Item World: A fan-fueled CD; celebs flock to Prince at SXSW; Tracy Morgan gets blue in Burnsville

  • Updated: March 21, 2013 - 2:34 PM

A tub of piano tunes

I.W. has heard of obsessive music fanatics for everyone from Kiss to Taylor Swift. But Steven C? He’s a mild-mannered St. Paul pianist who makes mellow instrumental albums that used to sell at gift shops and Target kiosks. Three years ago, Mary Jindra received a free Steven C CD (“Spiritual Piano”), fell in love with it and pursued his music like a 14-year-old girl going for One Direction. She searched Amazon, eBay and elsewhere on the Internet and scoured Cheapo, Goodwill and Savers. “Mary would show up at my gigs with handfuls of CDs to have me sign,” C told I.W. “I asked if I could borrow her tub of Steven C CDs because she had the most complete library of my music.” While perusing Jindra’s collection, C discovered that nearly four dozen of his pieces had not been published. So now he’s releasing “Past to Presence,” a three-CD set of 47 out-of-print pieces, remastered and about half of them re-recorded. To celebrate, C will be staging three CD-release parties — Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday — at his Summit Avenue home. The last one will double as his 47th birthday party. Of course, Jindra will be there. For information, go to

Jon Bream


Moving on

Former Walker Art Center administrator Phillip Bahar has landed a new job as executive director of the Chicago Humanities Festival, starting April 15. Launched in 1990, the festival is a citywide collaboration between universities (Northwestern, University of Chicago) and cultural organizations (Art Institute, Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony). Bahar was bumped from the Walker in January when David Galligan was named deputy director/COO. In an effort to balance its 2013 budget, the Walker also eliminated eight jobs last week, including those of longtime curator Elizabeth Carpenter (known for the popular 2007 Frida Kahlo show) and prolific writer/blogger Julie Caniglia.

Mary Abbe


Party on, Hoda

Word has it that one day in the future, Minnesotans won’t have to wear seven layers of clothing just to check the mail. When that day comes, you may want to get hold of Kelly Anderson of Spicer, Minn., who throws one heck of a retro pool party. In fact, the bash that she and her husband staged last summer in Arizona for their kids was so epic that she’s one of three finalists for “Best Parties in America,” a contest being sponsored by the “Today” show. The winner will be crowned on the air Tuesday morning. What’s the prize? “A trophy,” said Anderson, a photographer by trade. “Oh, and bragging rights.” And maybe wine later with Kathie Lee and Hoda.

Neal Justin


Getting wired

The crowd wasn’t quite as star-studded as his Los Angeles concerts usually are, but Prince’s performance at South by Southwest late Saturday night did attract an odd assortment of attendees who were in Austin, Texas, for the respective music, film and interactive conferences. Mingling in the VIP section were actors Michael K. Williams (“Boardwalk Empire,” “The Wire”), Nate Parker (“Red Tails”) and Isaiah Washington (“Grey’s Anatomy”), music stars Jim James, Solange Knowles and Talib Kweli, and semi-musician Nick Cannon, who is also known as Mr. Mariah Carey. Oh, and 89.3 the Current program director Jim McGuinn. “I was freaked out to be standing between Jim James and Omar from ‘The Wire,’ ” McGuinn told I.W.



Blue in Burnsville

Tracy Morgan peered out into the full house at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center Wednesday. “I like Burnsville — to visit,” the TV star/comedian announced. “If I had to live here, I’d slice my scrotum.” That was his clean material. He wore all white and worked blue for 67 of his 70 minutes. But he used handsomely executed pop songs (he can sing)— especially Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” — as occasional palate cleansers. Morgan will be back and blue on May 4 at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis.

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  • AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 16: Prince performs as Samsung Galaxy presents Prince and A Tribe Called Quest at SXSW on March 16, 2013 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Samsung) ORG XMIT: 164059871 ORG XMIT: MIN1303171455040865

  • Mild-mannered pianist Steven C has inspired a passionate following— from at least one fan.

  • TV stars Vincent Kartheiser and Alexis Bledel are engaged.

  • Michael K. Williams took in Prince’s show at SXSW.

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