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Coens’ new film takes Cannes Grand Prize; Children’s Festival starts

ALSO: Sue McLean funeral at the Basilica; Duluth fest to open with hockey film; the Capitol in LEGOS; and more.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” tells the story of an early 1960s folk singer in New York.
Courtesy of CBS Films/Alison Rosa

The Coen Brothers took the Grand Prize (actually second prize, after the Palme d’Or) at this year’s Cannes Film Festival on Sunday for “Inside Llewyn Davis,” the story of an early 1960s folk singer in New York. The Atlantic called it “‘Fargo’-level good,” about the highest praise there is. John Goodman is in it (yay!). Frances McDormand is not (boo!). And there’s a cat. Here’s the “official teaser trailer.” It’s out in the U.S. on Dec. 20, which seems like a very long time from now.  

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Friends, family, admirers and a lot of musicians filled the Basilica for concert promoter Sue McLean’s funeral on Friday. “In the 17 years I served this church, I never saw a crowd like this,” said former pastor Michael O’Connell in his homily. “What a testament to Sue.” O’Connell credited “the Queen of Clubs” with saving the Basilica Block Party and boosting the Basilica’s membership. Since McLean became involved with the Block Party in 1997, the Basilica has grown from 1,500 households to 6,000, including many young people. “If it takes beer and rock and roll to bring people to God, so be it,” O’Connell quipped. Outside stood the big sign for this year’s Block Party, her work, already sold out; up the street, the State Theater marquee said simply, “THANK YOU SUE MCLEAN.”

The Flint Hills International Children’s Festival starts today in St. Paul. Presented by the Ordway for nearly a decade and a half, this arts-based festival features local, national, and international artists, magicians, balloon artists, face painters, art-making activities, and food vendors. Indoor shows are just $5/ticket. Outdoor performances, activities, and exhibits are free. FMI, tickets, and free Metro Transit passes here.

star keeper puppet show
Courtesy of the Ordway
Théâtre de l’OEil’s “The Star Keeper” is part of the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival.

The Duluth Superior Film Festival opens tomorrow at Clyde Iron Works with a screening of “The Last Gladiators,” a documentary about hockey enforcers directed by Oscar nominee Alex Givney. In attendance: former NHL players Mike Peluso, Dave Richter, Jon Rohloff, Bob Paradise and Tom Reid, who will introduce the film. Other festival highlights include “Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show” on Saturday, a live performance by Glover followed by a Q&A and book signing; an “Iron Will” reunion screening and reception with star MacKenzie Astin; “Meeting Charlie Parr,” the first documentary about the celebrated folk singer; “The Price of Sand,” a one-hour docu about frac sand mining; “Venus of Mars,” with Venus DeMars, Lynette Reini-Grandell, and director Emily Goldberg present; and several films made in the Arrowhead. FMI and tickets. The All-Access Pass ($30) is a bargain.

sand mountains
Courtesy of Nice Pictures
“The Price of Sand” is a one-hour documentary about frac sand mining.

Love the Brave New Workshop? New to BNW? Either way, the 2013 fall show sounds like a sure thing. “Attack of the Best of the Brave New Workshop” is a greatest hits/fan favorites revue of sketches from recent years. The cast includes BNW regulars Lauren Anderson, Andy Hilbrands, Taj Ruler, Matt Erkel and Tom Reed. Caleb McEwen directs. Founded by Dudley Riggs in 1958, this is BNW’s 55th anniversary year; “Attack” is its 281st comedy review. Opens July 5, closes Nov. 2. FMI and tickets ($30/$25).

For musicians, fans, and local industry types who like to plan ahead a little: The second annual MN Music Summit returns to St. Paul June 6-8. Starting with a social hour at Summit Brewery on Thursday, the three-day event includes workshops on funding and publicity; a crash course in publicity and radio promotions by Ellen Stanley, the new executive director of the Minnesota Music Coalition; mentoring sessions; and live concerts by Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps, Duluth bluesman Charlie Parr, Bomba de Luz, and others, all free and open to the public. Downtown St. Paul. FMI.

Dancer, poet, and author Lightsey Darst is spending two weeks in the Walker Art Center’s resource library, and you can read about it here. Darst is the first participant in the Writers and Readers Library Residency Program just launched by Coffee House Press. The program was inspired by the Library as Incubator Project, which aims to inspire people to engage with their local libraries in new and meaningful ways and encourage artists and others to think about libraries as creative spaces. Writers-in-residence are expected to blog and create new work. Future residencies are scheduled for the American Craft Council, Midway Contemporary Art Library, and Minnesota Historical Society. On Thursday, June 20, at 7 p.m. in the Walker’s Lecture Room, Darst will present her work and discuss the experience. In Spring 2014, Coffee House will publish a book of essays, images and other resources with the Library as Incubator Project titled “The Artist’s Library: A Field Guide from the Library as Incubator Project.”

The Cedar’s “African Summer” series starts in June, and you might want to get your tickets now. We’re surprised to see that tickets are still available to Femi Kuti (June 26), Amadou & Mariam (June 28) and Vieux Farka Touré (July 9). Amadou & Mariam and Vieux Farka Touré (son of Ali Farka Touré) are all from Mali, the country in west Africa where music has been silenced by Islamist rebels affiliated with al-Qaida. FMI and tickets.

Mu Performing Arts has announced its 2013-14 season, the first under incoming artistic director Randy Reyes. The season includes the world premiere of “Kung Fu Zombies vs. Cannibals,” with martial-arts battles and a hip-hop score (Oct. 12-27); “A Very Asian X-mas Concert,” the company’s popular holiday cabaret, this year at the Southern (Nov. 30 – Dec. 1); “Rhythm in Motion: Mu Daiko at the Cowles Center,” combining dance with Japanese drums (March 7-9, 2014); “Starry River of the Sky” by Jeannine Coulombe, based on the book by Grace Lin (“Where the Mountain Meets the Moon”), a collaboration with Stages Theater Company co-directed by Rick Shiomi and Sandy Boren Barrett (April 25 – May 18); and an Asian-American production of Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” at Park Square, directed by Shiomi and starring Reyes as Fredrik Egerman (July 25-Aug. 10). Season subscriptions are currently on sale; call 651-789-1012.

Our picks for the week

Today through Thursday: State Capitol LEGO Model Display. We love LEGOs. (Did you know that you can now buy LEGOs sets for Frank Lloyd Wright buildings?) LEGO ambassador Roy Cook used more than 75,000 bricks (and 150 hours out of his life) to build a monumental, detailed model of the Minnesota State Capitol: six feet long, four feet wide, three feet high. See it in the Capitol building and as long as you’re there, take a guided tour. 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul. Free. Can’t see it this week? It’s back starting in July, including weekends. FMI.

percy photo
Benjamin Percy

Wednesday: Club Book with Benjamin Percy. Award-winning author Percy writes literary page-turners – psychological thrillers, horror fiction, books about werewolves and men lost in the woods (too bad for them). His books so far include “The Wilding,” “Refresh, Refresh,” “The Language of Elk” and “Red Moon.” He also writes nonfiction for Esquire, Time, GQ, and the Wall Street Journal. Percy comes to the Southdale Library to read and sign books – mmmmm, summer reading. 7001 York Ave. S., Edina. 7-8:30 p.m. Free.

Wednesday: Maud Hixson releases her new CD, “Don’t Let a Good Thing Get Away.” She writes in the liner notes: “I’ve always been drawn to great pairings of words and music – the kind that sound inevitable and conversational – and it has become my business to find these songs and sing them.” Hixson does her homework and delivers something special and rare: a whole album of songs composed by Mickey Leonard (“The Yearling”) including four premiere recordings. Leonard’s lyricists could turn a phrase, and Hixson has the impeccable diction most singers only dream of; it’s as if her voice has perfect penmanship. Her sound is clear, wide-open, and as cool as satin sheets. She can swing, sing a love song, and tell the story each song holds: of desire, allure, empty-headed hubris, nostalgia, regret, lessons learned. Hixson recorded the CD in New York with New York musicians; she’ll perform here with top cats Rick Carlson, Gordy Johnson and Phil Hey. 7 p.m. at the Dakota. $7.

Thursday: John Diers presents his book “St. Paul Union Depot.” Author John Diers loves trolleys, trains and transportation in general. As the grand old Union Depot begins its second life, Diers tells the story of its first. MinnPost’s Amy Goetzman spoke with him earlier this month. He’s at SubText: a Bookstore at 7 p.m.

Thursday-Saturday: acclaimed soprano Dawn Upshaw ends her six-season tenure as an artistic partner of the SPCO this week with three neighborhood concerts. She leaves an impressive list of accomplishments: working with the SPCO to commission four new works and two new arrangements, performing twice at Carnegie Hall with the SPCO, recording Maria Schneider’s “Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories” with Schneider and the SPCO. For her final concerts with the SPCO, Upshaw will bring her warm voice and graceful musicality to Ravel’s “Chansons madécasses” and Crumb’s “Night of the Four Moons.” The program also includes Haydn’s “Le matin” and Mozart’s “Linz.” 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater, 8 p.m. Friday at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, 9 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ. Tickets here.

Curious, we checked the SPCO’s 2012-13 concert schedule brochure, which we held onto during the lockout. Upshaw was originally set to perform the Crumb and a world premiere work (and SPCO commission) by very young American composer Shawn Jaeger. Apparently that was scratched. And the Composer Conversation with Jaeger that was supposed to take place tomorrow at 7 p.m. at MPR has been canceled. (Just in case you still had it on your G-cal, as some of us did.) We really liked the Composer Conversation Series, new last year, co-presented by the SPCO, MPR, and the American Composers Forum, which got off to a good start B.L. (Before Lockout) with Maria Schneider and Laurie Anderson. Are there any plans to bring it back? We’ll find out.