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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:
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.
Steve Zahn/ photo courtesy of ABC
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Earlier this year, Minnesota native Steve Zahn had a major bomb on his hands in the guise of ABC's "Mind Games," his first network series that was quickly canceled.
But the network hasn't given up on him.
Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Zahn will have a recurring guest-star role on "Modern Family," playing the husband of an annoying family that moves in next door to the Dunphys.
It's unclear just how many episodes will feature Zahn, who still spends a considerable amount of time in Minnesota.
"Modern Family" returns Sept. 24.
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.
A few thoughts on the performance by Jeff Bridges and the Abiders at the sold-out Pantages Theatre Sunday:
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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