Live on the Mississippi

Many musicians talk about their albums being born from a river of inspiration, but few can say it as literally as the Okee Dokee Brothers. The Twin Cities kids-music stars spent 30 days last summer floating down the Mississippi with their instruments and a camera crew to create their new CD/DVD combo, "Can You Canoe?" Joe Mailander, the sandy-haired Okee Dokee, said the idea was "to come up with adventure songs that sound more real." Things got real, all right. The bandmates nearly got blown away by a storm one night. Things also got a little unreal as the duo was greeted by "ambassadors" in Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher costumes in Mark Twain's hometown of Hannibal, Mo. After finishing the trip in St. Louis, they made another trek to record the results in Woodstock, N.Y., where they called up the Band's Garth Hudson on a whim and landed him as accordionist for two songs. "He really believed in the idea of us encouraging families to get out and enjoy the outdoors more," Mailander said. Fittingly, the Brothers are returning to the Mississippi riverfront for the "Canoe" release party, 11 a.m. Saturday at Father Hennepin Park, on the east side of Minneapolis' Stone Arch Bridge. More info at -CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

Not a day at the beach

Duluth native Gena Lee Nolin, who made a name for herself by running down the beach on "Baywatch" and swinging through the jungle on "Sheena," told that for the past decade, she's struggled with Hashimoto's disease, which attacks the thyroid and can lead to weight issues. Nolin, 40, started to notice problems while filming "Sheena" in the early 2000s. "There was definitely idle chitchat on the set that maybe I should work out more or eat less, but nothing made a difference," she said. Doctors finally diagnosed the condition seven months ago and she has become a spokesperson for medical groups trying to shed light on the disease. Even earlier, Nolin worried about her weight. "If you're not fit as an absolute fiddle, they will take a picture of you and plaster it everywhere," Nolin told I.W. back in 1997. Now she says she's on the road to recovery and is seeing improvements since following a gluten-free diet. -NEAL JUSTIN

Church of comics

Anyone who loves comic books knows SpringCon is a spiritual experience. Where else can a geek wearing a Spider-Man costume feel so at home among thousands of people? But when the annual two-day comics convention invades the State Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday, a couple events get downright ethereal. Sunday morning's chapel service -- yes, they have chapel service at a comics convention -- will feature "resident demon-slayer" Ron Hartley talking about the "mistakes that continue to haunt you" (and presumably how to avenge them). Also that morning is the "Spiritual Themes in Comics" panel, which will investigate how our everyday superhero powers "affect the entire course of our lives, not to mention every aspect of life." Wrap your head around that one. Or just buy some comics. -TOM HORGEN


When Slash and Myles Kennedy came back for their encore at the Brick on Monday night, you knew they meant business. The legendary Guns N' Roses guitarist and his new singer returned with their shirts off and their guns blazing. Slash, in particular, looked like he's been hitting the weight room the way he used to hit the pipe. It was a fitting finale for a 13/4-hour set that was at times chest-beatingly cheesy but certainly sounded muscular and fit. It also proved to be a good test for the Brick. The new venue has been moving a lot of its bigger concerts to Myth, but this one turned out just fine, with a crowd under 1,500. It was packed, sure, but it was never impossible to find a view of the stage. New TVs in the back and in the corners appeased those fans who didn't make the effort. Plus, the club's sound system and acoustics are impeccable. That alone makes it a preferable venue to Epic and Roy Wilkins Auditorium. -CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

Arts groups rally

Fifty-five arts organizations announced Monday that they will work toward defeating the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, said the amendment would "limit our state's ability to recruit the best and the brightest to be a part of our state's future." Joe Dowling, director of the Guthrie Theater, and Ryan French, director of marketing and public relations for the Walker Art Center, both spoke at a news conference at which the coalition was announced. -GRAYDON ROYCE

Messersmith's 'Muse'

Last year, Minnesota Public Radio recruited Jeremy Messersmith to host "Works for Words," wherein three local acts covered and discussed songs by three famed performers. Saturday, the affable and studious songwriter returns to the Fitzgerald Theater to lead "Muse for Music" (8 p.m., $25), with P.O.S., Chastity Brown and writer/storyteller Dave Mondy exploring songs by Radiohead, Springsteen, Flaming Lips and Sigur Ros. "I personally don't think that creativity happens in a vacuum, so we're tracing back some of these tunes hundreds of years," Messersmith said, pointing to how Radiohead's "Idioteque" was based on a '70s electronic music sample that was based on a Wagner opera. And here we thought it was a Prince jam. "Works for Words," by the way, is happening again with Chris Koza as host June 8 at the Fitzgerald. By then, Messersmith will be back at work on his next album -- about 75 percent recorded, he reports. -CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

Tornado tales

The Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater troupe has teamed up with two Minneapolis libraries to gather stories of those who were affected by the tornado that struck the North Side on May 22, 2011. On Saturday, written and oral stories will be collected from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the Sumner Library, 611 Van White Blvd., and from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the North Regional Library, 1315 Lowry Av. N. The stories are likely to be published in a book and might be used as inspiration for dances. For more info, go to or call 612-543-6875 or 612-543-8450. -ROHAN PRESTON