“I got tired of signing ‘Save Our Stages’ petitions and decided to do something,” said Mary Beth Mueller. “Many of us simply cannot imagine this city or the national music landscape without First Avenue. We started emailing bands, and every single one of them responded, ‘yes.’”
The statement by Mueller – founder of Kill Kancer and widow of Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller – accompanied a press release from a group called the Committee of Concerned Citizens. They’ve organized the First Love Project, a series of tracks released via Bandcamp to benefit First Avenue.
The first round of tracks alone, with more promised in January, includes contributions from (in alphabetical order) Atmosphere; the Baseball Project; Dessa; Drive-By Truckers; Fugazi; Har Mar Superstar; the Hold Steady; the Jayhawks; Lazerbeak; Molly Maher; the Mekons; Thurston Moore (formerly of Sonic Youth); Semisonic; Soul Asylum; Trampled by Turtles; the Suburbs; Jeff Tweedy; Steve Wynn & The Miracles; and Young Fresh Fellows.
A subscription ($25) provides access to all current and future tracks, with proceeds going “directly to support First Avenue.” Some of the tracks are previously released, but new music includes fresh songs from Har Mar and the Jayhawks, as well as previously unreleased live recordings from artists including Tweedy and Fugazi.
While the Minneapolis venue is surely hoping you’ll join the Save Our Stages petition if you haven’t yet, owner Dayna Frank voiced support for the project. “We are blown away by the incredible support from this community and these amazing artists,” Frank said in a statement. “It’s a very special thing to know that First Avenue means so much to so many, especially this year – our 50th Anniversary and the most challenging time in the history of the club. It’s heartwarming, to say the least.”
A few artists associated with the project also released statements. Calling First Avenue “one of the absolute most important music venues in the whole world,” Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood said it’s “one of our all time favorite places to play.”
“First Avenue cares about music. And artists. And the culture of our city,” said Dessa. “That’s not true of everyone in this business.”