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, 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.
Dan Wilson was a special guest for the New Standards holiday show Saturday at the State Theatre. His brother, Matt, is always a guest at the New Standards Christmas gigs, now in their eighth year. And, of course, John Munson is a member of the New Standards. You’ll recall that the Wilson brothers and Munson comprise three-fourths of Trip Shakespeare, a beloved late 1980s/early 90s Minneapolis band.
Well, the New Standards had an extra-special guest Saturday. And we’re not talking about St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman on bagpipes, though he was part of the mix. Standup drummer Elaine Harris returned to the Twin Cities for the first Trip Shakespeare live performance in 20 years.
It was only two songs – “Susannah” and “Snow Days,” which has been a part of the New Standards holiday show every year. But it was an extra-special moment.
Trip Shakespeare seemed a bit tentative on the first number but it was glorious to hear “Snow Days” by the ensemble that originated it – with the full blown New Standards orchestra pitching in at the end. What a treat to see New Standards’ Chan Poling, who in 2013 famously recorded the first Suburbs album in 27 years, sharing the piano with Dan Wilson, the now famous Grammy-winning songwriter who has worked with Adele, Pink and Taylor Swift, to name a few.
As Munson said, “that represents 20 years of begging” for a Trip Shakespeare reunion.
No one could have topped that trump card, but guests Dessa, the media darling doing her own rap/sung rewrite of “My Favorite Things,” came close, and Coleman’s kilt-clad bagpipe performance (as part of a quartet of pipers) added a new dimension to the Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York,” which the New Standards had done for Christmas before.
Sweet-voiced Dan Wilson sang two new songs – his current single “Disappearing” and a country-tinged holiday ditty, “Are You Lonely Tonight, Mrs. Claus?” Matt Wilson offered an oldie, “Don’t Worry Baby,” that had been made famous by some other Wilson brothers, the ones in the Beach Boys. Too bad Matt started this in such a high key.
Most other guests were familiar to folks who’ve been to previous New Standards holiday shows, which were always at the Fitzgerald in St. Paul. Jeremy Messersmith, Haley Bonar and Aby Wolf did solo vocal turns. Tim Frantzich recited a Robert Bly poem, and Timothy Young ,in what may have been his first New Standards holiday appearance, delivered an original poem, “He Has the Whole World in His Hands.” Veteran Minneapolis soul and jazz man Maurice Jacox, another New Standards newbie, also sparkled in his role as Marvin Gaye.
Rupert, a fixture at New Standards concerts year round, danced in a devil’s outfit – which was easily the highlight of his holiday dance career and the dance highlight of Saturday’s show (the dancers always seem forced and under-rehearsed).
As for New Standards themselves, they did their distinctive readings of tunes by the Replacements, Leonard Cohen and Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks with stand-out work by vibes ace Steve Roehm.,And, most importantly, the trio closed with Poling’s original “Christmastime Next Year,” which deserves to be the first contemporary holiday tune to become part of the seasonal songbook since Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” in 1994. Maybe Dan Wilson could pitch Poling’s piece to one of his superstar friends so the rest of the world can hear it.
The New Standards will take their holiday show to Rochester, St. Cloud and New York. But first the trio has another performance at the State Theatre on Sunday night. Wonder if we’ll get a Suburbs reunion?
The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have added a performance to their concert at Northrop Auditorium next May. Osmo Vanska previously had agreed to conduct the orchestra in a program marking the reopening of the auditorium, which was once the home of the Minneapolis Symphony.
That concert, on Friday, May 2, sold out within 48 hours so the musicians have added the second performance, on Sunday, May 4, at 2 p.m. Featuring Dvorak's New World Symphony, the 1812 Overture and Liszt's Concerto No. 1 for Piano, the program replicates the first Northrop concert of the old Symphony.
Tickets go on sale at noon, Dec. 16.
At the final Talking Volumes event of the 2013 season, crime novelist (and jazz lover) Michael Connelly said he was co-producing a documentary about Minneapolis-born jazz saxophonist Frank Morgan, who died in 2007. Connelly said he often listens to jazz when he writes, especially when he's writing about his popular detective hero Harry ("Hieronymous") Bosch.
Connelly said that Morgan's family members, some of whom were in the audience at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul on Tuesday, had been very helpful in making the documentary, "Sound of Redemption," which Connelly said is likely to be released in spring 2014.
Morgan was born in Minneapolis in 1933, raised mostly in Milwaukee and then moved to Los Angeles, where drugs soon led him to an adult life spent in and out of prison. His late-in-life comeback began in the mid-1980s, and included gigs at the Dakota in Minneapolis, after he moved back to Minneapolis in 2005. The Morgan documentary is being directed by N.C. Heikin, and includes interviews as well as archival footage. James Egan is another producer.
Connelly has written about his love of Morgan's music, and how he came to the idea that detective Bosch would love it, too.
Xcel Energy Center GM Jack Larson, Jimmy Buffett & his Mpls-bred wardrobe stylist Helen Hiatt -- she wasn't responsible for the custom-made Wild jersey/ Xcel photo
Was Tuesday’s Xcel Energy Center audience the most sober crowd in the long history of Jimmy Buffett’s touring? Or at least in Buffett’s history in the Twin Cities?
Was it because it was Tuesday? The economy? The fact that tickets already cost as much as $136? Holiday budget stress?
At least the two women on either side of my seats were pregnant so we know why they weren’t drinking. And I surprisingly didn’t smell any reefer – a stark contrast to the Jay Z crowd on Saturday at the X.
Not that you can’t have a good time at the Old Tropical Buffett if you’re sober. It was a fun time, as my review indicated.
Maybe there were too many covers – from Crowded House to Crosby, Stills & Nash -- for some fans at the expense of such faves as “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” (which has long been absent from his sets) and “Livingston Saturday Night.”
Maybe Buffett is catering too much to the country crowd by tossing in Zac Brown’s “Knee Deep” and Alan Jackson’s “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” both of which hit records feature Buffett cameos. Whatever.
Twice on Tuesday, Buffett acknowledged Minnesota’s own Bob Dylan for having performed Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks at Forty” (most famously in a 1982 live duet with Joan Baez in Pasadena, Calif.). So Buffett said he was returning the favor by doing two Dylan tunes.
Here’s Buffett’s set list from Tuesday:
St. Somewhere/ Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)/ Boat Drinks/ Pencil Thin Moustache/ Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitudes/ Havana Daydreamin’/ It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere (Alan Jackson)/ Come Monday/ Son of a Son of a Sailor/Jamaica Mistaica/ Too Drunk to Karaoke/ Cheeseburger in Paradise/ Cultural Infidel (featuring Nadirah Shakoor) acoustic set Piece of Work/ Volcano/ Southern Cross (Crosby Stills & Nash) full band Weather with You (Crowded House)/ Knee Deep (Zac Brown Band)/ Pirate Looks at 40/ One Particular Harbour/ Back Where I Come From (Kenny Chesney, written by Buffett sideman Mac McAnally)/ Fins ENCORE All Night Long (Lionel Richie)/ Margaritaville ENCORE 2 Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan)/ Girl from the North Country (Bob Dylan)
Michael Jackson and Madonna already got theirs. So have Beyonce, Drake and Adele. Cher and 50 Cent, too.
Now Prince is going to be profiled in a comic-book biography. It’s called “Fame: Prince,” published by Bluewater Productions. The 32-page comic, offered in both digital (at iTunes) and print formats (at Comic Flea Market), is available with two different covers.
Bluewater has collaborated with William Shatner, Ray Harryhausen and Vincent Price on comic projects. Next up in its biography series are Johnny Depp and Sharon Osbourne.
“Fame: Prince” author Michael Frizell admits to preferring Prince over Jackson. "Writing [it] was like reliving my teenage years,” he said in a statement. “For me, the music scene wasn’t defined by Michael Jackson, despite his success with Thriller. The 80’s, and music in general for me, were defined by Prince. He takes chances in his music, doesn’t sell out as an artist in order to make money, and still ends up on top.”