Once again this week at Twin Cities Media, we found our concert calendar filling up very quickly. The sun is (trying) to shine, Memorial Day kicked off summer with a bang last weekend, and warm(ish) weather is upon us here in the Twin Cities! With all of the events happening around the city this week, I knew one I couldn’t miss was Frazey Ford and Kari Arnett at The Cedar Cultural Center. I met up with a couple friends at The Triple Rock for Happy Hour before the show. They were staying for a show at The Triple Rock and I made my way down to The Cedar. As I walked along Cedar Avenue I couldn’t help but (once again) reflect on the colorful and eclectic music scene we are blessed with here in Minneapolis. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s Minnesotans shtick to obsess over our state and constantly remind people “there’s nowhere else like here,” but there is a special magic to this city I haven’t experienced elsewhere. Even after a handful of years on the West Coast, I keep finding myself more and more enamored with this city and the hidden treasures that are always just waiting to be discovered.
One of those not so hidden treasures is local singer/songwriter Kari Arnett, who opened up the evening at The Cedar. Arnett has quickly emerged as one of our favorite voices in the Twin Cities, and I think after last night, she might have made a few new fans as well. I walked into the dimly lit Cedar auditorium, Arnett center stage, dawned in her signature head-to-toe black (my favorite color) and jet black guitar in hand. Out of Arnett flows some of the most chillingly beautiful vocals. Watching Arnett last night I was reminded of early Stevie Nicks mixed with a twinge of Dolly Parton. Arnett’s heartfelt lyrics are ones that stop you in your tracks; she sings with a presence that commands attention. Arnett had The Cedar absolutely captivated during her roughly 45-minute set, which featured a handful of songs off her debut album Midwestern Skyline as well as some new songs. She closed her set with Dark Water, a must listen. I chatted with a gentlemen in between sets who remarked how blown away by Arnett he was. “Gosh! I need to get out more, that was unreal. And not just these national tours either.” he mentioned as we made our way back inside. Arnett is just that, a shining gem of one of the many talented artists in your own backyard, just waiting for you to listen.Headlining the evening was Vancouver-based powerhouse, Frazey Ford. Chatter around The Cedar made me realize that there were definitely some Ford-fans in the house. The crowd at The Cedar seemed very excited to have Ford in-town for the evening. Ford, like Arnett, played to an absolutely captivated crowd at The Cedar. There is something special about a show when people are truly an attentive audience, everyone there just to witness this powerhouse vocalist. Ford was supported on stage by a four-piece band, complete with guitar, bass, drums and supporting vocals. There was an engaging, laid-back energy to Ford and band. They radiated with a sense of “this is who we are, take it or leave it,” again refreshing to see an artists so confident and comfortable in their sound and their craft. In between songs, Ford bantered back and forth with the crowd. “So I just got a dog. Now I have a dog and a teenager, I like the dog better,” Ford laughed. “What kind of dog??” someone yelled from the crowd. “A french bulldog. I use to be one of those people who would judge people for treating their dogs like kids and now I’m that person. Hell yeah I would breastfeed this dog if I could,” Ford joked.
Ford continued to charm The Cedar, “Lately I’ve been asking people when Prince appears in your dreams, what is he wearing? Lately for me it’s been Afro-era. He’s like ‘finish those songs, you’re so goddamn lazy.” Ford’s neo-soul sound definitely takes a few cues from The Purple One. Another big influence on Ford’s sound was her “hippy parents” as she put it last night. “Yeah, my parents were hippies. So they escaped to Canada during the Vietnam War,” Ford joked which was greeted by some cheers from the otherwise quiet Cedar. Ford’s set was a smattering of songs from both her albums Obadiah and Indian Ocean, including hits such as Done, September Fields and One More Cup of Coffee.
Last night was once again a reminder of why we’re lucky to call Minneapolis home and get to play host to artists like Kari Arnett and Frazey Ford.