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Bob Dylan to take up residency at the Orpheum again Nov. 4-6

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: August 27, 2014 - 9:07 AM

(Photo: Clint Austin, Duluth News Tribune/Associated Press)

He doesn’t have the keys to the place anymore like he did in the ‘80s, but Bob Dylan will own the Orpheum Theatre for at least three nights, Nov. 4-6, when his never-ending tour takes up residency in Minneapolis. Tickets for the three-gig run go on sale Sept. 6 at noon through Ticketmaster or the State Theatre box office for $135, $85 and $55.

Dylan and his brother, David Zimmerman, were the owners of the Orpheum before it was taken over in 1988 by the Minneapolis Community Development Agency. At the time, Dylan lived part-time on his farm property along the Crow River in western Hennepin County and was known to take in a show now and then. He returned to the theater in 1992 and played a five-night engagement there.


While he may have a soft spot for the place, the Orpheum is not the only performance hall that size where the original Bobby Z is making himself at home on tour this fall. He also has multi-night runs booked at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre right after Minneapolis as well as in Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland and Philadelphia before finishing up with a four-nighter at New York’s Beacon Theater (Nov. 28-Dec. 2). Rolling Stone's report on the tour suggests there won't be much difference in the set lists from night to night.

Today’s fall tour announcement follows yesterday news that a six-disc collection of the famous “Basement Tapes” sessions with The Band will be issued as the latest installment of Dylan’s “Bootleg Series” on Nov. 4, the day of that first Orpheum gig.

Dylan’s last swing through his home state was last summer, when he headlined the Americanarama Tour with Wilco and My Morning Jacket at St. Paul’s Midway Stadium and Duluth’s Bayfront Park. He has made a habit of coming back to his native state on or near election day, including a 2012 show at Xcel Energy Center that fell on Nov. 7 and a 2008 gig at Northrop Auditorium that happened to fall on the night Barack Obama was elected.

"Lowertown Line" hits the clubs starting Tuesday with 4onthefloor at Icehouse

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: August 26, 2014 - 11:03 AM

A happy case of making lemonade out of lemons – with the added option of spiking it with alcohol -- Twin Cities Public Television is moving its well-received live music series “The Lowertown Line” out of the studios and into the nightclubs starting with a kick-off taping tonight at Icehouse in Minneapolis.

The change of scenery was out of necessity, as TPT’s facilities in downtown St. Paul are currently undergoing renovations. However, the staff is looking at it positively, both as a chance to mix up the look and format of the show in its second season, and as a way of connecting more with the local music community.

“[The show] is all about showcasing the best, brightest and most diverse acts playing right now in the Twin Cities," series producer David Roth said. "We're excited to bring that experience into the venues that foster this rich local talent."

Following tonight’s taping, future episodes will take place at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Bedlam Lowertown and one other venue yet to be selected. The Sept. 25 show at the Amsterdam especially sounds like a blast. Here’s the schedule:

  • Tonight: The 4onthefloor at Icehouse (8:30 p.m., $5, details here).
  • September 25: “Noise Night” with The Blind Shake and Kitten Forever at Amsterdam Bar & Hall.
  • October: Mayda, location and date TBD.
  • November 19: Black Diet at Bedlam Lowertown.
The 4onthefloor

The 4onthefloor

After undergoing a lineup makeover this past year – frontman Gabriel Douglas is the lone man out from the original foursome – the 4onthefloor is working on a reportedly very different sort of new album and getting back up to speed gig-wise.

Tonight’s show kicks off a busy week that also finds them headlining the Minnesota State Fair’s new Schell’s Stage amphitheater in the West End Market on Friday and Saturday nights (7:30 p.m., free with fair admission). The guys picked up the fair gigs only a few weeks ago after rising alt-country bellower Sturgill Simpson cancelled, choosing instead to take up an opening slot with the Zac Brown Band (hard to knock him for that). Simpson will be back around to play the Fine Line on Dec. 4.

James Taylor returning Nov. 2 to Xcel Center

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider 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 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 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)


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