Musician Steve Kramer dies

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Rupa Shenoy for this report.

Twin Cities musician Steve Kramer has died. He was 59.

Kramer’s business partner, Bob Hest, confirmed that he died in his sleep on Saturday night while attending the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

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Twin Cities musician Steve Kramer in a December 2011 file photo.

(Photo courtesy MPR)

Kramer was an accordionist best known for his punk-polka band The Wallets. He led the band and wrote much of the music before the band folded in the late 1980s.

The Wallets were known as one of the most original and unique bands in the Twin Cities. They traveled by converted ambulance on cross-country tours, and Kramer later said those grueling drives were the reason the band folded.

Kramer and Hest went on to form an advertising company and created jingles for clients including Target, Buick and MTV.

In 2011, Kramer collaborated with storyteller Kevin Kling in a production called “Of Mirth and Mischief” at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. Kling said they were working on a new production for the Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis.

“He made things live anew and made you feel like you’re hearing a kind of music for the first time,” Kling said. “All across the board — his breadth — like the four songs he’d written for our new piece — all of them, just completely different from the next. All of them, just a mastery of each form.”

Kling said Kramer was one of the most gifted composers he knew.