Local Current Blog

Andrew Broder’s January residency returns, bigger and better, at Turf Club and First Avenue

Andrew Broder performs at the 7th St Entry, April 2017. (Emma Roden for MPR)

“It’s a difficult and trying time,” says Minneapolis musician Andrew Broder, explaining what motived him to begin his Residency for Music and Action event series. “I think people are kind of waking up and realizing that our new part-time job is giving way more of a s–t than we did before.”

The event series, curated by Broder, returns for a second edition this January with a residency that includes three shows at the Turf Club, beginning tonight, and a finale at First Avenue. Just like the first residency, which took place in January 2017, the event series boasts a very diverse line up of Minnesota musicians, and each week the proceeds from ticket sales will go to a different nonprofit organization.

Broder was reluctant at first when First Avenue approached him late in 2016 about filling some Turf Club dates – weeknights in January in Minnesota don’t necessarily make for an easy sell. Considering the proximity to the presidential inauguration, though, Broder decided to pull some friends and collaborators together to program four straight Wednesday nights at the Turf Club. Billed as Andrew Broder & People: A Residency For Music And Action, the events not only raised money for a different organization each week, it also gave the organizations a platform to raise awareness of their work.

The events were successful, and looking to build on the momentum they created, Broder decided to do it again in 2018 — this time bigger and better. The lineups for the four shows read like a Murderer’s Row of the Twin Cities music scene, representing many different styles of music, veterans and newcomers alike, and impressively only including a handful of repeats from last year’s residency. (As it turns out, the residency may have started a trend.)

The biggest change from last year is that the final date, Jan. 26, falls on a Friday night and takes place in the Mainroom at First Avenue. The bill for the big finale includes Low, Marijuana Deathsquads, Broder’s project Fog, and more. Another change from last year is there will be music both upstairs and downstairs at the Turf Club shows.

Rapper and Minneapolis transplant Spank Rock headlines tonight’s series opener, in a bill that also features Dua, Psymun, and the Native American drum troupe Midnite Express, who joined Spank Rock on stage during his set at Eaux Claires last summer. Might the presence of Spank Rock and Midnite Express on the lineup give us any clues as to who the top-secret special guests promised by the event listing are? Your guess is as good as mine, but Lazerbeak just dropped one hint…

The second night, Jan. 11, features the Rhymesayers artist deM atlaS, Tekk Nikk (the live techno alter-ego of Nikki Pfeifer, who also performs and DJs as Devata Daun), reggae DJs Feel Free Hi Fi, as well as some newer acts with very different sounds: the rock outfit Strange Relations and the polished R&B of Nick Jordan. Though Broder has yet to meet Nick Jordan or the members of Strange Relations in person, he says, “I’ve definitely been doing my homework and checking everybody out. I booked the people who I thought were doing the most exciting stuff here. I’m a fan of anybody that’s playing. I think their voice is important, and I picked them on purpose.”

The third installation, Jan. 18, has a heavier slant, with performances from the hardcore outfit Condominium and Broder’s Cloak Ox bandmate Jeremy Ylvisaker, alongside more recent up-and-comers Izell Pyramid, Mina Moore, and 26 Bats! While Broder himself is only technically on the bill for the finale (as Fog), attendees can expect to see him on stage at the Turf Club.

“I will be performing, I will be doing some talking and a little bit of this and that,” he says, “but it might be stuff that’s a little more unplanned. I want there to be an element of surprise at these shows too.” Broder notes that when he performs, it will be in the background as the line-ups he’s assembled take center stage. “To be honest, the stuff I’ll be doing is what I’m least concerned about this year.”

Broder’s main musical reward will come at the finale at First Avenue, where he will play a Fog set and will be sharing the bill with some musicians he is quite familiar with in Low and Marijuana Deathsquads. “Everyone on that bill is pretty open to joining forces,” Broder says. “It wouldn’t surprise me if that night is very free-flowing, and we’ll be finding cool and interesting ways to bring all the performers together.”

While the bigger venue and lineup represent an obvious step up for the event series, Broder says there’s another reason for playing the Mainroom. “We wanted to be pretty visible in the days preceding the Super Bowl, and have a different kind of presence than what is going to be taking place in the following days.”

Assembling such a deep and talented lineup of artists is quite the feat, made even more impressive by the fact that every single one of them has agreed to play for free — a testament to the goodwill Broder has accrued over two decades as a multi-genre musician with a knack for collaboration. Proceeds from the door each week will benefit the ACLU, Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief, American Refugee Committee, and Appetite for Change, in succession. Broder acknowledges there are many worthy causes he considered, but he went with organizations that intersect with climate change and environmental justice issues.

One of the residency’s biggest stars, someone featured in the pages of Rolling Stone, is not even a musician. The prominent climate writer Eric Holthaus, who lives in the Twin Cities, will be making an appearance at the Jan. 11 show, one of several speakers Broder has lined up for the events.

Don’t let the idea of a presentation scare you off, Broder emphasizes. “It’s not like people are going to be up there giving a TED Talk. We’re just trying to shed some light on why we’re giving money to this place, what it is they actually do, how people can get involved and volunteer if they want, that kind of thing. Make sure people understand the point behind all this, besides going out to a cool show, which should also be mostly the point.”

In a tumultuous time, artists of all kinds are exploring avenues to use their art and the communities they create as a tool of resistance and social change. Broder seems to be on to something with his residency. “Our music scene is a really good resource. I think it’s relatively untapped as far as social movements go. Our local artists and musicians are very smart, aware and crafty people,” he says. “If we organize ourselves, we can do cool and important things.”