Northfield (‘Music City, Minnesota’) gets featured in MinnPost with a little help from Jessica Paxton

Jessica PaxtonBack in April of 2009, I paid a visit to KYMN’s studios to harass the host of the new All-Wheel Drive show, Jessica Paxton. (Video clip here.)

Fast forward 3.5 years. Her afternoon drive-time music/local news show is still going strong, and Northfield’s blossoming music scene is profiled on MinnPost this week by music and local culture reporter Jim Walsh in a piece titled: Is Northfield truly becoming ‘Music City, Minnesota’?

MinnPostThrow into the mix a healthy house concert scene; an insatiably curious and well-educated populace; a pipeline of music-mad high schools and colleges; Johnson Paxton’s must-hear free-form radio show “All Wheel Drive” on the locally owned and truly independent KYMN-AM; and the lure of Division Street in downtown Northfield, where several clubs host free live music seven nights a week and which Johnson Paxton likens to Austin, Texas’s 6th Street, and it becomes clear that Morris’ claim that Northfield “could be a mini-Olympia, Washington, or Athens, Georgia” in the making isn’t just a boast of provincial pride.

… and at the moment, an enthusiastic mélange of students, professors, townies, and transplants are reaping an unprecedented arts-academia harvest that might actually one day live up to its moniker of Music City, Minnesota.

Cool.  And Jessica emailed me more good news today:

I’ve been invited to appear on 89.3 The Current’s "The Local Show" to discuss the Northfield music "scene" and spin some music by my favorite local bands.

I wonder if our local community and political leaders see Music as Economic Development like Richard Florida does?


  1. Phil Poyner said:

    A friend and I were briefly talking about this article just last night. I must say that I’m somewhat skeptical about the idea of a Northfield music scene, but I plan to try to see some of these bands and decide for myself if the buzz is deserved. It would help if I knew what kind of music some of these folks play; after all, I do have my favorites!

    October 27, 2012
  2. Ross Currier said:

    Thanks for the history Griff. I’d suggest that you’ve got a good memory…but seem to recall that you photographed most of it.

    With two nationally-recognized liberal arts colleges, in addition to our historic, scenic, authentic downtown…great schools, good neighborhoods, proximity to the airport, and 100 Mbps to your desktop, Northfield has a lot to offer Florida’s “Creative Class” or Drucker’s “Knowledge Workers”.

    There’s been a shift in the economic development paradigm over the last couple of decades, from trying to offer hundreds of acres, subsidized by tens of millions of taxpayer-financed infrastructure, to amenities that are attractive to the people who are driving the economy from a few thousand square feet.

    The leadership of the NDDC, from Bardwell Smith, Brett Reese, Jim Braucher, and Keith Covey to Dan Bergeson, Greg Kneser, Jessica Paxton, and Jerry Bilek, to the dozens in between, have been riding the edge of this new wave since 2000.

    Northfield is beginning to get the recognition that it “deserves”; this week was a good one. In addition to the Music City post in MinnPost, Minnesota 2020 gave us a call out in a post about the New American Frontier:

    We have the OPPORTUNITY; we need leaders who recognize the new paradigm and will develop policies, and direct staff to implement those policies, which will take advantage of this opportunity.

    October 27, 2012
  3. Jane McWilliams said:

    Ross – for starters, how about the city’s Arts and Culture Commission as leaders who recognize the importance of the arts? Here’s what their page on the city’s web site says:

    ???? Are recognized as vital components of community life that are worthy of investment and support from the public, private and non-profit sectors,
    ???? Are valued and promoted for their economic benefits and development potential, especially in the downtown,
    ???? Include new ethnic groups in Northfield’s identity and sense of community, ???? Represent an integral part of Northfield’s educational mission and programs for
    young people,
    ???? Engage the talents and involvement of retirees and senior citizens,
    ???? Develop a wider array of mutually beneficial opportunities for collaboration between faculty and student artist at the two colleges and community artists.
    ???? Cooperate to enhance the public perceptions of Northfield’s identity and quality of life in the community itself, the surrounding region and beyond.

    It has been 6 years since Arts Plan 06 was reported to the council. Does it need to be dusted off and updated? And, how about the Chamber CVB which is undergoing some welcome changes? What role will it play in helping Northfield get the recognition it “deserves”? And, the Northfield Arts Guild keeps on keeping on.

    Would it make sense to have an NDDC forum to talk about whether we’re making the most of the arts as an economic development tool, and, if not, what steps can we take to make it happen?

    October 27, 2012
  4. Ross Currier said:

    Jane –

    Arts Plan 06 was a significant step forward…and a collaboration between the NDDC and the City of Northfield, with substantial support from the Northfield Arts Guild…guided by a number of far-sighted leaders, including yourself, Sue Lloyd, Sam Demas, Rebecca Bazan, then-Councilor Dixon Bond, and then-City Staffer Howard Merriam (who am I forgetting?).

    I think you offer a timely idea, bringing people together once again, to insure that we stay “back on track/task” as we were from 2000 to 2008, and have been once again in 2012, since the Council took action on economic development in late 2010 and early 2011, pursuing Northfield’s great opportunities, supporting our existing assets, and building on its unique strengths.

    October 28, 2012
  5. Phil Poyner said:

    I managed to find some of these bands on YouTube (not enough of them, in my opinion!), so I could get some idea of what’s being talked about. It seems more of a folk/singer-songwriter/acoustic country-type scene than anything else. If that kind of music is your thing, you’re in luck. If it isn’t, well, you can still be thankful that the metro scene isn’t too far away! Maybe some local musicians will chime in here and point of how my assessment is in error. It would be cool to find that there are other bands active in the local area that don’t fit the genres I described. I was surprised to see that The Cave’s website hadn’t been updated in months.

    October 29, 2012
  6. Griff Wigley said:

    Nfld News: Northfield’s music scene is putting it on the map

    Writer Jim Walsh asked a simple question at the start of his Oct. 25 MinnPost article: “Is Northfield truly becoming ‘Music City, Minnesota’?”

    The article, which has since spread across musical avenues all over the Internet, went on to describe the town’s growing musical “scene,” but Walsh honestly didn’t yet know the answer to his question.

    Last Friday, he came to Northfield for the Red Barn Music Series, taking in a live performance about 10 miles outside of town before heading to the Contented Cow to check out the night’s offerings. By the time Saturday morning rolled around Walsh had the answer to his question: “It’s more than on,” he said. “This is a real thing.”

    November 4, 2012
  7. Griff Wigley said:

    NDDC’s Ross Currier has a new blog post up on this issue: Northfield, MN…Music City and City of the New Frontier? And in his post, he links to the MN 2020 article he cited above:

    Earlier that week, Northfield got another mention that was less widely noticed. There was an interesting piece on Minnesota 2020 titled “Are Minnesota’s Small Cities the New American Frontier?”. Northfield was mentioned along with Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Rochester, and Moorhead as being a community that had the potential to be a leader of the emerging economy.

    November 5, 2012
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    MPR: Jessica Paxton sheds some light on the bustling Northfield scene

    One of the subjects interviewed in Walsh’s piece was Jessica Paxton, host of the free-form “All Wheel Drive” radio show on Northfield’s KYMN-AM, and we were so intrigued by what she had to say about the community that we invited her to be a guest on this past weekend’s edition Local Show. Paxton had lots to say about the Northfield scene, and you can hear many of her thoughts and a few of her favorite new acts in the audio segment here:

    November 6, 2012