When he entered Vita.mn’s Are You Local? contest, Baby Shel thought he’d never get invited to the party as a) a rapper and b) a rapper from the Red Lake Indian Reservation, which is not very local. Not only did his hard-edged, rapid-tongued MC-ing earn him a spot as one of four finalists (out of 125 applicants) performing in 7th Street Entry last Friday, but the 25-year-old Ojibwe won the judges’ vote — and pretty clearly the audience’s, too — which meant he got to perform next door at First Avenue an hour later, opening for Brother Ali. “I never thought in my life I’d be performing at First Ave,” the real-life Sheldon Cook Jr. beamed from the stage, even getting a little choked up when he saw someone in the crowd waving the flag of his Red Lake tribe. “This means so much.” He was right about that, if not about his earlier hunch.
Best in USA
The Northeast Minneapolis Arts District topped a USA Today readers’ choice competition to claim the title “Best Art District,” beating out nine other unnamed cities with pretensions to the title. Swinging Northeast was entered into the competition by Lindsay Pollock, editor in chief of Art in America magazine, and Joe Lewis, an art professor at University of California, Irvine. A recent cruise through USA Today’s crowded website of readers’ choice categories showed, among others: best U.S. water parks, budget hotel brands, bird-watching sites, national monument and gluten-free baked goods.
If you catch the new film “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter,” keep an eye out for Minneapolis actor Shirley Venard. She is one of five listed stars in the film about a Japanese woman who believes “Fargo” is a documentary and that there is money buried in frozen Minnesota. Venard gets four nice scenes in the film — a distinct upgrade from the usual one-liners local actors do in such films. Variety magazine called Venard “terrific” in a review after the film played Sundance. The movie opens March 27 at the Lagoon in Minneapolis.
Award-winning artist and curator Dyani White Hawk Polk has unexpectedly resigned as director of All My Relations Gallery (AMRG) in south Minneapolis, effective March 17. During her four-year tenure, she combined inclusiveness and administrative savvy with a keen eye for top quality contemporary and traditional American Indian art, the Franklin Avenue gallery’s specialty. Leading AMRG was “an unexpected turn in my career,” White Hawk Polk said in an e-mail announcing her plans. She said it’s time to “make the leap and transition into a full-time studio practice, chasing my own dream as an artist.” After her departure, AMRG’s operations will be overseen by Jay Bad Heart Bull, president and CEO of the Native American Community Development Institute, and Graci Horne, gallery associate.
Must be high
The usual love shown for Jeff Tweedy by Twin Cities fans was reciprocated greatly Sunday, when the Wilco frontman played his first show at First Avenue in a decade, on tour with son Spencer Tweedy (under the band moniker Tweedy). “I remember the stage being higher — or maybe I was higher,” he quipped. Later, he got sentimental talking about his pre-Wilco band: “All the way back to Uncle Tupelo, this town has made us feel good, made us feel like we could do this. It’s an oasis for every rock band in the world.” That oasis, however, did not provide any harbor from some good-natured ribbing with special guest Gary Louris of the Jayhawks, who helped sing their Golden Smog songs “Long Time Ago” and “Radio King.” “Look who I found … Prince!” Tweedy joked. Louris shot back, “It’s an honor to be up here with Mr. Tweedy … Spencer Tweedy, I mean.”
Not gone yet
Another year, another hint by Garrison Keillor that he may be leaning toward giving up “A Prairie Home Companion.” In an interview with the Charleston (S.C.) City Paper published Wednesday, a reporter asked if Keillor was thinking about leaving Lake Wobegon. “Certainly. Any day now,” said the 72-year-old, who is appearing in Charleston this week. “It’ll dawn on me that I’ve said all I can say and I will say, ‘Thank you,’ and walk away.” Keillor also said he would consider moving to New York City, where his apartment is “our version of a lake cabin, a pied-a-terre on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, not far from Central Park, 15 minutes from Broadway. A great city for walking.” Of course, Keillor has spoken of retirement in recent years without any concrete signs that he would actually leave the show he started 41 years ago. Then for two weeks in February, he handed over hosting duties to mandolin star Chris Thile. I.W. reached out to Keillor for clarification and he e-mailed: “We’re planning next season and that’s as far ahead as we’ve ever planned. So onward we go.”