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GLOW Holiday Festival to light up the fairgrounds

ALSO: 2021 NEA Jazz Masters announced; Gypsy Mania Hot Club Quartet to be livestreamed from the Dakota; Bill McKibben online for Westminster Town Hall Forum; and more.

Holiday lights
Photo by Chad Dalke on Unsplash

If artists and arts organizations are learning one thing during this ghastly pandemic, maybe it’s this: Because we have been forced online, we’re not just local anymore. Anyone from anywhere with a connection to the internet can see and hear our music, our plays, our dance, our poems, our gallery shows.

And if the Minnesota State Fair is learning one thing, maybe it’s this: Hey, we’re not just for the end of summer anymore!

Following the smashing success of the Fair’s Food Parade, which sold out twice (31,000 vehicles in all) and was echoed by the Renaissance Festival on Parade, to be followed in November by the American Swedish Institute’s Drive-Thru Lutfisk Dinner (not that anyone is copying, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery), the Fair is beckoning us back for the holidays.

New this year, the GLOW Holiday Festival will light up the grounds with a one-mile, drive-through extravaganza featuring more than a million holiday lights, a dozen stops, a 100-foot illuminated tree, and icicle and art installations, plus opportunities to purchase food and drinks. (Will there be corn dogs?)

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There will be a Purple Lane, a tribute to you-know-who. A disco light show. A gingerbread house and a peppermint tower. A sELFie Plaza photo op. A Charity Flame and Art Park.

GLOW will run daily (including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) Nov. 19 through Jan. 3, with numerous timed entries each day every 15 minutes starting at 4:30 p.m. Some nights are themed: Indigenous Peoples Night (Nov. 24), Latinx Night (Dec. 6), Hanukkah Night (Dec. 13), Military Night (Dec. 16), Kwanzaa Night (Dec. 26). Tickets are $46 per vehicle (one vehicle, one ticket). Each night, $2 of each ticket will benefit a different nonprofit.

Tickets are on sale now, and some nights are already sold out.

St. Paul-based poet wins $10K poetry prize

Cash prizes are even sweeter during a pandemic. Now in its fourth year, the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, given by Milkweed Editions in honor of a young poet who died shortly before Milkweed published his first collection, is especially satisfying.

The prize is especially generous: a $10,000 cash award plus publication by Milkweed, one of the nation’s most respected indie literary presses. A recent Milkweed title, Rick Barot’s “The Galleons,” made the 2020 Longlist for the National Book Award for Poetry.

Selected by Pulitzer Prize winner Henri Cole, this year’s winner is Michael Kleber-Diggs. His book, “Worldly Things,” will be published in June 2021.

Michael Kleber-Diggs
Photo by Ayanna Muata
Michael Kleber-Diggs
Cole had this to say about the collection: “Michael Kleber-Diggs’s poems quietly put pressure on us to live up to our nation’s ideals. He gives voice to the experiences and aspirations of middle-class Black America, and though the promised land is far away, he finds grace in the natural world, long marriage, and fathering. These supple, socially responsible poems seem to me a triumphant, paradoxical, luminous response to a violent time in our history.”

Born and raised in Kansas, Kleber-Diggs lives in St. Paul. He teaches poetry and creative nonfiction through the Minnesota Prison Writers Workshop.

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2021 NEA Jazz Masters are announced

The highest honor our nation bestows on jazz artists, the NEA Jazz Masters award has been given every year since 1982 to men and women (mostly men) who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz. Some are musicians, some are advocates for the music.

Learning about the new Jazz Masters has always been a pleasure, even more so since 2011, when proposed funding cuts almost ended the program. The year 2012 was supposed to be the last for the awards. Surprisingly, the House Budget Committee directed the NEA to restore funding for the Jazz Masters. And here we are today, adding four more names to the list of luminaries, which now numbers 161.

Terri Lyne Carrington
Photo by John Watson
Terri Lyne Carrington
Drummer, composer, bandleader, producer and educator Terri Lyne Carrington is a three-time Grammy winner and founder of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. At 55, she may be the youngest ever Jazz Master.

Drummer and educator Albert “Tootie” Heath, 85, has played with jazz musicians from John Coltrane to Ethan Iverson. He’s the only surviving Heath Brother and the last to be named a Jazz Master. Bassist Percy died in 2005, saxophonist Jimmy in 2019; both received their Jazz Master honors in the early 2000s.

Phil Schaap, 69, is an archivist, educator, historian and radio host. He has hosted jazz programs on Columbia University’s WKCR station in New York since 1970 and won six Grammys for his liner notes, audio engineering and production.

Saxophonist, flutist and composer Henry Threadgill, 76, has been on the leading edge of avant-garde jazz since the 1960s. He can put his 2021 Jazz Master award beside his 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music. In February 2019, the Walker Art Center presented a two-day Henry Threadgill festival.

Each NEA Jazz Master receives $25,000. A tribute concert for this year’s honorees will be held at SFJAZZ in San Francisco on April 22, 2021, streamed online and free to watch.

The picks

V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.

Gypsy Mania Hot Club Quartet plays lively, foot-stomping, feel-good so-called Gypsy jazz made famous by Django Reinhardt.
Photo by Travis Anderson
Gypsy Mania Hot Club Quartet plays lively, foot-stomping, feel-good so-called Gypsy jazz made famous by Django Reinhardt.
V Tonight (Thursday, Oct. 22) on CrowdCast: Jazz Fest Live presents Gypsy Mania Hot Club Quartet. Streamed live from the Dakota’s stage, with no in-person audience but (important!) good mics and the Dakota’s sound person (usually Craig Eichhorn) at the controls. Led by Glen Helgeson on guitar, with Gary Schulte on violin, Steve Pikal on bass and Jay Epstein on drums, Gypsy Mania plays lively, foot-stomping, feel-good so-called Gypsy jazz made famous by Django Reinhardt. 7 p.m. Free. Sign up here to save your spot.

V Friday (Oct. 23) online: MCBA Prize Reveal and Live Artist Talk. The Minnesota Center for Book Arts’ Prize is an international artist’s book award. An artist’s book isn’t an art book, but a work of art in its own right, inspired by the idea, form and function of “book.” (One artist’s book among this year’s finalists is a series of etched copper plates filled with printing ink.) The 2020 competition drew 158 submissions from 18 countries. Between now and Friday, when the winner is announced, take some time to look at this year’s finalists. They are exquisitely made, moving and powerful. Betty Bright – one of the people who helped start MCBA in 1985 – was the juror, and we would not have wanted to be in her shoes. At the reveal, Bright will talk with the winning artist. 7 p.m. Free. Register here.

V Friday (Oct. 23) online: Playwriting Fellows Showcase. As part of the Playwrights’ Center’s PlayLabs Festival, which continues through Sunday (Oct. 25), the Showcase will feature scenes from plays-in-progress by the 2020-21 Playwrights’ Center fellows. Each is a McKnight, Jerome, or Many Voices fellow or mentee. 5 p.m. FMI and registration.

V Sunday (Oct. 25) on TPT MN: 14th Annual Facing Race Awards. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize winner (and Carleton graduate) Jonathan Capehart. 7 p.m. Here’s Jim Walsh with all you need to know.

V Monday (Oct. 26) online: Mixed Blood Theatre presents Zealous Hellions: Keith Ellison. Minnesota’s attorney general and state house candidate Emma Greenman (who’s running for the 63B Minnesota State House seat) will demystify voting and dispel misinformation about voting in Minnesota. Maybe point your “I-haven’t-decided-if-I’m-going-to-vote” friends toward this. 6 p.m. Free. Register here.

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V Tuesday (Oct. 27) online: Westminster Town Hall Forum: Bill McKibben: “Building a Movement to Stop Climate Change.” McKibben wrote the first book for a general audience on climate change, 1989’s “The End of Nature.” An environmentalist, author, journalist, educator, scholar and co-founder of, an international climate campaign that works in 188 countries around the world, he’ll have plenty to say this close to the national election. 12 noon. Free. Watch on the Westminster Town Hall Forum’s website or Facebook page, or listen on MPR (check the schedule).

V Wednesday (Oct. 28) on Vimeo: David Byrne and Maira Kalman discuss their new book, “American Utopia.” It seems everybody loves the new concert film, directed by Spike Lee, of Byrne’s hit Broadway show. Now on HBO, it’s winning rave reviews, like this one from NPR and this one from A.V. Club (no paywall). The book is a collaboration between Byrne and Kalman – his words and lyrics, her colorful paintings. Pre-order a signed copy by EOD Sunday (Oct. 25) and receive a link and passcode for access to their talk on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CST.