The PGBC Marching Saints dance and drill team raise their fists during the Black National Anthem at intermission of the Rondo Days dance competition.

“Your Crew vs. My Crew” creates community amidst competition at Rondo Days [Photos]

The second annual “Your Crew vs. My Crew” dance competition finished out this year’s Rondo Days, which celebrates the black community that once thrived where I-94 now cuts through St. Paul.

“Every year we celebrate Rondo Days and the people and community who once stood there,” Leviticus Martin, the host of the event, proclaimed to a cheering audience during intermission of the competition. “So keep that in your minds and in your hearts when you come to Rondo Days, to the festival, to the parade, to the competition, that’s what it’s about. It’s about the community, it’s about love.”

The competition took place at Gangelhoff Arena on the Concordia University campus on Saturday, July 18th and lasted almost three hours. The competition and dance exhibition included nine crews from Minnesota, Indiana, and Nebraska. Continue Reading

François Rabbath: A musician, a teacher, a gentleman with a double bass

The Benson Great Hall at the Bethel University was decked out with 11 upright basses and one piano on Tuesday night. Only ten of the basses were not actually upright but resting on their sides for most of the concert. It set a stage for double bass virtuoso François Rabbath and his son-accompanist Sylvain Rabbath on piano. The music was amazing, but even more amazing was the demonstration of admiration and love from father and son, for each other, for the music, and for the experience. They played as if they were chasing each other around a music sheet. Continue Reading

Photo courtesy of Javier Trejo

Javier Trejo: The legend lives on

The amazingly gifted guitarist and singer-songwriter Javier Trejo has knocked around the Twin Cities for ages and continues to blow audiences away. Back in the 1990’s, he broke on the scene with The Beads, playing straight old school San Francisco rock. The Beads released Ordinary Sunday People, front-loaded with high-power guitar accentuated by his screaming and articulate leads. Their jam-band rock was strong as sulfuric acid. That quality gave Trejo a splendid showcase and brought him to the attention of Stan Kipper and Chico Perez of New Primitives, another throwback to earlier eras, specializing in powerhouse Afro-Cuban rock, a component of which was long, drawn-out jams that had dancers bopping, as it’s said, until they damned dropped. Continue Reading

Los Lonely Boys

Los Lonely Boys Play Music in the Zoo Series

The summer concert season has finally arrived and the good news is we are in the front half of another exciting line-up for the popular Music in the Zoo Series at the Weesner Family Amphitheater. A lively audience was in party mode on Tuesday evening June 16th, for the return of Los Lonely Boys. A few rain drops did not dampen spirits and although the air felt unseasonably cool. Growing up playing music together has enabled the Garza brothers (Henry, Jojo and Ringo) to craft their own music style they call Texican Rock ‘n Roll and their fans clearly love it. Their show is just a lot of fun with lush vocal harmonies and standout guitar work by Henry. Continue Reading

Singer Cecilia Lopez

THEATER REVIEW: La Rondine

Color-blind casting continues to be an issue in American theater.  In opera, one might argue, without it how are artists of color to work?  After all, there isn’t exactly an over-abundance of roles written with characters of color.  And how many opportunities are there to be cast in a revival of, say, Porgy and Bess or Madame Butterfly?  Members of Skylark Opera’s production of Puccini La Rondine – two performers, who are of color, and the director, who is not, commented on the matter by email. Cecelia Violetta Lopez sings the role of Magda, who leaves her setup in the lap of luxury as a banker’s mistress, to go looking for love. Lopez’s solo concert credits include Mahler’s Symphony 4 and selections from Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne with the Henderson Symphony Orchestra, Rutter’s Mass of the Children with the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society, Bach’s Magnificat with the University of Nevada – Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra and Rachmaninov’s Vocalise with the UNLV Chamber Orchestra. “I’ve never experienced a color and/or race issue in my growing career”, she reflects.  “I have been discriminated against in my lifetime, but those instances have been for being Mexican-American and/or female.  Sad, but true.”

Lopez then states, “I think race and opera are completely unrelated to each other. Continue Reading

Musicians Jacky Becky and Jonathan Kaiser rehearse at the ASI for their live score of the Phantom Carriage

A haunting score for a haunted film

Musical artists Jackie Beckey and Jonathan Kaiser perform their original live score for the 1921 Swedish silent film classic, Phantom Carriage, in the ASI historic ballroom Wednesday evening. Their musical compositions and improvisation for Phantom Carriage incorporate Beckey’s viola and Kaiser’s cello with amplifiers, electronics and sound effects to create richly textured and sparse soundscapes for this haunting ghost story, featuring ahead-of-its-time special effects and storytelling devices. Beckey and Kaiser, known for their work with bands Brute Heart, Myrrh and Dark Dark Dark, share a passion for cinema and for scoring silent films together. Phantom Carriage is their latest collaboration, a haunting, ethereal film that is a perfect match for their music style and experimentation.

Cyn Collins: How did you first begin collaborating? How did you have the idea to score silent films?

Jonathan Kaiser (JK): …We played music together for a long time, as a configuration for other people and as a duo and in bands and improvising. The scoring for silent films came from Jackie’s Brute Heart being commissioned for “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” for Walker Art Center Music and Movies. They invited me to join them for that. I’d worked on a couple film scores with Dark Dark Dark so I was in a certain mode of working in that kind of thing. So I and John Marks who plays synthesizer and electronics joined them for that. It was a really fun working experience and it was a great combination of five people working on the project. That was kind of the beginning of talking about film and music stuff and working together on film stuff. Continue Reading

ALBUM REVIEW: The Crazy EP by CorEsha

Ginger Patterson is without question, one of the strongest recording artists in Twin Cities.  A gifted throwback to the smooth fire and hard grit of true, old-school soul music. Patterson truly stands in a class pretty much by herself. Which makes it a curious occurrence that she has taken under her wing at Midwest Magic Productions the pedestrian talent CorEsha, possessed of bright but emotionless vocals singing weak lyrics to run-of-the-mill melodies.  The Crazy EP produced by Patterson, co-produced with her son, William Patterson, has material mostly written by CorEsha and him. Continue Reading

Gypsy Lumberjacks CD release at the Cabooze

Saturday night, the Gypsy Lumberjacks brought a lot of world beat to the Cabooze to introduce their latest CD, Giants of America. There’s a definite grounding of America in the world beat, but their music doesn’t stay grounded. Battles of the Frontiers has a local flavor. It’s mellow, with folk-friendly harmonies. It’s easy to listen to. Continue Reading

Soundset 2015 Artist GLAM

Musings of Soundset Musicians

The Twin Cities Daily Planet’s Clara Wang spent some time in the backstage tent hobnobbing with many of the Soundset artists to get exclusive interviews. Enjoy… Manny Phesto

Your last album, “Southside Looking In,” was very connected to your neighborhood, very connected to your roots. How has growing up on the South Side of Minneapolis influenced your music? “I think it’s influenced it a lot. Continue Reading

Ludacris

Soundset 2015 at Canterbury Park

The gates of Canterbury Park opened at 11am sharp to hordes of eager hip-hop fans. The Soundset Music Festival is an exclusively hip-hop music festival created by local music label Rhymesayers eight years ago, an affordable event that draws nationally acclaimed talents as well as local acts. The Rhymesayers event is unique in its focus on urban music and great bargain price (this year it’s $50-$70 for a lineup of the likes of Ludacris, J. Cole, Ice Cube, and Big Sean, just to name a few).

This year, performances were unofficially baptized by Amir Sulaiman’s opening delivery of “Come to the Hills,” a poignant spoken word addressing race, economics, politics, and police brutality. In the Fifth Element tent, Minneapolis rapper Manny Phesto proved that soulful samples can rock a crowd too, spitting conscious fire over signature soul beats. Producer Mike the Martyr joined him onstage for “The Account,” a track from Manny’s last album, “South Side Looking In.”

Doomtree member Dessa was another local act that shook crowds, performing tracks from their new album “All Hands” as well as songs from her recently dropped solo album. In intervals singing, chanting, and rapping, she hypnotized the crowd with folksy metal and plenty of intense eye contact. Vince Staples was a Molotov cocktail in Timberlands, spitting singles from his last EP. Soundset 2015 was packed with many strong newcomers, from deM Atlas to Father, and Vince had the crowd ready to explode in a fiery performance on the Fifth Element stage. Continue Reading