Local Current Blog

Ask a Cool Person: St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman

Mayor Coleman playing with the Suicide Commandos and Craig Finn at the Turf Club (Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR)

Each week on the Local Show, we’ll meet a new person from the Minnesota music community who has some fresh discoveries 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 Mayor Chris Coleman, a high-profile champion of the St. Paul music community who has been known to pick up a bagpipe or shred a guitar on stage with the Suicide Commandos or New Standards when the mood strikes. In anticipation of the opening of the big Palace Theatre in downtown and in celebration of bustling live music spots like Vieux Carré, the Bedlam, the Black Dog, the Turf Club, and Amsterdam Bar and Hall, Coleman has declared 2016 the “Year of Music” in St. Paul.

  1. Listen Ask a Cool Person: Chris Coleman

It’s a big year for music in St. Paul. How do you discover new music; are you going out to a lot of shows?

Well, it is the Year of Music in the City of St. Paul. We’ve declared it that because we really want to highlight the incredible music that we have going on here. I’ll connect up with some of the folks coming out of the Walker West Academy, they’re just incredible talent. My daughter was a Central High School graduate, and I think pound for pound Central’s got to be producing more musicians than any high school in the country. And just checking out shows — at the Amsterdam, or the Turf Club. I have been known to go over to Minneapolis and check out some shows, too. I like the mix of some of the old-timers; Curtiss A, who I’ve gotten a chance to play with, and the ‘Burbs, when they play — you know, they did the Love is the Law concert down here after the signing of the marriage equity bill. I just try to get out as much as I can.

So who are some of your favorite new artists?

Well, some of them are kind of new and emerging, and some of them are probably more established and no longer count. Solomon Parham, who’s an incredible trumpet player, does some amazing stuff. He’s doing Solomon Sessions on Sunday nights down at the Bedlam Theater. He really mixes a great group of people, who come in and out.

We had Dem Atlas play my budget address last year — which is, I’m sure, the first time a rap artist has played a budget address. Of course he’s just taken off. Spooky Black [a.k.a. Corbin], you know, all these kids — they’re just taking off like crazy. Hippo Campus, too. Every time they come on the radio, I always just love those guys. So I don’t know if any of those are necessarily emerging artists, but all of those have come out in the last few years and I think they are amazing.

All of those definitely qualify. And I think you’ve pinpointed an interesting trend, that there’s this new generation of artists coming up in St. Paul that aren’t really part of the larger community yet.

Yeah, and I’m sure if you went over, whether to Walker West, or Central High School, or the Performing Arts high school, the Recording Arts high school — there’s so much happening here. Between the Replacements and Hüsker Dü, Bob Mould coming out of Macalester, there is such an incredibly rich music history here in the Twin Cities, and I’m so happy to see it continue.

Listen to Mayor Coleman’s picks here: