PopMatters: "Like catching up with an old friend after being apart for decades."

This book, a collection of previously published articles and essays from several newspapers and magazines, is a lovingly curated set of writings that highlight one of the Twin Cities’ favorite music critics and scene cheerleaders. Walsh’s long career, which includes stints as Music Editor for the City Pages (a free weekly) and pop music columnist for the St Paul Pioneer Press, has also seen him published in Rolling Stone, SPIN, The Village Voice, Melody Maker, and the Utne Reader, among many others. Walsh is also a musician, playing in several bands, including REMs, a punk band that bubbled up in the same scene as The Replacements and Hüsker Dü.

Walsh_Bar coverThe Law of Jante, or Janteloven, is a sociological concept codified by Danish-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose in his 1933 novel, A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks. It’s a system of ten rules that explain the behavioral tendencies of people in Scandinavian communities. At the core of Janteloven is a certain kind of humility and niceness, a downplaying of one’s own accomplishments in favor of social cohesion, and an emphasis on courtesy and the group dynamic.

If you’ve ever spent any time in the upper Midwest, you might have encountered the American analogue to this behavior: “Minnesota Nice”. People in Minnesota smile and wave at passers-by, they help their neighbors shovel sidewalks and driveways, and they are willing to jump-start a stranger’s car in an icy parking lot without any skepticism. In Jim Walsh’s new book, Bar Yarns and Manic Depressive Mixtapes, readers who might not have had the fortune to enjoy Walsh’s regionally published writings will get a taste of what the music critic version of “Minnesota Nice” is, from one of the Cities’ preeminent journalists.

Full article.

Published in: PopMatters
By: Eric Rovie