Festivals, ahoy! There will be a lot happening in the streets this week

Dario Argento's "Suspiria"
Courtesy of Nouveaux Pictures
Dario Argento’s “Suspiria”

Nicollet Mall is always so exciting during the week, with its hustle and bustle of downtown employees, outdoor restaurant seating, and drunks from the ball game mingling with drunks from North Loop bars mingling with downtown’s population of chronic drunks. However, Nicollet tends to get a little quiet over the weekend — not the the extent of seeming abandoned, which is sometimes the case with St. Paul. But there is less of the teeming humanity we want from a city. Just walking the streets should be an adventure, and there is precious little adventure to be had when nobody is about.

But once in a while, we can count on a street festival to liven things up, and this Saturday it is the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant we have to thank, back with their 25th annual street fest, which starts at noon and continues to midnight. There will be free music all day long, as you might expect from a venue that specializes in great music. A partial list of performers: singer/fiddler Carrie Rodriguez, gospel legends The Steeles, and Jewish singer/songwriter Peter Himmelman. (The complete schedule can be found here.) Also, Minneapolis street festivals just never seem complete without the Heart of the Beast’s signature enormous puppets; they’ll be on hand, to the delight of festival-goers and near-certain confusion of downtown drunks.

Speaking of street festivals, there are two more I would be remiss in leaving unmentioned. First, there is Bastille Day from 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday outside Cafe Barbette in Uptown. As is typical, there will be a succession of terrific musical acts (including local favorites Pink Mink and Solid Gold) as well as a variety of street activities. I always wish they would re-enact the storming of the Bastille. How hard could it be? There were, after all, only seven prisoners in the Bastille at the time, all old and annoyed by the disturbance, and the prison’s wildest resident, the Marquis De Sade, had been transferred out 10 days earlier. Oh well. There may be seven angry old men on hand Uptown; we can just pretend they are irritable prisoners. (There’s also a Bastille Day festival at Brit’s downtown, for those who haven’t had enough Nicollet Avenue excitement for one weekend.)

Also this weekend: Aquatennial. There’s too much going on in far too many places for me to adequately summarize, so I’ll just mention my favorite: On Sunday, starting at 10 a.m., you can have breakfast with Frankenstein’s monster at the Bakken Museum.

If that doesn’t get your kids screaming, consider taking them to the Mall of America on Saturday at noon. Local German professor, comedian, playwright and actor Ari Hoptman has been appearing regularly in commercials for Nickelodeon Universe, the amusement park in the middle of the mall, playing a scientists who rather delightedly collects attendees’ screams. In the spirit of pure ballyhoo, the amusement park is having a scream contest.

And speaking of screams: Take-Up Productions’ latest microseries at the Trylon Microcinema is a two-film celebration of the work of Italian suspense filmmaker Dario Argento, who, as it would happen, once made a film in Minnesota called “Trauma.” Which, as it happens, played last night as part of the Walker’s “Location: MN” series, so everything’s coming up Argento! The two offerings at the Trylon are doozies, beginning with Argento’s legendary “Susperia,” tonight at 7:00 p.m. This  1977 film features a very young Jessica Harper traveling to Germany to enroll in a prestigious dance studio that is actually a coven of murderous witches. The story is a bit balmy, but Argento films it in super-saturated colors and fills the screen with copious, and wildly inventive, bloodshed, including a stabbing filmed from inside the body, so we can see the knife pierce a heart.

Argento’s films of the era are often set in the world of arts, which befits his near-operatic design sensibilities, but inadvertently suggests that when people aren’t making art, they’re either being murdered, murdering, or hunting down murderers, instead of what they actually do, which is complain about money. And so we have the second film on the docket, “Deep Red,” which features a jazz musician played by David Hemmings, who is trying to piece together the clues to a murder he witnessed. And since it isn’t an Argento film without a whiff of the supernatural, the murder victim was a psychic. The film is perhaps Argento’s best — it’s a nail-biting thriller, and when the violence comes, and it comes often, it’s galling.

There’s one more festival I should mention, although it’s the sort of thing that is perfectly capable of announcing itself, with a crash of cymbals and rising vocal harmonies — the Minnesota Beethoven Festival. On July 17, the Minnesota Orchestra will be providing the festival’s finale by performing the soaring Ninth Symphony. The event itself is sold out, but if you were to travel to Winona and stand outside the Middle School, where it is being performed, you could probably hear it in the streets.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Joe Doermann on 07/15/2011 - 07:38 pm.

    Hi Max,
    Thanks for the write-up for the Dakota Street Fest. I would like to clarify some of the information in your piece.
    First, though we’ve recently celebrated our 25th anniversary of business, this is only our 2nd Annual Dakota Street Fest. With yours and other music lovers continued support we will make it to a 25th!
    Second, though Carrie Rodriguez (Sunday, July 17), The Steeles (Wednesday, July 27) and Peter Himmelman (Sunday, August 21) will all be performing here at the Dakota they will not be gracing us with their amazing music tomorrow at the Street Fest. Please check out http://www.dakotastreetfest.com for the full lineup! Thank you again and we’ll see you tomorrow!

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