Friends have noticed that the days are getting longer. Maybe the days are getting warmer, too, but I dare not speak too soon, in case the polar vortex makes me eat my words. Instead, I’ll follow the sun and write a letter or two because St. Valentine was known as a great letter writer. However you want to celebrate, or not celebrate, now, in the hope of longer days and maybe warmer weather, it is time to write and connect with the creative energies we love in Saint Paul.
Coming Almanac (and Almanac family) Events
This week’s Soul Sounds Open Mic is dedicated to all of your favorite love poems. The poems you recite to whisper into the ears of the one you desire most and the poems that you have to re-read twice because you can’t believe how good they make you feel. This is an evening dedicated to all of the work you’ve ever written for that special someone. It is a night that you can express love to family, spouses, cities, food, sports teams—whatever! It’s all for the love. Golden Thyme Coffee Café is at 921 Selby Avenue (corner of North Milton Street) and the “Love Letters” Soul Sounds Open Mic takes place on Thursday, Feb. 13 from 6 p.m.–8p.m. Free. All Ages.
The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar will host the second round of this year’s Be Heard Minnesota Youth Poetry Slam Series on Saturday, February 15. Soul Sounds Open Mic mainstay Tish Jones continues to be a force behind this program that, each year, identifies six Minnesota youth poets between the ages of 13 and 19 to represent the state in the annual international Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Slam Festival.
Past teams have been the focus of Almanac Lowertown Reading Jams, as have some of the mentors, like Tish and Guante. This program will showcase a trove of amazing spoken word youth talent here in the Twin Cities. Head to the Black Dog at 5 p.m. to have your eardrums beat with a sweet timpani. The Black Dog is at 308 Prince Street in Lowertown. Free. All Ages.
Literature and Readings
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, join The Friends of the Saint Paul Library for the Fireside Series, to get a prepublication reading by bestselling author Brian Freeman. The Cold Nowhere is the sixth in Freeman’s Jonathan Stride series and will be published in the U.S. this spring. Freeman has read in the Fireside Series before. This event is at the Hamline Midway Library at 1558 W Minnehaha Avenue and begins at 7 p.m. Free. All Ages.
On Thursday, Feb. 13, Summit Brewing Company will host this year’s benefit for the Minnesota Book Awards. Plots & Pints: A Pub Quiz for the Minnesota Literate will test your literary chops in a fun and friendly competition. Gather four friends, or even frenemies who know a little too much of everything, or a Quiz Bowl ringer from your high school days. No need to study but the test will be on “everything Minnesota—on topics such as music, politics, geography, books and authors, and food.” There will be prizes, including one for the best team name. Proceeds benefit the ongoing activities of the Minnesota Book Awards. Summit’s Tap Room is at 910 Montreal Circle. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the quiz starts at 7 p.m. $100 per team/$25 per individual. 21+.
The Lorelei Ensemble
This month, Macalester College is hosting the Lorelei Ensemble, Boston’s acclaimed eight-voice women’s vocal ensemble, for a residency that will include two Saint Paul performances. They will perform ancient and modern works from periods that range from 9th century Greece, to early music from the Medieval through Baroque periods, to modern compositions inspired by Japanese meditations on the moon. The ensemble is recognized to have expanded the audience for this genre of music. They have an amazing sound that you can hear in person, first at noon on Thursday, Feb. 13 at The Schubert Club (75 5th St. W #302 St Paul, MN 55102) and on Friday, Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. in Macalester College’s Mairs Concert Hall, Music Building (1600 Grand Avenue).
Right: Hot Date
This year’s Valentine’s Day pick is a show by Lowertown stars Hot Date. Nora and Eric will take a few steps out of Lowertown to the Amsterdam Bar and Hall as hosts of Saint Paul Sexy Time Valentines Dance. It will be a night of “love, dancing, whiskey, delicious tiny sandwiches, and music with a Sam Cooke theme. The combination of the strong, sparse and intimate stylings of Hot Date and others, along with the tunes of Sam Cooke, are sure to get you in the Valentine mood. You don’t even need to bring your own “hot date.” Free.
Some nights, when I pass the corner of Snelling and Minnehaha in Hamline-Midway, I see a warm, ember glow through the large windows of Ginkgo Coffeehouse, one of the city’s finest folk music venues. The series continues on Saturday, Feb. 15 and, in keeping with that reputation, Ginkgo will host acclaimed singer-songwriter Ellis Paul.
Ellis is considered the head of the traditional folk revival also coming out of Boston and is the recipient of 14 Boston Music Awards. As Roberta B. Schwartz wrote in her article in FAME, “Ellis Paul gives us hope, gives us a reason to dream and to love. His music is the soundtrack of our lives.” Stop by and see for yourself. Ginkgo is at 721 North Snelling Avenue. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Call Ginkgo at 651-645-2647. (Ellis is also doing a family show Saturday morning. See details below.)
Ellis Paul. (Photo: Jack Looney Photography)
Kids and Family
My son has school this Friday, but only because his school is trying to make up lost time due to this winter’s weather. Other students might be luckier. On Friday, Feb. 14, ArtStart is holding the latest Schools Out Series Workshop: Paper, Wool, Scissors! Kids in Grades 1-6 will get the chance to experience Wycinanki, a Polish word for paper-cut designs. The morning session is with artist Blanche Krbececk when kids will learn paper cutting techniques and designs to create your own cut paper hearts for the Valentine holiday and more. In the afternoon, work with artist Marjorie Fedyszyn and learn the art of felting. Create colorful felted hearts and other items using wool roving. The cost for a full day is $50, half day $25. Held at Mount Zion, 1300 Summit Avenue on Friday, February 14. The morning session is held from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and the afternoon session runs from 12:30-3:30 p.m.
Okay, Ellis Paul has a tattoo of Woody Guthrie on his arm. Kids, don’t let that scare you! Ellis is a lot of fun and will get you moving and singing with his music. Ellis has a voice that is clear enough for a kid’s ear and a sound strong enough to keep them interested and entertained. Ellis was a Parents’ Choice Award recipient in 2007 for his CD The Dragonfly Races, which has sold nearly 10,000 copies. His most recent family release is The Hero in You and celebrates heroes of all kinds—including you. This kids and family event starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, at Ginkgo.
If this isn’t enough to do or you can’t make it to these events, there is more to show, more to know, and more places to go. Check out the Almanac arts calendar for more to do. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Check out the “50 Shades of Red” exhibit at AZ Gallery, 308 Prince Street in Lowertown. Check theazgallery.org for gallery hours.