Who’s the Man?
Twins officials told I.W. last year that they wanted Prince to play at one of the All-Star Game events, but maybe he prefers basketball and football, wasn’t offered enough money or just wouldn’t commit far enough in advance. So instead Major League Baseball gave us, among others, Imagine Dragons, Idina Menzel, Aloe Blacc and the totally underwhelming Joe Nichols, who sounded like he belongs in the minors. At least, Blacc, whose hit “The Man” was something of a theme song for All-Star Game promos, acknowledged the Purple One. After performing a slowed down, jazzy reading of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” at Monday’s late-night gala outside the Mill City Museum, he announced: “I apologize for doing a Michael Jackson song in Prince’s city. But we don’t know any Prince songs.”
Jeff Larson, the new executive director, threw out the first pitches of the 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival on Monday night at Rarig Center. “Fringe Previews #1” gave a taste of what’s coming up in the July 31-Aug. 10 festival of theater, dance and performance art. Larson jockeyed 30 shows into three-minute previews (and how disciplined 98 percent of them were — staying within the time limit!). There will be another preview at 7 p.m. Monday at Rarig. It’s always chancy to choose shows based on three-minute previews but, as with a book, sometimes you really can judge it by the cover. It would be unfair to torpedo any of the vignettes seen Monday, but if you want some recommendations, these shows hit the top of our list: “Failure: A Love Story,” “Tatterhood,” “The Tourist Trap,” “Cursed,” “Indefinite Articles,” “Marie-Jeanne Valet,” “Sex and Sensibility” and “Hour Town.” Again, caveat emptor. Just because you can put together three good minutes, it’s no guarantee.
Putting the book in Facebook
You know you should get off of Facebook and go read a book. But what book? On Monday, Facebook will spend two hours giving you suggestions in real time. Three friendly librarians who monitor the Facebook page for the St. Paul Public Library will be standing by with thousands of book titles at the ready. Theirs is a pretty fun page, actually, with pictures of jazz musicians, little kids building birdhouses and, of course, grumpy cats, and, for some reason, pictures of people doing yoga, but don’t get distracted! Stay on task! Leave a comment on Monday between 4 and 6 p.m. telling them what books you’ve liked, or topics you’re interested in, and the librarians will consult their Magic 8 ball (that is, other librarians) and post instant suggestions. The page is at www.facebook.com/stpaulpubliclibrary. I.W. would chime in with suggestions, but I.W. doesn’t do Facebook.
Barbero in clubland
Currently in the midst of planning a reunion with her former Babes in Toyland bandmates (details are still TBA), Lori Barbero has also been active on the music front in a different way in her new hometown of Austin, Texas. The veteran drummer has started a new label with other folks at the city’s cowboy punk bar the White Horse Saloon. She will escort their three flagship acts to Minnesota this weekend: warm-voiced alt-twang tunesmith Ben Ballinger, who sounds part Father John Misty and part Townes Van Zandt; gritty guitar-licking blues-punk Mrs. Glass, and teen indie-folkie Carson McHone. They play: Palmer’s Bar on Friday (10 p.m.), Hell’s Kitchen for Saturday brunch (10 a.m.-1 p.m.), the Roots Rock & Deep Blues Fest later on Saturday, Harriet Brewing on Tuesday (7 p.m.), Kathy’s Pub in Rochester on Thursday and 7th Street Entry on July 25.
The Basilica Block Party folks pride themselves on coming up with clever slogans to promote their event. Some examples over the years: Praise the Loud. Party of a Higher Order. Pray It Loud. While reading this year’s Basilica Block Party press kit, I.W. got a chuckle out of a typo that could have been another one of the Basilica’s creative puns. Soul Asylum singer Dave Pirner, a former block party performer and one of the bigger names in Minneapolis alt-rock history, was described as having been an “alter boy” at the Basilica of St. Mary. So Pirner has been alternative since his days as an altar boy.
The big and small of it
I.W. will be curious to see how the new experiment at Southern Theater goes next year. The Southern and 15 theater or dance companies have teamed up for quite an innovative idea: trying to create synergy around selling memberships for a year of diverse programs by small troupes. If ARTshare hits its mark, the groups will notch more than $450,000, which really helps to fund a year’s budget. The program provides stability for the companies involved, variety for audiences and a much stronger sense of purpose for the Southern, which has in recent years had financial and programing issues. You can check the Southern’s website starting at 2 p.m. Tuesday for membership information.