MUSIC REVIEW | Local Natives bring impressive range and musicality to First Avenue

By the time Local Natives took the stage at First Avenue on Saturday, March 23, a sold-out crowd had filled into nearly every inch of the main floor. In the balconies folks peered down from tables or pressed against railings to get a better view.The California-based quartet has obviously drawn a huge fan base despite only two full-length albums under its belt. Hummingbird, the group’s sophomore effort, debuted at the end of January. Even after parting ways with its bassist Andy Hamm, the group still brought the same level of musicality and innovation as it did with its first album Gorilla Manor. Unsurprisingly, these guys also have the vocal and instrumental chops to deliver an incredible live show.They stirred up the crowd into raucous abandon on rhythm-heavy tracks like “Breakers” and “Wide Eyes,” yet they could still reel it in for quieter and more intimate songs like “Colombia” and “Airplanes.” Crooning mournfully and contemplatively, Kelcey Ayer’s pop-like tenor shone most poignantly on these two tracks in particular. Inspired by the deaths of two different family members, these tracks were treated with a deep level of sensitivity and expression.In general, Ayer’s energy and vocal range seemed to carry the band throughout the evening. Continue Reading

Minnesota’s Bhutanese refugees find new voice through oral history project

At age 22, Mangala Sharma found much of her life in Bhutan uprooted. The country’s new ethnically-driven policies were forcing many of her close relatives out of their homes. A few even ended up in jail. Sharma herself was beginning to fear persecution for her advocacy work with the United Nations Development Programme. From her story in From Exile to Resettlement:”But the Bhutanese government, instead of giving us our basic rights, both politically and culturally, they forcefully evicted us. Continue Reading

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK | Bhutanese refugees come to Minnesota

From Exile to Resettlement Project’s mission is “to collect the untold stories of Bhutanese refugees who have resettled in Minnesota in order to give them a platform, as well as highlight the enormous contributions they make to Minnesota.” My mission: meet some of the refugees and participants in the project and share their stories with TC Daily Planet readers. February 7 – Posted on Facebook:I’m writing a story about the oral history of Bhutanese refugees living in MN for the Twin Cities Daily Planet. Let me know if you have anything to add, or if you might know someone who does! February 9 – Chatted with Mangala Sharma. Mangala Sharma and her immediate family were the first Bhutanese immigrants to arrive in Minnesota. Although she spoke English fluently and was able to find jobs more easily, she still struggled with loneliness and isolation—an issue she says is particularly hard for all refugees to cope with.“I think the other difficulty is being isolated—not being able to mix up with mainstream Americans,” she says.About the project: “Most oral histories that are captured for museums and historical societies that I have worked on over the years are archived away, and little is done outside of that,” says project director Andrea Klein Bergman. Continue Reading