We may as well go ahead and declare January the month of the residency in Minneapolis and St. Paul. In addition to the Fog frontman’s month-long “Andrew Broder and People” residency at the Turf Club and the six-show “House of Dosh” residency kicking off on January 19, Chastity Brown will be taking over Icehouse every Wednesday this month to perform intimate shows with a hand-picked selection of her favorite local acts.
As we await the release of her new album on Red House Records, I caught up with Chastity for a chat about why hosting a residency is preferable to playing a one-off concert, and how she went about selecting the acts playing her “Wild Heart Wednesdays” series.
Andrea Swensson: As an artist, what is appealing about a weekly residency format?
There’s a couple different things. One is that I’ve been on tour for the past eight months, and haven’t been here in Minneapolis, so I wanted to do a show. Then I realized, you know, ZULUZULUU just did their residency, and I got to catch the last night, and it was so beautiful. I wanted to do a residency that embodies a wide spread of artists around here that I love, and that I admire so much. So the appealing aspect is that I get to play in Minneapolis, I get to play with these people I admire, and there’s not as high of stakes. We can really just dig in and explore some things artistically, or maybe even do improvisation. It’s not a typical show, or a typical concert. It’s a little more free.
Is that where the name “Wild Heart Wednesdays” comes from? Because you get to be free?
What’s funny is that I wrote this whole list of ideas, and then “Wild Heart Wednesdays” started sticking out. And then two days later I was invited to go to Stevie Nicks’ concert, and she has that song “Blame it on My Wild Heart.” Everyone should go on YouTube and watch her singing that in the greenroom somewhere — it’s epically beautiful. So I was just like, heck yeah: Wild Heart Wednesday. “Blame it on my wild heart.”
Let’s talk about this lineup. You kicked off the first week with deVon Gray’s DVRG Redefined, and you have Sarah White, PaviElle, and Jay Smart on deck, plus a bunch of special guests. How did you put together this group of people?
For Sarah and PaviElle in particular, we’re always on the go and we rarely can make it to each other’s shows. But every time we see each other we’re all googly and goggly, and so I was just like, ok, I can guarantee that I can see them sing if I book them for this residency. And the other thing is, I wanted it to be really brown-folk-centric. There’s so much excitement right now in the Minneapolis soul scene. There is such a diverse richness that’s happening, especially in this past year. My intention was to show our aesthetic diverseness and celebrate that. deVon’s group started out with jazz improvisation, and then you move into Sarah and PaviElle and Jay; it’s celebrating Minneapolis’s soul. And St. Paul’s soul, too.
And you have some great special guests lined up — tell me more about that aspect of the shows.
Yeah! Alexei Moon Casselle is going to be joining on the same night as Sarah [January 11]. He’ll be singing some of his originals and some of the group he used to be in, Roma di Luna’s, songs. Alexei hasn’t sang lately — everyone knows him from Kill the Vultures — but I freakin’ love his singing voice. And then Janauda Petrus will be reading, as well as a Senah Yeboah-Sampong, on the 18th. And the string trio [on the 25th] is some ladies I’ve been working with off and on, and they blow me away. They’ll be doing a lot of the strings that are featured on the new album.