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.

Posts about Minnesota musicians

Liv Warfield, Prince backup singer, adds second Dakota show

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: August 27, 2014 - 9:03 AM



Last time Liv Warfield performed in the Twin Cities, it was on 24 hours notice at Paisley Park.

This time, her gig at the Dakota was announced six days in advance. And now Warfield, one of Prince’s backup singers who put out her own often impressive disc this year, has added a 10 p.m. performance for Thursday at the Dakota; tickets are $45. She’s also slated to perform at 7 p.m. Luke James will open.

Warfield’s band includes the 11-piece NPG Horns, who also work with Prince. And he was the executive producer of her CD, “The Unexpected.”

Here is part of my review of the Portland, Ore., singer’s Paisley show in June:

Warfield has an explosive, gospel-infused voice and a commanding, arm-shaking stage presence. She also is strikingly creative, as evidenced on a terrific a cappella arrangement of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” for three female voices.

She also has found a sound that sets her apart, sort of a funk-rock stomp with powerhouse gospel-tinged vocals. Think a more robust Annie Lennox with much more church.

Standouts during the 75-minute set were “Freedom,” kind of a Broadway soul shout with a message; “Embrace Me,” which had an island freshness to its swing; the soft and then ebullient reprise to the new number “NotGVNGUP”; a cover of Chaka Khan’s “You Got the Love” on which Warfield got lost in funkiness; the rip-roaring “Why Do You Lie,” with its nifty jazzy vocalese ending; and the emphatic “Black Bird,” which was spiked with New Orleans-flavored bebop horns.

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.

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"

Kyle Johnson memorial to be followed by Run Westy Run gig

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: August 22, 2014 - 2:34 PM
Run Westy Run's 1990 publicity photo for SST Records. From left: Kraig Johnson, Kyle Johnson, Terry Fisher and Kirk Johnson.

Run Westy Run's 1990 publicity photo for SST Records. From left: Kraig Johnson, Kyle Johnson, Terry Fisher and Kirk Johnson.

Kraig and Kirk Johnson have two big to-do's on their plates over the next few days: Saturday’s memorial for their brother Kyle Johnson, who died Aug. 12, and Monday’s Triple Rock gig by their band Run Westy Run. The timing is not coincidental.

“We thought since we’re all going to be around, why not see if we can do a show and make it a kind of celebration?” Kraig explained of the Triple Rock show, which was only just booked last week amid all the other details the family has been dealing with after Kyle’s passing.

“I don’t think it will be a somber thing,” he added of the gig. “It’s not the memorial. It’ll just be what we do.”

Kyle, 54, had been in declining health for several years and was too sick to perform at any of the Westies’ five reunion shows since the first at First Avenue just after Christmas – their first performance in a decade and a half. Not just a case of putting the old band back together, the string of gigs also reunited the three brothers, who were split between New York (Kraig), California (Kirk) and Minneapolis (Kyle).

“He rehearsed with us, but he just wasn’t up to doing a show,” Kraig explained, noting that Kyle did at least get to attend a couple of the gigs. He blamed his death on organ and kidney failure. “He was dealing with it for a long time. He’d get better for a while and you’d think he was doing OK, and then he’d get worse again.”

The lone sister among the four Johnson brothers, Kelly Abernathy posted this on Facebook following Kyle’s passing:

“His family was blessed with time to surround him with our love and support and say our goodbyes. On behalf of our family we would like to thank all his friends for their friendships, love and support that you shared with Kyle over the years. He holds a special place in our hearts and we will carry him with us in the days ahead. Kyle has a big heart and a kind soul and we will miss him so much.”

Run Westy Run's 1990 publicity photo for SST Records. From left: Kraig Johnson, Kyle Johnson, Terry Fisher and Kirk Johnson.

Though never as legendary abroad as the Replacements and Hüsker Dü (who preceded them on the Twin/Tone and SST labels, respectively), the Westies did gain a fanatical following locally in the late-‘80s with their rather crazed and unpredictable live shows. They also earned decent critical praise for their Peter Buck- and Grant Hart-produced albums on, loaded with a wild mix of danceable punk, psychedelic twang-rock and hard-grooving pop (and, sadly, all hard to find in stock nowadays).

At a 7th Street Entry gig in June -- timed to Kraig's return to town to play with the revamped Jayhawks -- the band took the stage in matching trucker hats, aviator sunglasses and '70s-porn mustaches. They were equally in sync musically, with ex-Son Volt ace Jim Boquist filling in on bass, a Gary Louris guest spot and a big singalong with "Mop It Up" and "Heaven's Not That Far Away." The latter one will surely sound more bittersweet should they play it Monday. 

Run Westy Run was formed in the mid-'80s by the three St. Louis Park-reared Johnson brothers and guitarist Terry Fisher. Kyle mostly served as rhythm guitarist through the early-‘90s, when he quit the group in the kind of informal fashion that the band operates with to this day.

“He just kind of drifted away from the band but was fine with us doing it without him,” Kraig remembered.

Kyle lived in New York for many years after his tenure in the band and became an artist and woodworker, but he eventually moved back to the Twin Cities. He is survived by two teenage children, Ruby and Jack. The family is asking for memorials to benefit them in lieu of flowers. Their service for Kyle is at Washburn-McReavy in Edina (5000 W. 50th St. at Hwy. 100) from 11 a.m. on Saturday, with visitiation starting at 10 a.m. Click here for the family's obituary.


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters