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.
While local music insiders have been dissecting and debating the quirky viral fame of Spooky Black, another young, St. Paul-reared white dude that sings in a sultry R&B voice is generating more legitimate attention in the recording industry outside the state.
Chris Lawrence, age 25, has been signed by Pitbull’s label imprint Mr. 305 Ent., and he’s already generating a buzz with his tender heartbreak single “Withdrawal.” The song beat out Jesse McCartney’s new tune in the “Beat Battle” last week on nationally syndicated radio show “The Weekend Top 30,” which airs locally on KDWB. MTVhits, MTVu and VH1 have also aired the video (posted below), which includes a fun nod to Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones.”
The single was produced by Kay Gee of Naughty by Nature, who also happened to produce tracks for the last big R&B act to break out of the Twin Cities, Next. Lawrence is currently finishing off his full-length album with Kay Gee, expected for release late 2014 or early 2015.
Lawrence’s co-manager, Tim Wilson (Urban Lights store owner and local scene vet), said. “If anyone deserves success it's this guy. He's been through a lot and has persevered.”
Among his past brushes with success: He has been through the “American Idol” rigmarole twice, making it to Hollywood in Season 10 but missing the cut. He also won a contest with controversial Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync manager Lou Pearlman that went nowhere.
Not just a studio musician waiting around for things to happen, Lawrence has been gigging like crazy around town, too -- just not in the kinds of places where buzz bands are usually found. He’s at Doc’s Landing in White Bear Lake tonight and the Doghouse in Maplewood on Thursday, plus he regularly performs at the various Cowboy Jack’s locations.
Exactly a year and one day ahead of the actual show date, Xcel Energy Center has announced a July 31, 2015, date with newly bursting Australian bubblegum teen punk band 5 Seconds of Summer.
The pierced boy band announced its Nabisco-sponsored tour (no kidding) fresh off storming to No. 1 in Billboard with its self-titled debut album, which sold an impressive 259,000 U.S. copies last week. Tickets for the St. Paul show go on sale Aug. 9 at 10 a.m. for $29.50-$69.50 through Ticketmaster and the X’s box office.
What will 5SoS be doing between now and next July? They’re touring as One Direction’s opening act starting next month (a tour not coming to Minnesota). They’ll probably have to go about learning how to play their instruments at some point, too.
Here’s the song that launched them, a No. 2 hit from an EP released earlier this year.
Another musician reared in Twin Cities jazz clubs achieving stardom abroad with a decidedly non-jazzy sound – see also: José James and, to a certain extent, the Bad Plus – Todd Clouser is gearing up for a big international push behind the new release by his psychedelic trio, A Love Electric.
Renowned keyboard grinder John Medeski of Medeski, Martin & Wood fame joined the group during the recording of the album, and Grammy winner Patrick Dillett (David Byrne & St. Vincent, Soul Coughing) mixed the results. Titled “Son of a Hero,” the record is due Sept. 16 on Ropeadope Records. A video for the first single, “Be the Evolution,” is posted below.
Now based in Mexico City, Clouser is in town this week with A Love Electric to preview the album at Harriet Brewing on Thursday (9 p.m.). They will be back in town on the full tour for an Icehouse gig on Oct. 3.
Twin Cities artists and arts leaders were on hand Monday at the White House to cheer on Bill T. Jones, who was presented with the National Medal for the Arts by President Obama.
A multiple Tony-winning choreographer, dancer, director and company founder, Jones has a decades-long association with artists and arts institutions in the Twin Cities, especially Walker Art Center, under whose aegis he has developed, premiered and performed many works. He also directed "Dream on Monkey Mountain" at the Guthrie Theater.
On Monday, Walker director Olga Viso (left) posed with honoree Jones alongside Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy, who are, respectively, founder and principal dancer of Ragamala Dance Theater.
President Obama appointed both Viso and Ranee Ramaswamy (who supplied the image), to the National Council on the Arts. The Senate confirmed them in 2013.
Jones was one of 11 luminary winners of the arts medal, among the nation's highest honors for artists. The winner's roster included writers Julia Alvarez and Maxine Hong Kingston, musical theater composer John Kander, musician Linda Ronstadt and pioneering documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles.
Good news/bad news for Doomtree lovers: The Twin Cities hip-hop septet issued its first new all-crew track in nearly two years this morning, a jittery electronic romp titled “.38 Airweight,” which comes from this summer's recording sessions. However, the group is not calling this the first song off its new record, and in fact the new record isn’t entirely finished and thus has no set release date yet.
Posting the song as one of his Tuesdays With Lazerbeak entries at Doomtree.net, producer/beatmaker Lazerbeak described the song as a “leaker.” He wrote:
“We've been in the studio making a ton of songs with a new album in mind and are super pumped with how things are turning out. Wanted to drop this leaker track off early while it's still fresh to let people know we're getting back at it."
The track -- available for download via iTunes -- boasts verses from four of the group’s five rappers (all but Dessa). P.O.S. starts it off, referencing controversial NYC subway shooter Bernie Goetz. Mike Mictlan comes in towards the end with a whack flurry of evocative lines, including the soda-generation shout-out to “children of the corn syrup.”
Introducing the song on 89.3 the Current's morning show today, Sims did spill news at least one other album: His latest solo effort is due to drop in September, he said. More info on that to come, no doubt.
Perhaps we'll hear ".38 Airweight" and a new Sims song or two might be on tap when Doomtree hits the Minnesota State Fair grandstand on Aug. 30 as part of the MN-Music-on-a-Stick concert. That’s also the week that the group’s limited-edition, 500-page book “Every Single Day” officially lands. It’s being sold with a “Best of False Hopes” compilation album.
And lest Dessa lovers feel left out by the new song, she dropped another wowza music video just yesterday for the song “Fighting Fish.” You can check it out here.
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