The Current’s 12th Birthday at First Avenue Night 1 – None of these things is quite like the other


Shows curated by radio stations at times can be a bit boring. Similar artists, short sets, and a crowd that comes and goes. But somehow The Current managed to recruit 5 unique artists, and keep the crowd’s attention on the first night of their 12-year birthday celebration.

Opening the night was Jay Smart who caught local show host Andrea Swensson’s attention last fall with a cover of Hailey Bonar’s “Kismet Kills”. He has just released “20 Times Wiser”, but seemed quite comfortable on First Avenue’s stage. I liked his Dylan cover “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”. 

The 14 members of Black Market Brass crammed on stage next. I am happy to report that nobody got hit in the head by the trombone. The band was introduced and called a treasure of the MN music scene by Sean McPherson. From the percussion section to the dancers the energy coming from stage jumped to the crowd and there were quite a dance moves to be seen.

And it yet another change of pace, this time towards classic rock’n roll complete with some head banging. Philly’s Strand of Oaks went all out on guitars. Singer Timothy Showalter gave shout out to “real radio, not robots” for the song “Radio Kids”. Strand of Oaks has a new album “Hard Love” coming out in a few weeks.

The set I was looking forward to most was up next. Portland sister trio Joseph. 3 voices, 1 guitar, 1 shared custody tambourine, and a drum petal. Sounds like a “singer in a coffee shop”? Well, it wasn’t. Joseph’s live show pulls in the audience from the first notes. The Current got credited with “Being nothing short of crucial” by the band. There was magic in that set. The harmonies, only highlighted by the simplicity of the instrumentation.

Closing out night 1 was hometown favorite Jeremy Messersmith. His set came with musical, political and a fashion statement (in form of a furry coat that had Jade contemplating a life of crime). “Resist” was taped on his guitar. “Monday, You’re not so bad” was a teaser of his upcoming album. Supported by a band and the Laurel String Quartet, Messersmith played his well-known songs, new material and closed the evening with a song written for the 50th anniversary of Minnesota Public Radio “Little Blue World” with the Current staff on stage.

Set List: Purple / Dillinger / Dancing / Monday / Cool Girls / Organ / Happy / FRF / Lucy / Soft’n Tasty / Ghost / Little Blue World