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Behind the Music: Vinnie and the Studmustard

By Mark Lindquist
April 10, 2002 | Ripsaw

As a few of you might already know, Duluth’s very own NorShor Theatre will host Geek Prom this year. Sounds fun. A little lightheartedness would do us all good this evil time of year where the thought of spring teases us like a topless Fuzzy’s waitress in need of crack money. Fun.

What’s even more fun for me is the a-priori knowledge that Vinnie and the Stardusters will fill the headlining music spot at Geek Prom. The Studmustard (as we Dustheads fondly refer to them) is my third favorite band in Minnesota. They moved up two spots from five to three after inviting this humbled columnist to join them for their first annual “Save the Twins” concert at the Turf Club in St. Paul last winter. That was cool business, and if the House vote of a new Twin’s stadium construction last week is any indication, our plan worked. Vinnie and the Studmustard saved the Twins from baseball’s contraction plan. Their newest hit song, “The Day They Took the Twins Away,” proved once again that the pen, in song form, will always strike harder than any sword that the devil, Bud Selig, could ever hope to swing.

I’ve been a Vinnie fan since 1989 when the City Pages, under enormous pressure from Husker Dü fans, published their “Rock Star Manifesto.” After reading that bible for rock and roll subverts, I went on to collect every album the Stardusters ever put out. But to me the best way to introduce you to the Studmustard is to let them tell you in their words what they’ve given the subversive music world. The following is an abridged version of Vinnie and the Stardusters history taken from their book, 45 record and 3-D coloring book (which came with trading cards, crayons and 3-D glasses) “Stardust Memories (Whence Fame?)”:

Spring 1995 | Bob Stinson (of the Replacements) is invited to perform with the Stardusters at the First Annual Final Show Ever. He asks if he’ll get any drugs or sex. Even after finding out that he’ll get none, he agrees. But then forgets to show up. Soon after, he falls into a slump and dies.

Spring 1995 | Sneaking backstage to a Nirvana show, the band tries to give Kurt Cobain a Vinnie demo tape. Kurt snubs them and walks right by. Two months later, Cobain falls into a slump and dies.

Fall 1996 | City Pages gives the Dusters an “Award for Indecency” for their X-Mas song, “I Saw Mommy Fisting Santa Claus.” Two months later the weekly paper is bought out by the Village Voice and massive firings occur.

Winter 1996 | Band member, Eric, infiltrates the Twin Cities Reader by freelancing in an attempt to get more coverage for Vinnie. After 20 years in business, the Reader folds within three months of Eric’s arrival.

Winter 1998 | The Dusters announce that they will award Twin Cities radio station REV 105 one copy of their “Tin Album” in exchange for “constant airplay.” The song gets played once (constantly for three minutes). The band feels snubbed by the station. Less than two months later, REV 105 is forced off of the air.

Winter 1998 | Vinnie sends Dr. Demento their newest CD, “Novelty Music for Casual Sex,” for constant airplay on his weekly radio show. Dr. Demento plays only one song (constantly for three minutes). Less than a year later Dr. Demento’s brother, who lived in Minnesota, falls into a slump and dies.

Summer 2000 | Vinnie and the Stardusters decide to give a gift to the world: the release of CD, The Baroque Wind Sessions, in exchange for constant stereo airplay. The album of classical music played note for note in surf\punk style goes virtually ignored. That year, Brittany Spears reaches Number One on the music charts.

Winter 2001 | Vinnie decides to write, perform and record one song to help raise money to save the Minnesota Twins from contraction. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune and KMSP 9 rave about the song and give the band considerable coverage during their Save the Twins Concert weekend at the Turf Club. Two months later, baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, announces that he will not appeal the court’s decision to make the Twins play at least one more year.

Spring 2002 | Duluth entrepreneur Paul Lundgren asks Vinnie to perform at the First Annual Geek Prom at the Norshor Theater after his first choice, Trailer Trash, asks for far too much money. Vinnie agrees and immediately contacts fellow subvert Mark Lindquist to discuss how to best go about offending Duluthians so as to be never asked to return. Lindquist suggests playing one set of nothing but cover versions of this region’s most loved folk band, Willowgreen, but with new alternative lyrics about farm animals and the devil. Vinnie agrees and quickly puts money together to retain a cheap lawyer.

You can be a part of Stardust Memories this very Saturday by attending the First Ever Geek Prom\Last Show Ever in Duluth for the Studmustard.