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.

James Taylor returning Nov. 2 to Xcel Center

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music, Concert news Updated: August 25, 2014 - 12:35 PM
James Taylor performed at the 2011 dedication ceremony at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

James Taylor performed at the 2011 dedication ceremony at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

Performing without Carole King or any other co-headliner this time  --  not even an opening act, in fact -- James Taylor will return to Xcel Energy Center for an “evening with” concert Nov. 2. Tickets go on sale Sept. 5 for $67 and $91.50 through Ticketmaster or the arena box office.

Last seen with King at the X in 2010, the North Carolina-bred Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer/songwriter, 66, has been playing 2½ hours worth of tunes split into two sets on tour this year, accompanied by his veteran All-Star Band. And yes, "Sweet Baby James," "Fire and Rain" and "Carolina in My Mind" have made the cut every night.

Jeff Bridges shows he really can sing at the Pantages

Posted by: Jon Bream under Music, Celebrities, Minnesota musicians, Movies Updated: August 25, 2014 - 1:46 AM

A few thoughts on the performance by Jeff Bridges and the Abiders at the sold-out Pantages Theatre Sunday:

  • Bridges is a better singer -- stronger, more forceful and more musical -- than his albums and Oscar-winning “Crazy Heart” movie would lead you to believe. It helped that he had a stellar band of his buddies, the Abiders, to support him, especially musical director/guitarist Chris Pelonis.
  • “This is a special night for me,” Bridges explained at the outset. Because he had a lot of family in the house and because “this is the home of Prince. Robert Pirsig of ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” (which didn’t get much of a reaction) and [in an exaggerated voice of eerie doom)  home of the Coen brothers.” He was talkative and likable – and the crowd was respectful, with only a handful  of fans shouting out lines from “The Big Lebowski.”
  • Bridges dedicated the show to Robin Williams, with whom he costarred in “The Fisher King.”
  • Many of Bridges tunes were written by his pal John Goodwin – not to be confused with actor John Goodman, the singer explained – whom he met in 4th grade and took tap-dancing lessons with and went to cotillion together (mom forced them). The best Goodwin number was probably “Van Gogh in Hollywood,” with its creepy verses and scorching blues-rock choruses. It was from the movie “Tideland” about which Bridges said, “For half the movie, I play a carcass.” He also pointed out that the film was directed by Minneapolis-born Terry Gilliam.
  • In his 95-minute set, Bridges mixed in a few covers – Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Lookin Out My Back Door,” Townes Van Zandt’s “To Live Is To Fly” (which showed off the power of Bridges' upper register), Tom Waits’ “Never Let Go” (a moving Irish-flavored ballad done on piano) and encores of – what he called a Dinkytown song --Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me” and the Byrds’ “So You Want To Be a Rock n Roll Star.” The diversity of those selections suggests the kind of musical influences Bridges has. But most of his own material was in the roots and Americana vein.
  • Bridges’ 8-year-old grand nephew was dancing up a storm in the front row, much to the delight of Uncle Jeff. There were lots of Bridges relatives at the show, including his sister who lives in the area and a niece who goes to the University of Minnesota. Even Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon – a friend of the family from Eau Claire -- stopped by to chat up the Dude after the show.
  • Jeff Bridges plays Tom Waits' "Never Let Go"

    Jeff Bridges plays Tom Waits' "Never Let Go"

Escovedo, Ely double up on Texas songwriting traditions at the Dakota

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music Updated: August 24, 2014 - 11:15 PM

Although they did indeed spin some good yarns between songs, the “storyteller” format promised for Saturday night’s Joe Ely and Alejandro Escovedo duo performance at the Dakota was actually fulfilled more in the songs themselves.

The pair of Texas-giant songwriting vets – joined by violinist Susan Voelz (Poi Dog Pondering, John Mellencamp) – focused on some of their more narrative compositions in their 100-minute joint set, often tying their selected tunes into the other one’s material thematically. When the Panhandle-reared Ely played his Dust Bowl-inspired transient homage “Homeland Refugee,” for instance, Escovedo followed it with “Wave,” a song about his late father crossing the border from Mexico to Texas at age 12. And when Escovedo played his oceans-apart love-letters song “Rosalie,” Ely responded with “Where Is My Love?,” a back-and-forth romantic duet he recorded with Linda Rondstadt.

Each delivered a song that referenced oil pumpjacks (Ely’s “Cold Black Hammer,” Escovedo’s “Swallows of San Juan”). Each touched on rain and drought, a big topic of late in Texas (“San Antonio Rain” by Escovedo, “Highway Is My Home” by Ely). And each eventually paid tribute to the Texas songwriters who inspired them. Ely delivered a soul-raising version of Billie Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever” to end the show pre-encore. Earlier, Escovedo mentioned a pair of Austin’s many unsung, troubled bards, Jubal Clark and Rich Minus, to introduce “Bottom of the World” -- adding less-than-flattering comments about how even most locals wouldn’t recognize those names nowadays in the city that still champions itself as the Live Music Capitol of the World.

“The government used music to bring people and money to town, and then they tore down all the clubs and made it too expensive for musicians to live there,” said Escovedo, who moved to Austin in 1980 (“The night Reagan was elected,” he remembered, to hisses).

For longtime fans, the dueling performance was a nice change of pace. Both singers passed on playing many of their most standard tunes to fit the formula. Voelz helped tie them together musically and added elegant dramatic flair to the deepest of the tunes, especially those by Escovedo. He played “Five Hearts Breaking” right near the start as if to let folks know this wasn’t going to be a yuck-yuck, lighthearted kind of songwriter pairing. More musical interaction between the two stars would have been nice – they mostly just sat and watched the other sing -- but otherwise no complaints. Here's the set list:

San Antonio Rain (Escovedo)  /  All Just to Get to You (Ely)  /  Five Hearts Breaking (Escovedo)  /  Cold Black Hammer (Ely)  /  Homeland Refugee (Ely)  /  Wave (Escovedo)  /  Ranches and Rivers (Ely)  /  Rosalie (Escovedo)  /  Where Is My Love? (Ely)  /  Bottom of the World (Escovedo)  /  The Highway Is My Home (Ely)  /  Sabor a Mí (Escovedo)  /  Live Forever (Ely; a Billy Joe Shaver song)     ENCORE: Blowin’ Down That Old Dusty Road (both; by Woody Guthrie)

Katy Perry's Target Center set list

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music Updated: August 23, 2014 - 1:03 AM
Katy Perry wore a neon-adorned dress for her first of about a dozen outfits at Target Center on Friday. / Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

Katy Perry wore a neon-adorned dress for her first of about a dozen outfits at Target Center on Friday. / Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

Katy Perry messed with her earlier hits Friday night at Target Center with mixed results. The heavy synth-grind update of “I Kissed a Girl” worked surprisingly well, but her jazzy show-band version of “Hot N Cold” felt forced and kitschy. She let her costumes provide the big twist during “Teenage Dream” and “Firework” later in the show, the latter of which found her in an ornate black and red dress with a big bouffant rear that looked like she was wearing a giant fancy vase around her waist. Or something like that.

Both Perry and opener Kacey Musgraves wasted no time talking about their roller-skating adventures at Skateville the night before. Burnsville has never gotten so many more shout-outs in a local sports arena outside of the high school tournaments. Musgraves brought it up right away and bragged, “I didn’t fall once. And I brought my knee pads.” Perry said, “"It's one of the most nostalgic mom-and-pop skate spots in the country.”

Click here for the full concert review and photo gallery. Here’s Perry’s set list:

Roar / Part of Me / Wide Awake This Moment (with Love Me) / Dark Horse / E.T. / Legendary Lovers / I Kissed a Girl / Hot N Cold / International Smile / By the Grace of God / The One That Got Away (with Thinking of You) / Unconditionally / Walking on Air / It Takes Two / This Is How We Do / Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) / Teenage Dream / California Gurls       ENCORE: Birthday / Firework

Minnesotan's White-Horse Video shown on St. Petersburg Canals

Posted by: Mary Abbe under Art, Culture, Minnesota artists Updated: August 22, 2014 - 5:59 PM

Minnesota artist Andrea Stanislav's "Nightmare" video of a white horse galloping on water was hobbled by technical problems in 2011 when the University of Minnesota associate professor planned to show the video as part of that summer's Northern Spark festival in the Twin Cities.

On July 25-26, 2014, however, Stanislav's magical illusion was a success in St. Petersburg, Russia under the aegis of Manifesta 10 Parallel Projects. There the full-scale white horse appeared on a video screen that was pulled on a barge along the Neva River, past the State Hermitage Museum, and through some 30 kilometer's of the city's canals.

Russian media loved the project and covered it in more than 60 print publications, 10 television stations and three radio outlets, Stanislav said. Thousands of people stayed up as late as 2 a.m. to view the horse from river embankments throughout the city.

"We were planning on performing 'Nightmare" on the Moscow River on September 19 in conjunction with the Moscow Art Fair," Stanislav said in an email. But that and another Moscow plan "is hostage to the current international situation and on hold."

Meanwhile she's working to present "Nightmare" in New York next year. 

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