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Because the summer belongs to music: 10,000 Maniacs to headline Riverside opener

Because the summer belongs to music: 10,000 Maniacs to headline Riverside opener

The Think Bank Down by the Riverside free outdoor concert series, a staple of summer in Rochester since 1991, is bringing big-time acts to the Med City again this summer. The “Summer of Purple” ends with Prince’s longtime backing band The Revolution on August 18, and other high-profile acts like Cloud Cult and Rare Earth will make their way to Mayo Park before the six-week series comes to a close.

This Sunday, folk-rock outfit 10,000 Maniacs kicks off the 28th installment of the concert series, supported by Red Wing’s own Trapper Schoepp. We recently had the chance to talk with current 10,000 Maniacs lead singer Mary Ramsey about music and just how similar our hometowns are.

Med City Beat: So what has 10,000 Maniacs been up to? Is this show part of a larger tour?

Mary Ramsey: Well, we just did some shows in New Orleans. We played the Blue Herring Festival; what a great time! We opened for the Whalers [Bob Marley’s family and former backing band], and we were huge fans the whole time.

We’re not really going on huge tours nowadays, though. We do what we can with our schedules, which normally means about ten days at a time, max.

MCB: So, where is home? What’s home base for the band?

MR: The band started in Jamestown, New York, and about half of us live in Buffalo now. I was reading a little bit about Rochester, Minnesota a few days ago…

MCB: Wow, That’s dedication!

MR: Well, I had heard Rochester was pretty similar to upstate New York, geographically … and that looks about right! We both have pretty distinct seasons — especially winter, it seems like — and I can definitely say that Buffalo is a beautiful place. I can walk everywhere and there’s so much nature to look at.

MCB: The story I always heard as a kid was that a person from Rochester, New York decided to head west in the 1800s, found a place that reminded him of home, set up shop, and that’s how Rochester, Minnesota got its name.

MR: I believe it!

MCB: Let’s switch gears a bit — just talk for a bit on your latest record, 2016’s Playing Favorites. What was that process like?

MR: First off, Playing Favorites is a live record. It’s a lot of tunes we’ve done in the past. Some were written a long time ago, some were written by other people, some were just written. A lot of energy was captured in that live show.

MCB: Is there any new material in the works?

MR: In a word, yes! We’ve got new songs on the way. We try to make CDs as often as possible. This last one’s been a little bit of a challenge, though… someone broke into our rehearsal space and stole our hard drive.

MCB: Oh no, that’s awful.

MR: Yeah, it wasn’t fun, but luckily the thief wasn’t that smart. They were trying to sell the masters, but we got it back pretty quick.

MCB: I guess all’s well that ends well. I try to ask this question to every musician I meet that comes from out of town… we’re trying to build a music scene from the ground up here in Rochester. In your experience, what’s the best way to get people to support local music?

MR: When you combine food, drink and music, it seems to work. That’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed. Give people other incentives to show up, and they just might show up. As an artist, it’s super important to believe in what you do. Even if you don’t have many in the audience, grow on your positive feedback. People think they have to reach a lot of people to be successful — that just depends on your definition.

You can catch Mary and the rest of the 10,000 Maniacs live in concert this Sunday, July 14 at Mayo Park. The free show starts at 7 p.m.

Story written by reporter and musician Isaac Jahns.

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