These boots are made for ...
Tom Hoch, CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust, is helping lead efforts to make downtown's Hennepin Avenue one long, inviting, family-friendly stroll. But Wednesday morning at the New Century Theatre, he dressed more on trend for Hennepin Avenue's old reputation, circa the 1970s Moby Dick's era. At an event for donors announcing the 2014-15 season, he strutted onstage in a pair of tomato-red streetwalker kicks — the better to drive home the point that the Broadway hit "Kinky Boots" is coming to town, though they clashed with his sensible khaki shorts and button-down. Other staffers also came in costume, including development director Fawn Bernhardt-Norvell as Lucille Ball, a nod to the "I Love Lucy" stage show. We're told Hoch had no problem staying vertical in the sky-high heels, but he did express relief at putting his "geriatric shoes" back on.
About to play its first high-profile public gig in more than a year at 89.3 the Current's birthday bash on Saturday, Howler debuted the first single from its second album this week and announced details about the CD. Curiously titled "World of Joy," the album will arrive March 25 via Rough Trade, the legendary London label that made the Minneapolis rockers hot newcomers in the U.K. with the 2012 debut, "America Give Up." "World of Joy" was recorded last year at the Terrarium in Minneapolis with the band's manager, Chris Heidman, once again producing. The first single, "Don't Wanna," shows a more melodic, poppy side than the band's previous work but with the same reverb-heavy guitar sound. "You don't have to listen to the Smiths if you don't want to," Jordan Gatesmith, 21, sings in the 2½-minute single – one of several lyrics that sound partially inspired by his girlfriend, Sonny Marr (daughter of Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr). Another line goes, "Every place is the same, so you moved to Minneapolis and changed your name."
Hey, remember us
Orchestra lockout ends, shouted the headlines last week. Indeed, musicians and the board reached an agreement that will put the Minnesota Orchestra back onstage Feb. 7. But I.W. is here to remind you that the orchestra is up for a Grammy for best orchestral performance this weekend. Will a sympathy vote put the latest Sibelius recording — under the departed baton of Osmo Vänskä — over the top on Sunday? Minnesota had two previous nominations under Vänskä, for Beethoven and Sibelius, but perhaps the voters this time want to throw a little good news to an orchestra that has had little to celebrate over the past year.
How do you get a sleepy 19-year-old folk-rocker to open up for a perform-and-chat radio session? Mark Wheat, 89.3 the Current's DJ from Clenchwarton, England, sure knew how to break the ice with Jake Bugg, of Nottingham, England, last week. Let's talk football. Soccer to the rest of us. We won't bore you with the details, except to say the final score was 3-nil. But, after the football chat, Bugg did open up. When the youngster visited Clarksdale, Miss., birthplace of the blues, did he perform at Robert Johnson's legendary "crossroads" site, Wheat asked. "I didn't play at crossroads — there's a 7-Eleven there." The DJ asked the musically untrained Bugg how he got that little waver in his voice during a requested "Cathy's Clown," the old Everly Brothers song. "That little waver is just me waking up," said Bugg, who was set to play sold-out First Avenue later that night. He explained that being on the road is "quite boring." After all, he explained, "I'm not old enough to drink." Responded Wheat: "So what is there to wake up for?" The interview and four-song performance will be broadcast at 6 p.m. Tuesday on 89.3 FM.
Lucky Charms get Grammy moment
Oh, Pentatonix — yer always after me Lucky Charms. The a cappella pop group, winners of Season 3 on NBC's "The Sing-Off," has recorded an update of the old "magically delicious" jingle for one of General Mills' most nostalgia-inducing favorites — the one with yellow moons, green clovers, orange stars and pink hearts— minus the leprechaun accent. Do kids listen to Pentatonix? (The group has sold out its Feb. 12 concert at the State Theatre in Minneapolis.) No matter, our local cereal giant knows its target market. By the company's estimate, at least 40 percent of Lucky Charms are eaten by adults. The commercial will debut during Sunday night's Grammy Awards.
Boss hearts Slim
It's heartening to learn that Bruce Springsteen is quite a fan of beloved Minneapolis rocker Bob "Slim" Dunlap. The Boss raved about the homebound ex-Replacements guitarist in a lengthy interview with National Public Radio's Ann Powers. While talking about some of his current favorites in music (Jason Isbell, Gaslight Anthem and Arcade Fire came up), Springsteen referred to Dunlap's two solo albums, 1993' s "The Old New Me" and 1996's "Times Like This." The Boss seemed vaguely aware of the severe stroke that has kept Dunlap out of commission for almost two years now. "Slim Dunlap is fantastic," he gushed. "He was a part of the Replacements, and he made two fabulous rock records that were just really, deeply soulful and beautiful."