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MLK celebrations and concerts; ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ at Children’s Theatre

ALSO: Fireside Readings Series is announced; Mill City String Quartet at the Baroque Room; and more.

Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association will present its 21st Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Monday, Jan. 21.
Photo by David Pierini

Monday is Martin Luther King Day, and the weekend will light up with celebrations of his life. Tuesday this week would have been his 89th birthday. Imagine if he had lived past 39.

Although it’s not billed specifically as an MLK event, VocalEssence’s annual “Together We Sing” festival on Saturday (Jan. 19) will focus on songs of protest and progress. Featuring the VocalEssence Singers of This Age, VE’s new and diverse high school choir led by G. Phillip Shoulz III, with the Cameroon Choir and the Mila Vocal Ensemble, here’s your chance to sing, move your feet, try a spoken-word performance and take part in a service project. At the Minnesota History Center. 1:30-5 p.m. FMI. Advance registration requested; hit the green REGISTER button at the top of the page. Free.

On Sunday (Jan. 20) at Saint Joan of Arc, Dan Chouinard will host a star-studded “Sheroes and Heroes in Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” concert, created by Bruce Henry. Performers will include (deep breath) Henry, Chinese pipa master Gao Hong, Congolese musician Siama, Dean Magraw, Cyril Paul, Syrian oud master Isaam Rafea, T. Mychael Rambo, Thomasina Petrus, MaLLy, and many more. The concert is planned as a tribute to the women, men (and children) who fight for justice, equality and freedom around the world. 7 p.m. FMI. Tickets here ($25/10 students).

Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association will present its 21st Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Monday (Jan. 21). One of the best-attended, family-friendliest MLK events in the Twin Cities, it will include performances and activities that highlight King’s achievements and apply his wisdom to our lives today. Among the performers: Ansa Akyea, Brian Bose, Rajané Katurah Brown and the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus. The first 200 kids will receive a free book, and everyone will enjoy a free community meal from Famous Dave’s, Tiny Diner, World Street Kitchen and Gorkha Palace. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Powderhorn Recreation Center. Free.

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We featured Sunday’s 38th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert at the Ted Mann earlier this week. The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast at the Armory on Monday, a benefit for the United Negro College Fund MLK Legacy Scholarship, is sold out.

Fireside Readings Series is announced

Presented by the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, the Fireside Reading Series is six weeks of author readings in January and February. The series takes place at the Hamline Midway Library, a neighborhood library built in 1930 that once had a working fireplace, hence the series name.

New this season, Fireside authors – all Minnesota writers who published a new work within the past year – will also talk about what “home” means to them. This will link the series to the current Read Brave Saint Paul intergenerational reading program, whose theme is housing.

Gwen Westerman
Gwen Westerman
All readings are on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Here’s the line-up:

Jan. 23: Sarah Stonich, “Laurentian Divide.” In the sequel to her best-selling “Vacationland,” Stonich returns to the remote Northern Minnesota town of Hatchet Inlet.

Jan. 30: Wang Ping, “Life of Miracles along the Yangtze and Mississipi.” A memoir that spans two rivers, continents and cultures by the Minnesota Book Award-winning author of “The Last Communist Virgin.”

Feb. 6: Gary Eldon Peter, “Oranges.” This debut short-story collection about a gay man from the Midwest finding his way to adulthood after personal loss won the 2016 New Rivers Press Many Voices Project competition in prose.

Feb. 13: Heid E. Erdrich and Gwen Westerman, “New Poets of Native Nations.” Published by Graywolf, edited by Erdrich, this important new anthology spotlights the range and power of new Native poetry. We saw the book launch at Bockley Gallery last year. Don’t miss this.

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Feb. 20: Martin Case, “The Relentless Business of Treaties: How Indigenous Land Became U.S. Property.” Case was a key participant in the development of the traveling exhibit “Why Treaties Matter.”

Feb. 27: Karen Babine: “All the Wild Hungers: A Season of Cooking and Cancer.” Feed a fever, starve a cold, but what do we do for cancer? Minnesota Book Award winner Babine chronicles one family’s experience of illness and a writer’s culinary attempt to make sense of the inexplicable.

The picks

Today (Thursday, Jan. 17) at the Edina Cinema: “Free Solo.” If you’re reading this early Thursday and you don’t have to be somewhere else (like your job), you can run out to the Minnesota Zoo and watch this on IMAX at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. Or you can see a slightly saner version of Alex Honnold’s mind-boggling free solo ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan, filmed by people who wondered (with good reason) if they would watch him die. A National Geographic documentary. FMI including showtimes trailer, and tickets.

Christopher Finn, Monica Nash and Susanna Jennings in "Mr. Popper’s Penguins."
Photo by Dan Norman
Christopher Finn, Monica Nash and Susanna Jennings in "Mr. Popper’s Penguins."
Opens Friday at the Children’s Theatre: “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” This looks like so much silly fun. Based on the book by Richard and Florence Atwater, the tale of a modest painter and his wife is told by a cast of people, puppets and small penguin plushes. Somehow Mr. Popper ends up with 10 penguins and turns them into a traveling vaudeville act. With Richard Holt, Monica Nash, Susanna Jennings, Christopher Finn and Oliver Byng, directed by Emma Earle. The musical production runs an hour on the main stage and is recommended for ages 3 and up. FMI including times and tickets (start at $15; dynamic pricing).

At the Weinstein Hammons Gallery: Winter Selections. If you’re out and about in southwest Minneapolis on Saturday, stop by the Weinstein Hammons to see what’s up for the winter. The street-level space on West 46th Street has two rooms and big windows facing south, and sometimes you have the place pretty much to yourself. On the walls: works by Robert Mapplethorpe, Ruben Nusz, Gordon Parks, Alec Soth, Sarah Jones, Matthew Brandt and others. Noon-5 p.m.; also Tuesdays-Fridays. FMI.

Saturday in the Baroque Room: Beamish, Beethoven and Haydn with the Mill City String Quartet. Now in its 11th year, the Mill City will perform Haydn’s String Quartet op. 50, no. 5, Beethoven’s String Quartet op. 59, no. 2, and contemporary British composer (and violist, and pianist) Sally Beamish’s “Opus California,” its four movements inspired by the boardwalk in Santa Cruz, the Golden Gate Bridge seen from the air (in early morning mist), and a beach – a musical mini-vacation. 7 p.m. Free; donations accepted.

Sunday at Light Grey Art Lab: Rimon Artist Salon: “High-Brow, Low-Brow: An Illustrator Looks Askance at Art.” A conversation about the history of Jewish illustrators, comic book artists, and graphic novelists sounds like a fascinating way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The two featured guests are Eli Libson, a CG artist with vast experience in the videogame industry (he’s also a painter, sculptor and writer) and Marty Harris, a fine artist and illustrator who makes his living as a digital illustrator. Do you think maybe they’ll talk just a little about Art Spiegelman and Roz Chast? 2 p.m. Admission $12, $6 for 36 and under. Reserve here or call 952-381-3449.