Local guys make good
A couple of Twin Cities theater artists have hit home runs out of town. Bob Stromberg, the comedian and co-creator of “Triple Espresso,” just did a short run of his one-man play “That Wonder Boy” at the United Solo Theater Festival in New York. Stromberg said the largely autobiographical piece about the joy of creating art was “enthusiastically received by my audiences and by the festival organizers.” Stromberg said the festival will make awards at its conclusion in a couple of weeks. “I have my eye on Best Autobiographical Show — we’ll see,” he said. Meanwhile, Rick Shiomi’s direction helped “Caught” win a Barrymore Award for Best New Play in Philadelphia. The work by playwright Christopher Chen opened last November at InterAct Theatre in Philly. Shiomi was nominated for a directing award, too, but he said, “No hardware.” Still, nice work.
You have to admire a band that doesn’t blindly follow the latest trends in music — or in the case of Umbrella Bed, a trend that happened 20 years ago. The Twin Cities’ most mainstay ska band started up in 1995 when the horn-driven, guitar-choppy music enjoyed a revival in the alt-rock mainstream (think: Mighty Mighty Bosstones). UB’s members have stuck by ska through its steep commercial decline ever since, long enough to celebrate their 20th anniversary Friday night at the Triple Rock in Minneapolis (9 p.m., $7). Drummer Mitch Thompson noted that a wave of “goofy” ska bands followed in the late-’90s, leading to a backlash that still persists — though not in Europe, where the band has toured in recent years. “It became a joke [locally], but we soldiered on even at the point of being basically the only ska band left in town,” he said. “We loved it too much to give up.”
Dylan dined here
OK, it’s not the Duluth house where Bobby Zimmerman spent his first five years or the Hibbing home where he spent his school days. But the St. Paul house in which his late mother Beatty lived with her second husband is for sale. Bob Dylan visited the three-bedroom, 2,300-square-foot home many times. Mom fed him and maybe he stayed the night. Maybe he went over to the nearby Cecil’s Delicatessen for a little nosh. Who knows? Bob Belzer, whose grandfather was married to Dylan’s mother, tells I.W.: “One of the highlights is the kitchen countertops — very rare, one of a kind mother of pearl abalone seashells that Beatty wanted and my mom Myrna helped persuade my Grandpa Joe Rutman to purchase back in the 1970s.” The home in the Highland Park neighborhood is listed at $429,900.
‘P’ for Paul
When the Replacements reunion tour ended in June, the biggest concern among true fans was that we might not see or hear from the band’s frontman for another decade. Paul Westerberg has already re-emerged with new music, though, and with a new collaborator to boot: Juliana Hatfield. The Minneapolis and Boston alt-rock vets recently teamed up to record under the whimsical name the I Don’t Cares and dropped an even more lighthearted single via Spotify and Nimbit last week, titled — get this — “1/2 2 P.” They also have a full album in the can, “Wild Stab,” which will be released “soon.” With lyrics that wordplay off “The ABC Song” and the peculiar hook, “Your voice makes me have to pee,” the single doesn’t suggest the two playful songwriters are all that serious about the project. Still, it’s a fun new start for Westerberg, whose last proper album was 2004’s “Folker.” Hatfield’s appreciation of his talent is certainly serious, too. The former Blake Babies leader and “My Sister” hitmaker even wrote him a fan letter when she was a teenager.
Double standing O
It is no surprise that violinist Joshua Bell got two standing ovations and three curtain calls (but, sadly, performed no encore) on Sunday at the Ordway Theater; St. Paul has loved him ever since he was an artistic partner with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Bell, with pianist Sam Haywood, performed six pieces that he said were inspired by his first, beloved instructor, Josef Gingold, who would have turned 106 last week. The first piece, “Chaconne,” attributed to Tomaso Antonio Vitali, was one Bell learned under Gingold when he was 11 years old. “We just played a concert at Carnegie Hall that was very similar to this,” Bell told the crowd, “as a warm-up to this concert.” That little bit of flattery just about earned Bell his third standing O.