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Clips (Pitchfork): 1st Ave closes, Magnolia Electric Co. tours

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  • Carl Zimring
    Legendary Minneapolis Venue First Avenue Closes Aaron Mandel and Ryan Schreiber report: First Avenue,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 8, 2004
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      Legendary Minneapolis Venue First Avenue Closes

      Aaron Mandel and Ryan Schreiber report:
      First Avenue, the famed Minneapolis concert venue that has fostered the
      city's independent music scene since the early 1980s, shut down last
      Tuesday, as a result of a year-long struggle amongst those involved in
      running the club. During its 34-year tenure, First Avenue was a Twin Cities
      fixture and served as a launchpad for acts like Prince (who filmed several
      performances for 1984's Purple Rain there), The Replacements, and Hüsker
      Dü-- not to mention innumerable other non-local indie artists touring the
      midwest. One faction in the dispute has begun plans for a new nightclub in
      the same building, while the other is hinting that a second "First Avenue"
      could reappear elsewhere in the city.

      Here's our (admittedly mostly hearsay) account of what apparently went
      down: Last year, club founder/operator Allan Fingerhut sued his accountant,
      Byron Frank, over a contract dispute. The settlement involved Frank's stake
      in the building growing from 40 percent to 60 percent. Then, this summer,
      Fingerhut fired managers Steve McClellan and Jack Meyer, who together owned
      20 percent of the building, stating at the time that, "I'd have to drop
      dead before I would ever allow this club to close." The former managers and
      the accountant, who were now collectively entitled to 80 percent of the
      rent and property taxes that-- oops!-- the club was allegedly not paying,
      sued Fingerhut for the cash. On Tuesday, two days before Fingerhut and
      First Avenue could have been evicted, Fingerhut filed for bankruptcy, gave
      the employees a final check, and called it a day.

      Steve McLellan, a 31-year veteran of First Avenue, is often credited with
      giving the club its shining reputation, by fostering the local music scene
      and determining which acts deserved gigs. First Avenue's smaller sister
      club 7th Street Entry, which resided in the same building (and was the site
      of many of Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber's earliest interviews)
      specialized in smaller shows and local bands.

      In the most recent development, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting
      that the attorney in charge of the assets and debts for First Avenue has
      said that the club could reopen soon under the stewardship of McClellan and
      Meyer. They're currently working out the details, and while it's unclear
      whether it will happen that soon-- or even if the club will reopen under
      the same name-- it seems likely that the building will be hosting live
      music in the near future. Meanwhile, Fingerhut told the Star-Tribune in
      vague terms that he might re-enter the nightclub business in the future.
      One thing remains certain: The club is yet another substantial loss for a
      city whose commitment to independent music and artists will simply not die.
      Next they're gonna be telling us 770's off the air.

      Magnolia Electric Co. Tours the North

      Zach Vowell reports:
      Do you live up north? DST got you down? Feel like a shut-in? Drinking way
      too much gin? Well, don't go bitching to Jason Molina and his large
      ensemble crew-- just enjoy the performance he and his Magnolia Electric Co.
      will be putting on for your blue-ass states around this time next month.
      Residents of Duluth will even be treated to a spot by local wonder Alan
      Sparhawk of Low. Dates:

      12-07 Milwaukee, WI - Cactus Club
      12-08 Madison, WI - Catacombs Coffeehouse
      12-09 Duluth, MN - Twin Ports MAC (w/ Alan Sparhawk)
      12-10 Moorhead, MN - Ralph's Corner Bar
      12-11 Minneapolis, MN - Big V's
      12-12 Des Moines, IA - Vaudeville Mews
      12-13 Iowa City, IA - Gabe's Oasis

      Now, granted, this is not an extensive tour, but then, Magnolia Electric
      Co. has been on the road much of the year already-- and their website even
      promises another tour next year to support their forthcoming studio album.
      That release, recorded by Steve Albini, is scheduled for a spring 2005
      street date. But first, you can look forward to the band's long-anticipated
      live album Trials and Errors, which remains slated to hit stores sometime
      this winter (even though the disc that was originally said to be intended
      for inclusion in its double LP edition will apparently not be part of the

      .: Pitchfork Review: Jason Molina: Pyramid Electric Co.
      .: Pitchfork Review: Songs: Ohia: Magnolia Electric Co.
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