Local Current Blog

City Pages, essential source of Minnesota music coverage for four decades, closes permanently

A 2010 poster at First Avenue advertises a show sponsored by City Pages' Picked to Click feature. (courtesy Jay Gabler)

City Pages, the alt-weekly that launched as Sweet Potato in 1979 and became an essential, unapologetically opinionated source of Minnesota music and arts coverage, is closing permanently after much of the live entertainment scene that supported it has been throttled for months by the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Disclosure: In recent years, I have been a regular freelance contributor to City Pages as a theater critic. My colleague, Local Show host Andrea Swensson, was music editor there before coming to The Current several years ago.)

Star Tribune Media Co., the owner of City Pages, announced the decision today. “While City Pages has retained a strong brand in our market, the profound disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic have made it economically unviable,” said chief executive Mike Klingensmith in an internal e-mail, the Star Tribune reports.

As the headline of the Star Tribune story notes, this marks the end of an era for alt-weeklies in the Twin Cities. From the ’80s into the 2000s, City Pages and – for period – the dueling Twin Cities Reader, as free weekly papers, were essential sources of information and opinion about the local music and arts scene, as well as tough and independent sources of reporting on local government, law enforcement, and business activities.

At the announcement, social media immediately exploded with words like “stunned,” “devastated,” “my God,” and “Gut. Punch.” We’ll continue to follow this breaking news and to share reactions from the Minnesota music community, which looked to City Pages for weekly coverage and each year’s Picked to Click poll of up-and-coming acts.