Like many of us, Jesse Peterson-Brandt didn’t realize what he had until it was gone. He went to Grinnell College in Iowa, and looking back, saw they did a really good job bringing in unknown artists that have gone on to become established and popular. Unfortunately, he didn’t take advantage of live music then. Now years later, he actively seeks out concerts.
“Minneapolis makes it easy with a ton of venues and amazing local artists. It’s a good way to experience the community,” Jesse shares.
Before the pandemic, he was seeing a show a month. It’s easy now to remember the importance of live music when it’s all dried up. One of Jesse’s top moments was an evening with Lucius at the Fitzgerald. He sat in a VIP box seat and absorbed the incredible singers and heavenly harmonies. Another top moment was at Surly Field with Sylvan Esso. He shared that it was the perfect band to see outdoors in the summertime. His last show, another reminder of not realizing what you got, was Brandi Carlile at the freshly opened Fillmore.
In the Absence of Live Music
Jesse has substituted live music with a few live streams, but mostly the loss has pushed him into finding new music. He reads music writers online and explores their recommendations. Always trying to hear something that he hasn’t heard before, he often makes a playlist for a season, compiled with all sorts of songs he’s found along the way.
He then listens repeatedly to the list. Sometimes that means he gets sick of songs fast, but a lot of the time it pushes him to explore songs deeper. It’s also a time capsule that he can go back to, capturing what he was listening to at that time.
Signing up to potentially hear Siri Undlin, aka Humbird, was an easy choice for Jesse. Having seen her open at The Hook and Ladder for an album release, he was smitten by the drummer doing extended techniques, like playing the symbols with a bow string. Add in the beautiful lyrics and voice of Siri Undlin and he was hooked. At that time, The Current was playing “48 Hours” off of Pharmakon which quickly made it onto his personal playlist. His girlfriend and he had both seen her individually, but winning the contest allowed them to experience Humbird together.
Seated in the empty 331 Club, Siri recanted that this venue was one of the last places she was before everything shut down. Now a year later, she started off her set with a new song titled “January“. About the new year and the instilled power of hope for something better, it struck deep being played in a closed music venue. She played a trio of short love songs that will be released as a collection. Each one had a heavy dose of humor and sweetness, leaving us wanting more. They also exemplify the lyrical power Siri can pack into little words.
Following those came “Lincoln, Nebraska” and “Kansas City, MO“, both songs with weight in our current political situation. She shared a story on how a guy came up to her after listening to “Kansas City, MO” and told her that’s exactly how he felt and why he voted for Trump. Beautifully performed, once again the weight of words was delivered with dynamics and Siri’s storytelling.
“Tired story, tired fear
I want it all within the year
This is the same America,
We’re all wishing on a dream”
Joking that “There’s nothing like the cold silence of ending a song to a screen”, Siri humbly absorbed the applause. She ended the set with “On The Day We Are Together Again,” written back in April when she had Covid. The song speaks about that yearning moment where we’re all back together again, all the normals we’d indulge in, and the changes we’ll make to be better.
Siri’s performance was a reminder of the importance of storytelling. It has the ability to unite, stimulate hope, and reveal deeper feelings in all of us. “Eve Boards a Train” is one such story about what it would be like to have Eve leave the garden and come to America.
“Call me a slippery snake
For the apple that I ate
And the way the truth tastes
I wouldn’t call it a mistake”
The Meaning of Live Music
Jesse sees live music as the chance to connect with the community and people who love music. He’ll be going out to a show and think, “I wonder if I’m going to run into so and so.” There are people who he knows he’ll only see in those situations. Then you have the chance to discuss the artist, the music, and memories of seeing them in the past. You can talk about those experiences in a different way than you can talk about the experience of listening to a record.
Live music also helps Jesse discover new music. Songs at a show will make it onto a playlist. Songs he’s found will spark him to find the band on Bandsintown, scouting when they will come to our area. He discovered The Wild Reeds when they opened for Shaky Graves. Following their growth, he’s seen them headline in a phenomenal show months later.
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