For the past three years, Jesse Mortenson has been crafting a new online show calendar for the Twin Cities. At the end of 2017, the calendar, called swhenever, became available to the public. Swhenever lists concerts from venues such as First Avenue, Icehouse, and the Cedar Cultural Center, all in an eye-pleasing color combination of mint green and millennial pink.
Mortenson grew up in the Stillwater area and spent his teenage years listening to Radio K and frequenting local shows. He vividly recalled buying his first Radio K t-shirt at 17, saying, “[the local music scene] was something that really connected me to Minnesota.”
While Mortenson dove into the Minnesota music scene early on, he described that it can be difficult to discover the breadth of a local music scene on your own. Growing up, one tool that connected him to local music was the City Pages concert calendar. Now, Mortenson hopes to share his passion for local music with others, especially people who aren’t as familiar with local venues or who aren’t going to shows every week.
“I would love to reach those folks and just make it easy for them to find a couple more local shows to go see.” said Mortenson, “I just think there’s so much on offer in the scene, and I want to get more people out to shows.”
Luckily, Mortenson doesn’t have to add all of these events by hand. He has worked with a number of collaborators, but most of the calendar’s events are managed by computer scripts that he wrote.
Although coding keeps swhenever up and running, an important aspect of the calendar comes from personal interactions. Among the calendar’s features are “recommendations,” where users can add a comment to a show listed on the calendar to share information about the concert, tell others that they are going, or just rave about an artist that they love.
Currently, the calendar does not receive any funding or produce revenue, but exists solely as a personal project fueled by Mortenson. Farther down the line he hopes to create a business model to cover the website’s costs, but for now, Mortenson’s primary goal is creating community through live performance. “I really want to connect people with local live performance,” he said, “whether that’s specifically music or other kinds of performing arts.”
“What makes music and performing arts so special is that, there’s just no substitute for being there in the room when it happens. Whatever gets more people connected to [these] real, live experiences is what makes a better community and makes life richer for everybody.”
Colleen Cowie is a student at Macalester College. She hosts the show Locally Sourced on WMCN.