The Big Coloring Book of First Avenue
A Benefit for the Twin Cities Music Community Trust
Illustrated by Stacey Combs, Michael Gaughan, and Laura Hauser
I had just arrived home from a Heart Bones tour that was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We knew things were serious, and real life felt more and more like a Twilight Zone episode each day. The rules were changing rapidly, and, as a society, we were all accepting that self-quarantine and social distancing were the only shot we had to get through this without completely overwhelming our hospitals. Throughout all the uncertainty and questions (many of which remain unanswered), most of us started panicking as our livelihoods were put on indefinite hiatus. As I write this, I still have no idea when I’ll be able to go back on tour — my main source of income — and I have been brainstorming with friends who work in the service industry, entertainment, and other businesses deeply affected by this halt of life as we know it.
Laura Hauser (my fiancé) keeps busy with work and a new project to help local musicians losing gigs during the crisis: If you emailed her a receipt for buying merchandise or music from a Twin Cities artist, she would send you a hand-drawn Thank You card featuring that artist. It was a sweet, helpful gesture that proved VERY popular. She couldn’t keep up with the demand, and we started brainstorming ways to accomplish this work on a larger scale. As we were on one of our first walks through the neighborhood since socially
isolating, we thought of creating a coloring book that could be sold online to benefit people who are currently out of work. It would also serve as much-needed entertainment for people newly working from home with kids to watch. Coloring Books For a Cause was born.
We heard that First Avenue, our favorite local concert promoters, had set up the Twin Cities Music Community Trust to help their staff and local musicians who were out of work. It was a no-brainer that this would be our first benefit charity because First Avenue also owns and operates multiple amazing venues in the Twin Cities (Turf Club, Palace Theater, Fitzgerald Theater, Fine Line, etc) that employ many of our friends. We mapped out a coloring book that includes illustrations of staple First Avenue artists from throughout the history of the venue. Once we got our list together, we reached out to two of our favorite local artists — Michael Gaughan and Stacey Combs (Stace of Spades) — to see if they’d collaborate. We were thrilled that they graciously said yes, and we hit the ground running with the three of them drawing the entire book’s contents in three days while I took on the production tasks of a new publisher. We couldn’t believe that our dream team came together without a hitch.
It is Sunday afternoon as I write this — we came up with the idea last Tuesday — and the book is being sent to the printers tomorrow. The idea came fast with a lot of heat, and we can’t thank everyone enough for giving us their blessings, support, and resources to make it happen. We hope that, if this project becomes a success, we can make more coloring books to benefit many others while keeping you entertained during these uncertain times. Thank you for helping us with our mission, and please visit the websites we have provided for Twin Cities Music Community Trust, our illustrators, the artists drawn within these pages/their web stores, and some extra charities they’d like to highlight for information on how you can help more.
– Sean Tillmann (Har Mar Superstar)
About The Artists
Special education teacher by day, coloring book illustrator by COVID-19 outbreak/night. I love long walks in Minneapolis, music of every variety, any restaurant on Central Ave, and you! Thanks for your patronage with our first coloring book. Continue to support local art and visit http://www.tonyhauser.com/ if you’d like to help me and my loved ones (including my dad who inspires me daily with his classical, Brazilian, and flamenco guitar).