To restate the thesis of this song-of-the-day series, I want to draw attention to a few of the active artists who have come out of the Minnesota music scene. I hope at least a few readers will find something of interest.

I saw the Sussman Lawrence band around town in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The boys were from St. Louis Park. Keyboard player Jeff Victor gives a “self-condensed” autobiographical account of the band here. I met Jeff at a wedding party for one of my cousins long after the band had broken up. I think Jeff was then playing organ for the Twins at the Metrodome.

Guitarist Peter Himmelman wrote Sussman Lawrence’s songs. I thought he was infected with an Elvis Costello bug that made his work biting and funny in songs like “Baby Let Me Be Your Cigarette” and “Torture Me.”

Peter moved to Los Angeles, signed with Island records, and quickly matured as a songwriter. Gematria (1987) was his (strong) second album. My favorite track is “The Trees Are Testifying” (below).

When his tour in support of the album brought him to First Avenue I went to see him play. Writing from memory, I recall that he was backed by his former Sussman Lawrence bandmates that night. It was a terrific evening.

Since then I have seen Peter live in concert at the Fitzgerald Theater and at the Dakota. He is a gifted singer/songwriter and performer. His site is here with a brief bio here. Fun fact: Bob Dylan is his father-in-law.

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