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MUSIC REVIEW | Mary Chapin Carpenter sings her stories at State Theatre

Mary Chapin Carpenter, the five-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter with a 13-album catalog, returned to Minneapolis to play sans mosquitoes (her last Minnesota performance was at the MN Zoo Amphitheatre) at the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s State Theatre on May 2. It was an acoustic performance featuring her long-time friends and extraordinary musicians, John Carroll on keyboards and John Doyle on guitars and bouzouki. Chastity Brown, a relative newcomer to singer-songwriter fame, opened with a 30-minute set featuring, among others, “Solely,” “Colorado,” and “When We Get There.” Ms. Brown sings with an old soul’s expertise and resonance. She has guts and she’s not afraid to show that. Her performance was acoustic—impassioned and spirited—interspersed with charming personal points of reference to how she made her way to Minnesota from Tennessee. Continue Reading

The Four Seasons performing their hit 'Walk Like a Man' in Jersey Boys. From left to right: Frankie Valli (Hayden Milanes), Bob Gaudio (Drew Seeley), Tommy DeVito (Matthew Dailey) and Nick Massi (Keith Hines).

THEATER REVIEW | “Jersey Boys” shines at the Orpheum Theatre

November 6 of this year will mark the 10th anniversary of Jersey Boys’ opening on Broadway. For a show that starts with “Oh, what a night!” this means an awful lot of nights of rocking the charts 60s-style. So what does it mean when this show tour – still running after nine years on the road – touches down on Hennepin Ave? Is the magic still there? The answer to the second question is, “Yes.” The answer to the first is, “If you haven’t seen it already, buy your tickets for a ride on an amazing musical rollercoaster.” The show production is a tightly paced, comedic yet affectingly serious journey through a profoundly varied song catalog of hits. Continue Reading

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

MUSIC REVIEW | Information Society at The Fine line Music Cafe

The crowd for Information Society’s April 18 homecoming show at the Fine Line Music Cafe appeared to have been mostly in junior high and high school while InSoc was releasing the albums that made them a hit. DJ Jake Rudh began the evening with music and media designed to take us back to that time, when a handful of weird kids with samples and synthesizers could become a band and an enduring band at that. Stony-faced and ambitiously coiffed young musicians of thirty years ago shared the screen with Star Wars sequels and Daleks to create a 1980s just a bit better than the decade we actually grew up with.When locals Dance Assault took the stage to open, the time warp was complete. While their music wasn’t derivative of any one band or even style from the era, its mix of New Wave, Disco-influenced electronica, and seduction rock would have made it perfectly at home on the radio in about 1983. A strong use of rhythm, particularly in transitions within the songs, had people dancing from the first few notes while avoiding the sense that we’d heard the whole thing before.After Dance Assault, another local electronic band took the stage. Continue Reading

Photo courtesy Park Square Theatre

THEATER REVIEW | “The Other Place” transcends subject matter at Park Square Theatre

The Other Place, one of the most powerful plays I have seen in the last year, opened at Park Square Theatre on April 3. Shari White’s play concerns a medical researcher working on a drug to combat dementia who, herself, is suffering from early on-set Alzheimer’s. Aditi Kapil masterfully directs this intense show which highlights how fragile the mind can be.Given the subject matter, one at first cannot help comparing this play to the recent movie Still Alice. But any comparisons soon go by the wayside. In Still Alice, the audience sees the character’s illness from the perspective of people who still have their minds. Continue Reading

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How the Nicollet Mall Project construction affects you

Nicollet Mall is going to look a lot different in 2017: refined pedestrian paths, more greenery and better lighting are some of the improvements to transform the Mall into a “must-see destination” as bullet-pointed in the Minneapolis Downtown’s Council 2025 plan. But before the new Mall becomes a reality, there’s the always-dreaded construction, which starts this spring with utility work (upgrading and relocating power, gas, telecommunications, sanitary sewer and water lines); the full construction begins in 2016.So what does that mean for the masses of people who bike, walk and work on Nicollet?The Nicollet Mall Farmers Market will be relocated one block to Hennepin Avenue for both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Food trucks and vendors will also be moved off the Mall in 2015 and 2016. Sidewalk dining will remain open through construction, but some restaurants may decide to remove it temporarily at some points.You’ll still be able to walk down Nicollet and access every business—one side of the street will remain open at all times. Buses will detour starting sometime this May and will return to normal when construction is done in 2017. Taxis also are not allowed to drive down the Mall, and they will not be allowed north of 12th Street in 2017. With the absence of taxis and buses, bikers will have the street to themselves at least for 2015. In 2016, when the real construction begins, there will be no bikers allowed until the project is complete.Feeling a little bummed about the construction? Just flip through some of the photos above that represent the future Nicollet Mall to keep in mind when times get rough (see all photos here).Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Continue Reading

Photo courtesy Park Square Theatre

THEATER REVIEW | “Shooting Star” asks “if only” at Park Square Theatre

Reflections on the divergent roads taken by past lovers are explored in Steven Dietz’s play Shooting Star which opened at Park Square Theatre on March 27. Director Leah Cooper’s direction of the former lovers meeting at a snowed in airport removes the “fourth wall” to reveal the play’s humor and the characters’ pathos.At a non-specific, large middle-America airport shut down by a blizzard, Reed and Elena meet for the first time in decades. The two were lovers for 22 months at the University of Wisconsin-Madison when they were young and in college. Reed has married, has a child and became a middle manager for a corporation. In contrast, Elena has remained a free spirit, never married, meditates and does consumer survey phone research to support herself. Continue Reading

Photo by Ann Treacy

MUSIC REVIEW | Candid Kid EP release at the Turf Club

You have to appreciate a band that plays a few new songs at an EP release party. The new songs are post-EP (Turtleneck) production. That’s a group with a lot of ideas and enthusiasm for the music. That’s Candid Kid.Candid Kid includes two founding members vocalist and guitarist Benjamin Muller and guitarist TannerUselmannand two excellent additions, bassist CooperDotenand drummer Reese Kling. They have the loudness and best of a rock band and the pensive twist of a more alternative band. Continue Reading

 Photo credit Joan Marcus

THEATER REVIEW | “Annie” timeless at the Orpheum Theatre

Stop what you’re doing right now and get all expectations of cliches out of your system. Sure, go ahead, say something along the lines of “I’ll see the production ‘Tomorrow.’” Make a few cracks regarding what a “Hard Knock Life” you’d experience if you missed this show. Go ahead and make reference to the barely related Jay-Z track. Just work it out of your system quick. We can wait.Good?You sure?It figures you had one more in you.Alright, with all that said and done, let’s get down to business: This production of Annie is wonderful. Vibrant and full of energy and optimism, this production feels surprisingly fresh for a play that is almost 40 years old that is based on material from almost 90 years ago. Continue Reading