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Aloe Blacc, fireworks wake up All-Star Game Gala, residents

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: July 15, 2014 - 4:14 AM



“Ironic” seems to be the theme of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game experience in the Twin Cities.

After we finally build a gorgeous outdoor ballpark, we land the Home Run Derby during a record cold-day for July. Nice.

And the timing of this all-eyes-on-Minneapolis event couldn’t be better. The Twins biggest star, Joe Mauer, can’t qualify for the All-Star Game because he pulled his obscure, er, oblique muscle. An extraordinary injury for Above-Average Joe, whose only weaknesses are bilateral.

To add insult to injury, the Home Run Derby gets delayed on Monday by an hour because of rain, and then the contest provides all the drama of a Brazil-Germany World Cup soccer match.

After Monday's snooze fest at Target Field, MLB tapped Aloe Blacc for its post-Derby All Star Gala at Mill City Ruins and Museum. I guess they couldn’t find Alanis Morissette to sing “Ironic.”


So they got the voice (and songwriter) of Avicii’s worldwide smash “Wake Me Up.”

And that’s exactly what Aloe Blacc did to the crowd of a few thousand ticket-holding partiers outdoors behind the Mill City Museum – and to untold residents on the opposite side of the Mississippi River.

With show-time temperature hovering at 57 degrees, the pop-soul star played a 50-minute set that featured his big hit, “The Man,” which has become something of a theme for All-Star Game promos, and a slow-downed, almost jazzy reading of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”

“I apologize for doing a Michael Jackson song in Prince’s city,” Blacc, who lives in Southern California, said after the tune. “But we don’t know any Prince songs.”

There were plenty of Minnesotans in the crowd, judging by all the Twins gear (people still love Kirby Puckett and Justin Morneau). There were a few faces well-known to local baseball fans: Clark Griffith, Dick Bremer and Frank Viola.  But there were many out-of-towners showing their love for the L.A. Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and, of course, the Yankees. Too bad it was so chilly that the visitors were ignoring the fabulous Izzy’s ice cream desserts set up next to space heaters on the riverbank.

The out-of-towners seemed captivated by the fireworks above the Stone Arch Bridge – which started at 12:20 a.m. and lasted for 13 minutes. But the fireworks seemed like an impossible-to-ignore snooze alarm for nearby residents who didn’t abide by Aloe Blacc’s “Wake Me Up.”

We imagine the Twins, Major League Baseball and Minneapolis officials might be receiving some uncomplimentary phone calls, emails and Tweets.

Local talent produces a double feature

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: June 20, 2014 - 5:59 PM

Notable deals from a couple of local filmmaker types.

Screenwriter Nick Schenk (of Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino”) has another Warner Bros. star project due in theaters Oct. 10. Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton and Vera Farmiga star in “The Judge,” Schenk’s story of a hotshot criminal defense lawyer who must defend his estranged father on a murder charge. David (“The Wedding Crashers” ) Dobkin directs.

Eric D. Howell, whose Minneapolis- shot short  “Anna’s Playground” was shortlisted for a 2009 Oscar is slated to make his feature debut with the psychological thriller “The Voice of the Stone.” Emilia Clarke from HBO’s “Game of Thrones” will star as a nurse in 1950s Italy helping a boy traumatized by the sudden death of his mother, a famed opera singer. She discovers that the family’s Tuscan castle harbors a malevolent force. "It's a ‘Sixth Sense’-like tale of how she’s ensnared, a slow-burn haunting,” Howell said. “Is it real or is it not?”

Clarke is a fast-rising star, slated to play Sarah Connor in the upcoming “Terminator: Genesis” alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. The independently financed ghost story is scheduled to begin production near Siena in October, Howell said, with an eye to a debut on the following year’s fall film festival circuit.

Jeff Bridges to sing at Pantages on Aug. 24

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: June 6, 2014 - 3:11 AM
Jeff Bridges/ Photo by Richard Shotwell, Invision/ Associated Press

Jeff Bridges/ Photo by Richard Shotwell, Invision/ Associated Press

The Dude is coming to Minneapolis. Don’t know if he’ll abide, drink White Russians or bring the Coen Brothers with him. But he will sing his “Crazy Heart” songs and other material.

Jeff Bridges, the Oscar-winning actor who does music on the side, will appear Aug. 24 at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis  – one of 14 concerts on his summer schedule.

Bridges has released two solo albums as well as the soundtrack for 2009’s “Crazy Heart.” He won an Oscar for best actor for his performance of washed-up country star Bad Blake in that movie.. His most recent album is 2011’s “Jeff Bridges,” produced by T Bone Burnett. Bridges is reportedly working on a new album.

He does have a new film, “The Giver,” due on Aug. 15. It’s a sci-fi drama based on the novel of the same name by Lois Lowry. 

Bridges earned raves and award nominations for his work in such movies as “The Last Picture Show,” “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot,” “Starman,” “The Contender,” “True Grit” and “The Big Lebowski.”

Bridges will perform with his band, the Abiders. Ticket details for the Pantages show have not been announced yet.

Beatles insider Peter Asher charms with live memoir at the Dakota

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: June 4, 2014 - 2:54 AM
Peter & Gordon's 1964 debut LP

Peter & Gordon's 1964 debut LP

For Peter Asher at the Dakota Jazz Club, the third time was still charming.

For the third consecutive year, the Forrest Gump of rock brought his in-concert multi-media memoir to town. It was a delightful evening of insider stories about the Beatles, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, show biz, the music biz, the soundtrack biz and, most of all, Asher himself.

The veteran Brit was a pop star (Peter & Gordon), a movie actor (both as kid and adult), talent executive (starting at the Beatles’ Apple records), producer, manager and soundtrack recording artist. He’s won Grammys (as recently as this year) and given induction speeches at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (this year for Beatles manager Brian Epstein and Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham).

In his nostalgic and entertaining 2½-hour presentation, Asher, who turns 70 on June 22, told some of the same stories as in the past about his sister Jane Asher dating with Paul McCartney (who moved into the Asher family home), John  Lennon meeting Yoko Ono at Asher’s art gallery, James Taylor showing up at Asher’s London flat and getting signed to a record deal by the Beatles within days, and daughter Victoria Asher becoming a rock star recently with the synth-pop band Cobra Starship.

Asher’s Beatle connections run remarkably deep. His mother, a professional oboist and teacher, had a young George Martin as one of her students. Of course, he became the Beatles producer.

By no means is Asher retired – or retiring. Updates to this live memoir included his producing Steve Martin and Edie Brickell (which led to a Grammy this year), his work on some new movie soundtracks including this year’s Spider-Man and producing several new stars including Ed Sheeran, Miguel and the Band Perry on this year’s 40th anniversary tribute to Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

Asher also brought a new special guest – the Webb Sisters, a British sibling duo which he produces and manages (his only current client as a manager).

The Webbs sang backup on a few tunes, proving that siblings are more convincing harmonizing on Everly Brothers tunes than non-siblings are. The sisters also delivered a heavenly version of Leonard Cohen’s “If It Be Your Will,” which they sang on tour with Cohen on his recent comeback tour. (The Webb Sisters will perform their own show Thursday at the Dakota.)

In addition to Asher and his band singing several songs (including with the late Gordon Waller on video), his show includes priceless Beatles photos and clips of Peter & Gordon performing on Ed Sullivan, "Hullabaloo" and other TV shows. There is also a clip of the Rutles movie (Eric Idle's parody of the Beatles), featuring John Belushi and a curly-haired bespectacled comedian, Al Franken.

“Senator Al,” Asher declared after his bandleader pointed out Franken in the clip. “I’ve forgotten that.”

It’s pretty hard to forget any of the memories Asher shared about his amazingly well-connected life.

He performs again at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Dakota.

Steve Perry of Journey unexpectedly sings with Eels in St. Paul

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: May 27, 2014 - 1:07 AM

Just when you thought some obsessive documentarian might make a film called “Searching for Steve Perry,” the reclusive former Journey frontman showed up unexpectedly Sunday night at the Fitzgerald Theater during the second encore of the Eels concert.

Perry, who apparently hadn’t performed in public since 1996, sang three numbers, including the Journey smashes “Open Arms” and “Lovin Touchin Squeezin.”

Perry, 65, didn’t have his heyday mullet but he did showcase his high, piercing voice, which, judging by the YouTube video, is not as high as it used to be – nor as high as that of current Journey singer Arnel Pineda.

No idea what the connection between Perry and the Eels is.

In other Journey-related news, Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie – original members of Journey—will get together with Carlos Santana and others for a reunion of the original Santana band, the bandleader told Rollingstone.com. He credited Schon, the current Journey guitarist, with pushing for the reunion. They are recording new material for “Santana IV” (since they made three albums together) and talking of a possible tour.


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