Mandolinist, multiple Grammy winner, MacArthur “genius” and Punch Brother Chris Thile will host 26 episodes of “A Prairie Home Companion” in his second season. That’s twice the 13 originally scheduled for his first, when he stepped onto Garrison Keillor’s stage, if not into his shoes.
The season will begin Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Palace Theatre, not the Fitzgerald. That’s the same day as a free Block Party celebrating MPR’s 50th anniversary that will also feature live music, food trucks and kid-friendly activities. (The Block Party entertainment lineup is stellar, with performances by Thile, Dessa, Jeremy Messersmith, Alan Sparkhawk and Gailynn Lea, the Steeles and more. It’s a pretty good downtown St. Paul music festival.)
Along with the Oct. 7 opener, the first part of the new season includes two shows at the Fitz on Oct. 14 and 21, one in Pasadena on Oct. 28, one in San Diego on Nov. 4, and three in New York in December. Details on future shows will be released in the coming months.
The guests have been announced for the St. Paul shows.
Oct. 7 at the Palace: country star Chris Stapleton; guitarist and Forrister member Julien Baker; and comedian Laurie Kilmartin. Thile’s duet partner will be Emily King, a modern R&B singer-songwriter (Prince was a fan).
Oct. 14 at the Fitz: The Preservation Hall Jazz Band; best-selling author George Saunders; and duet partner Rachael Price, a rock, pop and soul jazz vocalist and lead singer for the band Lake Street Dive.
Oct. 21 at the Fitz: multiple Grammy and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter and composer Randy Newman; Margo Price, dubbed by one critic “honky tonk’s new queen of heartache”; and duet partner Madison Cunningham, an indie Christian-gospel singer.
All three shows will also feature the Royal Academy of Radio Actors: Tim Russell, Serena Brook and sound effects wizard Fred Newman. Rich Dworsky will lead the band.
How’s the new APHC doing, with its young mando-wielding host, no news from Lake Wobegon, no “Guy Noir,” no Sue Scott and a parade of indie music guests? According to the industry pub Current (not to be confused with MPR’s The Current), the show’s performance exceeded Minnesota-based distributor American Public Media’s expectations. APR hoped for 2 million listeners and significant carriage in the top 100 markets during Thile’s first season. After just 13 new episodes, Thile’s APHC was pulling down 2.6 million listeners on terrestrial radio and airing in more than 80 of the top 100 markets. While some stations dropped the show, others picked it up for the first time.
A limited number of tickets ($33-52) are available to all three St. Paul shows. The broadcasts will be streamed live at the show’s website from 5-7 p.m.
‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ heads for the screen
Minneapolis resident, Macalester professor and Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James, who’s currently writing an African “Game of Thrones” (real name: “Dark Star Trilogy”), has added something else to his plate. According to Monday’s Hollywood Reporter, he’ll be adapting his novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings” for Amazon Prime.
Amazon has put together a power team for the project. Melina Matsoukas, chief director of the HBO series “Insecure” and episodes of “Master of None,” will develop it as a series, executive produce and direct. Malcolm Spellman, a writer and co-executive producer on HBO’s “Empire,” will be the showrunner and a second executive producer. James will write the script and executive produce.
Matsoukas, who has directed videos for Beyonce, Rhianna and Lady Gaga, said in a statement, “It’s been my dream to bring this story to life onscreen since reading the first line of Marlon’s book.”
Other executive producers include Jill Soloway (“Transparent”) and Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”).
Tonight (Thursday, Sept. 28) on 4th Street between Robert and Jackson in St. Paul: 4th Street Block Party and St. Paul Murals Project. Earlier this year, the Minnesota Museum of American Art commissioned three murals honoring Hmong culture and creative heritage. One is on the Jackson Street parking ramp; a second is on the Pioneer Endicott building, home of the M. A third will be unveiled tomorrow (Friday). Thursday will be a happy hour on the street, with food and drink from Twin Cities Pita and 12welve Eyes Brewery, live music by Realtree (Michelle Kinney, Adam Zahller, Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, Carley Olson and Patrick Marschke), and fun and games at Springboard’s SPARKit trailer. 5-7 p.m. FMI. Free. Friday’s unveiling will take place during a family-friendly community celebration at Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA). 422 University Ave. W. in St. Paul. 4-6 p.m. FMI. Free.
Opens Friday at the Howard Conn Performing Arts Center in Plymouth Congregational Church: “MEAN.” After hearing young actors talk more and more often about bullying, Youth Performance Company founder and artistic director Jacie Knight did something about it. She commissioned a new play with music. Playwright Rita Cannon interviewed adults, teachers, and young people to create “MEAN,” the story of three young people who are being bullied: a young woman because of her physical appearance, a youth for his sexual orientation, and a devout Muslim because of her faith. Take the kids and talk about it after. This is serious. Recommended for grades 5 and up. 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Friday; shows at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. other days. FMI including times and tickets ($7-15). Ends Oct. 15.
Saturday and Sunday at the Performing Institute of Minnesota: Trademark Theatre’s “The Hollow” work-in-progress presentation. Founded by Tyler Michaels, Trademark brought us an ambitious new play-with-music, “The Boy and Robin Hood,” earlier this year. Take a look at another new show, “The Hollow,” adapted from Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” See scenes, hear songs, meet the artists and share your thoughts. This will not be a fully staged reading, but a looser way of exploring a show while it’s taking shape. FMI and tickets ($5-20 pick-your-price). Can’t make it this weekend but love the idea? Next Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6-7, Trademark will give work-in-progress presentations for another new show, “Understood.” FMI.
Saturday at Crooners: Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, Clara Osowski and Jeremy Walker: “Sinatra and American Art Song.” This is a win all around. The charismatic tenor; the it-girl mezzo (Osowski just won a very big award, the Richard Tauber Prize for best interpretation of Schubert lieder at the 2017 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition – whew – in London); and the pianist and composer who runs the Jazz in the Atrium series at Orchestra Hall. Curated and hosted by the effervescent soprano Maria Jette, held in Crooners’ intimate Dunsmore listening room, which now has a crystal chandelier that will sparkle in the afternoon sun. The program will include standards from the Great American Songbook and new “jazz art songs” by Walker. 3 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20).
Sunday at the Riverview: Zacc Harris Trio. There was a time when jazz artists enjoyed long residencies – weeks or months or even years at clubs or cafés. Those days are pretty much over, making this story a good one. Guitarist Harris and his trio – Matt Peterson on bass, Pete Hennig on drums – have played Sunday evenings at the Riverview Wine Bar for a record-setting ten years. An entire decade. They’ve all done tons of other things, but every Sunday (except for a four-month blip in 2013, something about licensing and the Minneapolis City Council), they’ve met at the Riverview to make music together. This weekend, they’ll celebrate a major milestone by playing their Sunday gig and handing out copies of their limited-edition live CD. Stop by, enjoy the music, pick up a CD and say thanks to Riverview owners David and Mara Bernick. 7 p.m. Free.