Farewell, Heritage Square at the State Fair; hello, West End Market. It was way past time for Heritage Square to go, and we like what’s planned in its place: a $15 million project to include an updated State Fair History & Heritage Center, an expanded free entertainment and seating area, new merchants, new food, a new adjacent entrance gate and transit hub for buses, and (fanfare) new restrooms. But we’re not in love with the name, which is boring and blah.
Chosen from among nearly 1,300 ideas submitted through Facebook and email, West End Market is too similar to St. Louis Park’s The Shops at West End and lacks any sense of fun, excitement, history or tradition. On the other hand, this is a place that also boasts such destinations as the Food Building, the Swine Barn, and the Progress Center Eco Experience. So maybe naming isn’t the Fair’s strong suit. Hey, as long as West End Market has something fried on a stick, we’ll stop by.
Dark & Stormy Productions, a new theater kid in town, made waves earlier this year with its take on David Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow,” staged at the Miller Bag Building in NE Minneapolis. Its next presentation, the regional premiere of Obie winner Adam Bock’s “The Receptionist,” opens Dec. 11 in the Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art. Founding artistic director Sara Marsh and associate artistic director Bill McCallum think we should know a little something about Bock before then. Last Monday, D&S gave a reading of Bock’s play, “The Thugs,” at the Casket Arts Building. This Monday, Nov. 4, they’ll do the same with Bock’s “The Drunken City” at Mixed Blood.
The readings are free, with refreshments and a reception following so you can chat with the artists, who include top Twin Cities talent. Sha Cage, currently starring opposite Linda Kelsey in Park Square Theatre’s “Mary T. & Lizzy K.,” read a part in “The Thugs.” Randy Reyes, who succeeded Rick Shiomi as artistic director of Mu Performing Arts, will read in “The Drunken City.” We went last Monday and our appetites are seriously whetted for “The Receptionist,” which will star veteran actors Sally Wingert and Harry Waters Jr. along with Marsh and McCallum. If you’re free this Monday and you enjoy live theater, or you think you might if it loosened up and cost less, it’s kind of silly not to go. Doors at 7, reading at 7:30. FMI. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-724-5685.
Congratulations to this year’s Minnesota Music Hall of Fame inductees. At a gala dinner and ceremony tonight (Friday, Nov. 1) in New Ulm, several Minnesota musicians will be added to an eclectic roster that includes Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, Jeanne Arland Peterson, Michael Johnson, the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Philip Brunelle, the Minnesota Opera, the Trashmen, Libby Larson, the Andrews Sisters, Prince and the Steeles.
Our newest Hall of Famers are accordionist Lorren Lindevig, country/rock singer Mary Jane Alm, New Ulm bandleader Leon Olson, the St. Olaf Choir, guitarist Leo Kottke and jazz vocalist Dennis Spears. A 2013 Inductee Showcase on Saturdaye will feature entertainment, refreshments, and a chance to visit with inductees. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., 27 North Broadway, New Ulm (next to the library), free. Here’s a video of Leon Olson’s band playing the “Me and Bobby McGee 2-Step” at the Park Ballroom in New Prague. It’s not a pajama party at Paisley Park or a concert at the Ordway, but it’s just as much a part of our state’s musical life, something the Hall of Fame points out each year, and we hope they keep it up.
According to the website complex.com, Minnesota ranks tenth among the 50 states for its contributions to popular music. New York is No. 1, followed by California, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Michigan, Texas, and Illinois. Wyoming is No. 50. You can read the whole countdown here and disagree as much as you like.
Each year, the hottest, most sought-after and Christmas-giftworthy CD in Minnesota is the Cities 97 Sampler. Sold at Twin Cities-area Target stores, it raises a pile of money for local charities. Announced Wednesday, this year’s double-disc collection – the 25th in the series, the silver anniversary year – features music by Chastity Brown, Keri Noble, Bomba de Luz, Fun, Matchbox Twenty, Grace Potter, Fitz and the Tantrums, and more pop/rock stars. Read the complete track listing and hear snippets.
Only 40,000 copies are available, with a purchase limit of two per person. The Strib’s Chris Riemenschneider wonders if this will be the last year for the popular pressing, since Clear Channel, which owns Cities 97, recently dismissed program director Lauren MacLeash, the person behind this year’s collection and several more.
No one on the new Sampler performs at the Dakota anytime soon, but if you’ve been missing the club’s former jazz-only days, this is shaping up to be a very good month. On Sunday, the splendid pianist Lynne Arriale makes a rare Twin Cities appearance at “Youth, Joy & Jazz,” a benefit for the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education. She’ll play two sets with bassist Gordy Johnson and drummer Dave Schmalenberger. Members of the Dakota Combo, an all-star ensemble of high-school musicians chosen annually by audition and supported by the DFJE, will perform a short opening set. 7 p.m., $50, fully tax-deductible except for the fees. Here’s Arriale with her trio playing a set that begins with Blondie’s “Call Me.” FMI and tickets.
On Monday and Tuesday, Rickie Lee Jones, much of whose music is jazz-infused, comes to the Dakota in support of her latest CD, “The Devil You Know,” a knockout collection of covers including “St. James Infirmary” and the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” which will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Stripped-down, raw and powerful, it’s the work of a fearless interpretive singer who has followed her own path. 8 p.m. both nights, $45-$60. FMI and tickets.
On Wednesday, the gifted pianist Marcus Roberts appears at the Dakota with his trio, including Jason Marsalis on drums and Rodney Jordan on bass. After losing his sight at age five, Roberts started teaching himself to play piano. He was Wynton Marsalis’s pianist for several years. Roberts has just made three new recordings and is touring behind the first, “From Rags to Rhythm,” a suite of all-original music. We’ve been listening. This is a very high-end, seriously swinging and smart jazz piano trio. 7 and 9 p.m., $35-$25. FMI and tickets.
On Thursday, singer/songwriter/pianist Patricia Barber arrives from Chicago, where she’s had a regular gig at the Green Mill for years. Early in her career, she stuck to composing and playing piano; when she added vocals and her own potent, poetic lyrics, she stepped up to stand beside Cassandra Wilson and Diana Krall. Barber is the only non-classical artist to win a Guggenheim Fellowship in composition. Her latest CD, “Smash,” came out in January, and she may feature that or any number of songs from her extensive book. 7 and 9 p.m., $30-$25. FMI and tickets.
Next week, trumpeter Roy Hargrove takes the Dakota stage for two nights; later this month, singer Roberta Gambarini. And it’s not too soon to plan for the annual Christmas week residency of The Bad Plus, which this year includes their performance of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.”
This being the final year of the Holidazzle parade, a 22-year downtown Minneapolis tradition, everyone will want reserved “Hot Seats,” the best way to see a parade that happens outdoors in Minnesota in the winter. Putting it that way, it’s a miracle this event lasted as long as it did. There will be only eight Holidazzles, starting Nov. 29 and ending Dec. 21, and wouldn’t you rather watch from bleachers inside an enclosed, heated tent? Of course you would. Tickets ($9) went on sale today. Online only.
On the topic of Christmas, Minnesota Opera announced this week that its production of Kevin Puts’ “Silent Night,” for which Puts earned a 2012 Pulitzer Prize, will be broadcast nationally on PBS on Friday, Dec. 13 at 9 p.m. The first commission of the Opera’s New Works Initiative recounts a miraculous moment of peace during World War I, when Scottish, French and German officers defied their superiors and negotiated a Christmas Eve truce. Mark Campbell wrote the libretto; Michael Christie conducts; William Burden stars as the soldier whose voice inspires peace, if only for a day. FMI (including a digital program).
Our picks for the weekend
Today (Friday, Nov. 1) online: The serial novel “Fatman Descends” begins. When light rail construction in St. Paul opens a portal to the underworld, Frogtown’s vengeful dead seize the chance to escape and settle old scores. The only thing standing between the neighborhood and chaos is the eccentric investigator Fatman. Funded in part by Irrigate, this fabulously imaginative project is a serial novel in “more or less, 60 parts” by Anthony Schmitz, former owner and editor of the Frogtown Times newspaper. A new installment of 500-700 words will be published every weekday. Bookmark the website, subscribe to the RSS feed, or sign up for the email.
Friday at Altered Aesthetics: “Rock Ink Roll” opening reception and book release party. Each year around this time, Altered Aesthetics teams up with Big Time Attic and the International Cartoonist Conspiracy to showcase Minnesota’s comic art scene with an exhibition and publication of a limited-edition collection of printed comics. This year’s project, “Rock Ink Roll,” celebrates the intersection of music and art with comics by more than 50 cartoonists from around the country. This is also the night of the gallery’s annual Day of the Dead celebration, so it’s a twofer. 7-10 p.m., free. Exhibition runs through Nov. 23.
Friday and Saturday at the Artists’ Quarter: Dave King Trucking Company CD Release. Earlier this week, Dave King wrote a serious piece for City Pages about the importance of the AQ to the Twin Cities music scene and his own career as a musician. AQ owner Kenny Horst recently announced that the club would close at the end of the year due to rent increases; King argues passionately that this can’t happen. Expect him to touch on this subject in between playing tunes from his brand-new CD, “Adopted Highway,” with guitarist Erik Fratzke, bassist Adam Linz and saxophonist Brandon Wozniak. (King will be back at the AQ with Happy Apple on Dec. 6-7.) 9 p.m., $15 at the door.
Friday and Saturday at the O’Shaughnessy: Katha Dance Theatre’s “Karna – The Abandoned Hero.” Calling itself “the first-ever African American/Asian Indian dance opera,” this highly ambitious multi-cultural collaboration features an original score by gospel great JD Steele; Kathak dance from Northern India, with choreography by Rita Mustaphi; stories from the Sanskrit epic “The Mahabharata”; original paintings by artist Deb Shree: live music by JD Steele, Robert Robinson, Billy Steele, Marc Anderson,and Gretchen Baglyos Reed; 10 KDT Company dancers in authentic costumes made in India, including bells on their ankles; and set design by Penumbra Scene Shop. Did we mention it’s a world premiere? 7:30 p.m., $15-$25. FMI and tickets.
Saturday at the Walker: Jewelry Artist Mart. Do some holiday shopping or treat yourself. More than 25 jewelry artists will show and sell original pieces in the Walker’s Skyline Room. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Members may arrive at 10 a.m. for a Mimosa preview and first pick. Free. Members, please register.
Monday at the St. Paul JCC: “The Power of Citizenship: Why John F. Kennedy Matters to a New Generation.” It’s been almost 50 years since JFK was assassinated. “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” seems hopelessly naïve in a time of partisan politics and cynicism. Author Scott Reich argues that a return to citizenship and the values Kennedy promoted is just what we need to bring us back on track. 7 p.m., $9 general public, $6 JCC members, free for students with student ID. You’ll need your ID to get in.