September at the Cedar: World music — from Tuvan throat singers to Ethiopian band Fendika

Photo by Matthew Yake
Alash is a trio of throat singers from the republic of
Tuva (Tyva) at the southern edge of Siberia.

Long a Twin Cities home for world music, the Cedar is going all out this September, with its annual three-day Global Roots Festival (Sept. 19-21) and several concerts before and after that will bring artists from all over to the room in the heart of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Here’s hoping there are no visa problems — and that all musical instruments arrive intact. Musicians, resist the temptation to give your instruments cute names.

On Thursday, Sept. 8: Baladino, a Mediterranean folk band with members from Berlin and Tel Aviv and their own interpretations of Sephardic and Ladino melodies. Gypsy jazzers Mississippi Hot Club will open. Friday, Sept. 9: Alash, a trio of throat singers from the republic of Tuva (Tyva) at the southern edge of Siberia. Tuvan throat singers can, for real, sing multiple pitches at the same time (“Imagine a human bagpipe” – Newsweek). It’s otherworldly and unforgettable. Monday, Sept. 12: Söndörgö, a Hungarian tamburitza (mandolin-ish) band that draws on the Southern Slavic traditions of the Serbs and Croats in isolated communities along the Danube. The Swedish quintet Jaerv will open.

Tuesday, Sept. 13: Fendika. Six performers from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, include azmari (griot-like) musicians, two dancers, a singer, and traditional instruments: kebero drums, masenko (one-stringed bowed fiddle) and krar (five- or six-stringed lyre). Founder and performer Melaku Belay, who grew up as a street kid, is a virtuoso interpreter of eskista, a traditional Ethiopian trance dance of shoulder movements that presage hip hop’s breaking and popping. Minnesota-based Congolese soukous guitarist Siama will open. Sunday, Sept. 18: A-Wa. Yemeni Jewish sisters Tair, Liron and Tagel Haim combine traditional Yemeni music and women’s chanting into a new electronic groove. Saturday, Sept. 24: Movits!, a Swedish hip hop/swing band of two brothers and a saxophonist. Motown-inspired soul singer Danami will open. Thursday, Sept. 29: Maarja Nuut, a fiddler and singer from Northern Estonia who combines traditional dance tunes, songs, and stories with live electronics.

And then there’s the free Global Roots Festival (Sept. 19-21), with Patagonian singer-songwriters Femina, Maya Kamaty from Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean, Indian classical/folk and jazz/hip hop collaboration J.A.S.S. Quartet, the Polish folk band Lautari, Ghanaian master xylophonist SK Kakraba, the Los Angeles-based Colombian band Palenke Soultribe, which blends deconstructed Afro-Colombian rhythms with electronic beats and synthesizer sounds, and (outside on the plaza) the Bato Bato! marimba ensemble from Breck High School.

Some shows are seated, some are standing. Some opening acts are still TBA. All events are all ages. Even for the free Global Roots Festival shows, reservations are encouraged.

T2P2 offers season passes

For the first time in the history of The Theater of Public Policy (that would be since 2011), season passes are available to the entire fall season. If you haven’t yet experienced a T2P2 show, here’s roughly how it goes: Someone in the public eye – a thought leader, policy maker, expert or newsmaker – is interviewed about a hot topic or issue. Then the theater’s cast of improvisers use unscripted comedy to act out the sometimes wonky concepts. Suddenly everything is clear, or at least funnier.

This fall’s line-up reflects the abilities of company founders Tane Danger and Brandon Boat to talk almost anyone into the hot seat. Sept. 12: activist Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth. Sept. 18: State Sen. Scott Dibble and Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, on public transportation including the Southwest Light Rail. Sept. 26: the T2P2 Is “Wrong About Everything” podcast (“the ‘Serial’ of the Minnesota Legislature”). Oct. 3: Paul Bogard, author of “The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light.” Should we turn out the lights, or what?

Oct. 10: Gary Cunningham, Met Council member, on “Building Our Way Out of Racial Disparities.” Oct. 17: Humphrey School economist Robert Kudrie on “The Economics of the Trans Pacific Partnership.” How will T2P2 make this funny? Oct. 24: Sheila Smith, executive director of MN Citizens for the Arts, and Laura Zabel, executive director of Springboard for the Arts, on “The Economics of Art.” And finally, Oct. 31: Ilhan Omar, DFL candidate for Minnesota House District 60B.

All shows take place at the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater. Tickets are $12 at the door, $10 in advance, or $60 for all eight weeks. Buy on the website or call the BLB box office at 612-825-8949.

The picks

Wednesday in the Northern Warehouse in Lowertown: Lowertown UnderGround Artists Grand Opening. Ten of the more than 80 career artists displaced when the JAX art building was sold to a developer have found a new home. Meet, mingle, see their latest paintings, sculptures, photographs and dance, and view Dave Bellmont’s 13-minute documentary film, “The JAX Wake,” about the history of the JAX, the artists who worked there, and the changes in Lowertown. Refreshments provided. 7-9 p.m. In the lower level of the Northern Warehouse, 308 Prince St.

A still from “The Sparrow,” showing in MinnAnimate 5.

Thursday at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre: MinnAnimate 5. What are Minnesota animators up to? Each year, MinnAnimate brings us a sampling of their work. We were able to watch a few examples from this year’s program, and it’s worth the price of admission to see Tom Schroeder’s complex, elegiac “The Sparrow’s Flight,” about a friend and fellow animator from his youth, David Herr, who was felled by a brain tumor. That’s one beautiful, powerful 14-minute film. Two screenings: youth and student films at 6 p.m., independent animation at 7:30 p.m. In between, a Q&A with filmmakers. Stay for one screening or both. FMI and tickets ($8.50).

Thursday at Common Good Books: Caroline Burau discusses “Tell Me Exactly What Happened: Dispatches from 911.” Have you ever wondered what it’s like to answer 911 calls? Minnesota author Caroline Burau spent 12 years on the job, gathering enough material for at least two books about the experience; this is her second, just out from Minnesota Historical Society Press. 7 p.m. Free.

Starts Friday at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre: “Morris from America.” A Sundance sensation, filmmaker Chad Hartigan’s crowd-pleasing coming-of-age comedy follows 13-year-old Morris Gentry (15-year-old Markees Christmas, in his first starring role) and his single dad, Curtis (Craig Robinson, in his first dramatic role), as they relocate to Heidelberg, Germany. Morris, an aspiring rapper in an EDM world and the only black kid around, quickly falls for his rebellious 15-year-old classmate Katrin. Note the great tagline: “Nothing Rhymes with Germany.”

Coming up

Oct. 12-13 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum: Jim Brandenburg & Michael Monroe: Conservation Through the Lens 2016. First, Grand Marais-based singer/songwriter Monroe plays a solo set of songs dedicated to nature in Minnesota. Then renowned National Geographic photographer Brandenburg shows some of his photographs and shares personal stories, insights, and philosophies behind the images. As Brandenburg makes his presentation, Monroe adds improvised musical interpretations on vocals, guitar and flute. “There are a lot of serendipitous things that happen with us,” Brandenburg says. This sounds altogether amazing. Doors at 6 p.m., performance from 6:30-9 p.m., including an intermission. In the MacMillan Auditorium. FMI and registration ($74-$139). 6:30-9 p.m. both nights.

Oct. 18 at the Cowles: 12th Annual SAGE Awards for Dance. Named for former dancer, arts patron and civic activist Sage Cowles (as was the Cowles Center), this annual celebration of our dance community honors choreographers, dancers, educators, presenters, scenic and lighting designers, visual artists and others. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($12).    

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