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New songs from the Replacements; luminaries to perform in ‘8’

ALSO: Minnesota Orchestra members to offer concerts during lockout; Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement opens; 5 reasons to see ‘Measure for Measure”; and more.

Paul Westerberg
Paul Westerberg

Have the Replacements really recorded new songs? Rolling Stone says so. According to an article published Wednesday, “in late September, singer Paul Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson spent a day in a Minneapolis studio and cut four cover songs that will be released later this year as a limited edition 10-inch vinyl EP. All 250 copies will be auctioned online, and the proceeds will benefit Slim Dunlap, the Replacements’ guitarist from 1987 to 1991, who had a severe stroke in February.” Drummer Chris Mars, now a visual artist, is not involved. Earlier this year, Mars recorded his own song for Dunlap, available for purchase on his website.

Locked out by management, with concerts canceled through November, the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra announced Wednesday that “we are planning to hold a series of concerts in response to support from donors and fans. We hope to honor Minnesota Orchestral Association tickets for the Season Opening concerts, although the details of that arrangement have yet to be worked out.” Orchestra spokesperson Gwen Pappas told the Strib’s Graydon Royce, “Regardless of whether a patron attends this newly announced concert, our ticketholders are still due a refund, or they can bank their tickets for a future Minnesota Orchestra concert.”

We’re starting to feel the ripple effect of the concert cancellations; in its October newsletter, the Minnesota Chorale notes that “two much-anticipated performances will not take place.”

At his classical music website, Matt Peiken offers his perspective on the orchestra’s management, calling their tactics “calculated, callous, corrosive.” In a widely reprinted piece, the AP looks at the big picture of orchestras in trouble across the U.S.

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The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra continues to “talk and play.” This Saturday it’s Beethoven at the Ordway: two family programs during the day and the 7th Symphony at night, conducted by Thomas Dausgaard in his SPCO debut. FMI and tickets. The SPCO will perform a free concert at the Capri Theater next Thursday, Oct. 7. FMI and reservations (free tickets must be reserved in advance).

A lot of local luminaries are attached to a one-night-only performance of Dustin Lance Black’s new play, “8.” Sally Wingert, Linda Kelsey, Don Shelby, Jennifer Blagen, Shawn Hamilton, Mark Benninghofen, Brian Skellenger, Beth Gilleland, and Tod Peterson star in a staged reading of the courtroom drama about California’s Proposition 8 trial; Theatre Latté Da’s Peter Rothstein directs. The event benefits Minnesotans United for All Families. 7:30 p.m., Oct. 29 at the Varsity. Tickets on sale today ($25-$100) online or by phone at 651-330-6852. Earlier this week, the Northfield City Council became the 14th in Minnesota to oppose the marriage amendment, claiming it contradicts the Northfield Constitution. Way to go, town of cows, colleges, and contentment.

Had Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz been scheduled a bit later in the Talking Volumes season (he was here Sept. 18), we might have hit him up for a loan. Earlier this week, he received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship – the $500,000 so-called “Genius” grant. “I guess I’m going to try to write a crazy monster book now,” Diaz told Business Week. “This award grants me extraordinary leeway.”

haunted basement
Courtesy of the Soap Factory
The Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement returns Friday night.

The Soap Factory’s annualHaunted Basementopens tonight (Friday, Oct. 5). We are not fans of haunted houses or having the **** scared out of us but believe it’s our duty to you, dear readers, to be brave and stay informed. So we’re going over the weekend, with trepidation.

Attention artists: Starting tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 6), Altered Esthetics hosts a “Workshop Weekend” meant to help you get the most from your gallery experience. In a series of free workshops given by other artists, you’ll learn about lighting art for exhibition, photographing art for submission, and framing work so it’s ready to hang. Funded in part by legacy money, thank you very much, Minnesotans. FMI.

The reborn “Women of Substance” series, now a partnership between the O’Shaughnessy and Northrop Concerts and Lectures at the U of M, got off to a spectacular start on Wednesday night with Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca. Every moment was riveting; by the second half, the Minnesota audience, met with passion and heat, drama and sweat, was jumping to its feet and shouting “Olé!” The rest of the series looks just as good.

Who really wrote the works of William Shakespeare? (Ask MinnPost writer Susan Perry that question sometime.) This Sunday, Oct. 7, the Film Society presents an advance screening of the new documentary “Last Will. & Testament,” directed by former Twin Cities residents Lisa Wilson and Laura Wilson Matthias. Derek Jacobi, Vanessa Redgrave, and Mark Rylance star. Stick around for a post-screening Q&A with the directors. 6:30 p.m. at the St. Anthony Main Theatre. FMI and tickets.

ten thousand things
Photo by Paula Keller
While Shakespeare’s cast would have been all white men, TTT’s is mixed: men, women, whites, blacks, and an Asian.

Speaking of Shakespeare (or not), Ten Thousand Things“Measure for Measure” is exciting, immersive theater. There are easily ten thousand reasons to see it, but we’ll start with five.  1. In her brief introduction, director Michelle Hensley explains that Shakespeare’s language can be confusing at first but sounds perfectly normal about five minutes in. She’s right, especially when a production is this unpretentious. No one even attempts an English accent.  2. While Shakespeare’s cast would have been all white men, TTT’s is mixed: men, women, whites, blacks, and an Asian. This, too, seems perfectly normal.  3. TTT does more with fewer people and less stuff than any theater we know. Here, eight actors play 20 roles. (The exceptional cast includes Suzanne Warmanen, Luverne Seifert, Zach Curtis and Sonja Parks). The sets (metal structures by Carleton College art professor Stephen Mohring) are minimalist, movable and mutable. The music (live) is by Peter Vitale, a one-man band on a drum set. There’s no stage lighting. Costume changes hang on coat trees just outside the perimeter of the play. If you want, you can watch the Duke become Friar Lodowick.  4. TTT is theatre-in-the-round (more accurately, theatre-in-the-square). The audience, seated in two rows of chairs, surrounds the acting area. It’s like being on-stage during a concert, except even more immediate and involving.  5. The first half has a few slow moments – as with most Shakespeare comedies, there’s a lot of set-up – but the second is nonstop momentum that careers toward a powerful finish. Continues through Sunday, Oct. 21, at Open Book. FMI and tickets. A play about justice, power, hypocrisy, the abuse of power, and walking in someone else’s shoes, “Measure for Measure” should be compulsory viewing for every politician.

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American Craft Week begins today (Friday, Oct. 5). What to do?  1. Visit the Stillwater Fall Colors Fine Art & Jazz Festival. More than 90 artists, live music, and trees like flaming torches along the banks of the St. Croix. Remember, the Stillwater lift bridge is now closed.  2. Stop in at the Grand Hand Gallery in St. Paul and explore its intelligently curated collection of handmade objects. Take part in a “ceramics makeover:” bring in one piece of imported, mass-produced ceramics and take 25% off a comparable handmade piece from the gallery costing $150 or less. Ideas: a mug for a mug, a soup bowl for a soup bowl. Or splurge on a carved pumpkin by Chuck Solberg.  3. Take a scenic drive to the Upper St. Croix Valley, where three founding potters of the annual Minnesota Potters Tour and Sale will open their studios for the weekend: Robert Briscoe, Will Swanson, and Connee Mayeron. Visit the links FMI.  4. Drop by the American Craft Council, a major sponsor of American Craft Week, for an exhibition of work by 24 ACC artists. Next Friday’s Library Salon features an advance screening of the latest episode of the Peabody Award-winning PBS documentary series “Craft in America” spotlighting three Minnesota potters. (The Grand Hand screens the potters’ segment of the program this weekend.)  

pumpkin ceramics
Courtesy of the Grand Hand Gallery
Carved clay pumpkins by Chuck Solberg, at the Grand Hand Gallery

On Saturday (Oct. 6) you can take a walking tour of the West Bank and learn more about its music glory days (Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt) with the Minnesota Historical Society. 10 a.m. until noon, convening at the Nomad. Register online. Or join the ninth annual Fall Art Tour of the College Art Gallery Collaborative. Board a bus for a free guided tour of galleries at colleges and universities in the Twin Cities including Augsburg, Concordia, Hamline, Macalester, the College of Visual Arts, the University of St. Thomas, St. Catherine University, and the U of M. 1-5 p.m. Reserve your seat here. If you’d rather travel under your own power, download a tour brochure and/or a bike map.

Love the mighty pipe organ? Celebrate the 30th anniversary of the popular radio program “Pipedreams” with host Michael Barone and a rank of soloists playing music by Minnesota musicians including David Evan Thomas, Cary John Franklin, Stephen Paulus, Libby Larsen and Gerhard Brand. 2 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 7) at St. Paul’s House of Hope Presbyterian Church. Free.

At the Children’s Theatre Company now: “Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat.” Specifically, the U.S. premiere of the National Theatre of Great Britain’s adaptation. (We should write this in rhyme. Maybe next time, if you’ll give us a dime.) CTC is the only theater in the U.S. granted permission to develop and produce original productions based on the work of Theodor Geisel. For ages pre-K and up. FMI and tickets. “Buccaneers” by Liz Duffy Adams continues through Oct. 21, so there’s still time to take third-graders and up to this smart, swashbuckling musical. Expect serious themes and complex vocabulary; just because theater is for kids doesn’t mean it has to be sugar-sweet or dumbed down. Bradley Greenwald is terrific as Johnny Johné, a pirate king mean enough to kidnap children, and the pirate ship set is awesome. FMI and tickets.

On sale today: the very funny Kathy Griffin (Dec. 1) at the State. Tim Sparks (Dec. 12) in the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio. Single tickets to “Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy” (Dec. 14-24) at the Cowles Center. (Last year sold out.) Andrew Bird (Dec. 17) at the State. “Reefer Madness” (Feb. 1-24, 2013) at the New Century Theatre. A few words about fingerstyle guitarist Tim Sparks: his “Nutcracker Suite,” transcribed by Sparks and performed on solo guitar, is exquisite. He’ll play that at the Guthrie and will also debut new transcriptions of a project he’s been working on – music by Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. As he wrote in an email earlier this year, “It’s gonna be awesome.” That could prove to be an understatement.