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The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, off to a good start last weekend with something old (Beethoven) and something new (Nicola Campogrande), brings something rare in four concerts at the neighborhood locations this week.
It’s an unusual voice, belonging to John Holiday, last heard locally in “Messiah” with the SPCO in December. Holiday is a countertenor, a voice that you don’t hear every day. He will sing arias by Handel and Vivaldi, who both wrote in an era that was friendlier to the countertenor. Holiday, a young singer, is considered a fine interpreter of Baroque music.
The countertenor roams the vocal range usually reserved for altos and mezzo-sopranos. Composers found it a popular voice to write for in early music (back in the days when the even-rarer castrati was a phenomenon). The countertenor faded in popularity but Alfred Deller, a British singer, brought it back to prominence in the latter half of the 20th century with his dedication to Baroque and Renaissance music.
Holiday got his masters from the University of Cincinnati Conservatory for Music in 2012 and has rapidly become popular because he sings in such a rare register. Well, not just that he sings in that register. We sings beautifully in that register. He made his Carnegie Hall debut last year with Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms,” joined the Met Opera roster and sang with the Atlanta Symphony.
Conductor Jonathan Cohen is on the podium this weekend for the SPCO in concerts at Stillwater, Eden Prairie, Summit Avenue and Arden Hills. The program will also include Bach’s Concerto in C Minor for Oboe and Violin with Kathryn Greenbank (oboe) and Sunmi Chang. In addition, Kyu-Young Kim and Elsa Nilsson are featured in Vivaldi’s Concerto in B-flat for Two Violins.
Saturday’s Festival Palomino at Canterbury Park is the first of what organizers hope to be many years for the Trampled by Turtles-led, day-long strummer fest. It also happens to be the first big concert held inside the Shakopee horse track in many years. The last big music events we remember there were the Clear Channel Radio festivals of the early-‘00s (KDWB, Cities 97, K102), which were usually good-time, cozy affairs despite Sheryl Crow always seeming to be at them.
As is recounted in a Q&A with the Trampled fellas in this week’s Vita.mn, the festival was more the idea of First Avenue, which has had good luck working with the band on their multi-genre Bayfront Park concerts in Duluth. First Ave also brought in frequent partner Rose Presents (We Fest, Warped Tour, Soundset) to help handle logistics of the big show. This was all good news to Trampled, which had long been interested in starting a fest but lost money in the mid-’00s partnering on the Log Jam Fest in Ely.
“It seemed perfect: We’d help curate the music, and [First Ave] could do all the hard work,” TBT singer Dave Simonett said. “Them and Rose Presents, they know this stuff. Now, I don’t have to Google how to rent port-o-potties in Shakopee myself.”
The lineup predictably wound up being heavy on rootsy, stringy, old-timey and/or twangy kind of bands such as Spirit Mountain Family Reunion and Hurray for the Riff Raff (one of this writer’s personal faves from this year’s SXSW). But it also includes Florida soul man Charles Bradley, Seattle folk-rockers the Head and the Heart and TBT’s longtime Low, playing to their first 10,000-plus-sized Twin Cities crowd since last year’s legendary/notorious Rock the Garden set.
“These are all bands we’ve played with before,” Simonett explained of the Palomino lineup. “It ranges from Charles Bradley, who we only played with once but loved, on up to Erik Koskinen and Low, who we’ve played with and been good friends with for a long time. It’s all familiar faces, which seemed like a fun way of doing it.”
This will be Trampled’s first big Twin Cities show in support of their seventh album, “Wild Animals, not counting their live Current broadcast from the Cedar Cultural Center the week of release. They left town right after that, playing everywhere from David Letterman's set to the Newport Folk Festival (where they were joined by Mavis Staples and Norah Jones) to a sold-out headlining gig at Red Rocks Amphitheater outside Denver last month. Read our chronicle of the band’s chaotic mid-July run here.
The Canterbury gates will open at 1 p.m., and the music will run from 2-10 p.m. – mostly nonstop, thanks to the use of two stages. Tickets ($34, or $87 for VIP) are reportedly selling well but probably won’t sell out (it’s a big place). All the FAQ info can be found on the fest's site. Here are the newly announced set times:
The Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona has added a 5,000 sq. ft. gallery and loans of eight new paintings to its already impressive collection of water-themed art. The new Richard and Jane Manoogian Gallery will officially open to the public Sunday, Sept. 28.
The new paintings include images by English landscape master John Constable (1776-1837), German Expressionist Max Beckmann (1884-1950), American Modernist Stuart Davis (1892-1964), and the romantic American naturalist Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904) whose "View from Fern-Tree Walk," (1887), above, is a star addition. The pictures are on loan from the museum's founders Robert "Bob" Kierlin and his wife Mary Burrichter.
Detroit-native Richard Manoogian, a prominent collector of American art, is heir to a faucet-manufacturing fortune derived from Masco Corporation which was founded by his father. With support from a foundation established by the Manoogians, the Winona museum added a gallery that will primarily house paintings from its collection and long-term loans of Hudson River School, French and American Impressionist, and European and American modernist paintings.
(10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tues.-Sun., $7 adults. Minnesota Marine Art Museum, 800 Riverview Dr., Winona. 1-507-474-6626 or 1-866-940-6626 toll free; or www.mmaam.org)
How’s this for transatlantic exposure? Twin Cities-weaned rapper M.anifest is featured in a new video profile from London’s BBC, which filmed him in Ghana.
The real-life Kwame Amet Tsikata, who still maintains local ties after a decade as a Minnesotan, is back living in his native country and generating quite a buzz as a music maker there. He has won several trophies at the Ghana Music Awards and has been working with other African musicians of note, including Donzy and HHP.
In the clip posted below, M.anifest tells the BBC’s “Africa Beats” that he finds Ghana to be “a ridiculous place, and so that has ridiculously inspired me. It provokes everything that you can imagine in me.”
Performing for the BBC with a live band led by reputable Ghanaian musician Kwame Yeboah, he shows off two of the tracks he has dropped since relocating, “Debi Debi,” and “Someway Bi,” both of which come off his EP "Apae: The Price of Free" and are available via iTunes. He explains their meaning in the clip. He also has an evocative video for “Someway Bi” that shows off his new/old surroundings.
After a few years when their circusy, hamster-ball-enhanced shows felt uncommonly rote, the Flaming Lips managed to pull off another excitingly unique concert at First Avenue on Sunday night, only two months behind their last fulfilling freak show there. Frontman Wayne Coyne told the audience at the July gig that the band liked playing First Avenue so much – “one of the first places that let us come play” – they wanted to come back and play two more shows this year.
Fresh off playing RiotFest in Chicago a day earlier, Coyne started out Sunday’s performance rightfully bragging about keeping his word: “I threw it out there,” he told the near-sell-out crowd, “then this date came up, and we thought, ‘Well, what are we gonna do?’” The answer was something that the legendary Oklahoma acid punks haven’t done in at least 20 years, if ever: Play their entire 1993 record “Transmissions from the Satellite Heart” from start to finish.
“We haven't played much material from this album in a long time,” Coyne explained, admitting the reason: It’s hard to recreate the wonderfully off-kilter guitar work of Ronald Jones, who quit the band in 1996 but helps define their sound to this day. “We always felt like we couldn't do his thing justice,” Coyne added. “Now, we're gonna try.”
For the most part, justice was served. The first Flaming Lips record to offer a little cohesion and teeter toward conventional songwriting – if you can call “She Don’t Use Jelly” conventional – it rolled along joyously Sunday. After a pleasant-enough revival of the jangly opening track “Turn It On,” the show turned manic as the fuzz-blast guitars and booming drums of “Pilot Can at the Queer of God” kicked in alongside the smoke machines and confetti blowers. They followed that little bout of mayhem with a surprisingly spot-on rendition of the more dreamy and melodic gem “Oh My Pregnant Head.”
Before “She Don’t Use Jelly” – the one song off the record they still play ever show – Coyne told a great story about how they first realized it had hit unlikely hit potential back in 1994, when they first started playing it on a tour opening for Pearl Jam knockoff band Candlebox.
“Even though their audience hated the very sight of us, they loved this song,” he remembered.
The second half of the show, with the deeper cuts, was even more rewarding than the first. Steven Drozd (the drummer in 1994) and new-ish member Derek Brown nailed the blazing, triumphal guitar work in the extended outro of “Moth in the Incubator,” and diehard fans delighted singing along to “Plastic Jesus” (actually titled “*******” on the record sleeve). The one exception was “Be My Head,” which Coyne openly admitted was the one song they couldn’t pull off right without Jones, and thus they slowed it down but still never quite made sense of it. At least he was honest about it.
Coyne & Co. came back to play a four-song encore after the “Transmissions” set, one that included the must-play hit “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1” and the must-do hamster-ball roll (during “Vein of Stars”). They once again ended with “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” foreshadowing the Oct. 28 release of their all-star remake of the entire “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
Not forgetting his mention in July of making it a three-show run, Coyne hinted at (but didn’t promise) yet another First Ave gig this winter. “We’re gonna try to come back on the coldest day of the year,” he said.
Sunday’s concert also included another rare treat: The live debut of Electric Würms, a side-project sort of band led by Lips guitarist Drozd with another crew of musicians, plus Coyne on alternating instruments and occasional vocals. Drozd himself changed up his role several times, even returning behind the drum kit for a few songs. The Lips fans ate it up, and not just the handful of wigged-out psychedelic tunes that could’ve passed for Flaming Lips outtakes. In fact, the band was at its best when it veered toward groove-heavy, repetitious tunes that edged on kraut-rock.
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