2015 Little Mekong Night Market in photos

If you attended the Little Mekong Night Market this year, you know that the exceptional food and performances made the festival a vibrant place to be last weekend. See below for exclusive snapshots of the event. All photos taken by Mark Peterson. Click here for more photos, video and information on this year’s Little Mekong Market. Continue Reading

2015 Minnesota Fringe Festival – Top Ten

Every year I clear out the past year’s top 10 to make room for ten more promising acts I’m excited to see.  For the 2015 Minnesota Fringe Festival, they are:

1 – FurTrader Productions – Confessions of a Delinquent Cheerleader

Who were you in High School? Hear true stories of a reformed cheerleader/bad girl at a private school back in the late 1980s. At times hilarious, at times tragic, she shares her “glory days” for all to judge. I was already fairly sure this was going to be one great comedic solo show, just by virtue of the fact that Mame Pelletier is involved.  That fact that it’s her script and her story only reinforced that instinct.  Her Fringe preview made it clear I would not be allowed to even entertain doubts about this one.  It’s going to be a heck of a lot of fun.  Can’t wait. 2 – Little Lifeboats – Confessions of a Butter Princess or Why The Cow Jumped Over The Moon

On the planet Ceres, Alex, a Cow, and a Queen are trying to escape the wrath of the Princess Kay Chorus. Continue Reading

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

Review – Novelty Shots: A Political Fantasy – Fire Drill – The Art of Paying Attention

They don’t hand out the programs until *after* Fire Drill’s latest production, Novelty Shots: A Political Fantasy, is over. It’s deliberate, but I’m still not entirely sure why. Do they not want to spoil the surprise?  What is the surprise? Is any review like this one just going to be a massive pile of spoilers? Is it even possible to spoil this show? Continue Reading


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

Wander, explore, illuminate together at this year’s Northern Spark

Northern Spark, the magical night each June when sections of the Twin Cities urban landscapes become the canvas(es) for large-scale, often interactive, ephemeral, and community-based art, is celebrating its 5th birthday this month. I am delighted to report that after hours of researching this years’ exhibits and acts, watching project videos, reading artist statements, etc, I have found very little in this years’ offerings that is not somehow captivating, compelling, and/or curious. If ever there was a summer night that justified an all-nighter for any adventurers or art-lovers, Northern Spark is it.  

I couldn’t possibly say that some of these events will be better than others, nor am I interested in doing so. This is my own personal curated vision of what sounds especially delightful and resonates with my own interests. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW: A Tribe Called Queer: Can We Kick It?

You’d think communities of color, populaces historically dealing with discrimination would be the last to stigmatize or ostracize people simply because they are different.  You’d be wrong.  You’d similarly think white, gay folk, long targets of homophobia, would be beyond looking askance on gays of color.  Again, you’d be wrong.  Facts heightening the significance of Lisa Marie Brimmer’s A Tribe Called Queer: Can We Kick It? 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

Violet at North Hennepin Community College

Over the years, I have found theater productions by local colleges to be hit and miss. As an adjunct instruction at North Hennepin Community College (NHCC) in Brooklyn Park, I have been attending the college’ productions over the past 18 years and similarly found the quality to be uneven. But NHCC’s Theatre Arts Ensemble has undergone a tremendous growth in the quality of its student productions over the last couple of years meriting some attention by the theater community as a whole. The growth of the program was evident in last year’s production of Dames at Sea which was such a splendid production that it compared to musicals I have seen performed on Broadway. The Ensemble’s most recent production of Violet, takes on a more edgy musical. Continue Reading

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