Local Current Blog

Ask a Cool Person: Kim Bartmann

Photo by Andrea Swensson/MPR

Each week on the Local Show, we’ll meet a new person from the Minnesota music community who has some music to share in a feature called “Ask a Cool Person.” These people will come from all corners of the scene, including record store clerks, recording studio engineers and producers, artists, writers, bookers, photographers, and fans.

This week’s “Cool Person” is Kim Bartmann, a restaurateur and cornerstone of the summer block party scene, who is responsible for neighborhood eateries like Barbette, the Bryant-Lake Bowl, the Red Stag, Tiny Diner, the Third Bird, and many more, plus the Bastille Day, Uptown Pride, and Red Stag In Cahoots! block parties.

  1. Listen Ask a Cool Person: Kim Bartmann

Andrea Swensson: Thank you, Kim, for coming on the Local Show this week. I tend to think of you as the queen of the block party scene here in the Twin Cities.

Kim Bartmann: Why thank you.

I have given you the impossible task of narrowing down your favorite Minnesota music to three songs. What did you bring to play today?

I can’t do it. I’m just kidding. But I really can’t. You know, before I moved to Minneapolis in 1983, I spent a couple years dancing to Minneapolis music in Eau Claires. So I have to admit, a lot of the local bands from the ’80s still carry a special place in my heart. So I have to go with an oldie but a goodie, “Love is the Law.” Especially this week. Gotta do it. I will say, their other song which is my favorite is “I Like Cows,” and it makes a good contrast, if you want to play another Suburbs song.

Can you tell me about the first time you saw the Suburbs?

It was at a bar that was within walking distance of my dorm, and I think we used to drink individual pitchers of beer for a buck-fifty a piece. And we would get very excited to go and dance to the Suburbs. At that time also the Phones, Suicide Commandos, and the Replacements, and the Wallets.

What else did you choose?

I’m going to have to choose a song for my friend Lori, Babes in Toyland’s “He’s My Thing.” I like to support the lady rockers. Back in the day we also had Zuzu’s Petals, and Tetes Noires — “Why are All the Farmers Dying?”

And your third pick?

It’s maybe something that a lot of people might not have heard of, but since ’80s music is very popular right now, and a close friend of mine played drums in this band for a while, Information Society. Which back then we liked to call InSoc. And that would be the song “Running.” I think it’s a pretty long song, I don’t know if you can play the whole thing. Electronica, but not quite, with still some rock ‘n’ roll mixed in there. Crazy keyboard action, jumping up and down, with punk rock haircuts. Yeah!