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Ward Rubrecht got the highest score at the second Moth storytelling contest last night at the Amsterdam in St. Paul.
Love hurts, but storytelling is the best revenge. Several skilled raconteurs proved it Wednesday at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall in downtown St. Paul, where the second of the Moth's Minnesota storySLAMs drew a crowd of 200.
The Moth, a New York-based organization devoted to the craft of storytelling, first became prominent by taping celebrities telling stories. It's now gone national, producing storySLAMS in several cities. The slams here are hosted the last Wednesday of each month by MPR, which airs the Peabody Award-winning "The Moth Story Hour" at 10 p.m. Sundays.
Last month's theme was "secrets," last night's "love hurts." Part of the event's charm is its mix of randomness and rules; storytellers toss their names into a bag and ten are drawn. Three sets of judges are also picked from the audience. Each performer's story must not go longer than five minutes, a long whistle is blown softly to warn them when time is running out.
Host MIke Fotis, who won last month's premiere event with a story about something terrible he did on a plane, gave encouraging feedback to most of the performers. "I could feel the lightning shaking off your hips," he told Hope Koon, after she recounted her resentful retaliation toward a "candy boyfriend" who two-timed her.
Ward Rubrecht nailed the highest score with a biting account of bullying. Matt Burgess's creative take on the theme involved stalking a mysterious codger who might have been J.D. Salinger, or not. Leif Walvin from Minot (with the accent to prove it) had us on the edge of our seats when he told of hitching a ride with a creep to reach his lady love.
Though the contestants are chosen by luck of the draw, the deck seemed a bit stacked with a clique of professional or at least very experienced tellers who know each other, like first-up Nancy Donoval, a former national champ whose excellent story about playing the "what-if game" about a lost love during "a dry spell I like to call my 30s" ran the gamut from hilarious to poignant. A few more gutsy amateurs would have made for a better mix, and maybe more will dare to share at the next event on March 27, when the theme will be "detours."
After revisiting a beer style from the 1800s for the last installment of its popular Unchained small-batch series, Summit is turning to a newer, trendier brand of brew for the next one: 100% Organic Ale has been announced as Unchained #12. The limited-edition brew will hit bars and stores next week. Per the beer-geeky promotional machinery at the pioneering St. Paul brewery, the "100%" designation is relevant because most beers advertised as organic aren’t entirely so.
“It is extremely difficult to find ingredients like organic yeast,” explained Unchained brewer Gabe Smoley, who apparently gave 110% to create his own certified organic yeast strain for the beer. The designation could distinguish Summit’s brew from the other popular organic beers out there, including the Organic ESB by Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery, Deschutes’ Green Lakes Organic Ale (from Oregon) and Peak Brewery’s Peak Organic (Maine). Summit’s brand is advertised as a lighter ale with 60 IBU (mid-level hoppiness). Click here to read more about it.
As always, Summit will roll out the Unchained barrels with a series of events:
March 11: Meet the brewer – MacKenzie’s Pub, Minneapolis, 2-5 pm
March 11: Release party – Butcher & The Boar beer garden, Minneapolis, 5-8 pm
March 13: Meet the brewer and food pairings – Brasa St. Paul, 5-9 pm
March 14: “Hoppy Meals” pairings – Republic Uptown, 4-6 pm; Republic Seven Corners, 7-9 pm
March 15: Firkin Friday with Organic Ale cask – Grumpy’s NE, 4 pm
March 21: Meet Gabe and sample Organic Ale – Four Firkins, 6-8 pm
Xavier Rucker, Michael Ingram and Marvin Humphries (left to right) all competed in the ball.
Photo by Jeff Wheeler.
Northern Sparkers watch the "SitandSpinShanty" at the 2012 Northern Spark. Star Tribune photo by Megan Tan.
Northern Spark, a one-night festival of avant garde art events, will focus its activities in St. Paul's Lowertown in 2013.This year's festival will start about 9 p.m. Saturday, June 8 and run til dawn on Sunday morning.
Many of the events will occur in or near Union Depot, a 32 acre site that includes a vast former train station and concourse now being renovated as a transport hub for light rail, bus and Amtrack transportation.
"We are a roving experimental, interactive, media arts organization and we're doing some roving and some experimentation," said Steve Dietz, president and artistic director of Northern Lights.MN, the non-profit sponsor of Northern Spark.
The city of St. Paul did not chip in any special funding to lure the event there, Dietz said. His organization has been developing a $500,000 public art commission for Union Depot for the past 18 months, however, and exposure to the depot's space and its potential inspired him to move the Spark there for one season.
"Working with Union Depot is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so we're going to focus a lot of energy on it and Lowertown this summer," Dietz said. "It's a place really no one has seen much of since 1971and, while it's now reopened, it hasn't reached maximum use. We're going to take over all 32 acres and have indoor and outdoor projects and stages."
Spark events will spill out into Lowertown including Mears Park and the riverfront. Nevertheless, it will be "more compact than either of the first two years," said Dietz.
Since it was first launched in 2011, Northern Spark has been staged throughout the Twin Cities but tended to concentrate in Minneapolis. Many events clustered near the Stone Arch bridge spanning the Mississippi River and at key venues including Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and the Soap Factory.
The 2013 festival will have about the same number of participants as in the past, Dietz said, that is 45 partner organizations and about 75 artist-projects involving about 100 artists.Highlights are expected to include a house that artist Chris Larson plans to build -- an exact copy of a Marcel Breuer house that overlooks the Mississippi River -- plus several new public art commissions.
Dietz acknowledged that attendance could fall because of the move, but insisted the risk was worthwhile. "When you change location, there's always that chance, but I think we'll gain some new audiences, and it's all part of trying to remain true to our mission of being experimental," he said.
Besides, in 2014, "We'll be back in Minneapolis for sure, and looking forward to it," he said.
The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis will stage its first jazz concert featuring Estaire Godinez (vocals), Peter Schimke (piano), Billy Peterson (bass) and Irv Williams (saxophone). Given the intimate size of the concert hall in the lower level of the museum, seating is limited and pre-registration required.
(5 p.m. - 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, $20. The Museum of Russian Art, 5500 Stevens Av. S., intersection of Hwy 35 W. and Diamond Lake Rd., in south Minneapolis. )
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