtree played the Sheldon Theatre in Red Wing, Minn.

“Sometimes even, in your own backyard, people don’t really know what we have,” Mendoza said. “And we want to show it off. That’s really what we’re up to.”

P.O.S represents just one of the artists directly benefiting from MMC’s advent. Growing in popularity, the rapper will be releasing his newest album, “We Don’t Even Live Here,” in October. The punk rock aficionado consistently works with his fellow Doomtree members on his solo material, as is the case on his forthcoming album.

“Those are my best friends and they’re my primary writing collaborators for my entire career so it just feels like we’ve all learned a lot from each other,” P.O.S said.

The MMC hopes it can support evolving artists like P.O.S, who also sings and plays in punk bands. The Doomtree rapper’s work in Marijuana Deathsquads and Building Better Bombs represents the artist’s affinity for an array of sonic possibility.

“I think if I only made rap music I’d drive myself crazy,” P.O.S said. Supporting budding artists in multiple capacities is a lofty goal for the MMC, but Mendoza seeks to establish the nonprofit in the vein of other metro arts institutions.

Modeling themselves after organizations like The Loft Literary Center and The Playwrights’ Center, the MMC strives to become a hub for local independent musicians like P.O.S.

“We are planning other ways to serve musicians,” Mendoza said. “We’re not done with just putting on the Caravan [du Nord].”