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The Hook & Ladder announces two months of outdoor concerts; the State Ballet of Georgia on film for Northrop

ALSO: CTC streaming “Seedfolks”; Open Eye @ Home offers “Diary of a Madman”; and more.

Cornbread Harris
The Hook & Ladder's new music series, “Under the Canopy,” kicks off on Saturday, May 1, with a celebration of Cornbread Harris’ 94th birthday.

Are you craving live music? Get used to being outdoors, because that’s where a lot of live music is heading. Crooners in Fridley figured that out earlier than most. It already had a lakeside venue when COVID came; now it’s working on making it bigger and better. (Crooners’ indoor venues have been upgraded, too, and are now open to limited capacity audiences.) Icehouse on Nicollet is making plans to use its courtyard again.

The Hook & Ladder in Longfellow has a roomy parking lot and a new music series, “Under the Canopy.” An initial lineup of 25 shows was announced yesterday (Tuesday, March 16), “with more to be added weekly.” Subtitled “An Urban Outdoor Summer Concert Series,” it will kick off on Saturday, May 1, with a celebration of Cornbread Harris’ 94th birthday and continue into July with many local and national acts. Some examples: the Belfast Cowboys (an album release), Davina and the Vagabonds, Jeremy Messersmith, Erik Koskinen, International Reggae All Stars, the Big Wu, Dale Watson and Turn Turn Turn. The Roots, Rock & Deep Blues Music Festival X will take place July 15-17, with that lineup TBA on March 30.

Safety protocols will be in place. The bands will play in a spacious open-air tent. Seating will be reserved, and the audience will be distanced by pods of two, four, or six people. Food and drinks will be available.

“We want everybody to feel comfortable,” said talent buyer and marketing director Jesse Brodd by phone on Tuesday. “Safe and absurdly happy. We’ll have big signage in friendly language. We’ll try to have fun with it.”

What about the food? “We’re partnering with the Gentleman Forager Eats Wild,” Brodd said. “It will be a wild food fandango. Whether you’re a carnivore or a herbivore, there will be something in our outdoor kitchen for you.” The menu will change often, led by the Hook’s Chef Taylor Brian, and feature guest chef pop-ups. A Morel Feast in early June will be a fundraiser for the Firehouse Performing Arts Center (FPAC), home to the Hook.

Patreon members can buy tickets at the presale that starts today (Wednesday, March 17) at 10 a.m. Public on-sale starts Friday, March 19, also at 10 a.m.

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The picks

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

Sonja Parks plays 11 different characters in “Seedfolks,” adapted from the Newbery-winning book by Paul Fleischman.
Courtesy of the Children’s Theatre Company
Sonja Parks plays 11 different characters in “Seedfolks,” adapted from the Newbery-winning book by Paul Fleischman.
V Streaming on demand until Sunday, March 21: Children’s Theatre Company: “Seedfolks.” Sonja Parks plays 11 different characters in a tour-de-force one-person show adapted from the Newbery-winning book by Paul Fleischman. Using her face, body, and voice – she doesn’t even make a costume change – Parks is a nine-year-old Vietnamese girl who plants seeds in a vacant lot in an inner-city Cleveland neighborhood. She’s an old Romanian woman, a fitness-obsessed teenager, a Hispanic boy. She’s several people dancing, and you’ll swear you can see them all. “Seedfolks” toured to New York, Nebraska and eight cities across Minnesota. Originally scheduled to return this month as CTC’s first post-COVID live stage production – this was announced back in July 2020, when we still didn’t know the size of the hammer – it’s back for a shorter run in an expertly filmed version. Ages 8 and up. FMI and tickets (pay-what-you-want, $25/35/45).

V Streaming on demand through March 31: Open Eye Theatre: Open Eye @ Home: “Diary of a Madman.” A new radio-play production of Nikolai Gogol’s short story about a government clerk who slowly goes insane. We haven’t yet heard this (we will!), but it has impeccable credentials: presented by Open Eye Theatre, adapted and performed by master storyteller Kevin Kling, with original music and soundscape by composer/musician Victor Zupanc. Kling and Zupanc have collaborated on many children’s plays, orchestral and theatrical productions. Free with registration.

V Livestreaming Thursday, March 18, 7 p.m.: UMN English Writers Series: First Books. The Creative Writing Program’s annual event continues (virtually) with debut authors reading from their books and discussing the path to publication. Mike Alberti’s “Some People Let You Down: Stories” won the 2020 Katherine Ann Porter Prize; Alberti is managing director of the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. In her glowingly reviewed “Miracle Country: A Memoir,” Kendra Atleework returns to the Eastern Sierra Nevada, where she grew up. Joseph Harris’ “You’re in the Wrong Place: Stories” is a lyrical deconstruction of postindustrial American life and a Michigan Notable Book Award winner. Haitian-born, Minnesota-based Beaudelaine Pierre’s “You May Have the Suitcase Now” is forthcoming. Free with registration.

A longtime member of Sounds of Blackness and Moore by Four, Ginger Commodore is a force and a presence on our music scene.
Courtesy of the artist
A longtime member of Sounds of Blackness and Moore by Four, Ginger Commodore is a force and a presence on our music scene.
V Livestreaming Thursday, March 18, 7 p.m.: Twin Cities Jazz Festival: Jazz Fest Live: Ginger Commodore & Friends. A longtime member of Sounds of Blackness and Moore by Four, Commodore is a force and a presence on our music scene. Classically trained, gospel influenced and jazz inspired, she has sung with the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Penumbra, Mixed Blood, the Children’s Theatre and Park Square. She’ll perform live from the Dakota stage with Jay Young on bass, Sanford Moore on piano, and her son Brandon Commodore on drums. Free with registration, but donate if you can. Jazz Fest Live has been booking, streaming – and paying – artists since April 9, when pianist Jon Weber launched the series from his apartment in New York City. That’s almost a year’s worth of weekly jazz concerts.

Artist Director Nina Ananiashvili and the State Ballet of Georgia made a new dance film specifically for Northrop.
Courtesy of the State Ballet of Georgia
Artist Director Nina Ananiashvili and the State Ballet of Georgia made a new dance film specifically for Northrop.
V Premieres Saturday, March 20, 7:30 p.m.: Northrop: The State Ballet of Georgia. The plan was to bring this internationally acclaimed company here in person. They were scheduled for April 2020, then bumped (in August) to March 2021. Back then, it seemed reasonable to hope that after seven months, the ballet could perform in the auditorium for limited-capacity audiences. When hope faded, Artist Director Nina Ananiashvili and the dancers made a new dance film specifically for Northrop. It will include selections from their company’s repertory (“Laurencia,” Leonid Lavrovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet,” “Giselle”) plus interviews with Ananiashvili and selected dancers. You’ll also see footage of the State Opera and Ballet Theatre and the city of Tbilisi, Georgia. In February, Dance magazine praised Northrop’s “flexible planning strategy” and called Northrop a “notable example among those leading the way.” It has shown great resilience, determination and imagination. After Saturday’s premiere, the film will be available on demand through Sunday, March 28. FMI and tickets ($25).