MUSIC PHOTOS | Pert Near Sandstone warms up the Cedar Cultural Center

Photos by Tom Baker

Performing for two nights at The Cedar Cultural Center, Pert Near Sandstone brought their talent and energy to whip fans into a foot stomping, butt shaking, arm throwing, and even waltzing, frenzy Friday night. With two cloggers to keep the rhythm going and the fans dancing (Andy Lambert and Matt Cartier), Pert Near (Nate Sipe, mandolin, fiddle, vocals; Kevin Kniebel, banjo, vocals; J. Lenz, acoustic guitar, vocals; and Adam Kiesling, upright bass, vocals) is such an energizing performance to experience that they could probably turn any white-collar worker into an overall and straw-hat wearing hillbilly. Smiles and dreadlocks touting fans abound, these boys are some fine musicians and it’s no surprise they’ve been successfully twanging, fiddling, banjoing, and harmonizing their way across the country for over ten years. They’ll play again tonight at The Cedar, then head out West to tour through the Rockies and to the coast before returning to the Midwest in June to play the Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire, WI, June 11. Well worth seeing, get your clogging shoes on and go support these good ol’ Minnesota boys. 

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MUSIC REVIEW | Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor plays a mixed bag at the Ordway

Photo courtesy Benjamin Grosvenor

There comes a moment in the career of every child prodigy in music when their early promise is held up against a light of adult scrutiny. Technical virtuosity from an early age is a laudable thing, but with increased years comes a demand for artistic refinement – demands that for non-prodigies may otherwise not be expected until a much older age. There is often a rush for judgment as listeners wonder whether a young musician will remain a flash in the pan or mature into a long and continuously fruitful career. Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor’s concert on Tuesday at the Ordway offered no clear answers to this question, but tossed more fuel on the fire.

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Mobsters, pirates, plagues, and Mongol hordes in Ordway’s 2015-16 season

SEOP Dance Company, a South Korean ensemble playing at the Ordway on March 6, 2016.

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts announced its 2015-2016 season on Monday evening with a festive event at the Ordway’s Target Atrium. Highlights of the upcoming season include three self-produced musicals; dance performances such as Hip Hop Nutcracker, DanceBrazil, and Lulu Washington Dance Theatre; world music sensations Dengue Fever and Hanggai; and a return engagement by Pilobulus Dance Theatre.

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THEATER REVIEW | Open Window Theatre's "The Potting Shed" questions religion and faith

The troubled, extended Callifer family - Dr. Baston (Charles Numrich), Mary (Meri Golden), John (David Denninger), Sara (Sarah Preissner Stanbary), James (Jeremy Stanbary), and Anne (Ali Daniels) in Open Window Theatre's production of The Potting Shed; photography by Matt Berdahl

I’m starting to wonder if Open Window Theatre is critic-proof. Because it almost doesn’t matter what I say here. If you’re a fan of Open Window Theatre, then you’re already going and you’re not going to be dissuaded. Now in the middle of their fourth season, they’re expanding their space and operating on a budget of nearly $250,000. They’ve got a strong base of audience support. Nearly all their money comes from individuals rather than big corporations or foundations. Every show I’ve seen there, the audience has risen for a standing ovation at the end. Some of their shows have charmed me, some have baffled me, but their audience doesn’t care. There is a fan base for this theater that doesn’t feel served by other theaters in town. When Open Window puts up a production, this audience feels like they’re seeing their own story onstage in a way that they don’t get anywhere else. It’s theater with an overtly Christian religious bent to it. As someone who regularly pines for a more nuanced discussion on stage of religion and faith and their place in modern life, Open Window should be right up my alley. I really do appreciate what they’re trying to do here. I just wish the theater was better. Their current production of Graham Greene’s The Potting Shed is a great example of this conundrum.

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"Pippin" at the Orpheum Theatre: Let's Go to the Circus

I liked “Pippin”.  But I didn’t like Pippin.

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"Pippin" at the Orpheum Theatre: Spread a Little Pippin!

From February 17th to February 22nd, “Pippin” is being performed live at the&nb

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"Pippin" at the Orpheum Theatre

Pippin, frankly, leaves the audience stunned. In both good and bad ways.

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"Pippin" at the Orpheum Theatre: The Circus is in Town

Oh wait, it’s just the musical Pippin, at the Orpheum Theater. Pippin is a spectacle that can’t be missed.

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"Pippin" at the Orpheum Theatre: Time to Start Living

I had been looking forward to seeing “Pippin” ever since I first heard of it on the Tony Awards.

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