Item World: Local news and views for 2/17

  • Article by: STAR TRIBUNE STAFF , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 16, 2012 - 3:17 PM

Ginger Commodore's in command. Plus Bon Iver finds Grammy gear to suit him.

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Ginger Commodore (center) and the cast of "Hairspray"

Photo: Chanhassen Dinner Theatres,

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Commodore in command

During the past three decades, she has become a familiar performer in the Twin Cities with Moore by Four and her own gigs. Now you can catch Ginger Commodore on the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre stage as Motormouth Maybelle, the hip purveyor of new sounds in "Hairspray." She has taken over the role from Aimee K. Bryant, who left because of a commitment made before the show was extended. "Aimee let them know I might be interested in auditioning, so I did and they asked me in," Commodore said. She studied a DVD of the show, watched Bryant's performance and then created her own take on Maybelle. This is Commodore's debut at Chanhassen. The theater had approached her several times but the timing never worked, she said. She has appeared on many local stages, including Penumbra, Mixed Blood, Children's Theatre Company and the Minnesota Opera. -GRAYDON ROYCE

Up the Revolution

Guitarist Wendy Melvoin hasn't been to the Twin Cities since 2007, when ex-boss Prince summoned her to sit in during his three concerts on 7/7/07. Lisa Coleman, her former Prince & the Revolution bandmate, hasn't been here since 1988. "Really? That's hard to believe. That's a lifetime," said Melvoin during a conference call with Coleman to discuss the Revolution's reunion Sunday at First Avenue to benefit heart education. The Los Angeles-based composing duo -- who now compete for Emmys, not Grammys, making music for such TV shows as "Nurse Jackie" -- last saw Prince three months ago when they were working at the same L.A. studio complex. "He was very cordial and sweet, but very brief," Melvoin said. Meanwhile, Prince was seen on Valentine's night at the Dakota Jazz Club, where he and his girlfriend had the the balcony to themselves with former Revolution drummer Bobby Z, bassist Larry Graham and their wives during a show by the Steeles. Did Z, whose near-fatal heart attack a year ago inspired Sunday's benefit, broach the idea of Prince showing up for the concert? Said Z: "It was just old friends having dinner." -JON BREAM

Jesse's guy

Granted he looked bored during the Original 7ven's Minneapolis performance last fall, but Jesse Johnson never explained why he quit the band formerly known as the Time. At least now we know what Jesse's doing: Playing guitar on tour behind D'Angelo, the R&B heartthrob who is making his overdue comeback. C-O-O-L. -JON BREAM

Bon homme

He said he was going to wear it and indeed he did. Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) hit the Grammy stage Sunday night to (reluctantly) accept his best new artist award wearing a tweed suit he bought at BlackBlue in St. Paul. The indie rock star visited the small shop (www.blkblu.com) late last year fresh off a hunting trip in northern Wisconsin. He had deer blood on his shoes, recalled owner Steve Kang. Vernon wasn't shopping with the Grammys in mind -- he was meeting his girlfriend later and apparently wanted something that didn't say "gory backwoodsman." Said Kang: "He's a super awesome humble dude -- just a Midwestern, down-to-Earth kind of guy." Earlier this month, Vernon name-dropped BlackBlue during an interview with New York magazine and described his Grammy attire as "made in a good way with handmade [expletive]. It wasn't imported from whatever." Whether it's his music or just the clothes on his back, he clearly demands integrity. -TOM HORGEN

Moves like Jagger

Twin Cities rocker Tim Mahoney didn't get very far on NBC's "The Voice" (remember Adam Levine thought Tim sounded like a woman?). But he is still game for competition. In fact, he's been taking rumba lessons at Arthur Murray Dance Studios in Edina to prepare for Dancing With the Twin Cities Celebrities, which is part of a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphona Society Feb. 25 at the Hilton Hotel. "It's probably only a minute and a half when you're dancing, but it seems like a long time," Mahoney confided to I.W. after Lesson 17 (out of 25). He will compete against Tony Sanneh, Christine Clayburg, Faatemah Ampey, Missy Germain and Brad Madson. In case Mahoney trips on the dance floor, he is promising to deliver a little night music. For the winning bidder in a silent auction, he will compose and sing a song on the spot. That performance will not be rated by three judges. -JON BREAM

Introducing Ladyboi

Another former Prince musician, drummer Michael Bland (now with of Soul Asylum), invited friends and Twin Cities music brokers to the Woman's Club Theatre Saturday afternoon for a performance by his new local discovery, a Beirut-born, Chicago-raised, openly gay singer and actor who goes by the moniker Ladyboi. Bland produced and co-wrote the 30-year-old's debut album and has high hopes for a record deal. With traces of George Michael's stylish pop, Lady Gaga's envelope-pushing and, yes, a little Prince, the real-life Tony Yalda proved stage-ready, but he's eschewing small local gigs for a while for one big reason: He said he's up for a recurring role in Charlie Sheen's new sitcom for FX. "I'm in a holding pattern for now," said Yalda, who previously had bit roles in the movies "Meet the Spartans" and "American Dreamz" but "keeps coming back to music as my first passion." It's hard to know where to wish him luck. -CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

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