Filed under: Purple Snow
If you happen to get nominated for a Grammy for producing a box set about the Minneapolis Sound, the absolute best-case scenario is that Sylvia Amos agrees to design your ceremonial suit. Sister of Andre Cymone, Sylvia Amos (née Anderson) spent the late ’70s and early ’80s constructing imaginative wardrobes for the first generation of Minneapolis Sound architects: her brother Andre, Andre’s childhood friend Prince, The Revolution, The Time, Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, The Girls, The Stylle Band, among others. It started with measurements and a prompt—”nothing outrageous, just a fun throwback”—and evolved into a sensational distillation of the Minneapolis Sound’s signature look.
First contact: This fabric swatch. The studded flap of which Sylvia speaks is evident in much of Prince’s wardrobe:
Andre Gibson of the Universal Togetherness Band agreed to take me accessory shopping, connecting me with his buddy Chucki at Dress 2 Impress in suburban Dolton, Illinois:
Using the swatch, we selected a shirt (orchid), a belt (ostrich), and a pair of shoes which you can evaluate for yourself.
Second contact: A camera phone photo arrived of the jacket, about two weeks before the Grammys.
Once the rest of the suit arrived, it went something like this:
Like everything, it looks better in Los Angeles than it does in the apartment.
Lesson: If you want a Twin Cities fashion icon to make you a Grammy suit, you have to ask. Worst case scenario: “No.” Best case scenario: (See Above)
Perhaps some of you received Taschen’s Rock Covers as a holiday gift from a loved one? Did you realize a subtle abundance of Numero-oriented covers among the bunch? While not intentional, this is no coincidence. Long before he washed up on our doorstep, Jon Kirby was producing this book with New Yorker and former Wax Poetics colleague, Robbie Busch. Released in December, the book is already in its second pressing. Here are a few of the most significant Numero moments ℅ Jon Kirby.
Henry Diltz has taken approximately 9 trillion important photographs, among them, the cover to Ned Doheny‘s self-titled debut. Through Ned, I got to know Henry, who was patient enough to engage in this long-form interview.
According to an interview in Right On! Magazine, a few illustrators from Tron helped execute the cover for Andre Cymone’s full-length debut. By the way, the album cut “Trouble” is one of the greatest distillations of the Minneapolis Sound.
Moshe Brakha photographed Ned’s second album cover, and provides his account of the shoot in Baja Mexico. A few omitted passages from this interview got mixed into the lengthy liner notes for Ned Doheny: Separate Oceans.
We talked about Kim Fowley’s interactions with the Numero Group a few months ago in this blog post. Kim treated me to a few colorful history lessons over the course of this book. He summoned this final nugget from his hospital bed, a few months before his untimely passing. Kim! You were awesome!
We riffed on this album cover over a year ago amidst a purple snowstorm, due to the fact is was coincidentally photographed in Dez Dickerson’s father’s St. Paul office. Numero completists may recall that we issued an expanded edition of Husker Dü’s debüt a fü years back for Record Store Day.
A fantastic cover and fodder for a pretty robust Jay-Z sample, Ray Levin of Little Boy Blues told the story of shooting this album cover at the Skokie Lagoons on the outskirts of Chicago. We have just recently issued two previously unreleased Little Boy Blues singles on picture-sleeve 45.
Pretty much what we would expect on the cover of Circuit Rider. Glad to know they took a real snake skin in there.
A few select selectors were asked to provide ten-album bundles that embodied what great record art to meant to them. In this regard, Lenny Kaye is a no-brainer. Kaye will make his Numero Group debut via our upcoming Ork Records compilation, playing the part of Link Cromwell.
If you want to know what drove Kansas City’s Titan Records to make the kind of releases they did, look no further than co-founder Tom Sorrell’s rundown.
As you may have gathered from our social media feeds, we have been embroiled in a Grammy race for the past few months, which ended in a whimper more so that a band for our staff losers. As they say, “It is a honor just to be nominated.” But what we lacked in eventual statuettes, we made up for in fantastic functions with friends young and old. Here are the highlights.
For fans of synthesized funk, there is no better showroom that Los Angeles’s Funkmosphere. Our own Purple Snowman Jon Kirby joined Peanut Butter Wolf and Seattle’s 100 Proof for short/sweet sets of personal favorites. Honorable mention to Myka 9 (Freestyle Fellowship), Kyle Mooney (SNL), and Wilder Zoby (Chin Chin/Run the Jewels) for their patronage.
It’s fun to get on the radio and talk about our records and other records and all the records in between. On Dublab’s Analogue Players Club, we discussed Grammy contenders Purple Snow and Cities of Darkscorch, and played an assortment of motivational musics from the collision of the ’70s and ’80s.
Later in the day, we scaled the Ace Hotel to play selections from upcoming releases. Can you listen to these online? Maybe. We’ll update this link when we confirm.
Saturday: Chicago Party Screening at Cinefamily
Cinefamily is great place to watch a movie, and a satisfying place to screen one. We retuned to the scene of the Ski Bum debacle for the world premiere of Ultra-High Frequencies: The Chicago Party. Hearing folks applaud along with 1980s patrons of the CopHerBox II was a nice sensation. Due to luggage restrictions, we were only able to secure passage for 12 copies of the Chicago Party LP. Those evaporated almost instantly, and we spent the rest of the evening apologizing. To all those who we couldn’t accommodate, your records are in the mail!
Sunday: The Grammys
The Grammys start early for folks in the nether categories of Best Album Notes or Best Packaging. The doors opened at noon and we were cleared of all accolades by 1pm. As we had mostly assumed The Rise And Fall of Paramount Records took the statuette for Packaging. Seconds later, John Coltrane’s Offering: Live At Temple University usurped Purple Snow. Presented without comment is the Philadelphia Weekly campaign for Purple Snow, plus a preemptive apology to “‘Trane Riders” (#LOL—ed). We spotted Lemmy, Weird Al, and John Waters.
At the evening ceremony, we saw Jimmy Jam walking through the crowd. Once we identified ourselves as cleans-up-nicely versions of the shabby executes he’d met years back. He shouted back, “Did we win?!” and could only shrug when we delivered the bad news. Guess we’ll have to make another one! Otherwise, we saw everything you saw on TV, and a little more. Are we “happy” to be back in Chicago? Let’s just say we’re glad we bought these beanies.
Sincerely, The Numero Group
The Numero Group has been nominated for Grammys in the categories of Best Album Notes (Purple Snow) and Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package (Cities of Darkscorch). As a result, we will spend the better part of our four-day weekend in criss-crossing Los Angeles, engaging in music bizical activities. We hope to see you somewhere.
Thursday: FUNKMOSPHERE – The Virgil (4519 Santa Monica Blvd) Jon Kirby will add to the madness that is “LA’s longest-running party for 80’s-based funk, boogie, electro and modern soul,” 12 inches at a time. Free before 10:30, $5 after.
Friday: Radio Double Header – The Numero Group will be saying stuff and playing stuff on both Dublab and Pitchfork Radio. From noon until 2pm, we will be the featured guests of Analouge Players Club on Dublab, rotating delightful records and conducting interview vignettes with Aaron Coyes (aka Wyld Stallions). Then at rush hour, we’ll be taking over Pitchfork Radio, broadcasting live from the Ace Hotel (poolside, naturally). 929 South Broadway, Downtown.
Saturday: Cinefamily will host the debut screening of The Best of the Chicago Party, the sensational 80-minute mix-tape that accompanies our forthcoming CD/LP extravaganza. The show starts at 9:15pm; tickets are $12 (free to members) and are available here. We will be playing records before and after. Good times, guaranteed.
Sunday: THE GRAMMYS – WISH US LUCK!
The Numero Group is honored and flattered to have been nominated for not one but two different projects for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. The absurd but sincere board-game-box-set edition of the dope-huffing, Hobbit-humping double LP Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles was nominated in the category of Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package. The stranger-than-fiction Minneapolis Sound essay that binds the 4LP/2CD box set Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound was nominated for Best Album Notes. We love what we do, and we hope that our devotees and casual customers love it, too. However, being recognized by an industry monolith like the Grammys is a type of affirmation that little labels of our like rarely experience. So on February 8th, the Numero Group shall return to the Staples Center, as we did in 2011 for Light: On The Southside and in 2012 for Syl Johnson: Complete Mythology, and try and convince a jury of our peers that we deserve these statuettes. But, as they say, it is an honor just to be nominated.
(Purple Snow compiler Jon Kirby with Spike Moss at First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN)
In the city of Minneapolis, as in the Numero Group office, November 11th is Spike Moss Day. For those of you who do not have the genesis of the Minneapolis Sound committed to memory, Spike Moss was the director of The Way (Uhuru) Community Center on Minneapolis’s Northside from the late ’60s until the ’80s. Located at 1913 Plymouth Avenue, The Way provided a sanctuary and a stage for musically active teens during the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Many of the Minneapolis Sound’s principal players developed their chops (not to mention their competitive spirit) on the donated equipment strewn about the center’s basement. Still, other youngsters joined the dance troupe, the drum corps, or the basketball team (see below). Nowadays, Spike’s name comes up most often when the police beat up a homeless person or gang violence reaches a fever pitch and he is called to intervene. Despite his decades providing a voice for the voiceless, he constantly rebukes the title of activist. “All of us in this fight are freedom fighters,” he recently told the Northside’s community newspaper, Insight News. “An activist has no goal. Freedom is a clear goal… and I’m clear.” We celebrated Spike Moss Day last year, and we’ll celebrate Spike Moss Day next year. Because Spike Moss is awesome. Thanks again, Spike!
(P.S. Will pay TOP DOLLAR for your gently used THE WAY basketball jerseys!)
(The Way in the beginning)
Filed under: Purple Snow | Tags: Andre Cymone, Congressman Keith Ellison, First Avenue
When venues say “Plus Special Guests,” rarely do they mean Andre Cymone. Integral to the Minneapolis Sound, Cymone contributed generously to our Purple Snow campaign and is doing a bit of electric barnstorming ahead of Tuesday’s Midterm Elections. He’ll be performing at First Avenue as part of the legendary venue’s Get Out The Vote concert, hosted by Congressman Keith Ellison of MInnesota’s 5th District (the fighting 5th!). During 2012’s election cycle, Cymone’s patriotism rendered the anthemic “America.” Last week, he released “Vote,” which you can listen to below or download for free.