Andy Sturdevant’s “Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow”: The Minnesota book that Minnesota needed

When I was 11, my family moved into the house my father had grown up in—a turn-of-the-century foursquare near the University of St. Thomas, where my paternal grandfather taught English. My dad Jim could still walk around the block, until well into his 50s, and be greeted as “Jimmy” by elders who had been there since he was a boy. When describing my family’s relationship to our home, I would tell people at college that my dad was convinced we lived in the best house on the best corner of the best neighborhood of the best city in the best state in the best country in the world. Not that he thought any of those jurisdictions was perfect; each was just obviously preferable to any reasonable alternative.I went far away to college—to the east coast. Continue Reading

Saint Paul Almanac plans a big bash for the release of its 2014 edition

Over the past several years, the Saint Paul Almanac has grown from bathroom reading for Capital City buffs to a full-fledged organization engaging the city’s diverse communities through innovative programming—and, of course, that chunky book. On September 12, the Almanac will celebrate the publication of its eighth edition with a party at the Black Dog showcasing a wide range of local talent.The party, which runs from 7:00 p.m. until “late,” will spread to nearby venues including Clouds in Water Zen Center, which will host readings by IBé Kaba, Marcy Rendon, Carol Connolly, and others; and to the AZ Gallery, which along with the Black Dog will feature original art commissioned for the new volume. Live music will range from traditional Irish folk to Indian sitar and tabla.The almanac itself is being touted as bigger and better than ever, including poster-size hand-drawn maps of the city overall and downtown specifically. This year’s edition is dedicated to the memory of Rondo neighborhood writer Bertha Givens.Read stories from the Saint Paul Almanac in the Daily Planet; and Wendy Brown-Baez’s interview with Saint Paul Almanac editor Kimberly Nightingale.Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Continue Reading

MUSIC REVIEW | Taylor Swift at the Xcel Energy Center: A celebration of perseverance in the face of being talented, beautiful, and famous

Maybe I’ve been biased by the fact that Taylor Swift’s live show includes a number where she cavorts with sexy dancers costumed as a press corps, but having seen her perform, I’m now inclined to cut her a break with respect to her long parade of pouty breakup songs. The culmination of that parade, I now understand, is that hundreds of thousands of teenage girls have been able to witness the spectacle of confetti guns firing upwards while paper hearts drop downwards and a circus menagerie jumps around an arena as a mobile arm lifts Swift into the center of it all and she bawls, “WE! ARE NEVER! EVER! EVER! Continue Reading

Cedar Cultural Center’s 2013 Global Roots Festival: Free concerts by performers from across the globe

The Cedar Cultural Center’s fifth annual Global Roots Festival, which comes to the West Bank landmark on September 24 and 25, features four music acts from across the globe; performances are free and open to the public. Here’s what to expect on the Cedar stage.DakhaBrakha (September 24) are a Ukrainian ensemble who describe their sound as “ethnic chaos.” Founded by theater director Vladyslav Troitskyi, DakhaBrakha incorporate theatrical elements into their eclectic musical performances.Kardemmimit (also September 24) are a quartet of women who sing and play the kantele, a big dulcimer-like stringed instrument that’s the national instrument of Finland. They write and play what they regard as contemporary Finnish folk music. If we’re lucky, they’ll play their cover of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.”Debo Band (September 25) hark back to the late-60s “golden age” of Ethiopian pop music, when American funk and soul were incorporated into traditional Ethiopian music. Continue Reading

Transatlantic Love Affair’s “These Old Shoes” at the Minnesota Fringe Festival: Still worth the hype

You could be forgiven for rolling your eyes at the biography of These Old Shoes director Diogo Lopes, who declares himself “interested in finding a pure theatrical language through the discovery and implementation of the Clown state, where playfulness is paramount.” However, Transatlantic Love Affair—the company Lopes founded with his wife Isabel Nelson—demonstrates just how sublime the Clown state can be. Continue Reading

David Gordon Green talks about “Prince Avalanche” and his many other projects

Since 2000, writer/ director/ producer David Gordon Green has directed nine feature-length films, serving as screenwriter on five of them; has directed commercials (most notably a Chrysler truck commercial starring Clint Eastwood that aired at halftime of Super Bowl XLVI in 2012); created an animated series Good Vibes; directed a TV pilot for Comedy Central, Black Jack, which never aired (it was written by local screenwriter Michael Starrbury); and is a consulting producer/director on the hit HBO series Eastbound & Down, starring Green’s frequent collaborator Danny McBride. Needless to say, Green has stayed busy and will stay that way as he has a pile of projects lined up (his much-rumored remake of Suspiria by Italian “giallo” horror filmmaker Dario Argento is one of them).Green, 38, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, raised in Texas, and then went to college at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he studied film, got noticed with his first feature in 2000: George Washington, about a group of children who hide a body in rural North Carolina, which was celebrated by many film critics as one of the best films of the year. Green followed it up with the 2003 romantic drama All the Real Girls, starring Zooey Deschanel as a young woman who encounters her first serious relationship with the town lothario, only to break his heart; that film was given a four-star review by Roger Ebert. After only two features and at the age of 27, Green had emerged as one of the most exciting voices in American independent films.Over the past decade, Green’s films got more comedic and less serious. After 2004’s Undertow and an adaptation of Stewart O’Nan’s novel Snow Angels in 2007, he found himself with a surprise crossover hit with the 2008 stoner action comedy Pineapple Express, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, which brought Franco a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as dopey drug dealer Saul Silver.After directing two non-memorable comedies for the Hollywood in 2011’s Your Highness and The Sitter (Your Highness had been filmed in 2009, but was not released until 2011), Green turned his attention back to his dramatic roots after seeing the 2011 Icelandic film Either Way.After seeing Either Way, Green started working on the script for his latest film, Prince Avalanche, starting Paul Rudd and Emilie Hirsch. Continue Reading

“The Critic and the Concubine” at the Minnesota Fringe Festival: If I pan it, will a kick line show up at my office?

The Critic and the Concubine is produced by the Grays Players, “a group of young theatre artists working to establish ourselves in the Twin Cities.” The show’s creator, Hailey Colwell, is a rising sophomore at the University of Minnesota who began writing and directing her own shows while attending Highland Park Senior High in St. Paul. While some elements of this production betray the producers’ relative inexperience with professional theater, Colwell’s script is a satisfyingly substantive reflection on the often fraught relationship between critic and artist. Continue Reading