Music & Memories: After 30 years, Cities 97 releases final sampler CD

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The Cities 97.1 sampler CD is a tradition in the Twin Cities 30 years running, featuring a mix of acoustic songs performed around the metro or performed right at the radio station's Studio C.

Now, the 2018 sampler marks the last in the series.

Blake Middleton is what you might call a super fan of this project; he has all 30 samplers dating back to 1989.

Back in its heyday, you had to be in line early.  

“The general rule of thumb is that you had to be there before the store opened,” Middleton explained. “Volume 25, I was number one in line and I was there at 4:15 in the morning.”  

Middleton was lined up for the last one because, for him, it's tradition.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find a band that lasts 30 years, let alone a project like this," said Cities 97 host Paul Fletcher.

The artists donate the songs, with all the profits going back to local charities. In 30 years, they raised $13 million. 

Middleton, who's been living with MS for 15 years, is the recipient of some of that goodwill.

“Shortly after my move back to Minnesota, I was diagnosed with MS. I had to stop and smell the roses and one of the things I started to do was listen to music a little more,” he said.

For host Paul Fletcher, this is community.

“This might be over the top, but it’s the Twin Cities,” he said.

And while people don’t listen to CDs as much anymore, the sampler project reached its destination.

“The goal was always to get to 30,” Fletcher said.

This year's cover is decorated with the names of all the causes that have benefited from the CD.  

Cities says there may be another project in the works in the future, but it's much harder to get the artists' consent for a digital copy of their songs.

You may still be able to find a few copies at Target, but head to the Cities 97.1 website for updates on where you can still find them.