Brian Oake: Hey, it's Brian Oake and Jill Riley of Oake & Riley in the Morning. Well look at that, there we are right there, Jill.
Jill Riley: Yeah, we're heading into the First Avenue exhibit at the Minnesota History Center right here in St. Paul.
Brian: They did a really great job. They set up the entrance to it like you're walking into First Avenue itself. There's great videos rolling everywhere, and look at that, those calendars from so many years of First Avenue describing the wild variety of music that's played there over the years.
Jill: Before it was First Avenue at one time it was a discotheque called Uncle Sam's and no joke, that's a replica of the floor, the light-up floor.
Brian: Like an actual discotheque. Before that, well because it was a bus depot, they called it The Depot. So it started out with a little rock, then got very disco-y and then it turned into the First Avenue that we all know and love today, I think in large part because of these two people who really put it on the map by booking an incredible array of bands.
Jill: You've got Steve McClellan, you've got Chrissie Dunlap who's running the office. Look at this Steve McClellan actually saved his calendar and his books so where he would actually do the bookings of the bands.
Brian: All these old classic bands, like he's crossing out a bunch of names like, "oh, just Hüsker Dü on a Tuesday, whatever" and there are these great artifacts from bands like The Replacements and Hüsker Dü and Soul Asylum and also, stuff from today too, it's not just a nostalgia tour, there's Lizzo right out front!
Jill: Yeah, Lizzo, the day that Prince passed away and the big block party gathering was happening outside of First Avenue. Now we mentioned the disco, next door, 7th St Entry, that's where a lot of the punk scene started.
Brian: This right here is what we both think is the center, crown jewel of this. It's a reproduction, a mini reproduction of the First Avenue Mainroom stage, including that screen going up! It's about a six minute presentation, make sure you catch the whole thing because on the monitor and the drum there's different stuff. There's great people behind the scenes being interviewed. It was very informative and really fun.
Jill: So as we continue through the tour, we're walking up to a pretty significant moment, oh Nirvana played at the First Avenue Mainroom (What!?) There's the poster and of course we just mentioned the day that Prince passed away, now obviously there's a big part of the exhibit that's dedicated to Prince. Even one of those Purple Rain suits, that's something they always have in the archives at the Minnesota History Center.
Brian: They really did a good job with this. Obviously Prince made First Avenue known to the rest of the world, he wasn't the only one, it's not most of the exhibit. Mountain!! Whoo! OK, here's Mountain. Doomtree's touring van had its own Twitter account and so when I walked in to see this preview I was like "Is that Mountain?" And they were very excited. There are these interactive video buttons you could push so you can hear the stories from Doomtree themselves. It was just really cool and it kept highlighting how Minnesota hip hop, like right there, Slug and Atmosphere really helped put Minnesota hip hop on the map and really what a great venue it's been for that over the years.
Jill: I mean you go see a show, you should buy the merch and there's some great local bands represented from over the years and their t-shirts. Look, the Conrad door!
Brian: The Conrad door, which any band, if you were a band you had to go in through that door... and the stars on the walls... Jill and I really loved this exhibit.