What’s happening this week
On the radar: During the folk revival of the 1960s, a group of Harvard students brought the legendary Sleepy John Estes to play blues in one of the college dorms—and were mortified to hear one of their peers cry from the back of the room, “Take it out to the alley!” A similar tension will be onstage today in St. Paul, as Penumbra presents the regional premiere of Black Pearl Sings!, a show about a white woman who brings a formerly incarcerated black woman to New York City in the 1930s to sing the blues for the swells.
Under the radar: “Some content may not be appropriate for children,” warns the description of Bottled Chicken Justice, a sketch comedy show opening tonight at the BLB. I would think that goes without saying when two-thirds of a show’s set consists of a rubber chicken and a bottle.
On the radar: Wilco seem to play Duluth every time they get the chance. Why? I dunno, but it’s worth a road trip to find out.
Under the radar: The Fine Line hosts the annual Carnaval Brasiliero, featuring percussion ensemble Batucada do Norte, singer Dandara, and all the samba you care to dance.
On the radar: Remember when college rock was something you actually heard at colleges, and not in NFL ads? Evan Dando does. (Now, college kids listen to the same songs everyone else does, sung a capella by small groups of their peers.) The Lemonheads’ show last year at the Triple Rock was reportedly a train wreck, but Dando will be flying solo tonight at the 400 Bar—thankfully solo, since his new album features vocals by Liv Tyler and Kate Moss. Someone with an even longer memory is B.B. King, who’s at the Orpheum tonight—a much less intimate venue, but at King’s age and stature, Lucille ain’t gonna sing at the Cabooze—with Buddy Guy.
Under the radar: February in an unheated art gallery is an odd time and place to initiate “an experiment in communal living,” but oddness is the Soap Factory’s stock in trade.
On the radar: Kevin Troy Boy Toy celebrates his birthday at the 501 Club by throwing a pajama party (yes, there will be Twister) at the 501 Club with his band, the Almost Virgins.
Under the radar: With the Aeron chair turning sweet 16 this year, it’s about time someone revisited the look and feel of studio furniture. 15 artists have volunteered for the task, and today is the last day to see their ideas on display in an exhibit curated by Dean Wilson, head of the furniture design program at MCAD.
On the radar: Rickie Lee Jones is at the Fitzgerald Theater—a classy venue for a class act.
Under the radar: Monday night is turning into Friday night for aficionados of local music: besides the Minnesota Monday series of guest DJs at Grumpy’s NE, the Barbette bookers continue to snag SMH-awesome local talents for free shows in the cozy bistro. Tonight the talent in question is Kid Dakota.
On the radar: Tweeting for a Kidney sounds like the title of a poorly-attended solo show at the Fringe, but it actually happened right here in Minnesota. Donor Scott Pakudatis will be the guest of honor as recipient Chris Strouth parties at the 501 Club tonight, with music by DJ Jake Rudh and others. The party’s theme? “New Kidney on the Block.”
Under the radar: Speaking of things that it’s hard to believe actually happened, remember the Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan episode? The true story of rivalry on the rink has all the elements of an American epic—fame, class, beauty, sparkly leotards—and finally someone has turned it into the opera it was always destined to be.
On the radar: As citizen journalism is to conventional journalism, Give & Take is to conventional panel discussions. What do you know? Something, surely. So stand up and hold forth!
Under the radar: Any place called the Driftwood Char Bar has to be awesome—especially when Willie Murphy is hosting a jam session there.
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Daily Planet arts roundup
Arts America is a fat new tome listing arts organizations across the country. The intention is noble, I wrote, but the product doesn’t manage to justify its own existence.
Lydia Howell talks with groundbreaking documentarian Ellen Kuras, whose work is now enjoying a retrospective at the Walker.
Even with a smaller lineup, Room for Gray are still rocking out, reports Dwight Hobbes. He also reviews Tonia Hughes‘s stellar discs and talks with Thomasina Petrus about Daughters of Africa, the one-woman show she’s bringing to the Capri. Melissa Slachetka reviews John Pizzarelli‘s Valentine’s Eve show at Orchestra Hall, and Leora Maccabee talks with “sexy Minnesota Jew” Ari Herstand. Finally, Amy Rea visits the SPCO’s music room and—not to be accused of being a snobby music critic—calls The Minnesota Beatle Project “a heckuva lot of fun.”
My remarkable weekend of dance and theater began with Bruno Beltrão’s H3 at the Walker, continued with Hedda Gabler at the Southern and Brief Encounter at the Guthrie, and unfortunately ended with Urban Samurai’s Drama a Comedy—which is remarkable in the wrong way. Meanwhile, Crystal Erickson reviewed the Guthrie’s bloody good Macbeth, Sheila Regan caught the revival of No Child… at Pillsbury House, Bev Wolfe enjoyed According to Coyote at the Children’s Theatre, Becca Mitchell gave a lukewarm review to the Jungle’s take on Blithe Spirit, and my aunt Betsy was disappointed by BNW’s How to Make Love Like a Minnesotan III: The Full Montevideo. (“What really turned my smile upside down was that there was no actual ‘Full Monte’—on video or on stage—which left me asking, where’s the beef?”) Also this week, Dwight Hobbes talks with Jennifer Jajeh about I Heart Hamas, her intentionally controversial show being performed at Bedlam Theatre.
Crystal Erickson talks with Iranian-American Ghobad Hendessi about his work now on display in Minneapolis, and about the dire situation back in his homeland.
Amy Rea took her Groupon voucher to Moto-i, and learned that it’s cool—as long as you don’t order your sake hot.
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