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Weekend Picks: Soul at the Dakota, healing from loss and Free First Saturday with Heart of the Beast

September brings music, poetry and ceremonial arts events in the Twin Cities.

Lizz Wright performs Thursday night at the Dakota.
Lizz Wright performs Thursday night at the Dakota.
Courtesy of the Dakota

From the fantastic soul and jazz singer Lizz Wright, to a spiritual performance on Raspberry Island, the Twin Cities is hopping this week with things to do. In the Heart of the Beast performs at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, members of Kiss the Tiger are starting a new cabaret event at Dusty’s in Northeast Minneapolis, and the Bach Society of Minnesota venture out into a St. Paul neighborhood for a summery concert of English country songs and dances.

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Lizz Wright: Divinely Layered Soul & Jazz

Lizz Wright, who launched a new independent record company, Blues & Greens Records, in June with the release of a live album, “Holding Space” capturing a performance in Berlin, heads to the Dakota this evening. The groovy album, recorded pre-pandemic, makes you wish you were at the concert in person. It includes Wright’s fantastic cover of Neil Young’s “Old Man.” At the Dakota, the jazz and gospel singer with a smooth, low voice, is performing with piano/organ. Wright has released multiple solo albums, and has the distinction of earning the interest of Minneapolis’ own Prince. In 2010, late Artscape writer Pamela Espeland noted on her blog, Bebopified, that Prince reportedly attended her performance with the Minnesota Orchestra. Prince also attended Wright’s performance at the Dakota two days before he died. See her talent for yourself at the Dakota tonight, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. ($45 to $65). More information here.

Lost & Found

Wonderlust Production’s latest project isn’t so much a piece of theater as a kind of ceremony with elements of performance inside of it. “Lost & Found: a processional performance of storytelling, ritual and remembrance” frames its structure around loss. Led by a group of peppy guides, audiences are taken through a procession of different locations and asked to search for healing.

It takes place at Raspberry Island in St. Paul, also the site of the closing performance/ritual of the Northern Spark earlier this summer, presented by Northern Perhaps there’s something about that location that calls to artists to create a ritual. Located near downtown St. Paul, between the shores of the Mississippi, it has a quality of being an in-between space.

“Lost & Found: a processional performance of storytelling, ritual and remembrance”
Courtesy of Wonderlust Production
“Lost & Found: a processional performance of storytelling, ritual and remembrance”
The Northern Spark project earlier in the summer — created by Sequoia Hauck and collaborators, brought together an interactive art installation, dance and music that visitors could enter and exit at their leisure. Because it was late at night, and because of the ghostlike river the artists created, (the timeframe was 2 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.), Northern Lights’ ritual held a spiritual element. At the same time, it let visitors engage at whatever level they felt comfortable — be that walking around the installation, or engaging in the interactive art.

Wonderlust’s show transpires a bit more directly, with the journey having a time structure and beginning, middle and end. The guides gently asking for participation. Audience are told it’s OK to not participate, but the participation element is a huge part of the experience.

The best part about the project are the storytellers within the performance. Masanari Kawahara, Antonio Duke, and Laurel Armstrong performed at last Saturday’s performance, each drawing on their unique talents and training. Kawahara employs Butoh (a Japanese dance theater technique) to share a gripping tale about the death of his sister before he was born and his relationship with her afterwards. Armstrong’s voice sounds like a cross between banshee and angel in a strange, otherworldly performance. Duke, too, has an enigmatic energy that draws you in. For the fourth story, audience members read the performer’s story from cards.

If you don’t mind a bit of casual religiosity, this weird little show is worth checking out. Raspberry Island is a lovely site to spend a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon, releasing loss from your heart through the tools of theater. Saturday, Sept. 3, and Sunday, Sept. 4, at 3 p.m. (free). More information here.

Free First Saturday: Wiggles and Stillness

Puppets from In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre will be wandering around the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden as part of Free First Saturday this weekend. It’s part of a family day of activities themed around stillness, where you can see HOBT’s “How to Know a Whale,” by Felicia Copper, a 45-minute puppet re-imagining of Moby Dick. Besides HOBT, La Luchadora’s mobile art cart will be making the rounds doing screen making. Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (free). More information here.

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Off Broadway at Dusty’s

Members of Kiss the Tiger and friends are putting together an evening of poems, stories and music at the iconic Dusty’s Bar, just off Broadway Avenue in northeast Minneapolis. As part of the evening, Chelsie Newhard will narrate a long-form narrative poem accompanied by KTT’s Meghan Kreidler and Michael Anderson, as well as Mark Moehlenbrock. The night closes out with a set by Marty Anderson Alex Sandberg. Kreidler says the group wants to make the event a monthly thing, where people can experiment with ideas and share stories, poems, and music. Saturday, Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. at Dusty’s ($10). More information here.

The Bach Society of Minnesota
Courtesy of the Bach Society of Minnesota
The Bach Society of Minnesota

LIVE! At Lincoln Center of the Block

Musicians from the Bach Society of Minnesota are venturing out into the neighborhood with “Live! At Lincoln Center of the Block” on Labor’s Day eve. Executive Director Yunyue Liu will be playing keyboard as part of a quartet that also features baritone Jake Endres, Cléa Galhano playing the recorder, and Phillip Rukavina playing lute. They’ll be playing English country songs and other historical dance music. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Sunday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m.  Summit Hill, St. Paul (free, tips welcome). More information here.