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More than Prince: 2 new histories of local music explain just what makes us so darn special

By Keith Harris
City Pages

Swensson_Got coverIn Got to Be Something Here: The Rise of the Minneapolis Sound (University of Minnesota Press), Andrea Swensson, music reporter for the Current (also a former City Pages music editor), tackles nothing less than the history of postwar African-American music in the Twin Cities.

In about just 200 pages, Got to Be Something Here surveys a wide swath of the world in which Prince came of age. Swensson pays homage to a roster of local heroes who put their regional spin on a nationwide sound: doo wop harmonizers like the Big M’s and the Velquins, soul belters like the Amazers and Maurice McKinnies, and funk whizzes like Haze and the Family. Each musical movement builds up its energy, thrives, then seems to die. (There’s a reason the word we use for a gathering of musicians—a scene—suggests something temporary.) But each artist leaves traces for the next generation to pick up on. This is a book that reminds us that culture has no dead ends, only detours.

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Got to Be Something Here