Local Current Blog

‘We wouldn’t be who we are today without them’: Minnesota music community pays tribute to City Pages

Gully Boys, seen here at the 7th St Entry in 2019, wrote, that City Pages was 'been a big, reliable support for us since we first started as a band.' (Darby Ottoson/MPR)

“We were kind of the last people who were allowed to get away with a lot of that stuff,” Keith Harris told Sean McPherson last night on The Current. “Obviously,” he allowed with a chuckle, “we weren’t totally allowed to get away with it.”

Harris, whose career at City Pages spanned over two decades as a contributor and two discrete spans as music editor, was the final person to hold that title when news came yesterday that the irreverent alt-weekly – one of the last in the country – was shutting down permanently.

(Disclosure: since 2016, in addition to my work at The Current I was a regular freelance contributor to City Pages, covering theater news and reviews.)

“We had no idea the financial situation was at a point where they had to can the entire operation,” City Pages web editor Jay Boller told Cathy Wurzer on MPR News this morning, “and we found out about the same time that the public did.”

“I’m still processing it all,” said Harris. “It’s new news to all of us, and at this point we’re still wrapping everything up and finding a way to say goodbye.”

Harris remembered seeing his first copy of City Pages in 1994, and reminisced with McPherson about the generations of talented Minnesota musicians who earned some of their first press mentions in the paper. Lizzo, sure…but even more recently than that. “I think back over the past few winners of our Picked to Click poll,” said Harris, “like Nur-D, like Gully Boys…and seeing them step up this year as people in the community has been exciting.”

“It was a cultural guide for people who just moved to the city,” said Boller, as well as “people who lived here for 40 years…whether you liked to just kind of playfully say that City Pages has gone to hell and wasn’t like it was 40 years ago, you still looked at it, you still read it.”

Calling City Pages “the pesky little voice that keeps the mainstream institutional outlets in check,” Boller name-checked several other publications covering the Twin Cities arts and music scenes.

“We used to have The Rake, we used to have the Reader, we used to have A.V. Club local, we used to have METRO magazine, we used to have more recently The Growler…they’re gone, and there’s just no way to really replace that.”

Members of the Minnesota music community have been sharing sadness and memories on social media.