Drumming up business
How does a fledgling drum-making company in Blaine hook up with the year's hottest rock band? Twitter, of course. That's how Kris Anderson of Infinity Drumworks reached out to Imagine Dragons when they, too, were just getting off the ground. He'd heard their tune "It's Time" on Cities 97, saw that they were coming to the Triple Rock Social Club in April 2012 and tweeted at them. Turns out the timing couldn't have been better because the Dragons had a van breakdown in Wisconsin and arrived late for their Minneapolis gig. "We set up a drum kit for them to try out at the Triple Rock and they showed up about 15 minutes before their show and used our drums," Anderson said. "Daniel Paltzman liked our drums so we made him a kit." In fact, Infinity ended up building all the drums that Imagine Dragons use onstage except the giant Japanese taiko drum. The band's drum-pounding frontman Dan Reynolds told I.W.: "We go to them and say what we want. 'We want a big concert drum. We want it to be maple. We want it to sound very rich.' And they figure it out. They're awesome. They're a ma-and-pa company. They build everything from scratch. We like working with people like that."
Laugh out loud
Howie Mandel called I.W. weeks before the season finale of "America's Got Talent," but even then he was singing the praises of Kenichi Ebina, telling us he thought the performance dancer would win. Turns out, Mandel was right. Ebina took home the $1 million prize and will be a featured act on the Las Vegas strip. Let's see if the comedian can come up with some more bold predictions when he headlines Saturday night's "Laugh Out Loud Twin Cities" benefit for Gillette Children's Speciality Healthcare at the Radisson Blu at Mall of America. Tickets are still available at www.loltwincities.org.
Another season of NBC's "The Voice" and there's another Minnesota contestant. Holly Henry, 19, of Minnetonka, who was known as Holly Heinrich when she graduated from Hopkins High in 2012, got all four coaches to push their buttons Tuesday. In fact, Blake Shelton pressed his before Henry even took a breath after her first line in Coldplay's "The Scientist." "That was really unexpected and when I watched it, it was hilarious because I fist-pumped in the air and it was like so lame, like I was going to go down in shame," she told I.W. The new member of Team Blake also confided that the biggest audience she'd ever performed in front of was about 40 people in a sandwich shop in Burnsville (she wasn't allowed to name it). As for her own name, she thought "Heinrich" was too hard to pronounce and Holly Henry flows off the tongue. "Heinrich is German for Henry," she said, following the Minnesota "Voice" tradition of adopting first names as last names (see Nicholas David and Mark Andrew). By the by, Holly isn't the only Minnesotan making noise in the TV talent world this week. Tim Olstad, 24, of Winona was well received on "X Factor" Thursday — using his actual surname.
Spreading the Ivey
When the three tween boys who originated/alternated the title role of "Billy Elliot the Musical" jointly won the Tony for leading actor in a Broadway musical, each star received a trophy. Things don't work quite that way at the Iveys, the Twin Cities' theater accolades that were bestowed Monday at the State Theatre. The eight-member Guthrie acting ensemble of "Clybourne Park" got only one big heavy trophy to share. Winners Ansa Akyea, Shá Cage, Peter Christian Hansen, Jim Lichtscheidl, Bill McCallum and Kathryn Meisle were all noticeably giddy about the prize on Monday, even as cast-mate Emily Gunyou Halaas wondered aloud how they would divvy up mantel rights. "Maybe someone at the Guthrie shop could cut it into eight pieces," she said, adding that as a consultant to the Iveys, she understands why only one of the sculptured glass trophies is given. "They cost like $600 each."
It was the launch for Newbery Award-winning, Minneapolis author Kate DiCamillo's latest YA book, "Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures," and the Fitzgerald Theater was packed Tuesday with parents and tweens — out on a school night. But surely this was an occasion teachers would approve of. The author was in bright and hilarious conversation with Minnesota Public Radio host Cathy Wurzer. DiCamillo's book, recently longlisted for a National Book Award, is the story of a little girl ("a natural-born cynic"), a neighbor with a vacuum cleaner, a squirrel that develops superpowers, and the adventures that ensue. DiCamillo wrote the book shortly after the death of her mother, and, like all good books — and all DiCamillo books — "Flora & Ulysses" has, Wurzer noted, "themes of loss, abandonment and death." Is this appropriate for a children's book? Said DiCamillo, "Children are human beings, and they're going to experience all of those things, and it's nice to have a book that admits those things are out there."
Michael Connelly, author of "The Lincoln Lawyer" and many other best-selling crime novels, has been added to the Talking Volumes live book-club season. He will be at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul on Dec. 3 to talk about "The Gods of Guilt," his 26th novel (out Nov. 21) and the fifth to feature his second-most-recurring lead character, defense attorney Mickey Haller. This time, Haller's on the case when a former client is murdered. Connelly, a former police reporter for the Los Angeles Times, has racked up many awards, including an Edgar, and seven New York Times bestsellers. He also advises on the TV show "Castle," on which he sometimes makes cameos as a poker player. Advance $23 tickets go on sale at noon Tuesday for Star Tribune subscribers and members of Minnesota Public Radio and the Loft. General $25 tickets will go on sale at noon Oct. 8.