Three smashing, large-scale and free events take place this weekend. If you plan a little, you can enjoy all three.
But first: Bob Dylan. The Nobel Prize for Literature. Wow! “All along the watchtower/Princes kept the view/While all the women came and went/Barefoot servants, too/Outside in the cold distance/A wildcat did growl/Two riders were approaching/And the wind began to howl.” Thrilling every single time.
Friday through Sunday: The St. Paul Art Crawl. It’s the 25th anniversary of the event that helped make Lowertown one of America’s hottest neighborhoods. It’s huge – more than 24 buildings full of artists, studios and galleries – and not just in Lowertown anymore but citywide. (New this year: Vandalia Tower in the Raymond District; the 7th and Arcade Gallery and Flat Earth brewery in the East Side District.) More than 400 artists will show their work to an anticipated 38,000 visitors. A few of many highlights: all 25 years of Art Crawl posters (Lowertown Lofts); live drawing with Ta-coumba Aiken to live jazz by members of the Roseville Area High School Jazz Band (Show Gallery, formerly in the JAX, now in the Straus Building; Friday, 7-8 p.m.); antique letterpress printing demonstration – everyone gets a hand-printed card (ACVR Warehouse, Friday and Saturday); interactive knitting demonstration – guess the length of a scarf, help to knit it (Schmidt Artist Lofts-Bottle House, Friday-Sunday); performances at Nautilus Music-Theater (Northern Warehouse, Friday-Sunday); the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Folk and Traditional Artists Showcase featuring work from grantees from 2013-16 (Park Square Court, Friday-Sunday; totally amazing events schedule here); the Origami Project at Union Depot. Friday 6-10 p.m., Saturday 12 noon – 8 p.m., Sunday 12-5 p.m. FMI and lots of it.
Saturday: The St. Paul Classical Music Crawl. Back for a second year, and what a great idea. Hear virtually the entire St. Paul classical music scene in one day. More than 20 groups will perform 15-minute mini-concerts throughout Lowertown during the Art Crawl, including Apollo Master Chorale, the Schubert Club/Hill House Chamber Players, VocalEssence, the Chopin Society of Minnesota, the Bach Society of Minnesota, Zeitgeist, the Minnesota Opera, Skylark Opera, The Musical Offering and the Lyra Baroque Orchestra. Saturday, 12 noon to 8 p.m. at Union Depot, the Baroque Room, Studio Z, Golden’s, the Black Dog, AZ Gallery, Nautilus Music-Theater and Heartland Restaurant and Wine Bar. FMI. Map and schedule here [PDF]. Sign up for one or more MPR Guided Tours led by Classical MPR on-air hosts. FMI and registration. Thanks to the Baroque Room for pulling this together last year and doing it again.
Friday and Saturday: The Twin Cities Book Festival. Our biggest books event of the year, except when the AWP literary conference comes to town (which memorably happened in 2015). Everything is free except Friday’s opening night party ($25 at the door; limited number of tickets available). Author Kathryn Alto (“The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh”) gives the free opening night talk at 7 p.m. on Friday. Saturday starts with a Local Author Morning Mingle (10-11 a.m.); participating authors include Richard Broderick, Dylan Hicks, Marlon James, Benjamin Percy, Charlie Quimby, Faith Sullivan and Krista Tippett. The festival lasts all day Saturday, packed with author programs and activities. Presenting authors include Stephanie Wilbur Ash, Charles Baxter, Eddie Campbell, Ray Gonzalez, A.S. King, Francine Prose and Phoebe Robinson. The sweet website will tell you everything you need to know about the who, what, when, where and how to get there. At the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, in the Progress Center and Fine Arts Building. Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
But wait – there’s more!
Today (Friday, Oct. 14) at the MSP International Airport: Grand Opening of the McNally Smith Live Music Stage at Republic. If you happen to be going somewhere or arriving in the Twin Cities around 4 p.m., stop by Republic in Terminal 1-Lindbergh for the opening of a live music venue. (The Nashville airport has one, and so does the airport in Austin, Texas, and McNally Smith decided we should have one, too.) St. Paul Mayor and music fan Chris Coleman will play a set with the MSP Messengers including Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner and the Suicide Commandos’ Chris Osgood and Dave Ahl. McNally Smith students Kavyesh Kavira and Nathan Mason will perform, and so will jazz duo (and McNally Smith alums) Solomon Parham and Spencer Christenson. Starting next week, musicians from the McNally Smith community will perform during peak travel times (3:30-7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 1:30-5 p.m. Sundays), and students will be paid. Republic is at the intersection of concourses C and D.
Opens today at the Science Museum: “A Beautiful Planet.” Anyone who sees the Earth from space – whole, round, blue, surrounded by blackness, with no borders or boundaries – is forever changed by the experience. (There’s a name for that: the Overview Effect.) Showing on the Science Museum’s 90-foot domed screen, this new IMAX film is as close as most of us will get. Filmed from the Space Station, itself an international miracle (did you know that astronauts from everywhere are shuttled back and forth on Soyuz spacecraft?), it’s a fascinating glimpse of daily life high above the Earth: drinking espresso from a sealed cup, sleeping while floating, climbing in and out of spacesuits, trying not to get killed on spacewalks, just ignoring that your hair sticks up all the time. But mostly it’s about seeing the Earth from space: hurricanes and thunderstorms, continents, oceans, towns and cities glowing brightly at night – everywhere except ominously black North Korea. Jennifer Lawrence’s narration is a little over the top, but who cares. And the message – “If we all get together, we can halt climate change” – feels a bit preachy, but seeing miles-long smoke plumes from the fires burning Brazilian rain forests, and shrinking ice fields, and polluted air from the astronauts’ perspective is so convincing we should pack Soyuz after Soyuz with deniers and make them look out the Space Station’s cupola. FMI, trailer and tickets (adult nonmembers $9.95 Omnitheater only, $20 with museum admission). Ends June 9.
Saturday in St. Paul, Shoreview and New Brighton: North Metro Organ Crawl. TCAGO (the Twin Cities chapter of the American Guild of Organists) has come up with its own crawl, and why not? Except it starts awfully early, at 8:30 a.m. (!), with coffee and refreshments at Benson Great Hall at Bethel University. Then it’s on to demonstrations and music (and open console time) on four great instruments: the organs at Benson, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Shoreview, and two churches in New Brighton, St. John the Baptist Catholic and Christ the King Lutheran. Here’s the schedule. Free.
Saturday at the Walker: Amir ElSaffar. The trumpeter/composer brings his 17-piece pan-Arabic ensemble to the McGuire Theater for the U.S. exclusive engagement of “Rivers of Sound,” a work that blends American jazz with centuries-old, microtonal Iraqi maqam. ElSaffar’s band includes guitarist Miles Okazaki and drummer Nasheet Waits. This is very likely a once-in-a-lifetime event, at least here. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25/$20). If you want a feel for ElSaffar’s music, here’s an EPK for his latest album with his Two Rivers quintet.
Sunday at Central Lutheran Church: VocalEssence: “The Voyage.” VocalEssence opens its 48th season with an uplifting program about the power of community that includes two premieres and an appearance by the Guthrie’s Joe Haj. British choral music star Bob Chilcott’s “The Voyage” brings people from all ages together. (If you missed it, see Andy Steiner’s piece on this.) “Quilt Songs” unites works by contemporary quilter Kay McCarthy, poems by e.e. cummings, Muriel Rukeyser, Mary Moore Easter and others, and music by women composers Carol Barnett, Ysaye Barnwell, Gabriele Frank, Libby Larsen and Alice Parker. Commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Haj reads famous monologues by the Bard. (Let’s remember that Haj is an actor as well as the Guthrie’s new artistic director.) With the Minneapolis Youth Chorus, Voices of Experience and an instrumental chamber ensemble. 4-6 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20-$40).