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Weekend picks: The Cedar Commissions, dragons and celebrating Black History Month

Minnesota’s support of new, innovative arts endeavors is evidenced in this week’s performance offerings.

Cedar Commissions artists from top left: Carlisle Evans Peck, Nyttu Chongo and Maddie Thies. Bottom left to right: Vie Boheme, Alicia Thao and Kat Parent.
Cedar Commissions artists from top left: Carlisle Evans Peck, Nyttu Chongo and Maddie Thies. Bottom left to right: Vie Boheme, Alicia Thao and Kat Parent.
Photos by Buck Holzemer

The support for new, innovative arts endeavors that we have here in Minnesota is evidenced in performance offerings this week. At the top of the list is The Cedar Commissions, a program that offers money and resources for emerging music artists to develop new pieces. There’s also brand new music hitting the Icehouse on Sunday, as a saxophone-led quintet debuts its new album, “Take that Back.” And this week is a great time to support the Minnesota Music Coalition, a group that is all about helping musicians with different aspects of their careers, by attending their fundraiser performance. You can also check out Anna Ouyang Moench’s bold new play, “Man of God,” over at Theater Mu, and head to the re-opening of the American Swedish Institute for an exhibition that brings together a Chinese artist and a Danish artist who both work with paper and dragons. Finally, it’s not too late to celebrate Black History Month with an evening of music and stories featuring Thomasina Petrus at the Humanities Center. 

The Cedar Commissions

This week, treat your ears to new work by six emerging music artists who received the Cedar Commissions this year through a grant from the Jerome Foundation. Chosen by a committee of Minnesota-based musicians, the award comes with $4,000, plus $500 in performance costs as the musicians push their artistic voice to new levels. On Friday, Carlisle Evans Peck’s song stories reinterpret Welsh legends through a queer lens; Nyttu Chongo looks to the future of the African continent by bringing together string instruments from Burundi, Mozambique and Senegal and bassist Maddie Thies ponders belonging in a collaboration with Tate Egon and additional music support by drummer Juan Migues and Cory Grider. Then on Saturday, Vie Boheme shares new songs with electro soul, funk, and house vibes, Alicia Thao connects to her Hmong roots through folk songs fused with indie, folk, soul and R&B sounds and  Kat Parent samples beats in her eco-horror electronic folk show. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18 and Saturday, Feb. 19 at The Cedar ($15, $25 for 2-show pass). More information here

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Man of God

Theater Mu opens its production of Anna Ouyang Moench’s feminist thriller, “Man of God,” a play that turns the revenge fantasy genre on its head. The story centers on four Korean Christian girls traveling to Bangkok for a mission trip, only to discover their creepy pastor has been spying on them. And yes, it’s a comedy, with a content note that there’s dramatized fighting, and references to sexual abuse, eating disorders, drug use and pedophilia. Katie Bradley, a veteran actor in the Twin Cities with many Mu credits, lends her hand as director, with an all-women cast. There’s a preview tonight, then it opens Friday, Feb. 18 (sold out) through March 6 at Mixed Blood Theatre, $35 fair market price, as little as $5 for people that need to pay less, or you can pay up to $50). More information here. 

“Paper Dialogues: The Dragon and Our Stories”
Courtesy of the American Swedish Institute
“Paper Dialogues: The Dragon and Our Stories”
Paper Dialogue: The Dragon and Our Stories

American Swedish Institute re-opens with its newest exhibition, “Paper Dialogues: The Dragon and Our Stories,” coming to Minneapolis after a long trek from Scandinavia to China to Seattle, sharing stories from Nordic and Chinese history along the way. The show highlights the work of Danish artist Karen Bit Vejle and Chinese artist, Professor Xiaoguang Qiao, who work with cut-out paper to explore the motif of dragons — including a 30-foot dragon and seven white dragon’s eggs. The artists began collaborating more than 10 years ago, using their art form to look at the intersections of their respective cultural and artistic traditions. Also featured in the show are Jersey Island artists Layla May Arthur and Emma Reid. The show runs Feb. 19-July 10, with a virtual dialogue at 5 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 22 ($12 museum admission). More information here.

The Gully Boys
Photo by William Hawk
The Gully Boys
MMC MixTape

Ready for a night of great music, all while supporting an organization that is about supporting musicians? This Saturday, the Minnesota Music Coalition, a group that helps musicians out with mentoring, education, touring and legal and business matters, hosts its fundraiser. It features live music — streaming and in person— a silent auction and prizes. The Gully Boys headline the first set, and Muun Bato headlines the second. Lady Midnight, Fires of Denmark and Katia Cardenas are just some of the other offerings, plus video performances by Mark Mallman, Lanae, and War Bonnet. 6-9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 19 at Icehouse (and online) ($20-100). More information here.

Shifting Paradigm Records at Icehouse

One saxophone isn’t enough for Joan Hutton and Sue Orfield. Orfield plays tenor sax, while Hutton plays alto sax and bass clarinet in their new quintet, which began as a music video making project in Hutton’s living room. The sax players are joined by Ted Godbout on piano, Kameron Markworth on bass and David Schmalenberger on drums on their new album, “Take that Back,” put out by Shifting Paradigm Records. Catch the release show at Icehouse at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 20 ($15 advance, $20 day of show). More information here

Thomasina Petrus
Courtesy of the Minnesota Humanities Center
Thomasina Petrus
Commemorate Black Music featuring Thomasina Petrus

Vocalist Thomasina Petrus will share stories and songs about her life, career and her experience playing Billie Holiday in a one-woman-show for a Black History Month event presented by the Minnesota Humanities Center in collaboration with the St. Paul Public Library, Ujamma Place and Public Art St. Paul. In-person and virtual tickets available. 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 21 at the Minnesota Humanities Center and online (free, but you need to register). More information here