The Best of 2017

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2017 brought a particularly vibrant collection of artists to Twin Cities venues. From the Roma di Luna reunion to Seu Jorge’s tribute to David Bowie, so many magic musical moments happened on The Cedar's stage and beyond. Read what concerts made a mark on Cedar staff and board members in 2017, then listen to “Cedar 2017 Highlights,” a compilation of artists who made a big splash this year, both on the stage and in the studio. See if your favorites made the list below!

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Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal at The Cedar, March 9

Oh wow, this concert was so beautiful. Hearing the kora and the cello play together is something really special. And the way Sissoko and Segal talk to each other with their instruments sounds like something coming from nature. It's a sound that embodies you while you listen. It felt like I was meditating the whole concert. If I get to see them play again someday, I will consider myself incredibly lucky.

–Jessica Rau, Program and Artistic Director

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Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith at Big Ears Festival, March 25

With electronic music, sometimes it’s not so much about the performance itself, but it’s about being transported. I had never heard her music before so this was an introduction. It was a really transporting experience, which is the hallmark of a really amazing show.

–Emmy Carter, Director of Development and Communications

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Nimco Yasin at The Cedar, March 31

Nimco Yasin did songwriting workshops in the community and invited students and neighbours on the stage. Seeing the students and community singing in Somali on The Cedar stage was awesome.

–Jill Dawe, Cedar Board

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Roma di Luna Reunion at The Cedar, April 7

I love Channy's beautiful voice. Plus I love to see The Cedar packed and I love their dedication and love for The Cedar. And the fact that it was a benefit, and that they sang hymns–it just hit the spot in so many ways. Alexei was cool, but I just wanted to emphasize Channy Leaneagh one more time! Even her cute little kid was onstage!

–Maya Beck, Development Assistant

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Tinariwen and Dengue Fever at The Cedar, April 10

Tinariwen and Dengue Fever tops the list for me! It was a sold out show, and the energy from the audience was just pulsing through the room. I'd never seen Dengue Fever, and they blew my mind. It was an incredible night.

–Alana Horton, Marketing and Communications Manager

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Michael Kiwanuka at First Avenue, May 26

Michael Kiwanuka at First Avenue was really amazing. Then we got to hang out with the whole band backstage.

–Zola Richardson, Interim Volunteer Coordinator

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Seu Jorge Presents The Life Aquatic: A Tribute to David Bowie at Pantages Theatre, June 11

Brazilian musician Seu Jorge performing The Life Aquatic: A Tribute to David Bowie at Pantages Theater was an easy favorite. His Portuguese adaptations of classic Bowie songs interspersed with first-hand accounts from the filming and recording process made for a heartwarming evening of music and stories.

–Grace Evenson, Talent Buyer

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SsingSsing at The Cedar, August 13

Ssing Ssing! Ssing Ssing is a folk band, performance art piece, anthropology class, glamourama dance party all rolled up into one concert. Hitting practically every interest I nerd out about in my life, it's obvious to say, I can't wait to have them back. The show was packed with energy and love for the audience and our city. I was completely mesmerized by the performance and couldn't take my eyes off the stage as I waited for all the musical surprises to hit me. And there were many so I didn't wait long!

–Jessica Rau, Program and Artistic Director

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Paa Kow at The Cedar, August 28

Paa Kow was really incredible. The joy that he radiates is so contagious. He plays this self-assembled, totally unique African drum kit that just looks and sounds so beautiful. His playful drumming style and huge smile made me so happy.

–Luke Michaels, Marketing and Content Creation Intern

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Grand Tapestry at The Cedar, September 10

Grand Tapestry was a really neat show because it embodied The Cedar in so many ways. It was a new project that The Cedar was able to take a risk on, because that’s what The Cedar does. It was such an interesting mix of hip-hop and Indian classical music that I’d never heard before. It’s just not something that’s being done by a lot of people.

–Emmy Carter, Director of Development and Communications

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Bitori at the Global Roots Festival at The Cedar, September 20

I had never heard of them before the festival, but was blown away by their show. They are a new favorite and regular listen for me now!

–Brent Hickman, Cedar Board

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Japanese Breakfast and Mannequin Pussy at Triple Rock, October 2

One of the last shows I went to at the Triple Rock was Japanese Breakfast and Mannequin Pussy. I love both bands dearly, but getting to see Mannequin Pussy was a game changer. Their version of melodic punk is so powerful and Marisa Dabice’s voice is unparalleled. They also played some new songs that got me really excited about what’s coming in 2018.

–Luke Michaels, Marketing and Content Creation Intern

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Moses Sumney at Icehouse, October 3

Moses Sumney at Icehouse. The show was intimate, immediate, and completely transfixing. I haven't had a live music experience like that in a long, long time. I definitely cried.

–Alana Horton, Marketing and Communications Manager

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Tash Sultana at The Cedar, October 10

She is creative and really believes in herself. She was touring and then she just stopped because she didn’t have the energy or the joy in it any more. She took a break and then she came back. It’s cool to see her doing her own thing.

–MJ Gilmore, Box Office and Office Coordinator

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King Krule at The Fine Line, October 31

I was so excited to finally see King Krule live on Halloween at the Fine Line. I've been listening to his debut album on repeat since 2013, and it's my go-to brooding soundtrack. His most recent album just came out in October and it's even more lauded.  At 23, King Krule (aka Archy Marshall) is a jazzy bluesy prodigy whose metaphors are wise beyond his years. I was in costume as a bro in a room full of costumes. The band themselves played in animal onesies and King Krule was a shark, in keeping with his album and singles. Most of all, they played most of my favorites, and I got to shout sad lyrics at the top of my lungs. So cathartic! So fun!

–Maya Beck, Development Assistant

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Mashrou’ Leila at The Cedar, November 11

We've had many amazing artists on our stage over the last year, but I'll highlight a recent favorite: Mashrou Leila. The 5-piece band from Lebanon transfixed the audience with their passionate performance and powerful vocals. The emotion behind their music and frontman Hamed Sinno's singing transcended words, but his explanations of the Arabic songs helped provide the powerful context for those of us unable to understand the lyrics.

–Grace Evenson, Talent Buyer

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Brahms’ Fourth Symphony by The Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall, November 17

I have deep feelings for the Brahms symphonies which I developed as a student.

–David Edminster, Cedar Board

Luke Michaels, Marketing and Content Creation Intern