Secrets Presents: Jaydee Beat Batch Wars Featuring 16 Producers Battling Head-to-head in Honor of the Late, Great J Dilla

Dilla Day

The annual Dilla Day celebrations are often some of the most fun parties to happen throughout the year, with locals around the country taking stages to pay homage to the late great producer. But when we heard that this year’s Dilla Day get together was going to be 16 producers like Empire X, Shylee, Dj Francisco, Dj Scipreme, Diggy from UP ROCK, and more having a top notch beat battle in the 7th St Entry with Niles hosting, we had to get on it and make sure our readers were looped in. Don’t wait on these tickets, they’ll go fast! Wednesday, Dec 14th, 8 PM. $8 advance, $10 door.

And we want to make sure a bunch of our readers are in attendance, so we’re giving away a bunch of tickets until the show—just reply to our email that you’re interested for a chance to win!

Quick Q+A: Hannah von der Hoff

Hannah von der Hoff

Regular readers know we’re big fans of chanteuse Hannah von der Hoff, a singer-songwriter who’s played everywhere from Icehouse to the Red Stag Supper Club to the Dakota, either solo or with The Dangertones backing her, and the Aster Cafe, where she’s also the booker. Now von der Hoff is putting her smokey stylings on an album, with a kickstarter kickoff party to launch the recording.

Before everything takes off, we quick checked in von der Hoff about the upcoming album, collaborator JT Bates, and booking bands.

Secrets of the City: Which Hannah von der Hoff should we get excited for on this album? Solo singer-songwriter? An appearance by The Dangertones? A new direction entirely?

Hannah von der Hoff: This will be an R&B/Soul meets Roots Rock record where I finally figured out how to let my guard down. Stoked. It’ll be like you went down a dirt road, found a smoky speakeasy and Jeff Buckley, Bonnie Raitt, Alabama Shakes and Sade were in an orgy and getting in a brawl at the same time . . . or something like that.

It’s cool to see that creative jazz man and drummer extraordinaire JT Bates is co-producing—did that come from your Icehouse shows? Will he also play on the album?

Actually, JT Bates and I having been creatively courting for years—I met him back when Molly Maher & Erik Koskinen had a weekly residency at Aster Cafe on Wednesdays; it was hands down my favorite night to work. He came to a solo opening slot I had the Entry, and he approached me about working together afterward. I didn’t want to do this debut or the collaboration injustice so I waited until I felt ready. We’re set to record for early 2017!

What kind of swag are you thinking for the kickstarter? (We could use a HvdH patch, honestly.)

Thanks for the idea. Seriously. Killer vinyl. 200-limited deluxe edition handmade & signed CD’s. A private show where I cook you a batch of soup, or cookies. A session of life advice. Handwritten lyrics. A couple rounds of pool. And of course, stickers, amongst other things! The shirts and hats will come down the line. The kickstarter is still pending but hoping to get this thing launched in the coming week or so. Please stay tuned!

Has your work taking over the booking at the Aster help to hone in your music tastes? Or is that pretty much unrelated?

Its the other way around actually. I like all kinds of music because it falls in two categories, really: good vs bad. My musical taste informs the curation, but the goal is to achieve the trifecta of a successful show: happy artists who feel welcomed, valued by extension of hospitality and have a healthy check in their pocket at the end of the night, good music for hungry/thirsty guests to dine all their senses, and a staff who gets to pay the bills by way of a sweet show. If I went on taste alone, I wouldn’t be a good steward of the role—but it certainly is step one.

Midweek News & Notes: Keeping Up With The Classics

Esker Grove

Since many of our readers don’t read anything else besides chalk board drink specials, we feel we should share some of the important-to-you stories being shared around the SotC virtual water cooler so that you’re properly briefed before your happy hour.

News: There’s already a lot of fresh challengers for next year’s MPLS City Council Races; Mayor Coleman won’t seek re-election.

Notes: We got sucked back in to elections when Nekima Levy-Pounds announced her run for MPLS mayor, and now we’re even more in with a whole list of progressive contenders for MPLS city council spots, including Keith Ellison’s son Jeremiah Ellison running for the Northside seat and some exciting potential with Jillia Pessenda running against Kevin Reich in Ward 1 in Northeast. Plus St. Easy mayor Chris Coleman won’t seek re-election in 2017, meaning it’s going to be a crazy town election cycle all over Twincy.

News: Walker’s new Esker Grove restaurant is getting a bunch of foodie buzz.

Notes: We get why: The interior of the new spot by Piccolo chef Doug Flicker looks sleek and minimalist, overlooks the sculpture garden (when it re-opens) and downtown, and has a menu “inspired by local farmers’ harvests and regional cheese artisans and protein purveyors”. It’s all a part of the massive, multi-million dollar redesign of the Art Center that kicked off last week.

News: Both the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra had really good years.

Notes: It’s a good time for classical music in Twincy. Regular readers know we’re big fans of the SPCO, and so are a lot of other folks—they had a record high number of attendees throughout the 2015-16 season. We can’t wait for their 2017 season. Similarly, the Minnesota Orchestra also met artistic and financial milestones, including increased subscribers, including smaller community subscribers, and their capacity at shows. Both groups have been doing forward-looking programming, and we hope that continues.

Burger Hunter: Volstead’s Emporium


Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

Somewhere, someplace in an alley near Lyndale and Lake, hiding behind a dumpster and staircase, is The Top Secret of the City. Volstead’s Emporium is speakeasy. Hundo p. No website. No parking. No nothing. I mean this couldn’t make for a better hunt. It’s literally hiding! Upon arrival you’ll maybe think it’s the right spot, but the door is locked and your Minnesota-style second guessing of oneself will kick in full throttle, almost like never before, cause it’s dark and very sketchy. Then I hear something open and it’s the peep hole for the doorman. He let’s me in, and to the basement we go. So it’s a total juice joint (blind pig), all hotsy-totsy, charming, and very intriguing. The Cheeseburger is a standout on this small, but ambrosial menu. It’s a bigun and juicy to the nines. First bite is an explosion of flavor all up in your business. Thank goodness it’s dark cause we be dripping. Wipe clean and focus in. The bun is soft, delightful, and somehow holds up. Prohibition is officially over on cheesy goodness—this burger signifies that! The meat is the mob boss tho. Probably shouldn’t say too much being this place is a giant secret. Volstead’s Emporium slaps the infamous Volstead Act right in the face. As it should. Prohibition is/was a bad idea. Happy hunting!

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.3   Presentation: 9   Originality: 8

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Quick Q+A: Craig Grossman + Green Room Music Source

Green Room Music Source

For the last 10 years, Green Room Music Source has brought us some of the most recognized names in local music, and they’ll be marking the occasion on Saturday with a stacked show at the Turf Club. Just check out this lineup: The Melismatics, a reunion of Mark Mallman’s side project Ruby Isle, Johnny & Molly of Communist Daughter, Duluth phenom Gaelynn Lea, The Look and Feel (featuring Eric Lovold and Ryan McMillan of The Alarmists), and a bunch more.

Before that mini-festival kicks off, we quick chatted with co-founder Craig Grossman to hear about all the many, many details that go into just one band, not to mention several bands, playing a show for you.

Secrets of the City: How have you gone about selecting artists to work with, especially since Green Room is so selective?

We have a belief that good artists and good agencies/agents somehow find one another in the universe. We tend to choose artists we already know are out there a lot, working the road and we have the great fortune of being able to go to other artists from our roster to get recommendations and referrals as well.

What’s changed in the last ten years when it comes to booking bands? Anything? Everything?

Not a lot actually- funny enough. The largest change is that artists need to go out on the road more often to make up for lost label royalties. That’s caused a lot more competition out there so you tend to have to book even further out than usual.

How will you realistically get all those folks—Melismatics, Ruby Isle, Gaelynn Lea(!), a bunch of others—all on and off the stage before bar close for the big anniversary show?

Oh, now you’re giving me an anxiety attack! I think we’ve structured the show to allow for longer changeovers by staggering sets between the main stage of The Turf and downstairs in the Clown Lounge. We’ve also made sure there’s no overlap in music so everyone has the chance to see full sets in both rooms. All that moving up and down the stairs will hopefully work off those great Turf Club libations for everyone this Saturday!

Burger Hunter: Burger Burger

Burger Burger

Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

It’s the holiday season. With the whoop-de-do and hickory dock, the Burger Hunter is back on the clock! This time it’s a family holiday shopping spree at MOA with a pit stop and a refuel at Burger Burger. Now this spot certainly knows how to capture the whole crew. I mean they got a meat dude in a window out front making burger patties with their daily grind of the famous “sustainable beef” from the Revier Cattle Company in Olivia, MN. So they do local. They do fresh. And now to what they really do well . . . Options. From sauces to toppings to build your owns to chef driven creations there’s something for everyone. Yes, even your vegan cousin can join in. I went with the John Wayne burger. Delivered on a fresh bun from St. Agnes Bakery. Which is nice . . . The meat is clean, seasoned with some unknowns, and packed tight. It’s good beef. All Angus, but really folks it’s got some serious white in the grind. Go look for yourself in the window. This cowboy has lotzzzzz going on. Topped with Wisconsin sharp cheddar, dill pickle slices, bourbon BBQ sauce, Mayo, onion rings, brown sugar bacon, and a ten gallon hat. Ok, not the hat but the burger ends up as big as one. So with all this it’s a bit of a messy ride, but they package you up nicely so you might want to leave it on. All in all it’s just what you are looking for. It’s fun. Try things. Laugh. Play. The ingredients are fresh and they won’t weigh you down. Shop on! And add Burger Burger to your MOA hit list.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.0   Presentation: 6   Originality: 10

Burger Burger, 321 South Street Dining, MOA;