Local Current Blog

52 Minnesota artists to know as Super Bowl 52 shines a spotlight on the state

The Time, photographed for the cover of their 1984 album 'Ice Cream Castle.'

It’s not that we really needed an excuse to celebrate our vibrant and history-making music scene in Minnesota, but the Super Bowl provided a pretty great one. Over the next week, hundreds of thousands of visitors will flood the Twin Cities in search of football, entertainment, and nightlife, and a very bright spotlight will be shined on the metro area.

Which got us thinking about all that we have to offer — not just in terms of towering stadiums and pop-up nightclubs and bars that are suddenly staying open until 4 a.m., but in the networks of musicians from every part of the city who have spent decades hauling gear into those bars, putting on shows big and small, recording albums, and otherwise providing a soundtrack to our lives. Many of our area’s more prominent acts will be showcased at a 10-day series of free concerts on Nicollet Mall and you’ll see many of those names in this list — but our state’s rich history extends back further into the past and lunges more quickly into the present and future than that one lineup could include, and so a list that spans it all becomes as daunting an exercise as it is thrilling.

We have an embarrassment of cultural riches in these Cities of ours. 52 artists doesn’t quite feel like enough, either. We’re still barely scratching the surface. It’s a starting point.

Minnesota is home to not just the folk music of Dylan, the R&B-funk of Prince or the punk rock of the Replacements but healthy and historic metal, gospel, blues, electronic, indie rock, industrial, jazz, classical, spoken word, and experimental music communities, with a monumental and sprawling hip-hop scene that might as well just have its own list. Is there a sound of Minnesota? It might be all of these styles of music being played at once, in pockets spread out across the city, all raising up in one holy cacophony. It makes sense that the world-famous Minneapolis Sound made famous by Jam, Lewis, and Prince combines at least seven different styles of music. That’s what this state’s music is all about.

Dive in and explore: The hope is that this list contains a little something for everyone, spanning nearly eight decades of music made by Minnesotans.

1. Allan Kingdom
The accomplished rapper Allan Kingdom, along with the Audio Perm crew and his collaborators in thestand4rd, Bobby Raps, Corbin, and Psymun, helped to usher in a new generation of hip-hop and a new sound in St. Paul. At only 24 years old Kingdom has already earned two Grammy nominations thanks to a high-profile collaboration with Kanye West (on “All Day,” a track that also featured Paul McCartney), and his distinctive cadence and unique vocal melodies have helped to set him apart from other artists in the bounteous Minnesota hip-hop community.

2. Atmosphere
A guiding light in both the local scene and the international indie hip-hop world, Atmosphere have played integral roles in launching Minnesota’s first formidable hip-hop label (Rhymesayers) and hosting the world’s largest hip-hop festival, Soundset. Centered around the work of rapper Slug and DJ Ant, the duo have been writing, recording, and touring together for decades, all while remaining fiercely independent and deeply rooted in their hometown.

3. Augie Garcia
Known as the godfather of Minnesota rock ‘n’ roll, Augie Garcia emerged from St. Paul’s West Side with the state’s first rock record, “High Yo Silver,” co-written by Augie and his bandmate Cornbread Harris. Music fans well-versed in local history know that Cornbread Harris is the father of another icon, Jimmy “Jam” Harris III, and the band’s significant influence and lineage doesn’t stop there — Prince’s uncle, Maurice Turner, was also a member of the Augie Garcia Quintet. The fact their band comprised both Latino and African-American players and melded rock with R&B speaks to Minnesota’s long legacy of bridging cultures through music.

4. Babes in Toyland
Thunderous bass. Apocalyptic drumming. Unholy shrieks of ecstasy and agony. Babes and Toyland are a band that is felt as much as they are heard and seen, and they still perform with the same urgency that exploded across stages in the nascent grunge movement of the early 1990s. They blazed new trails and foreshadowed the riot grrl movement when they broke out with Spanking Machine in 1990, and the reverberations are still being felt in the scene today; look no further than Bruise Violet, listed just a few names down, who took their name from a Babes in Toyland song and are carrying the torch for a new generation of loud, subversive punk rockers.

5. Bob Dylan
His is a story familiar to most Minnesotans: Born in Duluth and raised in Hibbing, Robert Zimmerman spent a brief time soaking up the sounds of folk and blues legends like Koerner, Ray and Glover in Dinkytown Minneapolis before heading East and changing his name to Bob Dylan. Although we tend to take it personally that Dylan left us and seemed to never look back, the reality is that he’s kept ties to his state of birth in the decades that followed. He owned the Oprheum Theater from 1979-1988 with his brother, David Zimmerman, and to this day he still keeps a family farm in Hanover. Not to mention that he re-recorded many of the songs on what is arguably his best album, Blood on the Tracks, at Minneapolis’s Sound 80 Studio with a band of local session players that added depth to the lovelorn tracks. It’s no wonder the Hennepin Theatre Trust commissioned a mural in his honor in 2015.

6. Brother Ali
The self-proclaimed “Street Preacher” of Minneapolis has made a career out of combining detailed, autobiographical lyrics with searing observations about social and political injustice in America. One such song (“Uncle Sam Goddamn”) was so potent it was flagged by the Department of Homeland Security, while other tracks reflecting on his Muslim faith and passion for community building have provided a soundtrack to Ali’s offstage work as an activist.

7. Bruise Violet
Bruise Violet get plenty of comparisons to one of their idols, Babes in Toyland (whose song “Bruise Violet” inspired their name), but they channel the unholy cacophony of that early ‘90s group with a creative, subversive twist: they’ll go from screaming their heads off one second to singing in perfect three-part harmony the next, shattering every expectation society heaps on the women who dare to rock out on stage.

8. Caroline Smith
Although she’s now based in L.A., Detroit Lakes-born Caroline Smith is a well-known presence around Minnesota. After getting her start at the beloved former 400 Bar of Minneapolis, she eventually met the people who would become her band the Good Night Sleeps, most of whom still back her in her solo endeavors. After shifting to a more pop-R&B direction with her 2013 album Half About Being a Woman and her 2016 collaboration with Lizzo, “Let ‘Em Say,” she’s found a new path co-writing for other artists in the recording industry in addition to continuing her own work.

9. Charlie Parr
Guitar-picking blues artist Charlie Parr hails from Duluth, Minnesota, and his relentless touring and prolific album releases have earned him a following all around the country. Charlie is a natural born storyteller and his work taps into the emotional depths of the human experience; on his latest album, Dog, his personal lyrics about depression leave a powerful impact on the listener long after the final chord rings out.

10. Chastity Brown
Chastity Brown’s songs seem untethered from place and time; she makes expansive, atmospheric, and beautiful folk songs, and her warm voice serves as a bridge between the blues and soul artists of the South and the roots music of the Midwest. Her latest album, the gorgeous Silhouette of Sirens, blends the philosophical with the deeply personal and has kept her busy on a worldwide tour for the majority of the past year, ensuring that plenty of folks outside our fair state will get the chance to experience Chastity’s magnetic music.

11. Cloud Cult
Minnesota’s premiere orchestral-pop group has spent the past two decades entrancing audiences with their mesmerizing stage shows (complete with live painting) and emotionally wrought songs about remaining joyfully optimistic in the face of darkness and loss. Originally from Duluth, Craig Minowa and company now keep a home base in Viroqua, Wisconsin, and they’ve gravitated toward composing music for film as well as traditional albums; their last full-length record, The Seeker, was accompanied by a feature film starring Josh Radnor from How I Met Your Mother.

12. Dessa
With a pair of dazzling Orchestra Hall shows under her belt and a new album, Chime, set to make a national splash next month, Dessa is an artist whose career arc only seems to point skyward. The rapper, singer, poet, and author moves spryly between witty one liners and broken-hearted tales of romantic agony, blurring the lines between pop, hip-hop, and spoken word in the process.

13. Dillinger Four
With over 20 years of raucous, debaucherous shows in the can, Dillinger Four have solidified their status as Minnesota’s most ironically reliable punk rock band. Every Fourth of July they re-appear like a roadside firecracker stand, eager to blast off and burn out and go back to their lives again. “Every show feels like a reunion, every song sounds like their last,” Noisey wrote about the band in 2015.

14. Doomtree
What began as a scrappy, DIY hip-hop collective in Uptown, Minneapolis is now one of the state’s most established, popular and respected crews. Anchored by MCs Cecil Otter, Dessa, Mike Mictlan, Sims and P.O.S, plus DJs and producers Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger, the bombastic group take cues from indie rock, pop, punk, rap and more. Sweatshirts and hats emblazoned with their “No Kings” logo are practically as commonplace as sports jerseys in Minneapolis.

15. Eyedea and Abilities
Eyedea’s tragic death in 2010 is still being felt in the Minnesota community. The artist born Micheal Larsen was restlessly creative and endlessly prolific; in addition to recording with his producer partner, DJ Abilities, and releasing a series of albums on Rhymesayers, Eyedea was also experimenting with songwriting under the name Oliver Hart, performing the grunge-meets-spoken word group Carbon Carousel, and combining free jazz with improve in his quartet Face Candy. Attempts have been made to imitate the quick wit, rapid delivery style and surreal imagery that first set him apart in the rap battle world, but Eyedea was a true original.

16. HALEY
The artist formerly known as Haley Bonar is a shape-shifting creative who’s just as comfortable throttling audiences with her confrontational punk rock band, Gramma’s Boyfriend, as she is singing mournfully about love and loss in her solo material. The lines between the two projects have gradually blurred over time, and taken together they help to paint a complete portrait of a restless artist who is always searching for the next perfect melody and gut-punching turn of phrase.

17. Happy Apple
Once regarded as the bright young kids of the Minnesota jazz scene, the three musicians in Happy Apple — saxophonist Mike Lewis, drummer Dave King, and bassist Erik Fratzke — helped to usher in a freer, more casual, and more modern era in the experimental jazz scene, along with King’s group the Bad Plus and Lewis’s trio Fat Kid Wednesdays. Although they’ve all since gone on to international acclaim in their various groups, Happy Apple were the O.G.s who started mixing things up in the local jazz world back in the mid to late-‘90s, pulling metal and rock influences into their swirling sound.

18. Har Mar Superstar
Har Mar Superstar is proof that even the wildest party boys grow up eventually. Named after a strip mall is Roseville, Minnesota, Har Mar made a name for himself in the Minneapolis and New York club scenes of the early aughts, and became known just as much for his bombastic, body-positive stage shows (many of which ended up with him stripped down to his skivvies and balancing precariously on his head) as he did for his catchy dance jams. But underneath all that showmanship, Har Mar’s true talents were waiting to be discovered: a seemingly innate knack for crafting pop melodies and his soulful, crooning voice. These days the main thing Har Mar is stripping away is the obligation to put his showmanship above his songs; he’s more likely to be seen doing a night of Sam Cooke covers at the Dakota Jazz Club than he is dancing the night away on top of the bar.

19. Hippo Campus
This indie-rock quartet has spent the past few years touring relentlessly and writing new songs prolifically, and last year they tapped into a more complex sound and more mature lyrics on their debut full-length, landmark, exploring themes like grief, the pressures of adulthood, and nostalgia for more innocent days. Once regarded as a band of teenaged phenoms, 2017 was the year Hippo Campus showed that they plan to keep evolving and making music for years to come.

20. Hüsker Dü
Minnesota was reminded just how far Hüsker Dü’s influences reaches in 2017 when drummer, songwriter, and co-founder Grant Hart passed away at the age of 56. As the Current chronicled recently in our podcast, Do You Remember?, Hüsker Dü were the rare punks in the early Twin Cities scene to come from working-class backgrounds in St. Paul, and the way they combined blistering hardcore influences with Beatles-inspired pop melodies and jarringly personal lyrics helped to usher in a new movement in rock. The band’s other chief songwriter and singer, Bob Mould, still continues to tour and record prolifically, and bassist Greg Norton recently joined forces with the LaCrosse, Wisconsin band Porcupine.

21. jeremy messersmith
Is there a heart jeremy messersmith has not yet broken with his deceptively devastating indie-pop songs? For over a decade messersmith has been sharpening his songwriting abilities to sink his hooks in ever deeper, drawing listeners in with his tender voice and upbeat melodies and then twisting them around to reveal something dark and painful about the human experience. His latest album, 11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs for Ukulele, found him momentarily contemplating the power of joy in song; but don’t worry, he’s assured audiences at his Icehouse residency this month that he’s well on his way to reclaiming his sad sack credentials with his next offering, Late Stage Capitalism, due out in March.

22. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis
The producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are often discussed as if they are one entity, thanks in part to the fact that they’ve been successfully collaborating for over three decades now. Both got their start in the Battle of the Bands circuit in North Minneapolis that spawned musicians like Prince, Morris Day, and André Cymone, and they joined forces with Morris to perform in the Prince-managed group the Time in the early 1980s. A falling out with the boss turned out to be fortuitous, though, because they soon fell into a partnership with Janet Jackson that would bring all three of the artists to the top of the charts with Control. Jam and Lewis now hold the record for being some of the only producers in the industry to have No. 1 records in three consecutive decades, making them certified legends.

23. Koerner, Ray and Glover
When turn-of-the-century blues and folk music made a comeback in the beat scene in the 1960s, the trio of “Spider” John Koerner, Dave Ray, and Tony Glover were at the forefront here in Minneapolis. Their legacy goes far beyond the clubs like the 10 O’Clock Scholar where they used to play in Dinkytown; they performed at the Newport Folk Festival, released well-received albums on Elektra records, and inspired a generation of up-and-coming songwriters like Bob Dylan and Bonnie Raitt.

24. Lifter Puller
Led by the punk poet Craig Finn, who would later relocate to New York and form his breakout group the Hold Steady, Lifter Puller combined the grittiness of the Finn’s spoken-word-inspired, observational storytelling with the primal urgency of punk rock, creating a unique and angular new sound. The band’s influence on the community is still felt today in shout-outs from Atmosphere and their peers in the punk scene, Dillinger Four, and a well-attended reunion in 2015 at the now-defunct Triple Rock Social Club showed how significant they are to our city’s history.

25. Lizzo
Hip-hop artist Lizzo is known for her powerhouse vocal range as well as her strong stance on female empowerment, a theme she explores in her lyrics as well as her public life. Raised in Detroit and having spent her formative years in Houston, it was Minneapolis where Lizzo found her footing as a solo artist and recorded her first two breakout albums before signing to Atlantic Records. Although she’s already making an impact on the entire world, Lizzo will always be a treasured part of our local music scene.

26. Low
Duluth-based husband and wife duo Alan and Mimi Sparhawk have spent over two decades collaborating in the internationally acclaimed rock group Low. Their patience for stretching songs out over slow tempos and methodic rhythms had critics defining them as “slowcore” in their early days, but their music has evolved to explore pop melodies, psychedelic washes of sound and even electronic experimentation, as on their last album, Ones and Sixes.

27. Maria Isa
The rapper and singer Maria Isa has dedicated her career to bridging the divide between Puerto Rican and Midwestern culture (she proudly proclaims herself a “Sota-Rican”) and advocating for her larger Latinx community. Her unique approach to hip-hop blends traditional Afro-Baricua rhythms with contemporary sounds, and over the past decade-plus she’s gained a following both as a solo artist and as a member of Villa Rosa, a collaboration with her husband and musical partner Muja Messiah.

28. Mason Jennings
One of the Twin Cities’ most established singer-songwriters is Mason Jennings, whose eye for detail in storytelling and distinctive, swooping voice, have consistently set him apart from the overflowing bounty of acoustic folk artists that reside in Minnesota. Although he’s kept quieter in recent years, his catalog of work speaks for itself — going all the way back to his debut, Mason Jennings, which has endured to become a classic album.

29. Mint Condition
It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t until 2017 that the R&B group Mint Condition were finally nominated for a Grammy — especially considering how interwoven their legacy is with the other artists of the ‘80s and ‘90s who brought the Minneapolis Sound to the world. The group was discovered in 1989 by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and signed to their Perspective label, and their breakout album, 1991’s Meant to Be Mint, was produced by none other than Jellybean Johnson of the Time. They spent the next two decades releasing commercially successful, ever-evolving albums before separating from lead singer Stokley Wiliams in 2016; Super Bowl Live will be the first time that the entire group has performed on one stage since the split.

30. Now, Now
The band once known as Now, Now Every Children — a prodigious young twee band that emerged from the underground all-ages scene in the late-2000s — has blossomed into one of the state’s most sophisticated pop acts. Anchored by the core members KC Dalager and Brad Hale, the band have a knack for creating entrancing beats and irresistible melodies; they’ve been in the national spotlight ever since their breakout album, 2012’s Threads, was released, and they’ve continued to evolve on their latest singles like “SGL” and “Yours.”

31. Polica
Rarely have a group of musicians come together to form a new project and immediately locked into such an inventive, exhilarating new sound. Polica are the rare group that already sounded fully formed at their very first shows, with lead singer Channy Leaneagh’s electronically manipulated vocal melodies rising and falling amid the dual drumming of Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson, the melodic and spry bass playing of Chris Bierden, and the sinister and otherworldly production of Ryan Olson. The players still seem almost subconsciously connected to one another and their sound has only deepened and expanded over time, recently by collaborations with disparate artists like Spank Rock, Lane8, and Berlin orchestral group s t a r g a z e.

32. P.O.S
Have you ever cried at a rap show? Doomtree-affiliated rapper P.O.S has the rare ability to swivel effortlessly between punk-inspired indifference and deeply moving, personal storytelling, often in the same verse of the same song.

33. Prince
Prince was the legend living in our midst; the global superstar we didn’t realize how much we deeply loved until the night he passed away and the entire city ached purple. His influence on the arts community seems to grow larger all the time, as we learn more about the ways his life story and career were steadfastly intertwined with the hometown that he adored. As he famously told Oprah, when she asked him why he stayed in Minnesota: “It’s so cold, it keeps the bad people out.”

34. Sonny Knight
The revival of soul singer Sonny Knight’s career was one of the more inspiring stories to emerge from the Minnesota music scene in recent years, which made it all the more devastating when he passed away from cancer in 2017 just as his career was soaring to new heights. Knight had spent his life in music, though much of it was out of the spotlight; he cut a 45 in the ‘60s with his teenaged band, joined the funk group Haze in the ‘70s and sang off and on with members of the Valdons for decades, including their reunion in 2012. His true calling seemed to be fronting the Lakers, the ace band that finally placed Sonny center stage and gave him the star treatment he deserved.

35. Soul Asylum
Although they got their start (as Loud Fast Rules) at the same time as revered punk groups like the Replacements and Hüsker Dü, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that Soul Asylum broke out nationally — just as an underground sound called grunge music was being embraced by the mainstream. “Runaway Train” was suddenly everywhere and in heavy rotation on MTV, as were videos for the hits “Somebody to Shove” and “Black Gold.” Remarkably, frontman Dave Pirner is still keeping the group pushing forward, and his voice is still just as angst-ridden and soulful today.

36. Sounds of Blackness
Legendary gospel-R&B-soul group the Sounds of Blackness have been performing together in various incarnations for over 40 years, making them one of the longest-running musical groups in Minnesota. From recording with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (and picking up a Grammy in the process) and presenting their annual performance of The Night Before Christmas to collaborating with students at the High School of Recording Arts, the Sounds of Blackness have cemented their legacy as an integral part of the community.

37. Têtes Noires
Têtes Noires emerged in the early 1980s as Minneapolis’s first all-female rock group, and quickly rose to prominence in a male-dominated scene with their quirky performances, mesmerizing harmonies, and experimental songs.

38. The Andrews Sisters
Pioneering sister trio the Andrews Sisters were raised in North Minneapolis in the 1920s and first broke out at a talent show at the Orpheum Theater in 1931. By the end of that decade they had broken out with their first big hit, and they would soon become the best-selling artists of their era, with a whopping 46 of their songs landing in the Billboard’s top 10. As MinnPost wrote when the final living Andrews Sister, Patty, passed away in 2013, “The sisters weren’t just popular. They defined the sound of the 1940s, as much as Glenn Miller’s big band or Bing Crosby’s velvety crooning.”

39. The Jayhawks
When the Jayhawks emerged in the 1980s they seemed like a direct counterpoint to the roaring punk rock that was dominating the scene. Their twangy acoustic guitars and beautiful vocal harmonies seemed like a modern update to the songs of Hank Williams or the Everly Brothers, and their unique take on the genre helped to lay the groundwork for what we now call alt-country.

40. The Jets
Polynesian-American family band the Jets have one of the more unique stories of any hit-making group from Minnesota; the eight siblings who performed in the group were the oldest of 17 kids in the Wolfgramm family, and they started performing together when many of them were still attending classes as Robbinsdale Cooper High School. By the mid-1980s they were recording their music videos at Prince’s Paisley Park and racing to the top of the charts with “Crush on You,” which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in March 1986.

41. The Replacements
Loose, poetic, unpredictable, self-destructive, brilliant. The mythology of the Replacements is well known in these parts, and has only been reinvigorated in recent years thanks to a reunion show at Midway Stadium and the release of their first live record, Live at Maxwell’s 1986. Although they retained perennial underdog status in the music industry — partly because you never knew which Replacements you were going to get at any given concert — they are easily one of the most revered rock acts in Minnesota.

42. Semisonic
Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson and bassist John Munson had already been longtime staples of the scene in Minneapolis — they spent years performing alongside Dan’s brother, Matt, in the beloved group Trip Shakespeare — so it didn’t feel as much like an overnight success story here in the Cities when they hit it big with the single “Closing Time” in 1998. Dan Wilson has gone on to pursue a successful career as a solo artist and songwriter, penning hits like Adele’s “Someone Like You.”

43. The Suburbs
Founding members Chan Poling and Hugo Klaers have kept the spirit of the Suburbs alive for over 40 years, and are in the midst of a wildly successful second act that’s already produced two new records in the past five years. Poling and Klaers got their start alongside Bruce Allen, Michael Halliday, and B.J. Chaney in the late 1970s as part of the underground punk rock circuit, and their 1984 hit “Love is the Law” has become a Minnesota classic.

44. The Suicide Commandos
The founding fathers of the Minneapolis punk rock scene helped to carve a new path for bands that wanted to play original music and embrace the new wave punk sounds of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. They were one of the first in the scene to cut a record, the first to open for a major touring act (the Ramones at Kelly’s Pub in St. Paul in 1977), and a huge inspiration to the growing young scene that would soon explode all around them. It says something that when they finally recorded a sophomore album in 2017, it was enough to wake the legendary Twin/Tone Records label out of retirement for one more release.

45. The Time
Formed by Prince in 1981 and made world-famous by co-starring in his movie Purple Rain, the Time were one of the first groups of artists who came up alongside Prince in North Minneapolis to achieve national success. Original members Morris Day, Jellybean Johnson, and Monte Moir still tour as the time today, and co-founders Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were able to break off from the group early on and find their own wild success.

46. The Trashmen
The Trashmen presented the burgeoning label Soma Records with an interesting conundrum: Could a small-town distributor physically print enough copies of their hit single “Surfin’ Bird” to make it onto the Billboard charts? It turns out the answer was yes, as over 1 million copies of the song were sold and the band rocketed to No. 4 on the Hot 100 in 1963. Their success helped to kick-start a more agile and muscular music industry in Minnesota.

47. Trampled by Turtles
Formed in Duluth and beloved by roots music fans around the country, the barn-burning string group Trampled by Turtles have become one of the most successful touring acts of their generation. The group is currently on hiatus so frontman Dave Simonett could explore another side of his songwriting in his brooding rock band, Dead Man Winter, and fans are eagerly anticipating their return to the stage.

48. Venus de Mars
The frontwoman of Minnesota’s pioneering LGBTQ act, All the Pretty Horses, has spent decades torching the club circuit with her industrial goth-punk performances. In the 20-plus years since de Mars came out as transgender there have been seismic shifts in society’s understanding of the issues facing her community, and she is more vocal than ever about trans visibility and rights. Case in point: This past summer, during her most recent performance with All the Pretty Horses at the David Bowie tribute Rebel Rebel: Rock for Pussy, she marched across the First Ave stage waving a “Resist” flag with the word TRANS scrawled in all-caps across her chest.

49. Wee Willie Walker
A pioneer of the Minnesota soul scene, Wee Willie Walker, has been singing his heart out for over 60 years. From recording for the Goldwax label in the ‘60s to performing in more recent groups like the Butanes and his We “R” band, Willie has left his mark on the Twin Cities funk, soul, and blues scene, and continues to inspire countless listeners to this day.

50. Willie Murphy
Willie Murphy has had a long and fascinating career, from recording with “Spider” John Koerner in the late ‘60s and helping Bonnie Raitt record her debut, Bonnie Raitt, to fronting the woozy, bluesy bar band Willie and the Bumblebees and enjoying a long career as a solo artist.

51. ZULUZULUU
The Minneapolis Sound created by Jam, Lewis, and Prince is alive and well in the work of ZULUZULUU, an Afro-futuristic group that swirls together R&B, funk, hip-hop, and more. A collaboration between MMYYKK, Proper-T, Greg Grease, DJ Just Nine, ∆RT P∆RTÉ and Trelly Mo, each artist seems to wear several hats in the group – singer, rapper, keyboardist, producer — and they have been able to merge their many talents to create an enticing new sound.

52. Zuzu’s Petals
Led by the writer and artist Laurie Lindeen, Zuzu’s Petals helped to carve out new spaces for women in the club circuit in the early 1990s and captivated audiences with their raw, unfiltered rock songs. Lindeen’s moving memoir, Petal Pusher, provides a window into this pivotal time in the Minneapolis scene.

Watch more videos from our 52 artists in this YouTube playlist:

  • Joshua

    Great list, thanks. Glad some of these artists got props. An embarrassment of riches so there are inevitably some that aren’t listed, both more obscure (Steve Tibbetts and Marc Anderson) and so big they aren’t always classified MN (Judy Garland).

    • Larry Christian

      Actually Joshua, Judy Garland only lived in MN. for a few years. I don’t know as that qualifies her as a Minnesotan.

      • Joshua

        The bar is historically low for who we lay claim to I think…

  • Aaron Zach

    Where in the fuck is The Blind Shake?

  • Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom

    I’m surprised Tapes N Tapes and John Mark Nelson didn’t make the list.

  • They may not do much anymore, but country group Highway 101 was named for Minnesota Highway 101.

  • Andrew Strom

    No Gear Daddies??? Some intern should be fired.

  • Larry Christian

    You forgot two famous ( to me) musical phenoms from Minnesota. What about Spider John Koerner, and his famous Spider Blues. And not to be forgotten, where is any mention of the DeZurik Sisters. Two gals, who were among the first ladies to perform at The Grand Ol Opry. From small town Minnesota.

    • Dave Carlson

      The “Spider” is listed with his cohorts Ray & Glover (#23) and is mentioned in the Bob Dylan (#5) and Willie Murphy (#50) listings… well-deserved recognitions!

      • Larry Christian

        Hope ya can find room for the DeZurik Sisters in the future.

  • Spider J Hamilton 00

    Where’s mentioned… Mazarati? Exotic Storm? Centerfold? Taja SeVelle?, I.R.M Crew? Nobody? Constina? LaSalle Gabriel? Philippe (Washington)? Sue Ann? Georgio? Giorge Pettus? Andre Cymone? The Girls? Alexander O’Neal? Tamara & The Seen? These artist all had music out there! Let’s not forget these guys! The REAL Minneapolis Sound, that ‘signature distinguishing’ sound!

  • Bucky
  • Bucky
  • Bucky

    Steve TIbbetts w/ Marc Anderson:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9gFDtS2VMU

  • Bucky

    Lamont Cranston Band (Upper Mississippi Shakedown):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yc1eddQs1vU

  • Bucky
  • Bucky
    • Grumpy Dave

      Bucky gets it

      • Bucky

        *curtsies 8-)

      • Bucky

        I don’t know why I don’t already own this record…this song is so great! Soon to be remedied, in any case.

      • Bucky

        I might also mention I once took a class from the actual Walt Mink the band is named after.

  • Bucky

    Bad Bad Hats:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOUC6m82xEc
    (I really can’t believe they forgot this group… *shakes head*)

  • Bucky
  • Bucky
  • Super Bug LII 🏈

    where the hell is 12 Rods?

  • Dave Carlson

    What about Bobby Vee? He had many Top 40 hits in the ’60s and even was the first to hire a young Bob Dylan (who did a nice shout-out to Mr. Vee at his last Midway Concert). Bobby recently passed away but he and his musical sons (The Vees) lived in St. Joseph, MN for many years and own a recording studio there.

  • David Aquilina
  • kstrygg

    Trip Shakespeare!