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Look out, Steven Spielberg. A Minnesota student is breathing down your neck. University of St. Thomas's Melissa Hoppe won two big awards last week at the College Television Awards, which mirrors the Emmys. Hoppe's film, "Stealth," was honored as best children's program and was the recepient of the Seymour Bricker Humanitarian Scholarship, which comes with a $4,000 cash award.
"The Normal Heart"'s Matt Bomer and "Amrican Horror Story"'s Sarah Paulson were among the celebrities on hand.
Hoppe is currently attendting the American Film Institute.
One is a newcomer who was bussing dishes in a restaurant a few months ago and will release his retro-flavored debut album in late June. The other is a young-ish New York City cabaret veteran who often looks backward for musical inspiration.
In separate shows Sunday night in downtown Minneapolis, Leon Bridges and Nellie McKay proved that old can be new again – or at least fresh.
Bridges, 25, did a quick 35-minute set opening for Lord Huron at sold-out First Avenue. He proved to be an assertive but smooth soul singer, with a voice that recalls Sam Cooke’s. His tunes, drawn from his June 23 debut “Coming Home,” had a late 1950s/early 1960s vibe, part doo-wop soul , part blues-abilly and part gospel-tinged soul.
Bridges, who is from Fort Worth, Texas, seemed old-fashioned in sound (loved the echo on his voice) , lyrical content (very PG love songs with lines like “where it’s warm in my arms”) and look (dapper peacock blue suit with black lapels). Yet, he still seemed fresh – because of his youth, passion and ability to connect with the crowd of mostly 20-somethings.
A couple blocks away, McKay, 33, a regular at the Dakota Jazz Club and on “A Prairie Home Companion,” was promoting her sixth and latest album, “My Weekly Reader,” at the Dakota. The title is typical cheeky McKay as she revisits 1960s songs of psychedelia and protest. And, of course, she makes listeners -- the Dakota audience was mostly baby boomers -- rethink the meaning of the lyrics.
Despite the indignities experienced by the protagonist in “Red Rubber Ball” and “Sunny Afternoon,” there was a sunny-ness to McKay’s demeanor that provided a ray of hope. Her “Itchychoo Park” was showered in irony, stripped of its druggy-ness with her playful piano fills.
McKay likes to disarm listeners with her tricks and ticks. That strategy was especially effective on the political pieces. On the hipster jazz classic “Compared to What,” she proved her piano chops, ending with a showy glissando. She updated Country Joe McDonald’s 1960s protest chant (made famous at Woodstock) to be about Iran, not Vietnam, and added the kicker “whoopee, we’re all gonna die.”
Although she was less talkative between songs than in some past performances (she seemed preoccupied with reading her set list while the crowd clapped), McKay played a generous 85-minute set (her second of the night).
She offered a couple of standards and several of her originals, including the fairly straightforward Laura Nyro-ish “Cupcake” and the rollicking sendup of feminism, “Mother of Pearl,” She also did a couple of her world-music romps including “Bodega.”
Her originals can be intensely intellectual, pointedly political, wittily humorous, full of feigned naivety and marked by deep and diverse musicality. McKay is hard to categorize musically or to explain in a simple, declarative sentence.
Dressed in a kimono-like outfit with a head full of Dylanesque curls, the pianist/ukulele player did speaking impressions of Bob Dylan, Garrison Keillor and Madeleine Peyroux (who is playing at the Dakota later this week). She told jokes about Michelle Bachmann, Ralph Nader and Hillary Clinton. When she asked people to sing a call and response with her, she started with “heidi-heidi-ho” and ended up with gibberish (which the crowd repeated/imitated).
One song perfectly encapsulated the tone and theme of the show as well as the personality of the performer: the Doors’ “People Are Strange.” “No one remembers your name when you’re strange,” she sang with none of the darkness of Jim Morrison and then concluded with a strange little jazz run on the piano and a warped smile.
Yes, Nellie McKay is strange – delightfully so.
Pete Townshend has long been a fan of Bob Dylan. He even knows that Dylan was born in Duluth. But maybe he doesn’t know where Duluth is.
On Thursday night while the Who’s farewell tour landed in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth, Ga., the guitarist expressed his enthusiasm for being in Duluth. “Dylan was born here,” he said.
Duluth, yes. But the one in Minnesota, not Georgia.
Read the full report from Melissa Ruggieri at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Roger Daltrey even set up Townshend’s faux pas.
Maybe by the time the Who comes to Minneapolis on Oct. 10, Townshend won’t get fooled again and he’ll realize that he’s in the state of Dylan.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts will place high-quality reproductions of four of its paintings outside Minneapolis stores and businesses during May. Museum docents will be on site sharing anecdotes and answering questions about the art from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. each Saturday, weather permitting.
The project is part of the MIA's 100th birthday celebration. The reproductions will appear about May 1 and will be moved to new sites at the middle of the month. The first round will feature the following pictures at these locations:
Rembrandt's "Lucretia" at Bobby and Steve's Auto World. As there are several Bobby and Steve's in Minneapolis, the promise of a "Lucretia" sighting is perhaps an enticement to visit them all in hopes of spying her. One of the MIA's most famous pictures, "Lucretia" depicts a Roman noblewoman committing suicide to salvage her honor after having been raped.
Monet's "Grainstack, Sun in the Mist," at U.S. Bank, 2420 Hennepin Av. in Uptown. Shimmering with sunny pinks at sundown, the picture features a huge muffin-shaped stack of wheat in a French meadow.
Van Gogh's "Olive Trees," at the Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall in downtown MInneapolis. A typically turbulent Van Gogh image, "Olive Trees" shows gnarled and twisted trees sweltering in the midday sun.
Chaim Soutine's "Carcass of Beef," at Kramarczuk's Deli, 215 E. Hennepin in Northeast Minneapolis. One of the more inspired pairings of art and enterprise, this places the Russian-born artist's expressively brutal image of a flayed carcass at a meatmarket famous for delicious sausage and other Eastern European delicacies linked to its founder's Ukrainian heritage.
The reproductions will be moved later to the Wedge Table, Loring Park, the Stone Arch Bridge and the Strip Club Meat & Fish. Check out other MIA birthday surprises at the museum's birthday website.
The W’s win at the Basilica Block Party this summer: Weezer will headline the July 10 lineup for the 21st annual rocking church fundraiser, and Wilco will top off July 11. Radio sponsor Cities 97 announced the full 2015 schedule on air Thursday afternoon with a few more familiar names, pleasant surprises and up-and-coming newcomers.
Joining Weezer on the Friday night bill will be Nate Ruess of the “We Are Young” hitmaking band .fun; Basilica regulars O.A.R. and Mat Kearney; ‘90s alt-rocker Matthew Sweet and Twin Cities-bred Warped Tour stalwarts Motion City Soundtrack.
Wilco will be joined on Saturday night by a couple of fellow Americana music favorites, Jason Isbell and Jenny Lewis; plus party favorites Fitz & the Tantrums; “Cool Kids”-singing pop upstarts Echosmith and newcomers Fly Golden Eagle and Rachel Platten.
Tickets for the block party go on sale next Saturday, May 2, at 10 a.m. through eTix.com, 1-800-514-3849 or Electric Fetus record stores. Prices are the same as last year: $50 for a one-day ticket, or $90 for a two-day pass. Cities 97’s Frequent Listeners Club will offer a limited number of pre-sale tickets starting Thursday at 10 a.m. for $45/$80.
All told, this is one of the strongest of recent BBP lineups. Weezer is a good middle-of-the-road, familiar favorite with a summery vibe that went over well when the nerd-rock heroes previously played the block party in 2010. And Ruess, O.A.R. and Kearney are the kind of milquetoast pop-rock acts that are the bread-and-butter of Cities 97 and Basilica faithfuls.
Saturday’s show, on the other hand, should bring in quite a lot of music lovers who may have sworn off the event and/or who usually favor the competing Rock the Garden. Wilco’s large diehard fan base will go see the ever-evolving Chicago sextet anywhere -- and hasn’t gotten to see them in town since an opening set with Bob Dylan at Midway Stadium in 2013. Ex-Drive-by Truckers member Isbell has been steadily wowing and building up his crowds locally since the release of his acclaimed personal opus “Southeastern” in 2013 (his new album will be out by then). Former Rilo Kiley frontwoman Lewis also made an especially strong showing last year behind her latest record “The Voyageur.” Meanwhile, younger Top 40-centric fans might turn out for Echosmith, and BBP’s regular audience always falls for Fitz & the Tantrums’ party-starting soul-pop songs.
BBP organizers are late to the party when it comes the busy summer concert fray, though, following announcements for Rock the Garden, the new Eaux Claires festival, the Rolling Stones, One Direction, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band and lots more. None of those aforementioned events are sold out, which might be a sign of fans hitting concert overload. To be fair, though, Def Leppard did manage to sell out its State Fair grandstand gig already.
Here’s the breakdown of the Basilica Block Party schedule:
Friday, July 10
Saturday, July 11
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