Mustard Daze was set to bring some of the best-known independent artists from around Minnesota to one location – the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. Polica, The Suburbs, Low, Sarah White and The Shift were all prepared to take to the stage for the 2017 music festival.
But tickets didn’t sell. And promoter Christian “C-Gull” Clements was forced to cancel.
For the many who can’t imagine the sheer amount of work it takes planning, booking, and promoting such a large-scale event, think of it like the biggest project you’ve ever had to complete for your boss, or the most stressful final paper you ever wrote for college, or the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do in your life. It would be enough to make you want to give up completely.
But if you’re Clements, the owner/operator of independent music promotions outfit “Positive Tuesday,” everything has a silver lining, even having to cancel your most ambitious project to date.
“It would have been way cooler to celebrate life through music with all those folks, but I learned a ton from the experience,” he said. “Mustard Daze 2018 will only be unsuccessful if I don’t put the knowledge I gained to work. I learned to work a little slower, smarter and the importance of teamwork.”
Clements plans to give Mustard Daze another go next year.
A native Texan, who spent 18 years in Minneapolis before transplanting to Rochester a little over a year ago, Clements didn’t plan on leaping right into music when he arrived.
“I moved to Rochester because I met a great girl [here] and was ready for a change. I owned a limousine service in Minneapolis that closed in January of 2016,” he said. “I felt lost. While my Minneapolis job was OK, I loved my girlfriend and my dog, Megawulf. I decided that the latter two were what I wanted to invest my time and energy in, so moving to Rochester was a safe bet.”
Music is something he’s been part of almost his entire adult life. He got his start in Minneapolis promoting electronic dance music events, but quickly discovered the Twin Cities’ large punk and independent rock scene. While working at a coffeeshop, his co-workers were members of numerous independent rock and hip-hop acts around town, most notably members of the Doomtree hip-hop collective and a punk rock-meets-60’s girl group revival act called The God Damn Doo Wop Band, who took him on his first of many tours.
“Touring changed my life,” Clements said. “I wouldn’t just jump in any band’s van these days, but I learned a lot about traveling and being a part of a lot of different communities.”
Building a network of musicians, scenesters, and regular concert-goers led to his car service, which zipped you from show to show in the Twin Cities and home, often for less than the price of a cab ride. It wasn’t playing music, but to Clements, it was still a form of art. It was his way of participating in the music scene, and the reason why he started Positive Tuesday.
“It took me starting a business to realize that I have a creative side,” he said. “Being a terrible artist with an amazing network of talented friends is how I ended up doing shows in Rochester. Networks are useless if we don’t use them for the betterment of the world we create for ourselves.”
Since Positive Tuesday began, Clements has worked hard to bring the artists he knows from the Twin Cities and connected them with bands and music fans in Rochester.
“Positive Tuesday has done shows at Kathy’s Pub and Forager Brewing Company. We have done shows for Har Mar Superstar, Caroline Smith, Bad Bad Hats, P.O.S. and Astronautalis,” he said. “The purpose of Positive Tuesday is to promote art, music and culture in Rochester. I miss the amenities of a bigger city. I see an importance in people sharing music together. Music is great way for people to connect and to live in a moment together.”
Less than a year in, Clements planned Mustard Daze, his largest event yet. Sept. 23 was supposed to fill the Civic Center with fans to see artists Poliça, The Suburbs, Low, Sarah White, and The Shift—a line-up ranging from moody electronic to classic new wave to soul.
Unfortunately, he said, “I decided to cancel Mustard Daze because of low tickets sales. It was the right choice. Building culture takes a while. You can’t just hammer culture into people’s heads. You have to start with one of those soft mallets that they use to test people’s reflexes.”
If you see a bit of tension there — even for a guy whose life philosophy is one of never-ending positivity — don’t mistake it for some sort of provincialism from a Twin Cities carpetbagger, but the enthusiasm of an artist carving out his space on a wide-open canvass.
When asked, he points to venues such as Kathy’s Pub, Forager, and the Jive Mill as hot spots to see original live music, Café Steam as a great place to see singer-songwriters or even perform at an open mic, and the online music site My Town My Music as the key resource for finding out anything you need to know about Rochester’s music scene. Some of his favorite local acts — the ones that grab him as having “soul” — are Under The Pavilion, Local Sports, and rapper Jae Havoc.
In a city best known for a certain health care giant that shares a name with America’s most contentious condiment, Clements’s intention for Positive Tuesday and Mustard Daze is to get Rochester recognized as a creative cultural hub as well.
“As the new guy in Rochester, I realize how much of an impact that Mayo has on the people of Rochester,” said Clements. “Mayo is pretty great; It’s sort of the Disneyworld of medicine. With that being said, most of the actors that work at Disney world take off their costumes. They go to BBQ’s, kids football games, and some even go to a bar and just be normal people. Maybe it’s a character flaw of my own, but I just see people as people. We all deserve to get lost in the moment, forget about our worries and just have fun. That’s the culture that I hope to offer Rochester. It’s totally a choose your own adventure.”
So what’s next for Positive Tuesday?
“I’m starting to line up a few shows for the winter and spring. I am also hoping to collaborate with some rad folks around Rochester to start working on a grassroots effort to make Mustard Daze 2018 a platform to support music, art and culture on many levels,” he said. “I haven’t done any shows outside of Rochester, but there has been some discussion about doing some stuff in Minneapolis, Austin and Albert Lea.”
But to Clements, Rochester is where he wants Positive Tuesday to have maximum impact.
“The future of music in Rochester is limitless,” he said. “Rochester is a growing city. It’s well educated, critical and takes no BS. Rochester could also use taking some risks. I feel that music is a safe risk and is something that everybody deserves the right to enjoy. I just want to continue to have a positive influence on my community, to continue to pave Hwy. 52 with art and music. And, most of all, to have some fun. I wouldn’t be able to throw shows without my Minneapolis family, and I wouldn’t have a place to do it without Rochester.”
By Tigger Lunney