For years Henri Minette has been a casual champion of our local music scene. He’s lent musicians gear, help fund projects, and even buys the physical album to pass onto others down the path. As a corporate attorney, Henri jokes that as it turns out he probably has more gear and more money than talent. The converse of that is he knows a fair number of musicians that have far more talent than gear or money, so on some level the it’s lead to a truly symbiotic relationship.
“I have an addiction to music. There’s no question about that. I’m sure that there are 12 step programs out there for people like me. I buy music and attend shows,” shares Henri.
One of his hobbies related to his addiction is attending live music to record the show. Henri always asks permission from the artist before setting up his recording device with microphones. If he’s able to get a mixing board feed then he can do a separate mix before handing over the final songs to the artists, at no cost. The artists can then use the live recording how they want, like putting it online to make money. Henri understands how tough it is to make a living as a full-time musician. It’s a constant hustle and if he can provide a small contribution to ease that pursuit, then why not. It’s a document of the experience and something very useful for the artist.
In the Absence of Live Music
Like so many others, losing live music brought about a mourning period for Henri. When it’s such a huge part of your life, it felt sudden and terrible. He’s watched some of the streaming shows, but it’s not quite the same. He points out that people are continuing to release albums, pointing to Adam Levy with the Turn Turn Turn collaboration, Molly Maher released Follow, and Mary Bue released The World Is Your Lover. The sad thing of course was that nobody could play or tour behind the albums.
The absence of live music has made Henri look back on how the music business has changed over the last 20 years. It seems we’re moving back to a patronage system. Once upon a time back in the Renaissance Era, artists had sponsors. A lot of great works of art were essentially funded by these patrons. It wasn’t a sale of copies. Henri notes that platforms like Patreon are directly setup to support artists. He hopes that this notion needs to be more widely known so more people pick it up. If you want to hear more of something, then we need to do something other than subscribe to whichever steaming platform is out there.
Mary Bue One-On-One
Henri heard of Mary Bue through Molly Maher, as someone she really liked as a terrific writer and musician. The fall of 2019 Mary was doing a residency at The Hook and Ladder. Henri barged in and said, “You don’t know me, but I’ve heard of your stuff. Would you mind if I recorded all four of your shows?” He gave her copies of the recordings to use for her Patreon account. Diving into her catalog, he heard the progression and maturity as an artist from the Duluth time to now with the new album.
“She’s multi-talented, plays keyboard, guitar, and sitar now. She’s got a terrific sense of melody and her lyrics are heartfelt and sincere. She’s able to pack a lot of emotion into her voice.”
Kicking off her one-on-one show, Mary blasted into “Shit Storm“. The song has taken on deeper meaning with the January 6th insurrection and the end of Trump presidency. The title track off her new album The World Is Your Lover had Mary switch to keyboard. Mary’s voice floated over the stacks of records as she sang about following your bliss and embracing the world around us. The beautiful progression of the song, from the prancing vocals on the verse to the wide expansive opening into the chorus. It’s a strong example of why City Pages named her “Best Songwriter in 2020.”
Shifting gears, Mary played “Waltz” from her 2007 release Boat With No Oars. Her ode to Lake Superior is a gentle reminder of vulnerability and finding the hope in despair. The strength in identifying loss to address it, and still look inward to find self-worth, is what Mary does so well in her songwriting. She’s cognizant of herself and surroundings in her music.
“We could hang out by the lake
We could unwrap my dismay
Death and gloom
Could waltz around the room”
In true patron style, Henri gifted Mary with a brand new ukulele. That level of support and genuine care for our local artists is not lost on Mary. Smiling wide and tuning it up, she played “It’s a Competition”, which happens to be Henri’s favorite song off the new album. Watching that transaction take place gives you optimism for our music community. There are fans so quick to help our artists and artists so ready to share their talent with the world.
Exclusive Video – “All The Things”
The Meaning of Live Music
Henri shares a story from a southern Minnesota band, Six Mile Grove, that he recorded at The Parkway Theater. The lead singer pauses to tell us about his great aunt Atlanta, who left the farm in Minnesota to move to New York City to teach art and paint. She lived above a deli in Greewich Village for 40 years. At the age of 90 she received a call to come back to Iowa to take care of her sister. The deli threw her a going away party and hung her paintings up. A gentleman came through the doors and asked if he could meet Atlanta. Walking into her studio apartment, paintings were stacked up, in bags, and filling the small space. He decided someone needed to see this. He gave Atlanta her first show in the rotunda of the capital in Washington D.C. The first person to buy one of her paintings was Barbara Bush. Now she has a gallery in Toeterville Iowa and Greenwich Village.
These stories you hear between songs at a show provide context to music. It’s these little gems that pull you in deeper to the lyrics. That’s always drawn Henri into recording shows, to gather these moments, to document the experience, and then be able to go back and dive deeper into the music. Standing inside the Electric Fetus, surrounded by albums from all over the world, listening to Mary’s stories between songs, it was evident the value of gathering together for live music.
Follow and find more from Mary Bue at the links below