Arts time — with ‘lost’ soul music, a ‘Grease’ singalong, Brother Ali

Editor’s note: Former Glean writer Max Sparber is filling in for Brian Lambert for a few days.

It’s Friday afternoon, and it’s time to look at the arts. Firstly, the Star Tribune’s continued awkward experiment in video hits pay dirt today. It’s still two talking heads poorly lit and set in the middle distance with slightly muddled sound — best still, it’s shot against a bare wall, giving it a public access television look! But in this case, one of those talking heads is music critic Chris Riemenschneider, and the subject is lost Twin Cities soul and funk.

They don’t seem to provide a way to link to the video directly, but it’s floating at the top of their Entertainment page today.  A label called Secret Stash has put out what really looks like a dynamite compilation of pre-Prince sounds.

A few days ago, I mentioned that the Cottage View Drive-In will be closing down, and now Bob Shaw of the PiPress informs us that there will be a goodbye party featuring a singalong of “Grease,” which sounds like a blast.

The PiPress also reviews the Guthrie/Pillsbury production of “The Brothers Size” at the Dowling Lab, courtesy of Dominic P. Papatola. He declares that the show “merits attention” but feels the script is ambitious beyond what its frame will hold. In my book, this is a recommendation, as if there is one thing I always want to see in theater, it is a play that is trying too much. I see so many that try too little.

It’s been out for a few days, but the City Pages cover story on Brother Ali is worth a look. Reed Fischer lets the Twin Cities rapper talk at length. And Brother Ali is a man who can talk, discussing how his career rose at the same moment his personal life was in chaos, with friends and family dying and his usual collaborators being unavailable. He also offers some great advice: “Don’t count other people’s money.”

The Glean

Jason DeRusha heads to both Plymouth’s Eat Shop and AZ Canteen (which I just mentioned this morning) in Minnesota Monthly. He likes the former, in part, one senses, because, in his words “Plymouth is a culinary wasteland,” and so it’s nice to have something a foodie might enjoy in the suburb. At AZ Canteen, in DeRusha’s opinion, the veal tongue is some of the best tongue he’s had, which sounds like the start of an off-color joke, but then ends up not being the start of an off-color joke.

Finally, David Cazares of Minnesota Public Radio offers a profile of jazz bassist Chris Bates, who has a new ensemble called Red 5, which will foreground his bass playing, which has been the backbone of what seems to be dozens of local jazz combos. Interesting, his approach is to create what sounds to be chordal melodies featuring the horns and bass as, essentially, one instrument, playing big, fat, jazzy chords with each instrument sort of improvising melodically inside that structure. I hope I’m not misrepresenting how this band works, but I think I’ve got it right — you can listen to some of his music on his website, which features some lovely bowing from Bates and then — BAM — some fat chords. I love a good fat chord to take me into the weekend.

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