Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Live blogging from MGMT / Beck at the Roy Wilkins

Well kids. There's generally good news and bad news in every story. While MGMT were better tonight than the last time I saw them, it means little when most of the betterment comes from a big stage and light show that's meant for headliner Beck. The show wasn't as sloppy or annoying, but actually proved to be... well, boring. The guitar work still wasn't anything to rave about, and their biggest "hit" Time to Pretend lacked any punch. The tune is still one of my favs to blast from my car radio while driving around with the windows down, but live it lacked the lustre even my car speakers add. It makes one a bit sick when there are better bands who provide gallons of entertainment, yet remain for the most part, unrecognized by the masses. Here's hoping Beck is a better time.

8:40pm: Beck just started, opening with 'Loser,' and the crowd is finally pulsating. His stage setup is sparse, but the lights on stage are pretty sweet - like old Hollywood set lights. I have to admit this is better than I expected.

8:58pm: Timebomb! Nah nah nah nah!

9:05pm: The rest will probably have to wait until I'm home. Stupid phone battery! Also, the backdrop is pretty sweet - changing constantly, with photos in pixelated black and white.

9:31pm: Jed from Mpls is kicking tambourine ass and taking names. Hilarious!! Devil's Haircut now!

9:53pm: Seriously?! Lost Cause followed by Where It's At? Holy shit!!! I can die happy (well Beck-wise anyway).

10:00pm: Crowd going ballistic for an encore. Damn. Forgot my earplugs. I am going to be so deaf. It is the drummer's (Scott) birthday and crowd is all singing Happy Birthday. There's a cake on the drumset. Beck points to Scott and says "Now play!" Cute.

10:08pm: Beck thanks MGMT for opening. Starts playing one of their songs, but "I can't sing that high." hee

10:58pm: Home! Good show. Beck did well and made it all enjoyable. It wasn't the best show I've been to, but it was decent entertainment for a Tuesday night. Woot!

Matthew Shepard Foundation to Mark 10 Years

On October 13, 2008, the Matthew Shepard Foundation will remember the 1998 death of Matthew Shepard, murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Laramie, Wyoming. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a candlelight ceremony in Loring Park, featuring music and speakers — including Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard — and is open to the public.

The evening will continue across the park at The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis with a reading of an adapted script of The Laramie Project, by Moises Kaufman. In addition, award-winning singer and songwriter, Randi Driscoll will perform her song, What Matters, written to honor the life of Matthew Shepard and the unconditional love of his family. All proceeds from the reading will benefit the work of the Foundation and its Campaign to Erase Hate.

Dennis and Judy Shepard founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998. Created to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs and aspirations, the Foundation seeks to Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion & Acceptance through its varied educational programs and by continuing to tell Matthew’s story.

More info on the vigil and the event can be found here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dubuque Fest at the Nomad this Saturday!

Via Matt Perkins at the Nomad:
The Nomad World Pub is bringing the Iowa to Minneasota for one spectacular evening of bbq, free keg beer, bocce ball, stellar music (Poison Control Center, The Safes, Track a Tiger, and more), face painting, comedy, and free shit. Who doesn't like free shit?

Come early. Stay late. You know the deal. Tell your friends. Tell your friend's moms. If only we had a cow or some cornstalks or something to play with.

Dubuque Fest
4pm / Nomad World Pub

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wilco+Fleet Foxes+Bob Dylan=Vote!

In a little bit of awesomeness (Thanks, Gorilla vs. Bear!) Wilco and Fleet Foxes teamed up whilst on tour to cover Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" and offered it as a strings-attached download. The strings? Gotta pledge to go vote. Although they won't tell you who to vote for, Wilco and Dylan have both thrown their hats in the ring for Barack Obama.

(Side tangent- Obama listed Nina Sinone's "Sinnerman" as on of his favorite songs and Simone made possibly some of the best covers of Dylan tracks, including "I Shall Be Released".)

So go here and pledge, listen, vote, and then get to Northrup Auditorium on the 4th to catch the grand old man himself.

Extra Bob: The Guardian is hosting a free download here of "Mississippi" from the sessions for 1997's Time Out of Mind. This pared back gem is soon to be released on Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8, due out October 7.

Vinegar Tom: The Devil Within

Finally got down to the Ritz to see Frank Theater's production of Vinegar Tom, a mid-1970's play by British playwright Caryl Churchill. We were there on an auspicious night, too. As we sat in the audience, across the river Frank Artistic Director Wendy Knox received an Ivey Award for directing The Pillowman, last season's moving, grotesque triumph at the Guthrie Dowling Studio.

Vinegar Tom is another biting, engaging romp that Knox and her troupe of Brecht-loving thespians revel in. This work ostensibly deals with the story of women accused of being witches, but through Churchill's pen and Knox's directing becomes a still prescient feminist critique. And yes, given the recent political climate, it is still a vigorous issue for exploration.

Starting with a sex scene and unraveling from there, banter turns to squashed desire and anger becomes suspicion, faith becomes a tool, and the whole dehumanizing thing sets itself in motion. You don't need inventions and fantasy here, most of this stuff is straight history, but with appropriate and effective theatrical punctuation. Frank is a company from whom I have come to expect engaging performances, but it should not go without saying that the company turns in a great show, especially Lori Neal as the Cunning Woman, a healer whose hope for a positive view of her work is undercut by the reality of the play. Complete with modern songs, direct address to the audience and a final scene twist whose image is jarring but whose scene that had me laughing and biting my lip, it's a heady ride, and something to think about before the accusations fly.

Adult Ticket Prices: $25 on Friday and Saturdays, $22 on Thursday and Sundays

Students, Seniors, Groups of 10+: $23 on Friday and Saturdays, $20 on Thursday and Sundays

Performances Dates:
Showing for four weekends September 12-October 5

Go to the Ritz Theater (www.ritztheaterfoundation.org) website for more information.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jeremy Messersmith: Live in the City

Jeremy Messersmith is set to release his sophomore disc, The Silver City, Thursday the 25th at the Varsity Theater. Cake in 15 caught up with Jeremy over the inter-links to talk about the suburbs, Dan Wilson and why the new W Hotel at the Foshay is a bad thing.

The Silver City has songs both focused on the city ("Franklin Avenue") and in the suburbs ("Welcome to Suburbia"), and songs whose emotional heft comes from the transition between the two ("The Commuter"). Do you/have you lived in the suburbs? What is the draw to write songs about the passage between suburbs and city?

Growing up, I lived on the outskirts of what was called a "bedroom community." I didn't live directly in the suburbs, but most of my friends lived in housing divisions with the names of natural features mashed together. Anyway, it felt like geography I was fairly familiar with.

I guess the need to write about the city vs the suburbs is an argument that's always running around in my head. It's the choice between reality and ignorance or fantasy. For me, moving to the suburbs would be a bit like planting my head in the sand and checking out of life. Not to totally dramatize, but it feels to me like Hamlet's dilemma- "To be or not to be." You can either engage yourself directly with life and all the good and bad, or you can check yourself out.

How do you feel your writing practice lends itself to writing songs with a thematic thread, and how has it changed/progressed since The Alcatraz Kid?

For The Silver City, I had a vague idea that I wanted to make a record about the Twin Cities, but I tried to keep it as subliminal as possible. I guess that's why I think of the disc as a loose concept record. I feel that if I gave myself a bunch of restrictions as to what the songs could be then I wouldn't have written anything, but if I kept the geography in the back of my head it would unconsciously guide the tunes that came out.

With The Alcatraz Kid, I didn't have any grand theme- it was just songs that felt personal to me and that I needed to write.

I was recently speaking to a friend about why people come to (and especially come back to) the Twin Cities and he said something to the effect that it was "an easy place to be", in that you can find artists, collaborators and support. How have you found your trajectory develop since you moved here?

Hmmm. Could it be that we're really friendly? Since I've lived here, I've found a lot of people to learn from- people who were willing to invest time listening to bad songs and challenge me as a songwriter and as a performer. Maybe the main benefit of harsh winters is the constant reminder that we all need each other and are dependent on one another. I think that translates especially well to the artistic community with respect to collaboration.

Then there's that Dan Wilson guy. Wanna talk about him for a minute?

I could talk about him for much longer than a minute, so maybe I will.

More Dan Wilson, songs & style after the jump!

He's a master songwriter and performer. He writes around his voice better than anyone I've ever met and is never afraid to "waste" a good idea on a collaborator.

We talked quite a bit at the beginning of this project about the "producer" role and what that meant. There were a few different approaches we talked about before we started.

The first approach is what I think of as the "Jon Brion" approach to producing. I should state for the record that I love Jon Brion and I've listened obsessively to almost everything he's produced or written. However, I find that most records that he produces tend to sound like, well, a Jon Brion record more than the individual artist he's working with. In this case, the artist provides the content and the producer shapes a lot more of the form and flavor of the record. Whatever the artist can't do, the producer does for them.

The approach we tried is more of the "Rick Rubin" method of producing, which worked well since Dan's latest record Free Life was produced by Rick. To give an example, Dan would often run the board while I was trying to track a part for something, let's say guitar. Even though Dan could probably have just played the guitar part himself in 1 or 2 takes, instead he let me keep trying it and offered some suggestions. Often times, he knew what I was trying to do before I even did. He was constantly trying to bring out the best ideas that I had instead of inserting his own. I think this is why Rick Rubin has been so successful with such a variety of different artists- instead of making a "Rick Rubin" record, he's able to get the best out of the artists themselves.

I think the traditional producer role has the producer acting as a sort of "boss." That was clearly not the case with Dan. I don't think I've ever met someone who is so easy to collaborate with and is so giving with his ideas. He easily (and rightly) could've said, "Hey, I've written hit songs and I won a Grammy, so what I say is the final word." Instead, he was exceedingly patient and open and I admire him that much more for it.

Quick note: Almost all the piano you hear on the record is Dan playing. Also, he turned out to be a much better shaker player than anyone else.

It isn't too far of a leap to say that "Skyway" may be one of your favorite "Minneapolis" songs. Are there any other songs that stand out about the city, or any specific song that you associate with with the city or a specific neighborhood? A moment of epiphany with a soundtrack? Music for the first snowfall?

There is one song that immediately popped into my head and it's "10,000 Lakes" by Kid Dakota. I remember hearing this song and thinking, "Oh- you mean you can write songs about where you live?" I have all these associations with that song and huge snow drifts outside an old drafty house...

Favorite place to eat/shop/see music in the Twin Cities?

Anywhere that serves a good bowl of pho is on my top ten list. I'll gratuitously pitch my wife's shop- Blacklist Vintage over on 27th and Nicollet, but honestly it's where I get almost all of my clothes.

In the Star Tribune yesterday the bar in the Foshay Tower, The W Hotel, was featured next to an article about me. The ironic thing is that I tried to go there a few weeks back and was turned away for what I assume was my shabby dress or generally unwholesome demeanor. I guess my Converse shoes aren't considered "business casual." [Ed.- I got in because I was wearing a suit, after work. It was all blue blazers and blue hairs. The view from the top of the Foshay, though, is grand.] I ended up going over to Grumpy's and having a great time. So there you go- Grumpy's = good, W hotel = bad.

89.3 The Current Presents

The Owls
Rachel Ries

September 25, 2008 (Thursday)

The Varsity Theater
1308 4th Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Doors open: 7:30 PM
Age restriction: 18+
Ticket Price: $10.00

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Get Ready to Empty Those Pockets...

CDs, DVDs, Vinyl, and more!

The Electric Fetus is located:
2000 4th Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55404
(612) 870-9300

Monday, September 15, 2008

Kristoff Krane: For These Reasons, We Love Each Other

Kristoff Krane (born Chrisopher M. Keller) has the widest eyes. When he speaks, he pulls you in close and his words come out fast, enumerating possibilities and navigating multiple narratives easily. He is about to drop his first solo disc Kristoff Krane: This Will Work For Now and THE OTHER, a full book of his writing; documents of a man living in his own moment.

“I had this epiphany,” he says of the genesis of the disc. In the winter of 2007, Abzorbr (Krane with Graham and Casey O’Brien) was asked to go on tour with Eyedea and Abilities. When the O’Briens were unable to go, Kristoff went out by himself, playing some Abzorbr tracks and building his own sound;

“On the road, I started to realize, I had this epiphany…performing in front of people who are here for something, this experience is pointing me in the direction of tackling that part of me that has always doubted how much I am capable of…..I wanted to create something musically for myself, that was totally all me. I wanted to create this piece of expression, or this collective of expression that is solely based off of me overcoming the doubt that I had in myself to do this thing.”

More love after the jump!.

He tackled it head on over the next months, quitting his job, living only to work on music and writing. He enlisted the help of Ecid, Michael Larsen (Eyedea) and Casey O’Brien to help him learn Reason and ProTools and took charge of his own beats and production. He has been hitting the streets promoting his shows, talking to people, building up fans. “Yeah,” Kristoff says, “I was at the Cecil Otter show, ‘cause I knew there would be 400 people there willing to listen to a guy talk about his feelings.”

It’s not just feelings that are on display on This Will Work For Now. Krane is a story-teller, a hugger, a teacher (yes, professionally - some of his students will perform at his CD release show) and songs like “Miracle?”, “Little Willy” and “Paul Still Loves his Daughter” are standout narratives whose arc circumscribe Kristoff Krane’s own outlook without becoming solipsistic. He also has his friends with him, putting up impressive collaborations with “Is It Right?” and “The Phoenix,” bringing along a who’s-who of local avant garde/backpack/what-have-you rappers. There is some over-abundance of sharing on the disc, clocking in at 19 tracks, but Krane keeps his beats tailor-tight and his quick patter moving in new and surprising directions. It's hip-hop that keeps us warm, and keeps the Twin Cities honest.

Of his aspirations for the disc, he notes, smilingly, “They already know that I know that you know it’s not John Lennon or it’s not Kimya Dawson, this is what it is.” And it is powerful, confident in honest grappling, forward looking. Eyes still wide, he declares, “This album, I feel, is always going to be working for the now.”

Kristoff Krane CD release show: Friday September 19, 2008
7th Street Entry
All Ages Show at 5pm
21+ at 9pm
$6 both shows
with Oliver Hart Acoustic Set (Eyedea), DialSystem (Graham and Casey O’Brien), Hyder Ali, Mr Dufaux and special guests including Satori Jewelry.

Kristoff Krane online: myspace.com/wwwmyspacecomkristoffkrane

Interview with Kristoff Krane via Perfect Porridge here.

Ted Leo issues digital charity EP for RNC violence victims

You can download the EP from Touch and Go Records here.

Selected excerpts from the EP liner notes - by Ted Leo

For a very brief moment, it seemed like people were actually reporting the truth. The surveillance, pre-emptive detention, arrest, and beating of journalists, protesters, and watchdogs by the St. Paul police department, the Ramsey County sheriff's department, and the FBI was so egregious that it couldn't be allowed to pass without comment. I heard WNYC's Bob Hennelly compare the treatment of RNC protestors to the fact that Trojan condoms had a product booth inside the building at the Republican National Convention, saying, "It seems as if free speech exists only for those who can pay for it." I heard the name "Amy Goodman" actually spoken by, and written about in,the "mainstream media" after her roughing up at the hands of the St. Paul police. The story of the ABC cameraman who was smacked around and had his video camera smashed was about to bring down the righteous indignation of a formerly complacent press. And the license and viciousness and carelessness with which these acts and the banal bullying that seemed to be a constant around them - infiltration of peaceful (and not so peaceful) groups by police spies and agents provacateur - the omnipresent pepper spray repeatedly maiming eyes that were only challenging with looks - stun guns, tear gas, and concussion grenades launched on a citizenry trying yet again to be heard - was finally coming under proper scrutiny.

...But real people were hurt in St. Paul, and real people have bills to pay, and real people need funding to continue their good works. We (the band and I) were all feeling these events as deeply as we could from our 1200 mile remove, and so as not to feel entirely powerless, and in an attempt to contribute SOMETHING to that continuation of those good works, we wrote a song and recorded it, along with another new one we'd already been working on that's pertinent to election time politics,and two covers we enjoy and that also have timely sentiments. It's a small thing, but as the particle collider that cranked up at CERN yesterday will continue to reveal, all big things are made out of smaller things. Thanks for your contribution in purchasing this EP.

Thanks to James, Marty, and Chris for getting right behind this idea, along with Molly at Indivision, and everyone at Touch and Go. It feels good to work with good people!
And thanks again to you for helping Democracy Now! and Food Not Bombs.
Stay informed, stay alive - resist and survive.

xo - TL

Ted, you continue to rock my world. Thank you from all of us in the Twin Cities!

*Thanks also to You Ain't No Picasso for the tip!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Cake In 15 Interview: The Airborne Toxic Event

The Airborne Toxic Event are from Los Angeles, but not the L.A. everyone sees on TV. I sat down with lead singer Mikel Jollett and bassist Noah Harmon and they made that pretty clear. “Everyone thinks L.A. is Hollywood and that exists,” Jollett says, his speaking voice sounding much softer than his gravelly, Mike Ness-like onstage growl. “But L.A. is black, L.A. is Mexican, Laotian, Ethiopian,” he continues, “my high school had, like, nine white kids in it--it’s like growing up in Queens.” Harmon adds, “Everyone thinks L.A. is Beverly Hills/Paris Hilton shit, but it’s like, ‘Motherfucker, haven’t you seen Boyz N The Hood’?” Jollett continues, “Haven’t you seen Stand And Deliver? White people don’t know about L.A., they think it’s a whole other thing than what reality is.”

TATE came from seemingly nowhere, toting a cache of songs that remind one of The Smiths darkest places, the mid-tempo offerings of The Cure, slices of Modest Mouse, bits of Social Distortion, and one song that opens with the same lyrics as LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends.” In the wrong hands this would amount to an unmitigated disaster, but de facto leaders Jollett and Harmon are smarter than a lot of people that play in bands; smarter than a lot of people, period. They not only make it work, but make it sound cohesive and fresh to boot. Sound calculated? Hardly. It sounds almost accidental - accidental in that way that makes you say, “Wow, I didn’t think the song was going there,” several times while listening to the album. Steven Chen's guitar work can be as caustic as it can be precious, Daren Taylor sounds like he's beating on his drums with lead pipes at times, Anna Bulbrook almost single-handedly gives the album multidimensionality with her violin and synth work - to say nothing of Harmon and Jollett's formidable contributions on bass and rhythm guitar, respectively.

Read more after the jump

While taking up residency at Silver Lake hotspot Spaceland, their single, “Sometime Around Midnight” began getting radio play on L.A.’s Indie 103, among several other radio stations, which isn’t surprising given the caliber of the music save for one tiny detail: they weren’t signed to a label yet. When the industry came calling, they had the rare upper hand entering negotiations. “We signed the most artist-friendly record deal ever,” Jollett says. They retained control of their music as well as the rights to it. One A&R man from an unnamed major told them they wouldn’t get radio play without his label’s support, which seemed funny to them, as he was talking to them precisely because he had heard them on the radio already. It rarely, if ever, works like this. Bands often give up too much on the front end for a shot at fame, only to be left in the odd, disheartening position of being gold- or platinum-selling artists who are flat broke. “We made sure we were taken care of,” Jollett says of the deal they signed with Majordomo Records, which is run by members of fellow L.A. band Earlimart--it’s probably not a coincidence they got a stellar deal from an artist-run label.

Indeed, they’re no dummies. They come across as the exact opposite of the pre-conceived notions that many people have about guys who play in bands. They are articulate, well-read (their name is taken from a section of Don Delillo’s 1985 novel White Noise), and have other interests outside of playing music. Prior to fronting TATE, Jollett was a struggling writer on the cusp of success. He’s recently been published in McSweeney’s, the magazine started by literary wunderkind Dave Eggers, and has a novel in the works that he hopes to publish in four parts, then as a whole at a later date (he’s been working on it in the van while on tour, he says). The New Yorker showed interest in some of his work as well. “I was right at the moment of: ‘I have a literary agent for the novel, I got a piece in McSweeney’s, The New Yorker wants to see stuff.’ and then I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to start a band.’” It indicates an incessant need to create on Jollett’s part, if one avenue doesn’t work, he always has the other to travel down - but at the moment, both seem to be getting a lot of traffic.

To dispel any notion that the band is just a lark that turned into something more by accident, I ask them about the genesis of the band. Harmon was reluctant initially, but after listening some demos that Jollett sent him, he found them clever and joined up. Jollett jokes he had to beat Harmon into submission and that, contrary to popular belief, physical violence solves everything. We all laugh and I’m struck by how comfortable they are with their position as up-and-comers in an insanely competitive business in an insanely competitive city. “Tons of people play in (bands in) L.A.” Harmon offers, “but only a handful are really fucking serious about it. After we signed the deal, Mikel had a plan to tour the next day. Most bands are out getting drunk, we had pie charts and shit.” I think he’s joking, but the intensity and exuberance with which they approach and discuss the band, it’s entirely possible these charts exist somewhere.

The Airborne Toxic Event seems to have prepared for everything except failure, it seems, an unlikely happening at this point. A bit of nearly impossible luck has put them directly in charge of their own careers and destiny, a rarity in an industry filled with bloodsuckers, sharks, and peril seemingly around every corner. They managed to dodge the worst of it at the outset by inadvertently tipping the scales in their favor, now it’s just a matter of keeping them there.

Download The Airborne Toxic Event's performance on KCRW here.

More photos from the band's performance at First Avenue here.

Extra special thanks to guest columnist Pat O'Brien.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

City On The Make: My Sweet Little Rock n Roll

I told you to go and I told you to go and I told you to go.

And you didn't and you're sad, because you missed it. Or you didn't. You can check out the torrent via the fabulous Empty's Tapes blog (emptystapes.blogspot.com) and here is some video, ice for your bitter tear-drop whiskey.

Encore- Howlin' at a Sliver of the Moon

Still not in that blessed oblivion where you forget the howling loss in the maw of your belly? You can catch City On The Make live on the Current's Local Show, 5-6pm, Sunday the 14th. So rub that salt on the lime of your tequila shot of despair.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Get Out The Vote at the MMAA

Saturday, September 13
The Minnesota Museum of American Art
$10 - All Ages
$5 Students
Art @ 5pm
Music @ 5:30pm

ART HERE will feature a special exhibition of AIGA Get Out the Vote posters. Images will be digitally projected on the walls of the MMAA raw space gallery. Complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will be served while available. Must be 21 or older to be served alcoholic beverages.
MPIRG will be on hand to register people to vote.

The upstairs patio will feature live music from some of the best local bands in the Twin Cities metro area. This will be the last concert on the patio during the 2008 season. In the event of unfavorable weather, the concert will be moved into the gallery.

Music by:
The Running Scared - 5:30pm
A Night In The Box - 6:15pm
Lucy Michelle & The Velvet Lappelles - 7:15pm
Birthday Suits - 8:15
Solid Gold - 9:15

Minneapolis Police are Looking for Info

If you know anything, please call asap. Thanks!

On September 11, 2008 around 4:20 a.m. a 64 year old St Louis Park resident with cerebral palsy was struck and killed by a hit and run driver on Excelsior Boulevard less than a block from his place of employment. The male, who will be identified by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office, had been employed by the Minikahda Club in the same position since 1962 and rode his bicycle to work along Excelsior Boulevard almost every day around 4:15 a.m.

The victim, who was wearing a bike helmet, was struck by a tan vehicle and that vehicle most likely sustained right front damage. Investigators are asking that anyone with information about this case call Sgt. Bruce Folkens at 612-673-3410 or Sgt. Chris Karakostas at 612-673-3400.

The PIO contact for this case is Sgt. William Palmer.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Langhorne Slim at the 400 Bar: Free to Love Me, Love You

Sold at the 400 bar Wednesday night, Langhorne Slim quickly tops my list of "Acts I Would Rather See Perform Than Ryan Adams". Without the self-serious temperament of the Cardinals frontman, Langhorne's country sneer was leavened by his wholly light attitude; self-assurance mixed with self-deprecation. The fact that he can cut a mean rug, whipping around on his little pins and stomp it out just sweetens the deal.

It's not all just dancing and smiles though, the music itself is moving. The paroxysms of Langhorne's country-picked guitar coupled with seamless vocal switches between folk sweet, country grave, tender falsetto lift worn love stories and plain poetry from engaging to sublime. Coupled with the War Eagles, Paul Defiglia on bass and Malachi DeLorenzo on drums, they formed an unstoppable whirlwind with Defiglia's muscular solos and DeLorenzo's sensitive yet ebullient combination of brushes and bass kicks. There is a wonder in the coming together of incongruence and contradiction, manifesting itself all around, in Defiglia's Texas-shaped bling, the tattoo reading "you are alive" on his left bicep, DeLorenzo unabashedly coming out from the greenroom smoking a cigarette.

The confidence of the live show could not be doubted, nor could the excitement of the audience. People in attendance chattered about all the other times they had seen him, the blue-collar boys in hockey caps hooted out song requests whilst the alt-country hipsters kept their bulgy eyes fixed on stage. Their excitement paid off in rapport; everyone broke down in laughter when Langhorne crooned "I need your lovin' so bad", took a dramatic pause and some scallywag responded "Yoo-hoo". Unable to contain himself, Slim went on a tangent about his grandparents, and then back to playing, giggling. Ryan Adams would have stalked off.

Langhorne Slim official MySpace here.

Download free mp3s:
Rebel Side of Heaven
Daytrotter session here.
Photos by Alexa Jones

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Saturday's "To-Do" List: Blacklist Vintage & Josie Lewis

For those of you in the know, you're already aware of the new vintage store just off Nicollet Ave. in Minneapolis. Blacklist Vintage is run by Vanessa Messersmith (if that name sounds familiar, it should) and offers a variety of men's and women's clothing, accessories and a small pile of assorted housewares.

Saturday, September 13 they are having an open house - a perfect time for those of you who haven't stopped by to do so! The fun starts at 8pm and will feature music by local bands Unicorn Dream Attack and Kurio!

If that wasn't enough, they'll have Hamms available for those with ID and a donation. They are also generously offering 10% off the entire day (if you are an MCAD student, you always get 10% off)!

Where: Blacklist Vintage - 27th and Nicollet Ave
Phone : 612-872-8552

...and after you're through shopping there will be plenty of time to stop over at Fox Tax for Josie Lewis's opening reception.

The Gallery @ Fox Tax
503 1st Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

Sept 13 - Nov 15, 2008
Wednesday - Saturday : Noon - 5:00PM

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Show Closings: Get Your American Wanderlust

Two marquee shows close this Sunday, Friedlander Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Richard Prince: Spiritual America at the Walker Art Center. Both are sprawling, muscular shows by individualistic and enigmatic American artists, and it would be a pity for them to go out unseen.

Friedlander Photography is an enormous retrospective of Lee Friedlander's photographs. The show covers almost 4 and a half decades of work, opening with arresting color images of musicians in the Sixties (you can’t escape Miles Davis’ eyes). The retro free-wheels though the travels across the country, documenting America as it is lived. Over time, the smaller scale work becomes bolder, more conceptual, expanding Friedlander’s lens and capturing more of the beauty and contradictions of this country and culture.

If Lee Friedlander makes me want to travel, Richard Prince makes me want to fuck. His unabashed appropriation of popular culture, stripping down of fashion photographs and use of humor all shroud and convolute Prince’s identity, creating questions of the obligation of the artist to authenticity and identity. In an age where Warhol gets misread to justify American Idol, it’s refreshing to have some aggressive mystery, a tantalization and titillation. Go get yours while you can.

Friedlander Photography and Richard Prince: Spiritual America both close September 14.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Theater Review: The Irresistible Rise of Big Daddy Ubu

The Irresistible Rise of Big Daddy Ubu, a Nimbus theater production which opened this weekend at the Theater Garage, throws a whole lot of elements into the mix. I'm almost certainly missing a few, but here's a laundry list: Brecht, Jarry, the Chicago mafia, penis jokes, Monty Python, various pop culture icons including Enya, Guy Noir, Donald Rumsfeld, free market politics, corporate greed & aggression, National Public Radio, organic vegetable references, buffoonery, meta-theatrical devices, and lots and lots of text. It is then perhaps strange that, upon the culmination of all this, it felt as though they hadn't pushed it far enough. Buoyed by the inspired and present performance of Mark Rehani as Dogsburough, a brilliantly executed take on the detective & lawyer Casey (Scot Moore), and a solid performance from Joe Herman in the title role, the play does manage to get from beginning to end fairly intact, although I couldn't shake the feeling that they were stuck somewhere between second and third gear most of the time.

To reduce the plot down to its basic elements, Big Daddy Ubu is a big fat gangster who shoots, intimidates, and farts his way through a corrupt Chicago food industry, ultimately putting his ill-used conscience on trial & attempting to murder his even fatter wife along the way. It's a grotesque comedy that seeks to expose the big-wigs for who they really are and, I suspect, make a basic mockery of corporate industry that threatens to monopolize even our grocery stores. The trouble is that the composition almost immediately overwhelms the whole, and the characters, while occasionally coming into focus, are burdened with so much expository dialogue that we never really get a sense of why any of it matters. The pop culture jokes mostly fall flat, either because they're three or four years old, or because they just don't really fit in with the rest of the action (although there is an Enya joke that I very much appreciated.)

Full review after the jump

It's easy to sit back and critique, and there's enough here to recommend that you take a look. Near the end of the program, Nimbus includes a section which calls for conversation, an exploration of the exchange between audience & the work presented on stage. Taking that challenge, I'd like to start a conversation regarding the (smaller) Twin Cities theater community. There is clearly abundant talent among the ranks, and we all understand that putting on a fully realized production is no small task. It takes weeks of rehearsal, thousands of dollars mostly raised from private individuals, and a huge commitment from a team of actors, designers, and creative minds to even get the show onto a stage. Given so much energy and effort, why is it so difficult to end up with a product that transcends the ordinary? I don't think it makes me overly optimistic to hope & expect for something new, something visionary, a piece that teaches me about the craft, every time I attend a piece of Twin Cities theater. I have no desire to be a cynic - I understand the challenges at hand. But I also refuse to accept mediocre theater as the status quo. There are too many theater degrees (at a cost of what, $20,000 in tuition each?), too many clear & present issues to tackle, and frankly, too much at stake for so many shows to grind it out from beginning to finish, achieving adequacy but rarely transcending or challenging the medium in which they operate.

Somewhere in the middle of Big Daddy Ubu, Ubu is on the floor having pummeled the character who plays his conscience into a dizzy mess. He holds out his hand to be helped up by his wife. They are both immensely fat, and yet, she takes his hand and pulls him up with no effort what-so-ever, and the play goes on. It was in that moment that I lost the belief that I was watching Ubu in this world. I was instead watching a group of actors gamely work their way through a somewhat over-wordy adaptation of Alfred Jarry, and that was that.

Is it acceptable to want more? Go see it, and decide for yourself.

The Irresistible Rise of Big Daddy Ubu plays at the Minneapolis Theater Garage, September 5-28. For tickets, call 651-229-3122 or www.nimbustheatre.com

What I did this week - The Republican National Convention

This week I worked for a liberal media group called The UpTake, which consisted of 15 or so videographers and photographers who documented the convention. We had live streams online of events as well as video of protests, concerts, raids, etc. You can see it all here: www.theuptake.org.

I was at four protests which all ended in tear gas, pepper spray and concussion grenades. Interesting, to say the least. It was pretty disappointing that I couldn't get closer to the actual convention, however. Sort of hard to do with 15 foot metal fences throughout downtown. St. Paul itself was dead. No one was really outside the perimeter of the Xcel Energy Center and the police presence was very scary and it all seemed like major overkill. It was a police state in all sense of those words. Riot gear, police on horses, bikes, foot, snipers on buildings.

There was a lot of tension between the public and police for most of the RNC. Obviously there were people who aggravated the situation and deserved to be arrested or needed tear gas to be dispersed. However, there were a lot of altercations where I witnessed the police as aggressors. Police maced and pepper sprayed photographers who were following police instructions, tackled reporters who were well identified as reporters, and pushed unaggressive people out of the way before even asking them to move. Reporters and photographers from City Pages, KARE 11, FOX 9 News and The UpTake were all arrested. There were, of course, a few protesters who made things bad for everyone. The "Black Bloc" anarchists who infiltrated the "Students for a Democratic Society" march on Monday broke store windows, pushed anything not nailed down into the street, and attempted to create barricades against the police. These people were definitely the minority though. Most of the students in the protest yelled at them and asked them to stop the vandalism. It was a sad state much of the time.

The worst that happened to me was walking through an area that was pepper sprayed about 30 seconds earlier. Yuck. I can't imagine getting a direct hit of that stuff. It's gross. Any time I was in danger I got out of the situation. A few of our reporters were arrested or detained, but all had the charges dropped as they were just there to document and not participate or condone the actions of the protesters or others. I was within a block of the tear gas and such more than once, but always made it out of the area without incident.

You can view the photos I took (along with some from others at The UpTake) here:

Day 1 of the RNC

Day 2 of the RNC
Day 4 of the RNC

Cheers -

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Republican National Convention is Here

I spent today roaming the streets of St. Paul with members of The UpTake, a liberal media organization. You can check out a slideshow of some of the protests below. Also keep tabs on the convention via The UpTake's website here with continuing live coverage.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

You can also view photos of yesterday's Liberty Parade down Nicollet mall here.