The Darker Side of Love

Some of the best songwriters in the Twin Cities and their broken, tortured hearts

On Valentine’s Day, if you’re seeking music—particularly the kind that explores the varied and often dark gradations of the heart’s desire—look no further than The Southern Theater. Desire and Death: New Love Songs on Yearning and Loss is part of a new series called Southern Songbook, a musical revue that showcases a diverse selection of the best songwriters—both familiar names and ones you probably haven’t heard of yet—who call the Twin Cities home. The artists perform, interview each other, and pitch in contributions on others’ songs. This month’s event—the series’ second installment—features several local luminaries, including John Munson (Semisonic, The Twilight Hours, New Standards), and Alexei Casselle (Roma di Luna).

The series is directed by two local-music stalwarts: Adam Levy and DeVon Gray. The duo itself illustrates the breadth of the talent involved: Levy fronts the indie-pop group the Honeydogs, and Gray is part of Heiruspecs, the hip-hop ensemble so loved locally that it has a day named after it in St. Paul. Levy navigates the myriad scheduling headaches, and Gray directs the house band, which consists largely of his bandmates.

Levy says the series derives its strength from the growing community of local songwriters, who often write and perform alone but are eager to learn from and react to each other. “The fun is in creating this fantasy team of players, a unique group of musicians that wouldn’t otherwise be doing things together,” he says. “There are more bands playing now than at any time I can recollect, and we’re all beginning to enjoy the octopus-like collaborative possibilities.” The series closes in April with a look at the intersection of songwriters and strings. Feb. 14. The Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S., Mpls., 612-340-1725,