Ruddy ducks, Autoharp warriors, boozing ladies, YogaSoul, Quincy Jones, and the hateful warmongers who are Tonic Sol-fa

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by Jay Gabler • The local PR corps must have made a collective new year’s resolution to bombard us with even more eye-opening press releases, because right now my inbox is just bursting with goodness.

• Thanks to Fargo, everyone knows about the national Duck Stamp Contest, but did you know there’s a Junior Duck Stamp Contest? You do now! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has just issued its call for submissions in four grade level brackets: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. “Artwork entries,” notes the press release, “will be judged on the basis of original design, anatomical accuracy, artistic composition, and suitability for reproduction on a 1” by 1.5” stamp.” That seems like a tall order for a kindergartner, but at least the kids get their choice of subject: “whistling ducks, swans, geese, brant, dabbling ducks, diving ducks, sea ducks, mergansers, stiff tails, or Hawaiian ducks.” It’s all in the name of education, says Tom Melius, Midwest regional director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. “By using their artistic talents, younger generations can develop an appreciation for migratory birds, waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wildlife they may otherwise not be exposed to.” I dunno…looking at last year’s winners (see above), I’m guessing that 15-year-old Lydia Han of California has definitely been exposed to a few ruddy ducks in her day.

• Sorry I missed alerting you to this ahead of time, but listeners at the Armatage School Auditorium on January 9 had the opportunity to witness a performance by Bryan Bowers, a member of the Autoharp Hall of Fame. Did you know there’s an Autoharp Hall of Fame? You do now. And do you know what it takes to make it into the Autoharp Hall of Fame? It ain’t easy; in fact, it apparently takes near-supernatural abilities. “To call Bryan Bowers’s performance simply a ‘concert’ would be inadequate if not inaccurate,” says the Deseret News, which goes on to say that a Bowers show “could better be described as an experience.” Bowers has even attracted the notice of People Magazine—not normally the first place you’d go to read the latest Autoharp gossip. “Bowers is widely regarded as the leading virtuoso on the Autoharp,” avers the glossy weekly. The show was sponsored by the Homestead Pickin’ Parlor, which describes Bowers as “one of the true folk music road warriors spreading the Autoharp gospel from border to border and shore to shore.”

front row seat is the blog of jay gabler, the daily planet’s arts editor. to keep up on the local arts scene, follow artsorbit on twitter and subscribe to arts orbit weekly.

• A show you haven’t missed yet is the Wailers at First Ave this Friday. Versa Manos (what a great Bond girl name), the band’s rep at Gorgeous PR, describes the Wailers as “the only group still capable of delivering Bob Marley’s message of peace, love, and equality.” So every other group in the world represents war, hate, and oppression? Sorry, Tonic Sol-fa.

• A cartoon of a dancing, Martini-wielding lady wearing flapper beads and a garter adorns the press release advertising the Guthrie’s “girls night” season packages. For $90 each, you and your posse of girlfriends can purchase three-show season passes that include admission to pre-performance receptions with free cocktails (one each—those Segway riders on the River Road don’t need any soused culture vultures ralphing off the Endless Bridge), music by DJ Eric Lovold, and unspecified “spa services” by Aveda. It’s a great deal, but I wonder whether women who are treating themselves to a night away from the hubby and kids will really be in the mood to enjoy, say, a drama about failed marriages and toppling families. Hence the Martinis.

• Daily Planet® writer Anne Nicolai®, from her new residence in Mexico, sends word that friends of hers in Eagan are opening a new YogaSoul® Center—an establishment the press release describes as “south metro’s first full-service yoga and pilates studio.” The ribbon will be officially cut, by Eagan Mayor Mark Maguire® and representatives from Eagan Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce®, at 4 p.m. this Friday. Opening-weekend festivities will include gourmet vegetarian appetizers by Jagadeesh Das (formerly head of a yoga retreat center in Maui); festive Kirtan music (Indian call and response); homemade chai; and “tea talks” on yoga, pilates, and meditation. All this is taking place at the über-American corner of Yankee Doodle and Lexington. We can only hope that YogaSoul® proprietors Holly Irlbacker (Siri Beant Kaur) and Tarisa Parrish (Angad Kaur) will take a moment to toast our revolutionary forefathers for storming Boston Harbor in 1773 and giving that overtaxed tea the ol’ downward dog.

• Circulating online is a petition in support of Quincy Jones’s promise to “beg” Barack Obama to create a cabinet-level position for a national Secretary of the Arts. I’d definitely sign that petition if I could be guaranteed that the first Secretary of the Arts would be Quincy Jones. Or Dwight Hobbes.

Previous Press Releases of the Day:The edge of TomatoNothing scandalous, just some booze and JengaRobots fish for prostatesThe Rake AngelListening to dirtReindeer games at the Red StagDoes St. Paul owe the Pope $3.4 million?Tonic Sol-fa visit the Don Shelby Radio ShowRybak proclaims Tonic Sol-fa Day in Minneapolis

Published on 1/15/09.

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