Tag Archives: Q + A

Quick Q+A: Aaron King + Boneshaker Books

When the very fun—and also community supported, collectively organized, and volunteer run—Boneshaker Books celebrated their 5th Anniversary, the shop celebrated with a heady and hilarious literary costume party. Now a year older, and with independent bookstores doing better than ever (especially compared to say, downtown chain stores), Boneshaker will be celebrating six years by again dressing up (this year’s theme is Imagined Futures!!), a gaudy cake, a La Croix fountain (maybe), and lots of excellent conversation that includes well-read opinions.

Before the big party, we sent some quick questions to volunteer Aaron King about literature and how lit the lit party will be.

Secrets: What’s your favorite book that the bookstore carries?

Aaron King: I read How to be Both by Ali Smith last year, which I think is a perfect novel. It formally pushes boundaries, explores identities, and is deeply empathetic to deeply flawed characters. And different copies of the book tell the story in a different order.

What are the biggest advantages of being a community supported, collectively organized, and volunteer run bookstore?

The biggest advantage is the free meeting space. Free, shared space is getting rarer and rarer these days, and those that exist often come with a racist and/or classist stigma or are hard to access for marginalized people. We’re very happy to offer the room on a first come, first serve basis. It even comes with wi-fi and a projector.

Also, we get to have parties in a bookstore and no one can tell us to stop.

Scale of 1-whatever, how excited are you for the Marlon James fantasy series?

I try not to get excited for things so that I don’t get disappointed. (Thanks for teaching me that lesson, Star Wars prequels.) But his announcement definitely has me feeling excited-adjacent, which is as close to excited as my cynical self-preservation will allow me to get.

Scale of 1-whatever, how crazy are you going to get at the 6 Year Anniversary Party?

I’d place it on the “whatever” side of the rating system. While things always start very classy, it often devolves into drunken karaoke, sometimes followed by napping in the comfy chairs in the kids section. Anything goes as long as you don’t get creepy and don’t spill drinks on our lovely, lovely books.


If we had to pick just one musical trend from this year that resonated the most with us, it would likely have to be the straight up dominance of MPLS + STPL music by women. We’ve been floored by the excitement, the hustle, and the energy put out by many women artists this year, on their own and in collaboration, and that exact trend will be encapsulated on Friday by one of the most prolific current sound-slingers, DJ Keezy.

Ahead of the big all female show at the First Avenue Mainroom, we checked in with DJ Keezy with some quick questions on her work ethic and selecting the lineup.

Secrets of the City: Are you the busiest DJ in MPLS + STPL? It seems like you’ve got 3-4 gigs a week! What’s the motivation to do so many sets?

The love behind it keeps me going. I love setting the mood by creating the right tone and sounds for people. Having so many gigs also gives me a variety of different atmospheres I get to spin in which is exciting to be able to switch it up.

Why did you put together the first, and now second, installment of the KLITxUATION? To celebrate the artists? Did you think the artists weren’t getting enough individual or collective attention?

Being a female artist in general many of us get over looked just because we are women. I’m always surrounded by the most talented female artists so it only made sense to throw an event where it’s all female based. This way people have the opportunity to see more female artists rather than going to other events where there might only be one or two of us on a lineup.

How did you go about selecting women for the bill? Any parameters or things you were looking for? Just people you wanted to highlight? 

Everyone on this bill I am a fan of and have shared the stage with before. I also made the lineup based off of the different energies each artist brings.

It seems like more and more show have hosts for their party, what role do hosts Micamay and Tish Jones play in the evening?

Hosts for me are so important because they play a major role in setting the tone for the night. Mica and Tish are great at getting the crowd turnt and keeping the flow of the show on the right path.

If you had to pick one thing to hype people up about the KLITxUATION on Friday, what would it be?

It’s a room full of powerful women and there’s nothing like it so don’t miss out!!-Everyone on this bill I am a fan of and have shared the stage with before. I also made the lineup based off of the different energies each artist brings.

We can’t overstate how fun THE KliT•UATION will be, and we want as many of our readers to attend as possible. To help do that, we’re giving away a bunch of tickets—just reply that you’d like to attend and who’d you’d like to bring with as your dance buddy for a chance to win!

Quick Q+A: Andy Erikson

Award-winner, runner-up on Last Comic Standing, and Ham Lake hero, comedian Andy Erikson will be firing up the crowd for this weekend’s special appearance at Comedy Corner Underground by comedian Josh Gondelman (who does stand-up in addition to his paying gig as writer for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver), and we won’t be surprised if Erikson gets as many laughs, or more, as the headliner, thanks to the goofy delivery of her seriously sharp and quick jokey material.

Before the show, and as she’s rushing back and forth to the airport, we asked Erikson some quick questions about her act, her Twitter, and the many different opportunities that you can see her in MPLS + STPL.

Secrets of the City: You’re doing a lot of shows around town, is it because you love doing stand up or to keep your game sharp or to test new material or some other reason or a combo of these?

I love doing standup! I’ve been doing it for 9 years now. Also, it’s my job so I perform to pay the bills. It’s a pretty great job.

How do you develop material? Like your fantastic tank joke, how quickly or painstakingly does that get built?

I like to just sit down and write and try to pull things from my imagination as well as from real life experiences. I tweet a lot of my jokes and thoughts on Twitter to get feedback too, which helps. Every joke has a different process and story! You can follow me on Twitter at @andyerikson

If someone’s new to seeing comedy in MPLS + STPL where—and when—should they being going?

I’ll be opening for Josh Gondelman at the Comedy Corner Underground this Friday and Saturday Dec 16-17th and everyone should come to a show!

Are there any jokes you have that you haven’t done because they’d be offensive that you’d like to share?

I tell offensive jokes during roasts. And those are a lot of fun. But typically I try not to offend too many people if I can help it. But at a roast, I don’t hold back.

How excited are you for this weekend’s show with John Oliver writer Josh Gondelman? Would you ever move to get into TV writing?

So excited! I love Josh and Last Week Tonight is an amazing show, it’s going to be a fun weekend. And yes! I moved to LA to pursue not just acting and stand-up comedy, but also to pursue writing. It helps to be in either LA or New York. And I would totally move to New York if a job required it. There are a lot of Pokémon in New York!

Quick Q+A: 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.

Quick Q+A: Craig Grossman + 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!