The focus is on Marsden

Twin Cities photographer Ann Marsden has always focused on everyone else -- the actors, artists, musicians and creative types who make these towns hum. Now the spotlight is on Marsden as she starts a second round of chemotherapy and radiation following a July diagnosis of cervical cancer. "She was really down for the count this summer, but lately she's been doing a little photography and has gotten to be quite a spiritual person, taking just one day at a time," said friend Lisa Nebenzahl, who is organizing a benefit Jan. 10 at the Dakota Jazz Club. Prudence Johnson has wrangled an A-list of performers, including the New Standards, Kevin Bowe & Alison Scott, Kevin Kling, Laura Caviani, Dennis Spears and the Minnesota Orchestra's brass section, which will perform fanfares and madrigals. Two of Marsden's photos will be raffled off and there will be silent and live auctions. "She's a real work-horse and a joy-giver who has touched so many lives," Nebenzahl said. "We're trying to fill the house." (6-10:30 p.m. Jan. 10, $25-$50. 1010 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls.)

MARY ABBE

Burglar Alarmists

While police were pursuing leads on the Christmas Eve break-in at local rocker Eric Lovold's house in St. Paul -- including the ransacking of his hi-fi basement studio -- the Alarmists frontman was hot on the trail of something else this week: trying to make it up to the bands whose recordings were lost in the heist. Of primary concern were country band Kicks and Spurs and songwriter Brian DeRemer, whose albums were more or less complete-- on stolen hard drives. "They've been tracking those records for a long time," Lovold said, sounding both proud and pained. "They've been working so hard, they're at a place where they can hopefully re-track them relatively easily." Toward that end, several studios have offered up their spaces for free or way cheap, including Fuzzy Slippers, Sound Gallery and the Institute of Production & Recording. Also, Lovold is putting together a benefit show at either the Varsity Theater or First Ave, both of which offered their services. He's also asking music pals to keep an eye out for his equipment, including a rare Nord Lead synthesizer. The silver lining, he noted, is that "this is such an awesome, supportive music community."

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

Two in the studio

The year's shortest month will see two smaller-theater productions open at the Guthrie's studio space. In recently announced casting news, the Cory Hinkle play "Little Eyes" (Feb. 4-20) will feature the estimable Sarah Agnew and Luverne Seifert, both finishing up "The 39 Steps," as well as Maggie Chestovich and newcomer Adam Whisner. The dark comedy, directed by Jeremy Wilhelm, is both a world premiere and the first time that Workhaus Collective has produced at the Guthrie space. Next up is Theater Latté Da's "Song of Extinction" (Feb. 25-March 20), a regional premiere of a play with music by EM Lewis. Peter Rothstein directs a cast that includes Wayzata High School junior Dan Piering, as well as David Mura, John Middleton, Carla Noack, Matt Rein and Garry Geiken. The music is by Latté Da's Denise Prosek. In the show, a Cambodian biology teacher reaches out to a troubled and musically gifted high-school student, and the settings shift to Cambodia, Oregon, Bolivia and a hospital room. Sign us up, we think.

CLAUDE PECK

Clouds parting

When the year started Cloud Cult frontman Craig Minowa and his painter wife, Connie, weighed the challenges of touring with a baby. Now the band's other parental partners are calling it a day at year's end. Co-founding cellist Sarah Young and longtime manager Adrian, who have toured with their two sons but are expecting their third child, have quit the band. Craig Minowa announced their departure in an e-mail last weekend. "We have learned so much from them in watching them raise two kids while enduring the unpredictability of touring all over this continent and releasing albums," he wrote. Adrian later explained, "We always thought if one of us left, we both should leave." Sarah also works at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, and Adrian manages Caroline Smith and Pomegranates. One guesses they could someday be proud parents of two of the best tour managers in the rock biz.

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER