Sunday, May 31, 2009

Green Day Campaign: Gratitude

It's so cool how many people are supporting our Green Day campaign and offering any help they can. Even just comments like "I love what you guys are doing -- I'll totally go to the show" are fun to read. Tonight I read an e-mail for a Mr. Anonymous (to you, not me) who has a family member who knows a family member of Adrienne (immediate family!!!), as well as another connection, and he's passing on the link to this very blog. As I've stated various times before, it's actually REACHING Adrienne and the band that is the hardest part. (For some unknown reason, they're not listed in the phone book. Maybe they just have cell phones now. No real point having a land line, but I digress.)

Dann Saxton of UnityShows made the pitch to the booking agent, and he'll hopefully get his answer Monday. That's the direct way of making this happen. Otherwise, finding Adrienne is our only hope.

Keep sending me your Adrienne stories in the meantime. I'll be writing a story about this with all of those stories this week.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Green Day Campaign: Day 4

Looks like Dann's the man. (For background, see below. Too much to recap.) My e-mails to all businesses Adrienne co-owns have gone unreturned thus far. However, Dann Saxton has found the booking agent and will be making our charity show pitch on Monday. If this all pans out, it looks to be a huge bash here in K-town.

Saxton knows the guy who did a documentary on Green Day on the "American Idiot" tour, and he's going to ask to screen the film before their performance here, assuming (hoping) they make one. We're also kicking around the idea of having a major battle of the bands to see who will get to open for the band. (I'm assuming the band would have to approve that first.) Anyway, this is all new to me, but we're having fun with it. Lots of energy surrounding this project after only four days.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Green Day Campaign: Day 3

OK, so, much has happened on Day 3.

Wes Schuck (Two Fish owner) looked into things, and it turns out Live Nation is handling the band's tour. They're like the equivalent of Ticketmaster, just totally impenetrable, so there's no way we can add a date that way.
However, the band has a free date July 12 between their Minneapolis and Chicago dates, and both Schuck and Eric Jones at the Alltel thought a charity show might work. Coupled with the band's ties to Mankato and Minnesota in general (they have a house in the Twin Cities and Adrienne's family lives there), a good cause just might grap their attention.

The rub, of course, is getting a hold of anyone important to hear us and also the fact that they have four shows in a row, one day off, and then another show. Asking them to play during that one day off would mean six shows in a row, and that's a lot.

So, anyway, Schuck suggested Unity Shows as the cause. I actually have a personal connection there. I went to high school and worked with the guy who started Unity Shows in Fairmont. His name was John Obray, and he died at a young age in a car accident. Obray loved punk music, and his goal was to put on all ages shows and to have a place for kids to hang out. Obray's friend, Dann Saxton, took over the program when he died. Saxton and friends turned the program into a non-profit. Now in California, Saxton has ties both to Minnesota, continuing to put on John Fest in honor of Obray, as well as work in the entertainment industry out West.

Saxton is completely on board with our Green Day goal. He suggested we contact the booking agent to look into a charity fee. The Alltel might be able to foot that cost, and then a portion of the proceeds of the concert could go to Unity Shows.

So this is where we're at: Bringing this pitch to the booking agent and then also still trying to get to Adrienne directly. But no one seems to know where she is. I have her old friends and acquaintances coming out of the woodwork here in our area, but no one who still keeps in contact.

So, once again, if anyone out there has a way in, we're all ears! I'm going to e-mail atomic gardens, another business she owns, momentarily.
Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Still day 2 - New Green Day leads

We may have some help!

I e-mailed Wes Schuck, the Two Fish Studios owner who seems to have connections in every facet of the entertainment industry, and asked if he knew anyone in the Green Day camp.

Here's what he said:

I'm all about it. I'll try and track down their front of house mixer. That's usually the best way to reach the band. They're touring with The Bravery, which I recorded back in '05, so I should have some contacts there as well. I'll let you know what I can dig up! wes

Hurray! I also heard back from someone affiliated with Marti's, and just to correct myself: Green Day never played there. As they often are, the story was distorted over time. Although, let there be no mistake: They did play here. Check out video on YouTube.

Day 2, Green Day Campaign: Find Adrienne

We're moving right along with our campaign to get Green Day. (For background, see the "Help Me Get Green Day" post below.) Eric Jones of the Alltel is on board. Lots of "excitement" (or as much excitement as a room full of reporters can muster) has been exuded, unleashing stories from the past when the band played here in Mankato.

For instance, I came to find Adrienne Armstrong, Billie Joe's wife, babysat for coworker, Jim Rueda, and worked at Pagliai's with his wife, Cheryl. This gave me a great in when I e-mailed Adeline Records today, which Adrienne co-owns (at least, I hope she answers e-mail there, but probably not).
Here's what I said:

Hi there. My name is Amanda Dyslin, and Adrienne (if this is you, and I hope it is), you used to babysit for my Free Press coworker sitting right across from me, Jim Rueda in Mankato, Minn., where I am at this very minute. You also used to waitress at Pagliai's, where Jimmy's wife, Cheryl Rueda, worked.

I am contacting you because here in Mankato we have launched
a campaign. I have heard so many stories over the years: people who went to school with you, people who had the hugest crush on you, people who saw Green Day perform at Marty's and in St. Peter, people who were part of Mankato's little punk scene from the early 1990s. So even though Green Day is so far out of our league at this point, our campaign is as such: Get Green Day to play a show in Mankato.

Alltel Center only fits 7,000, and the price they can pay is less than what the band is accustomed to at this point. But we're putting all of our efforts into making this happen and trying to appeal to your sense of nostalgia. Eric Jones at the Alltel Center is offering free schwarmas for a year, or the key to the city, or renaming Hickory Street "Green Day Way." ...Actually, I'm not sure how much of that we can actually do, but we'd try.

I've started blogging about it at, I've put a call out on our Web site at to get people to share their Adrienne and Green Day stories with us, and we've been calling everyone we know who might have some sort of tie to you from the early '90s. We plan to continue writing and blogging about this for as long as we need to. I hope this e-mail finds you well (or finds you at all!) It would be wonderful to hear from you. 507-344-6388.

Thank you very much,


We are asking anyone who has memories of seeing the band perform here or who went to college with Adrienne to submit their stories to us so we can write a big ol' story that might help get them to come.
Send your stories to

Oh, by the way, what's standing in our way of getting them here? According to Eric, Green Day is quite used to playing 15,000-seat venues now that they're megastars. They also are used to earning a lot more per show than we are able to pay here in smalltown

We need to appeal to their sense of nostalgia. We also need to reach them some how. I'm open to any and all ideas.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Help me get Green Day

As I'm sure many of you have heard in the past (and probably know better than I do), a little known band by the name of Green Day used to perform right here in Mankato.

Why? Well, Billie Joe Armstrong, the frontman, is married to Adrienne Armstrong, who lived in Mankato while attending Minnesota State University.

In fact, I have a pal who also is in a band, who tells a funny story. He was playing guitar in his apartment (or a friend's apartment or something) when there was a knock on the door. It was a nice young kid who asked to borrow a guitar for a while. My friend says something to the effect of: "Oh yeah, sure. So, you're in a little band, huh? Oh, that's great," and handed him a guitar. A while later my pal was flipping through the channels. And that nice young kid -- you guessed it, Billie Joe -- was right there on TV. MTV, that is. It was Green Day's "Longview" video off its multi-platinum album "Dookie."

I was reminded of this when Green Day came out with yet another album, "21st Century Breakdown," that critics and fans are loving. I thought, "Wouldn't it be awesome if we could leverage the past to get Green Day in Mankato?"

Seriously, why not? Eric Jones, the marketing manager at the Alltel Center, could put in a call to Green Day's promoter. He could say, "Hey, you know what would be an awesome show and surely sell out our civic center here in Mankato? A Green Day nostalgia show, a throwback to his time here in Mankato when the band was just getting started." Or, maybe somebody here in Mankato who still keeps in contact with Adrienne could ask her to convince her husband to come back.

I think we can do this. If we generate enough Web juice, this just might work. Let's all Twitter and Facebook and blog this idea! Let's get this campaign going!
Aaaaaand ... break!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Suburbs vs. The New Standards

It’s a distracting day in the newsroom. The boss brought in doughnuts and a copy desker brought in brownies and other treats, which is enough to cause giddy stampedes to the center island and spark conversation amongst the staff.

Although I was as grateful as anyone to see (and eat) the treats, it just wasn’t a good day for distractions. It’s very hard to write with people milling around carrying on conversations, especially when it’s a story you’re sort of stuck on.

Interviewing and writing about musicians and/or celebs is the funnest parts of my job. It’s also the toughest. These are bands that some of my readers will know all about, so if the tone of the article is off, they’ll be able to tell. When it’s a band I don’t know much about from personal experience, I have to rely on research and a 20-minute interview to get a feel for them. And it’s hard to size anybody up in 20 minutes.

This week I faced a different kind of problem in this area. I interviewed Chan Poling, formerly of The Suburbs. He and John Munson (formerly of Trip Shakespeare and the multi-platinum Semisonic) and Steve Roehm (Billy Goat and Electropolis) have formed The New Standards, a band playing the Red Sky Lounge on the 29th.

You can’t just wing it when you interview someone famous. You look ill prepared and uninterested if you say, “So, what kind of music do you play? Have you recorded any albums?” These are the kind of questions you ask a Mankato band just getting started. With established bands, you read up about them and prepare your questions accordingly. You know all the answers to the obvious questions, and you ask the questions that aren’t so obvious.

I had a bit of trouble with Poling. There is surprisingly little information about The Suburbs on the Web. There’s a Wikipedia entry (which is certainly dangerous to go by), there’s a tiny blurb on Twin/Tone’s Web site and a few other interviews and things. I ran into similar problems with Trip Shakespeare, Billy Goat and Electropolis. Trying to find images of any of the bands (even Semisonic) large enough to reproduce in the newspaper was nearly impossible.

Luckily, Poling was an incredly nice guy. Totally down to earth and happy to talk at length about the past and the formation of his new band. That certainly makes a difference between an article that includes just the basics (brief band history, show date and location, musical style and recordings, and a couple of short quotes) and one that provides a look at the personality of a musician and the spirit of a band, their foundation and their drive.

But I’m not sure I quite have a handle on the heyday of The Suburbs in the late 1970s and ‘80s. I would have been in elementary school, so I didn’t own any albums. I certainly didn’t go to any of their club shows at First Ave or Longhorn’s. The comparison between that loud, original, punk-rock scene and the drastically different scene of The New Standards -- quieter, jazz-infused cover tunes -- is an important part of the story.

Luckily, again, I have two coworkers who were big Suburbs and Trip Shakespeare fans. They’ll be able to tell me if I got it right.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where's the beef?

So today a coworker runs up to my desk and says, "Hey, did you know the Meat Puppets are coming to town?"
No, I didn't know! I scan area bar Web sites weekly to see if any cool acts are coming, but I hadn't seen this one yet on the What's Up Lounge calendar of events.

I was very much a grunge girl during my teenage years. I wore flannel. I <3'd Kurt Cobain with a burning passion. I remember sobbing and laying on the couch to watch all the MTV coverage when Cobain killed himself. My own personal hero had snuffed himself out. Bad, bad day for me and millions of others.

Nirvana "Unplugged" was one of my favorite albums for years and years, and as many of you know, the Meat Puppets were guest artists during that concert. What a haunting show, with all the candles and stargazer lillies surrounding the stage. Some people speculated Cobain set it up that way to be like a funeral. He killed himself four months after the concert was taped.

I liked the Meat Puppets, too. They had a cool blend of country in their rock and punk music. But truth be told, the fact that the band shared a stage with Nirvana during such an important show is why I'm so excited to talk with them. Hopefully it won't piss them off too much to have the first 10 questions of the interview be about that very night. We'll see.

The show is 8 p.m. July 9 at the What's Up. Tickets are $14 the day of the show, or $12 in advance. Tickets go on sale June 1 at Tune Town, Oleander Saloon, What's Up Lounge, or by calling 381-2263.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hugest upset ever!

He did it! I think both Kris Allen and Adam Lambert were shocked by those results. Kris even said he thought Adam should have won. I think this was the first "Idol" winner too shocked to cry. Just five minutes after the results, this is already being called the biggest upset in "American Idol" history.

Well, this officially goes to the top of the list of shocker reality show moments this year:

*Melissa Rycroft gets dumped on live TV AFTER she had been proposed to by The Bachelor.

*48-year-old, what was her name again ... oh Helen ... Helen Somebody wins "The Biggest Loser" and the old guy kicked off week one or two wins the at home prize. Both were forgettable and their wins were surprising, considering everyone was sure Tara was going to win it.

*Joan Rivers was hired on "The Apprentice." ...good god.

*Shawn Johnson wins "Dancing With the Stars" over the favored Gilles Marini.

*And now, the "dark horse," as they kept calling Kris, won "American Idol." (P.S. Wasn't that hilarious when Kara DioGuardi came out to upstage Bikini Girl? Ha!)

Adam or Kris? That is the question.

"Idol's" on tonight, as I'm sure you all know. It's one of those shows that you can't possibly avoid if you tried. It's all over the Web, all over Facebook and Twitter, and it's all millions of people can talk about today: the big finale.

Adam is the guy to beat, of course. The judges fawned all over him this season. He's certainly talented. He can hit notes I thought only rock legends like Steven Tyler were capable of. But I've been wondering all season how they'll be able to market him. He's got a Broadway style, a theatrical way about him. He doesn't fit well into one of the boxes the music industry has carved out for mainstream musicians. And good for him for that. But my guess is he'll end up in one of them after the show. His unique sound and take on songs may have gotten him praise and attention on the show, but record labels simply want to sell albums. Just ask Kelly Clarkson.

Anyway, I'd love to see Kris pull it out tonight. It would be a huge shock, and unlike last night's "Dancing With the Stars" fiasco, this would be a good surprise. Shawn Johnson is too short and compact to be a dancer. She had terrible extension. Her movements didn't flow. Gilles was marvelous! I demand a recount! ...I digress. Happy "Idol" watching.

Is this thing on?

Hiya. So I guess I'm a blogger now. A wise woman, also known as Ellen Mrja, pulled me aside to ask me why I wasn't blogging. There are a whole bunch of Free Press blogs from the male perspective, she said, but not a one from a woman. Well, I guess being one of the only women in the newsroom, I must do my part.

Entertainment is what I do. So this blog will be dedicated to TV, movies, pop culture and local entertainment news. I hope you all enjoy it. Be sure and leave me comments as to why my opinions are totally off base and unfounded. Those are fun to read.