Dead end for 'American Routes'

The music show "American Routes" is about to get stood up for its standing Saturday-night date with MPR. The New Orleans-based radio program, helmed by folklorist and Tulane professor Nick Spitzer, has held a prime 7 to 9 p.m. spot on KNOW 91.1-FM., following "A Prairie Home Companion," but it's being replaced by the quiz show "Ask Me Another" and the Twin Cities-produced comedy/music program "Wits," beginning this weekend. "Routes" can still be heard on MPR's the Current (89.3 FM), but at 6 a.m. Sundays. "I'm perplexed and sad," said Spitzer, pointing out that the show claims 31,000 Twin Cities listeners. MPR spokeswoman Jen Keavy said: "One of the inflexible laws of radio is that for every show we add, another must be moved to a new time slot, or dropped altogether." Each installment of "Routes" is themed, with interviews wrapped around musical performances by artists ranging from Al Green to Wilco. The program is also available online at and still can be heard on 275 stations nationwide. "There's also an app you can get for your iPhone," Spitzer told I.W., "but I'm enough of an old analog guy to just love the magic of broadcast."


Super Pirner

Dave Pirner is performing under his own name Saturday at 89.3 FM the Current's birthday party at First Avenue. But when the Mississippi prince (he splits his time between two river towns) travels to his other hometown, New Orleans, he'll rock with Soul Asylum there on Feb. 2 at the NFL's Party with a Purpose, a 22nd annual food-and-wine, hunger-relief benefit the night before the Super Bowl. Wonder if Pirner will be partying with Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, PSY, One Direction, Fantasia and the other Super Bowl entertainers in the Big Easy?


Big money for Slim

Just one day into Tuesday's auction of 250 special-edition/autographed copies of the Replacements' "Songs for Slim" EP, the bids on eBay ranged from $100 to $10,000 (the latter for Copy No. 1). The bidding continues through Jan. 25, after which time a standard edition of the five-song collection will hit stores, and a series of 7-inch singles begins, featuring all-stars such as Lucinda Williams, Frank Black and Ramblin' Jack Elliott doing Slim songs. Stay up to date via In an unfortunate coincidence, former Replacements guitarist Bob "Slim" Dunlap -- the EP's beneficiary, who suffered a severe stroke in February -- was back in an intensive-care unit the day the auction began but was improving at press time. Just before his hospitalization, Dunlap gave a ringing endorsement of the project to writer Brad Zellar to post on the website: "Nice to hear people who can actually sing do my songs. I can't sing. I howl." Whatever you'd call it, we're all howling to hear that voice again.


Art and the city

What happens when city planners and artists brainstorm together? More than pothole patches shaped like fleurs-de-lis, if Minneapolis has anything to say about it. A project between the city and Intermedia Arts called "Creative Citymaking" has teamed several local artists -- including photographer Wing Young Huie and painter Caroline Kent -- with city planners to work on four projects through the end of the year. The idea is to use the artists' creativity and aesthetic eye to visually and practically improve areas -- like transit stations for the Southwest LRT line as well as such neighborhoods as Dinkytown -- to spur economic and social growth. We'll check in on them later to see how they're doing.


A lot of nothing

Sam Landman shuffles onstage in the dark and strikes a match -- so we can see him and so he can light a cigarette. The match goes out. He strikes another. That one goes out and then he tells us that he really should quit. Time for a story, about a boy and a puddle, a man and a woman, the weather, magic and a raffle. Is any of this making sense yet? Does life make sense? Landman portrays "Thom Pain," the solo inhabitant of playwright Will Eno's 65-minute monologue on nothing. Eno's writing makes this more than an acting exercise, and Landman's comprehensively precise performance makes the enigma of "Thom Pain" worth spending time with. (8 p.m. Fri.-Sun. at Open Eye Figure Theatre, 506 E. 24th St., Mpls.;


When Townes came to town

It might not be as noteworthy as those tapes of Bob Dylan performing near the University of Minnesota 13 years earlier, but it's better: A 1973 bootleg recording of Townes Van Zandt singing at the Whole Coffeehouse in the U's Coffman Union has become a hot item among the late Texas songwriting legend's cultish fan base. The popular Los Angeles music blog Aquarium Drunkard posted a link last week to download the hour-long, 14-song performance in full. Like most of Van Zandt's live recordings, it features nothing but voice and guitar. Among the songs are "Pancho and Lefty," which would become a No. 1 country hit duet for Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard 10 years later, plus "For the Sake of the Song" and a stark and wounded cover of Johnny Cash's "Ballad of Ira Hayes." Steve Fingerett, who was one of the Whole's bookers during its folkie heyday, said, "I don't remember a lot of specifics from the show, but I certainly do remember it positively." He said he has no idea who recorded this show or how, though. "It must be literally a bootleg." The audio does feature occasional hisses and imperfections that could prevent it from ever being formally released. So go ahead and enjoy it informally.


Senior A+E Editor •

Tim Campbell

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