Welcome to Artcetera. Arts-and-entertainment writers and critics post movie news, concert updates, people items, video, photos and more. Share your views. Check it daily. Remain in the know. Contributors: Mary Abbe, Aimee Blanchette, Jon Bream, Tim Campbell, Colin Covert, Laurie Hertzel, Tom Horgen, Neal Justin, Claude Peck, Rohan Preston, Chris Riemenschneider, Graydon Royce, Randy Salas and Kristin Tillotson.

Minnesota Orchestra gets March 2016 date at Carnegie Hall

Posted by: Graydon Royce under Classical, Minnesota musicians, Orchestras Updated: January 28, 2015 - 12:15 PM


Vanska and the orchestra at the composer's institute earlier this month. Photo/Leila Navidi

The Minnesota Orchestra, whose last visit to Carnegie Hall was torpedoed by the 2012-2014 lockout, has been invited to the celebrated concert venue for the 2015-16 season.

The orchestra, with music director Osmo Vanska, will play the first and third Sibelius symphonies in a concert on March 3, 2016. In addition, Hilary Hahn will perform Sibelius’s violin concerto with the orchestra.

Minnesota had been on the schedule for two dates in November, 2013, to play the Sibelius symphony cycle that they had been recording. The date was canceled because of the labor dispute and Vanska resigned in October, 2013, in protest over the cancellation and the continuing lockout. He returned to his position last April.

The orchestra announced earlier this month that it would return to the recording project in June. Conversations between Minnesota and Carnegie started last summer, said President and CEO Kevin Smith.

“The season had already been booked but they were able to find a date and we made it work,” Smith said. “It shows a strong interest on their part to re-engage with the Minnesota Orchestra and for us it’s a real milestone that we’ve established we’re back.”

Jazz star Dianne Reeves deals with 'Stormy Weather' at Dakota

Posted by: Jon Bream under Music Updated: January 28, 2015 - 3:07 AM



“I can’t think of a more regal singer in the world,” Dakota Jazz Club proprietor Lowell Pickett said in introducing Dianne Reeves on Tuesday night.

Indeed, she has won four Grammys and a stellar reputation in a career that has included 18 studio albums. Her latest, “Beautiful Life,” is a finalist for the Grammy for best jazz vocal album next month.

Here are a few thoughts about her early show on Tuesday:

*There were a few magical moments, notably “Misty” when she was clearly groovin’ (loved her soft scream off mic) and the wordless vocal number "Tango" that evolved into her singing her life story (in English) to the melody.

* Reeves has an unstoppable personality. She proved to be a warm, inviting storyteller whose charisma helped carry the performance. The way she sang the intros of her three sidemen, to an island groove, was quite entertaining.

*After talking about the blizzard on the East Coast and the 70-degree day in her hometown of Denver, she delivered “Stormy Weather” with hushed intimacy. It felt like a steady drizzle, nothing threatening, but still a bit dreary. That's a compliment, not a complaint.

* Reeves is a marvelous scat singer.“That’s All” opened with some free-wheeling bebop scatting and by the end of it she was scartting in the groove. On a couple of numbers, she had issues reaching her high notes but her work in her middle and lower registers gave plenty of evidence of the aforementioned regal-ness.

* After 13 minutes of instrumental selections by her trio to open the evening, Reeves was onstage for only 63 minutes (with no encore). That seemed too brief.

Reeves performs again at 7 and 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Dakota Jazz Club. 

Barb Abney is permanently off the air at 89.3 the Current

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music, Local TV and radio Updated: January 27, 2015 - 5:43 PM
Abney came to the Current in 2006.

Abney came to the Current in 2006.

One of the more prominent on-air personalities at 89.3 the Current, midday host Barb Abney, was let go from the station Tuesday for reasons not made clear. The news hit social media just a couple hours after she got off the air.

The Current’s morning show producer and frequent late-night jockey Jade Tittle will replace Abney in the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. slot, the station reported.

“There's just not much to say, sadly,” Abney responded via email. “I was let go and that's pretty much all I know. I loved that job so, so much.”

Minnesota Public Radio publicist Jen Keavy said the dismissal of Abney was “a programming decision made by the Current's management.”

Keavy provided this statement on behalf of the rest of the Current’s staff:

“We are sad to see Barb go, and we sincerely thank her for her contributions to and passion for The Current. At the same time, we're excited for what we know Jade will bring to her new role as midday host.”

The timing of the staff change presents a sharp contrast to the high spirits and communal attitude displayed at the station's 10th anniversary celebrations, which culminated over the weekend with two shows at First Avenue. Abney was featured on stage at First Ave and served as the main host for the station’s “Purple Rain” tribute at the Fitzgerald Theater last week.

The news comes amid growing competition against the pioneering station, as the Pohlad-owned Go 96.3 FM hit the airwaves at the start of the year with strong echoes of the Current's modern playlist. Clear Channel also launched Alt 93.3 last summer, offering a heavy dose of '90s alt-rock.

A native of the Cincinnati area -- as she proudly noted nearly every time she played the Afghan Whigs (which thankfully was often) --  Abney came to the public radio station in 2006 with a more commercial FM background. She previously worked at Cincinnati alt-rock station WOXY.

At the Current, she was known for her “Cover 2 Cover” and “Tonal Recall” segments, spotlighting cover songs and ‘90s music. A mother of two teenagers, she also helped steer Wonderground Radio, Rock the Cradle and other kids-music efforts at the station.

Doomtree's 'All Hands' arrives with gatherings, news of a First Ave gig

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music, Minnesota musicians Updated: January 27, 2015 - 1:21 PM

Doomtree waited until the day “All Hands” arrived -- today -- to announce a hometown release party: Dessa and her hip-hop boys harem will return to First Avenue on Feb. 25 to celebrate the album, the septet’s first all-crew effort since 2011’s “No Kings.”

A limited number of tickets will be available today starting at 4 p.m. during the group’s promotional hang time at the Depot Tavern (next to First Avenue). The rest go on sale Wednesday at noon via eTix and First Ave outlets for $25. A quick look at the First Ave calendar shows the main room is open the night after this newly announced show, but there's no word of a second gig yet. It certainly won’t be another Blowout week, though, as the other nights around the show are already booked (including the Flaming Lips’ “Clouds Taste Metallic” gig on Feb. 24!).

Today’s Depot event is one in a series of meet-and-greets that started this morning at Glam Doll Doughnuts. Sims is having the gang over to his house at 2 p.m. for a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" Q&A, which you can catch live here. The all-day all hands continues with a signing session at the Electric Fetus at 6 p.m. and then a final stop at the new Surly brewery at 8 p.m., where the soon-to-be-canned Surly Doomtree beer will be available.

Doomtree isn’t expected to perform until their “All Hands” tour kick-off at Grandma’s Sports Garden in Duluth on Thursday (with a noon signing at Duluth’s Electric Fetus branch beforehand). Aside from a short break around the First Ave gig, they will be on the road through mid-March, winding up in Austin, Texas, for the South by Southwest Music Conference (those gigs are still TBA).

You can hear all of "All Hands" on Doomtree's Bandcamp page. The best track on the album -- and already one of the highlights in concert during Blowout week -- "Gray Duck" is posted below. Pandora landed the exclusive stream of the album to start hyping the album last week. NPR's "All Things Considered" did a feature on the group earlier this week. It's on!

Death Cab, Sufjan Stevens spring tours coming to Northrop

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music, Concert news Updated: January 26, 2015 - 10:04 AM
Death Cab for Cutie is down one man but carrying on with new members this spring.

Death Cab for Cutie is down one man but carrying on with new members this spring.

Northrop Auditorium has landed two highly anticipated spring tours: Sufjan Stevens will perform at the University of Minnesota’s newly renovated performance hall on April 22, while Death Cab for Cutie has booked a date there May 2. Stevens’ tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. for $39.50, and Death Cab’s will be Friday at noon for $38.50. Both shows are being sold through the U of M’s ticket system, online here or at 612-624-2345.

Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens

This will be Stevens’ first major tour in five years, though he did go on a short, goofy Christmas tour that hit Mill City Nights in 2012. His first album in five years, “Carrie & Lowell,” is due to arrive before he hits the road starting April 10.

Death Cab has also been inactive for a while and lost co-founding guitarist Chris Walla along the way, who amicably quit last year. Their new lineup will include Portland-based guitarist Dave Depper, who has toured with Melomona, Fruit Bats and Corin Tucker. They will also be touring with a new album, “Kintsugi,” which arrives March 31. Here’s the first single, “Black Sun,” posted below.

Of local note, these concerts could mark a shift by frequent partners First Avenue and Chicago’s Jam Productions, who booked both shows at Northrop but have more often brought their theater gigs to the Hennepin Avenue venues such as the State and Orpheum. Even with its decreased capacity, Northrop holds about 2,700 people, about 200 more than the biggest of those, the Orpheum. However, rock fans have been finding out the hard way that Northrop sells drinks aout in the hallways but usually disallows them inside the auditorium.


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