Tucker Sterling Jensen’s love of local music was almost unprecedented.
He did not look for the obscure just for the sake of it. He looked in order to share it, uplift it and, in the process, help create a space and community in music unlike any other.
The artist played gigs regularly around the Twin Cities, collaborated with numerous musicians, created a local music streaming platform called Radio Five Watt and recently released an EP with his band Dirt Train. His name was well-known, his music well-loved. On March 11, Jensen died of lymphoma at 29.
The artist’s determination to create honestly and support locally has stuck with many, whether they were close with him or not.
In November, Jensen’s band Dirt Train released their EP “Dead Beat Shake” to a packed house at the Terminal Bar. The six-song EP was a culmination of months of writing and collaborating, and the release show was a “return to home base,” Jensen said in December.
Rachelle LaNae Smith of Tacky Annie, who teaches voice lessons, saw Jensen's performance style as something to strive toward.
“[I told him] I want to take my students and just put them in front of him and say, ‘This is what performing looks like. This is what making music looks like,’” Smith said. “He just didn’t give a fuck on stage. He rolled with the punches in every performance.”
As a songwriter, Jensen selflessly shared his talents with those around him. He often stepped in to play in bands or offer some guidance with songwriting.
Local acts like Tacky Annie, Lydia Liza and Laura Hugo, among countless others, say they looked to him for valuable feedback of their music.
Hugo, Dirt Train’s “number one fan” and a close friend of Jensen, was set to produce her EP with Jensen in the coming months.
“He did this thing where he'd smile and tilt his head,” Hugo said. “One of my favorite things in the world. Kind of like it was his head tilt of approval.”
Jensen also wholeheartedly believed in the importance of recognizing and rocking out to local musicians.
“He was supportive to almost a self-sacrificing level,” Liza said. “Creating with him was so safe and loving, and I really appreciate the safety he brought to any space he was in.”
Jensen’s enthusiasm went past head tilts and advice. He regularly attended gigs around the cities, inviting almost everyone he knew to come with.
“You always hoped that wherever you were, [Jensen] would walk into the room,” Hugo said.
Beyond his work as a musician, he was also the station manager and program director for Radio Five Watt. He gave musicians the opportunity to have their music played on-air or in-shop at Five Watt Coffee.
“He totally loved to be there for other people and watch other people shine, even though he was obviously the brightest star in the room,” Smith said.
While the Twin Cities music community mourns the loss of a prolific performer and an immensely loved human being, Jensen's impact will remain prominent among the many he inspired.
“His absence will be painfully noticeable, but there's peace in the fact that he fought hard and empowered so many,” Hugo said.