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Monday October 23rd 2017

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Bra·vo! Bra·vo! Bra·vis·si·mo!

By Sue Hunter Weir

It was an event like no other in Minneapolis. As far as we know the concert on October 8th was the first rock concert ever held in a Minneapolis cemetery. And, what a concert it was!

It was one of those days when everything came together: beautiful weather, fantastic music and a wonderful, wonderful crowd. How big was the crowd? Our best estimate is that 1,500 people attended. We sold about 900 advance tickets and between three and four hundred tickets at the gates. Kids under twelve and volunteers got in free.

Many who attended said that, although they had driven past the cemetery hundreds of times, this was the first time they’d stopped into the grounds. Many also told us that they had no idea how much history could be learned there. One of the big hits of the day was the smartphone history hunt which enabled people to use their phones to learn more about 25 of the people buried in the cemetery. Kids had their own history hunt and could get their faces painted or chalk along the roadway as well.

But the big draw was, without question, the music—the best indie bands that Minneapolis has to offer. Special thanks to Jeremy Messersmith, Lucy Michelle, and their band members for their generous support for this event. Chris Riemenschneider, music critic for the Minneapolis StarTribune, predicted that this was going to be “one of the most memorable concerts of the year,” and he was absolutely right. It was a day like no other in the cemetery’s long history.

The concert was part of an Open House weekend to create awareness not only about the cemetery but also about historic preservation in general. Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery was selected from over 300 applicants as one of 25 finalists for funding through Partners in Preservation (PiP), a collaboration between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express. Each site was asked to offer an Open House weekend to create awareness about the program and the sites that are in the running for funding. Partners in Preservation will be announcing which projects will receive funding around the second week in November so stay tuned for that.

As is always the case with an event of this size, there were a lot of people working behind the scenes to make it all happen. Staff from the City of Minneapolis’ Division of Public Works spent several days doing a fall clean up and getting the cemetery looking its best. Special thanks to Mike Barth, the cemetery’s caretaker, for all of his good work. The Minneapolis Park Board provided the stage and generators. Minneapolis Community Education and the Wellington Management generously provided parking space.

Thanks to Hola Arepa for providing fabulous food. Thanks to Landland for creating spectacular gig posters for us, and to Ellen Stein for painting all of those little faces. And, thanks to Dero Bike Racks for donating bike racks for the event.

Thanks also to Councilmember Gary Schiff and State Senator Jeff Hayden for emceeing the event and introducing the bands.

Special thanks to Aaron Hanauer and Colleen Ayers for their creativity and energy in making this a success. Thanks to Rob Panning-Miller and his students at South High for volunteering to help with this event. And, thanks to family and friends who helped out in countless ways.

The question of the day was, “Will there be another concert next year?” You can count on it. In the meantime, be sure to support our great local musicians and all of the businesses that support our community.

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