For a no-shopping Friday: Zen classes, free state parks, museum fun

If you want to shop on Black Friday, by all means, shop. But if you’re looking for alternatives, we have some, starting with the Zennist of them all.

Blank Friday at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. Take a 60-minute class for free: “Introduction to Mindfulness” (9 a.m. or 12:30 p.m.) or “The Healing Power of Looking at a Blank Wall” (10:30 a.m. or 2 p.m.). To reserve a space, email info@mnzencenter.org. Or just walk in. Tim Burkett, the center’s guiding teacher, put it this way: “We’d like to offer people a respite and an alternative that they can practice every day of their busy lives.” And if you want to make a free-will donation, it will be serenely accepted. 3343 Calhoun Parkway.

Free Park Friday at all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed Nov. 27 “Free Park Friday,” so let’s do this. Plus it’s supposed to be sunny with a high of 30, says the Weather Channel. The website has several suggestions, like the three-mile loop around Pike Island at Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul, a hike along the St. Croix River State Water Trail at Afton State Park in Hastings, and a naturalist-guided hike at Sibley State Park near Willmar.

Courtesy of Mia
Eugène Delacroix: See him for free at Mia on Black Friday

Black Friday at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. For the fourth year in a row, Mia is inviting us to show up extra-early for its own special deals. From 6-10 a.m., get in free to the spectacular Delacroix show (usually a $20 ticket) and enjoy free coffee and treats from Agra Culture. And if you’re in a shopping mood, there’s always the very interesting museum store, where you’ll save 20 percent on everything from 6 to 8 a.m. Those cool Artist Statement tees are $5 off. And you’ll have first dibs on the latest Birthday Year surprise: a limited edition Mia blanket and scarf made by Faribault Woolen Mills. Here’s a making-of video about the Mia-Faribault collaboration.

As far as we know, all museums, the Minnesota History Center, Minnesota Historical Society sites, the Minnesota Zoo and the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory are open as usual on Friday, with regular admission. So you could visit the “Nordic Christmas” exhibition at the Swedish Institute, or take a 60-minute “Victorian Christmas” guided tour at the Ramsey House in St. Paul, or catch the 3 p.m. shark feeding at the Minnesota Zoo’s tropical reef, or check out the new Andrea Büttner exhibition at the Walker, or see the Fall Flower Show at Como Conservatory’s Sunken Garden, or watch the “Humpback Whales” film in the Science Museum’s Omnitheater. If you have the day off, and transportation, you don’t have to go to a mall at all.

Save some energy (and dollars) for Saturday. Along with being Small Business Saturday, it’s the third annual Indies First day, when independent booksellers host authors as honorary booksellers. The authors, for the most part, are not there to push their own books, but to recommend and hand-sell books they like. Although some will also do signings. Check with your favorite indie to see if it’s participating and who will be there.

At Magers & Quinn, Benjamin Percy (“The Dead Lands,” “Red Moon,” “The Wilding”) will arrive at 1 p.m. The Red Balloon will feature a small parade of authors. Aimee Bissonnette (“North Woods Girl”) will be at Excelsior Bay Books starting at 1 p.m.  At Valley Bookseller in Stillwater, Kristi Belcamino (of the Gabriella Giovanni series) will start things off at 10 a.m. and Sue Leaf (“Portage”) will arrive at 3 p.m.

Indies First day was the brainchild of author Sherman Alexie. We’d love to see it grow even more. Common Good? Subtext? Birchbark? Next year?

The picks

Friday at the Fitzgerald Theater: Leo Kottke with Nick Forster & Friends. The annual concert by the virtuoso 6- and 12-string fingerpicker and two-time Grammy nominee who’s been amazing us, entertaining us, and touching our hearts and souls (and we really mean that) for 40 years. Forster is a multiinstrumentalist and singer for the prog bluegrass group Hot Rize. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($41-$48).

Leo Kottke

Friday and Saturday at Bryant-Lake Bowl: “The Life of Charles Schulz.” Who wouldn’t want to know more about the creator of “Peanuts”? Brad Erickson is Schulz in this one-man show about his life and times growing up in St. Paul and the inspirations for his many enduring characters.  Doors at 6 p.m., show at 7. FMI and tickets ($10/ $7 kids 12 and under).

Friday through Sunday at the Riverview Theater: “The Sound of Music.” The hills are alive and the popcorn is tasty as the Riverview celebrates the 50th anniversary of the classic film. Come in costume, maybe win a prize. 3 p.m. all days. Five bucks. Advance tickets here.

Saturday at the Black Dog: Saturday Night Jazz. What a lineup. At 7 p.m.: Steve Kenny’s Group 47, led by Kenny on flumpet (a trumpet/flugelhorn hybrid). Then, at 8:30-ish, Vector Families with Dave King on drums, Brandon Wozniak on saxophone, Dean Granros on guitar and Anthony Cox on bass. Good jazz in Lowertown, across Prince Street from the new Saints stadium. Donations suggested, and all go directly to the musicians.

Peg Carrothers

Saturday at Studio Z: Peg Carrothers “Edges of My Mind” CD release. Jazz at Studio Z launches its 2015/16 season of concerts and workshops with the U.S. release of an album recorded here in 2013 but issued first in France on the Vision Fugitive label. We’ve heard Peg sing before – live and on “Armistice 1918,” the double CD recorded in 2003 by her husband, the singular pianist/composer (and history buff) Bill Carrothers, that won France’s Grammy – and always thought her pure, clear soprano was perfect for old-fashioned songs. So we weren’t at all prepared for her versions of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” or the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” These are no longer rock songs, but wise, worldly, languid and leisurely takes, hazy around the edges, dreamy to the core. Also on the album (and we hope on the program for Saturday): Stephen Foster’s “Gentle Annie,” “Once Upon a Summertime,” “Edges of My Mind,” “For All We Know,” and “I Can See Clearly Now,” each its own journey through wistfulness, regret, tenderness and outright seduction. Peg performs with most of the band from the album: Bill on piano, Dean Magraw on guitar, Billy Peterson on bass. Free master class, “Singer in the Band,” at 6 p.m., Concert at 7. FMI and tickets ($10 advance, $15 at the door).

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