Between the First Ferns
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges happened to be at the White House a day after President Barack Obama touted his health-care plan on that viral episode of Zach Galifianakis' "Between Two Ferns." Madame Mayor, who was there for a policy meeting, was too late to catch the taping of the parody celeb talk show on FunnyOrDie.com, during which Galifianakis, with a straight face, infamously goads/mocks his guests. (Example: "How does it feel to be the last black president?" he asked Obama.) But she figured, "I could at least meet the ferns, since they were still there." She assured I.W. that Minneapolis' pothole crisis was on her mind even as she posed with the infamous foliage.
Odds on Osnes
In a cover story in this week's issue, Billboard magazine celebrates Idina Menzel and her transition from Broadway star to top-of-pop-charts hitmaker with "Let It Go" from "Frozen." In a sidebar, Billboard asks: Who's Broadway's next great singer? Five candidates are cited, including Eagan-reared Laura Osnes, star of "Cinderella." Of the five nominees, Osnes is the youngest (at 28) and the only one who gets her home state (Minnesota, duh) mentioned. Wonders Billboard: "Could her future include serving as the voice of Disney royalty on the big screen?"
If you looked closely at Howler frontman Jordan Gatesmith's T-shirt during the band's album-release party last week at the Triple Rock, you might've noticed the name of local '80s pop-punk darlings Zuzu's Petals. What you wouldn't have known is that the shirt originally belonged to late Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller, who was Gatesmith's south Minneapolis neighbor and saw young Jordan grow up from a snot-nosed punk to, well … . Karl's widow, Mary Beth Mueller, who was at the show, let Gatesmith purge from a bin of old T's a few years ago. An even better sign of Karl's legacy living on, Mary Beth is preparing to launch KillKancer.org with an April 18 fundraiser at the Cedar Cultural Center with Dave Pirner, Communist Daughter, Willie Murphy and others.
Our fair lady
Who was the Audrey Hepburn doppelgänger in the crowded lobby of the Heights Theatre last week at a screening of "Breakfast at Tiffany's"? It was Veronica Min Wotipka, decked out in a white fur stole and sporting a Hepburn updo with a thin braid where a tiara would be. Holly Golightly would have approved. Wotipka joined the sold-out crowd in Columbia Heights at the fourth annual Taste Night at the Heights. She may have been humming along to "Moon River," one of the melodies played by Harvey Gustafson on the grand Wurlitzer organ before the movie. We sure were.
Lee Svitak Dean
Country roads, take me Home Free
Home Free, winners on NBC's "The Sing-Off" a cappella competition in December, received a hometown-heroes welcome last Friday as the Sing-Off Tour arrived at sold-out Mill City Nights. With all the girlish screams from middle-aged women, one might have thought it was New Kids on the Block onstage. No, just Home Free doing their country a cappella thing, along with the Filharmonic doing their dance-happy urban thing and VoicePlay showing how to cleverly combine theatrics and music. The three groups joined together at the end of the highly entertaining two-hour concert — it was superior to any "American Idol" live performance here – for a reverent rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" without microphones. After the Sing-Off Tour ends, Twin Cities-based Home Free will entertain on a cruise ship to Alaska, likely tour with country hitmakers the Eli Young Band in May and appear at Nashville's huge CMA Festival in June as part of the Columbia Records show. In addition to doing its own CMA performance, the quintet will sing during set changes between other Columbia acts. "We don't need equipment," musical director/baritone Chris Rupp told I.W. Well, just five microphones.
The Textile Center in Minneapolis is seeking a new executive director following the resignation of Tim Fleming after just 18 months in the post. Fleming succeeded founding director Margaret Miller, who retired in June 2012. "Our plan right now is to hire an interim director, and we're hoping to name someone within the next couple of weeks," said board chair Donna Peterson, a retired University of Minnesota vice president. "We really have not had time to decide what we want in an executive director, so we want to take our time and be sure to do it right." Fleming simply resigned "to pursue other opportunities," Peterson said. The organization's programs and $831,000 annual budget are stable, she said. "We just had a benefit fundraiser to celebrate our 20th birthday fund raiser and exceeded our goal," said Peterson. The organization hoped to raise $20,000 with the gala, but brought in $22,000.