From the lakes of Minnesota …
Big stars like John Legend are known for being perfectionists. And I.W. can’t imagine what it’s like dealing with Hillary Clinton’s people, or what was in Sammy Hagar’s dressing-room rider. Van Halen, his old band, demanded that all the brown M&Ms be removed from the backstage candy bowls. But which performer insisted on the most rehearsal before the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s So the World May Hear gala Sunday at the RiverCentre? Not the immaculate Legend. Not Clinton with her TelePrompTer. And certainly not Hagar, who quaffed rum onstage as he blared through his hit “Mas Tequila.” No, it was the great bald eagle that flew over the surprised gala-goers as Lee Greenwood belted the closing line of “God Bless the U.S.A.” The big bird did three practice flights on Saturday and three additional rehearsal runs with Greenwood on Sunday afternoon. Now that’s a stand-up bird.
MOA’s 400 Bar is MIA
Advertised to open next week, the 400 Bar at the Mall of America is still a ways off. Next week’s concerts by former Wings/Moody Blues member Denny Laine and Nashville’s Kate Tucker & the Sons of Sweden are now listed to take place at the “400 Gallery.” That’s merely a 100-capacity room inside the neighboring Midwest Music Museum, where a Grammy Museum-curated Beatles exhibit is on display but nothing resembling a bar is on tap. “It’s all one complex under the 400 Bar umbrella — museum, venue, restaurant,” claimed Joe O’Brien, who partnered with the 400’s sibling owners Tom and Bill Sullivan before their Minneapolis West Bank venue shut down in late 2012. The space that would be “the new 400 Bar” has yet to be renovated, and there’s no word when it will be. “We have some delays, but we are trying to do a good job,” Tom Sullivan said.
Turf Club on track
At least there’s good news about another venerated Twin Cities music venue: The Turf Club will host a grand reopening party Aug. 28 with local country-rock favorites Dead Man Winter, Frankie Lee and Erik Koskinen. Another big show was just announced for Sept. 4 with the Jayhawks. First Avenue bought the Turf last winter and shut it down June 1 for renovations. Changes include a new kitchen (to serve pub grub a la First Ave’s successful in-house eatery the Depot), roof, sound system and, yep, restrooms. First Ave general manager Nate Kranz built in a 10-day buffer for his target reopening date. “Barring any major glitch, we should be fine,” he said.
St. Paul novelist and Augsburg College professor Stephan Eirik Clark was a little worried last week when his publicist and agent told him they needed to set up an urgent conference call. “I made a joke — I said, ‘What is this? An intervention?’ ” he told I.W. But the news turned out to be good, as you’ve probably heard by now. Clark’s debut novel, “Sweetness No. 9,” is the second recipient of TV comic Stephen Colbert’s “bump.” Colbert has been promoting authors who are published by the Hachette Group as part of his campaign against Amazon, which is limiting the ability of shoppers to purchase Hachette books. The first author to get the bump, Edan Lepucki, saw her novel, “California,” debut at No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list. It’s too soon to know about the impact on Clark’s book, but he did come away with some sage advice from Colbert, who looked sternly into the camera and said, “Stephan Eirik Clark, I’m going to need to ask you to pick two of those three names.”
Six days away
Advance sales for the Minnesota Fringe Festival have been brisk. At a second preview of 30 shows (out of 169 in the fest), executive director Jeff Larson said sales are 25 percent ahead of projections. I.W. scrawled these notes while watching the 30 three-minute previews: “The Confederate,” “Fifth Planet” worth seeing. “Mainly Me Productions’ Our American Assassin,” definitely yes; and a yes to “Into the Unreal City,” “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty,” “The Finkles,” “The Sex (Ed) Show!” and “Shakespeare Apocalypse.” The 11-day festival opens Thursday in 15 venues around Minneapolis.
Kiss me on the …