Big Turn Music Fest – 2020
I had volunteered at Big Turn last year, and it was a good experience. I discovered new music and met a ton of musicians. I knew I had to come back.
One of my favorite things about this festival is that many of the acts are lesser-known, Minnesota locals. They have a great lineup of successful artists (Lydia Liza, We Are the Willows, Mason Jennings, Jeremy Messersmith, Charlie Parr, ect), but they also showcase artists who don’t have a big following. Some performers had fewer than 100 likes on their socials, and it’s cool that they were included.
Big Turn hosts a wide variety of music from pop, hip-hop, folk, funk, reggae, blues, EDM, bluegrass, and more. The audience is diverse, too. It’s not all young adults, but an age range from tweens with their parents, to couples in their 60’s. Given the range of audience, you’d expect the older folk to be turned off by metal or rap, but I generally saw age diversity in nearly every venue I visited. These people, like me, wanted to check out new music, regardless of genre.
My first stop was ArtReach, a visual arts non-profit. Glitch and electro-pop artist SYM1 was performing with EDM producer Eye Dyed. They had a fun, high-energy show with lots of dancing and dope beats.
After that I went to Mandy’s Coffee & Cafe where singer-songwriter, Noah Short, was performing. He is a classic, coffee shop, singer-songwriter: acoustic guitar, pretty melodies, and emotional lyrics. He was accompanied by a guy playing a cajon-type instrument, and a girl who sang and played piano. It was lovely.
After that I explored more, checking out random bands from their descriptions in the logbook. Beth Kinderman & the Player Characters stuck out because their bio boasts songs about video games and nerd culture. When I first walked in, they didn’t thrill me, but as I stuck around (not wanting to leave after one song) I started to like it. Having the songs be about nerdy things made me more attentive to lyrics than I normally am; and a few of the songs were pretty catchy. I recommend “Refusal of the Call.”
After that I started my volunteer shift at the Barrel House. My job was to check wristbands and make sure we didn’t exceeded our 75 person capacity. The worst part of the job is explaining to drunk people that, yes, the fire marshal comes through counting people, and my one job is to make the fire marshal happy. However, I did get a brush with Minnesota music royalty from the experience! Apparently one of the guys wanting to get in was Greg Norton of Porcupine and Hüsker Dü. The person he was with kept asking me if I knew who he was. I kept saying no, and eventually she told me. At that point, he had already slipped in the back where there was no volunteer. I’m gonna call that networking.
My time at the Barrel House was all right. Volunteering is awesome because you get to hear music for free, and the only downside is being tied to one venue. Aside from having to argue with drunk people from time to time, it’s a good deal. I would definitely do it again.
Notable Acts (that I actually saw)
Noah Short – Soothing singer-songwriter, pretty melodies, thoughtful lyrics.
Beth Kinderman & the Player Characters – Nerd narrative. Catchy songs. Intricate lyrics.
Soultru -R & B, solid voice. Soul vibes.