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Posts about Television

New project tackles 'lost' Bob Dylan songs

Posted by: Neal Justin Updated: March 25, 2014 - 1:40 PM



Minnesota's own Bob Dylan has a new project--one that's sort of out of his hands.

Five of today's biggest artists -- Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons) -- are writing music for 24 recently discovered lyrics Dylan jotted down in 1967. The words were originally intended to be part of "The Basement Tapes" with the Band, but they apparently didn't make the cut.T Bone Burnett is producing.

Showtime is taping the collaboration for a special that will also include stories about the impact of "The Basement Tapes." That will air later this year.

Home Free leads triumphant Sing-Off Tour in their hometown

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: March 23, 2014 - 4:55 PM

Congratulations to “The Sing-Off.” NBC’s a cappella TV competition has accomplished what “American Idol” hasn’t been able to pull off in its 12 previous seasons: Putting together a consistently entertaining live concert tour.

The inaugural Sing-Off Tour delivered a winning show Friday night at sold-out Mill City Nights in the hometown of Season 4 winners Home Free.

The smartly conceived, two-hour concert featured Home Free and two other “The Sing-Off” competitors, VoicePlay from Orlando and the Filharmonic from Los Angeles. The 32-city tour is visiting nightclubs and theaters, which makes more sense than "American Idol" essaying arenas with a cast of singers who've never been onstage in such big venues before.

The three "Sing-Off" groups performed all together (the closing, reverent reading of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” without microphones was a highlight), in “ultimate” face-offs with another group as they traded verses on the same song, and their own individual sets. Plus the beat boxers from all three ensembles teamed up for a percussion showcase.

Although Mill City Nights felt intimate, it seemed odd to see this kind of a show in a club (with most of the audience standing) rather than a theater (with the audience sitting).

Here are a few thoughts about each of the ensembles.

Home Free

The Twin Cities quintet proved why they deserved to win the TV competition. They are creative as vocalists and entertainers. And they kept the young women screaming as if they were watching a boy band.


Doing a truncated version of their own concert, the country-leaning Home Free did a silly guilty pleasures segment (featuring mostly bubblegum pop hits like “Call Me Maybe” and “Friday”) as well as their “Sing-Off” signature moment, Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”


There was a bit of a personnel change. Gone was Honey, the woman the long-time Orlando quintet recruited for “The Sing-Off.” Instead, joining VoicePlay on a few numbers Friday was Amani, the frizzy-haired vocal powerhouse who sang with Ten, runners-up on “The Sing-Off.” She showed a high, piercing soprano, a nice touch that made VoicePlay stand out on Friday – especially since she was the only woman in the show.


VoicePlay had a sense of drama both in the theatrical sense and the musical sense. That was evident in a bit where the five guys sat in an imaginary vehicle and acted like they were going on a road trip. Quick, clever and resourceful, they did various sound effects (from locking the door to revving the engine), kept changing the radio stations and ended up with the age-old and ageless bit of passing gas, which, of course, led the offending person to sing Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.”


The Filharmonic

These young guys, ages 20 to 27, showed lots of energy and a fun sense of choreography. They lacked a stand-out lead singer; in fact, a couple of the singers who took leads had very similar voices. But the six vocalists, all wearing white,had the kind of fresh, versatile repertoire of hits that elicited girlish screams.   

'Undercover Boss' comes to Minnesota

Posted by: Neal Justin Updated: March 13, 2014 - 12:58 PM



An indoor all-walled trampoline park business in Plymouth should get a nice "bounce" this weekend when "Undercover Boss" airs an episode from its premises.

Sky Zone CEO Jeff Platt, who oversees 55 of these parks across the US and Canada, went undercover as a low-level worker to learn about how he could make his operations stronger.

The episode airs at 7 p.m. Friday on WCCO, Ch. 4.

Oratorio Society sells out 'Downtown Abbey' concert, adds another

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson Updated: March 7, 2014 - 12:00 PM

Want to sell out a classical-music concert? Just add the words "Downton Abbey" to the program. The Oratorio Society of Minnesota's Saturday performance of  "The Music of Downton Abbey" at St. Mark's Cathedral has sold out, leaving artistic director Matthew Mehaffey concerned about the usual "150 to 200" walk-up ticket buyers who will have to be turned away.

A second St. Marks concert has been added at 7:30 p.m. on March 15.

The program features some compositions by John Lunn, an Emmy winner for the soundtrack of the popular drama about the high- and low-born residents of an estate in post-Edwardian England, as well as other pieces of the time that have been woven into a sort of musical narrative feauturing a long-lost relative of the Granthams. Some selections are intended to evoke memorable scenes from the series, such as Elgar's "The Snow" (the title of which any self-respecting Downton fan will instantly tie to the moment Matthew proposed to Lady Mary). The audience is invited to sing along on three well-known hymns, including  -- of course -- Arne's "Rule, Britannia!."

For tickets to the added concert and more info, go to oratorio.org or call 612-432-7398.

Prince gets funny and funky on 'Arsenio Hall Show'

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: March 6, 2014 - 1:28 AM

Prince, we hardly knew ya. At least not like this.

The Purple One answered questions from fans and Arsenio Hall — and even played advice guru.

Prince has never seemed so normal, so comfortable and so un-self-conscious on television as he was Wednesday night on “The Arsenio Hall Show.” Yep, that Arsenio who had Prince as a guest back in the early ‘90s.

Except for Hall’s opening monologue, Wednesday’s hour-long program was devoted to Prince. With the New Power Generation and 3rdEyeGirl, he played two new songs (“FunknRoll,” “Mutiny”) and one old one (“She’s Always in My Hair”), and Liv Warfield, one of his former backup singers, offered a tune from her new album.

In conversation with Arsenio and the studio audience, Prince – wearing a series of turtlenecks and fur- or fringe-trimmed vests -- was quick, funny and short but to the point.

Here are some things Prince revealed:

  • He doesn’t have a cellphone. “Everybody I know has one.”
  • His pet peeve is strangers touching his hair.
  • He doesn’t watch “American Idol,” “The Voice” or other TV talent shows because he always finds himself rearranging the music (in his head) that he hears others perform.
  • He doesn’t watch infomercials. In fact, he acted like he didn’t know what they were.
  • “Purple Rain” happened to come on the TV three days ago and, in his living room, he watched the scene featuring the tune “Take Me with U.”
  • He doesn’t have a favorite song. He always answers that by saying “the next one.” Then he mentioned a new one called "The Breakdown."
  • When asked about all the songs he has in his vault at Paisley Park, he said, “I don’t go back in time.”
  • He hasn’t released an album for a while because "We live in a singles-driven market. I live in the old school and making albums is what I like. You wait until you have other songs to go with (ones you like). Without a contract, there's no rush to do an album."
  • When asked about music and technology, he called it a double-edged sword where artists aren’t getting paid their fair share and it’s difficult to do audits and accounting. “it’s about justice and fairness,” he said.
  • He can cook. “Only one thing. Omelets. All my friends have high cholesterol.”
  • He never had a Plan B. “When I was 16 and completely broke, I got the Yellow Pages out and couldn’t find a thing I wanted to do.” Later in the conversation, he amended that by saying he’d want “to teach in some capacity.”
  • Steven, an audience member, asked Prince to help him sort out a problem with his out-of-town girlfriend, whose first date together was a Prince concert last year. So, on TV, Arsenio and Prince called Keegan. After asking her why she started seeing her ex- again after Steven moved to L.A., Prince listened to her answer and then said: “In this life, you’re on your own. This is what it sounds like when Steven hangs up.” Then Keegan asked if Prince would go out with her. “No,” he said, “I’m not available.”

Photo: Arsenio Hall Show/ CBS Television Distribution



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