Rod Stewart may not have known what day it was (at least so he sang in “You’re in My Heart”), but he was fully aware of where he was Sunday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. After he performed “You Wear It Well” in his screaming gold sports coat, he proudly patted himself on the back for having sung the line “I’ve been meaning to phone you but from Minnesota/ hell it’s been a very long time.” Opening act Carlos Santana also was cognizant about where he was standing. “It’s such a joy and honor to play for you,” he said. “We’re thankful, of course, to God, to you and to Rod for calling us to share this music with you. The only thing we need is Prince.”
In bookstores across the country--and that includes St. Paul--readers stayed up late on Monday, waiting for the stroke of midnight so they could buy Haruki Murakami's latest novel. Midnight sales are mostly associated with the latest iPhones and Harry Potter books in the United States, but in Japan staying up late for Murakami has been a tradition for years. (This book, published in Japan in April 2013, sold 1 million copies the first month.) Common Good Books collaborated with two other bookstores--Moon Palace Books and Magers & Quinn, both in Minneapolis--to host the first Lit Up Late party, with live music, Japanese snacks and a stack of "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage" autographed by the author. About 45 well-behaved people showed up, Common Good's David Enyeart told I.W. "We wound down around 12:30, and everyone was gone by 1." That is so St. Paul.
New Fringe record
The Minnesota Fringe Festival, which ended Sunday, eked out a new attendance record. The 11-day flurry of theater, dance and spoken word issued 50,226 tickets to 878 performances (an average of 57 people per show) and beat the previous high of 50,222 in 2010. “It’s always great when we break through that 50,000 ticket mark,” said Jeff Larson, who is in his first year as executive director. “But it’s even better to have a new record.” Bollywood Dance Scene’s “Hi! Hello! Namaste?” had the highest attendance of the festival. The Minnesota Fringe is the nation’s largest unjuried theater festival.
No smoke, no cry
Since July 1, smoking has been banned at the Minnesota Zoo. So I.W. wondered what would happen when reggae scion Ziggy Marley landed at the zoo’s amphitheater Tuesday. There was a haze of stage fog (really, it was machine-generated stage fog) over the performers, and a few fans held up lit lighters during Bob Marley’s “One Love.” We never saw anyone smoking but we smelled the herb, especially when Ziggy sang “Everyone is happy tonight” during “Conscious Party.”
Brave new space
The old Brave New Workshop at 2605 Hennepin Av. S., Minneapolis, has been sold for $485,000 and will be rebranded as a performance space operated by a new nonprofit. Dudley Riggs had moved his comedy troupe into the building in the early 1960s, and it served as home to shows almost continuously until 2011, when the owners of the business moved the club downtown. Still, the Workshop was using the 2605 Hennepin space as the Brave New Institute School. The theater, which had about 200 seats, will be remodeled and operated as the Phoenix Theatre. A nonprofit called the Arts’ Nest is being launched to program the space, according to the group’s executive director, Jenna Papke. Mission Theatre Company will be the first to use the theater in November, with a new work, “Detainee,” by playwright Sam Graber. Hundreds of actors and writers found their legs in 2605 Hennepin, including Al Franken and Tom Davis. Hollywood screenwriter Pat Proft called it one of the best rooms for comedy because of the way laughter resounded off the walls.
Death in the family
Kyle Johnson, bassist and rhythm guitarist for Run Westy Run, died last Friday. He was 54. He formed the Twin Cities rock band along with his brothers Kirk (lead singer) and Kraig (guitarist). Last year, the Westies, who were popular in the ’90s, reunited for their first shows in 15 years; Kyle didn’t participate in the reunion. “Kyle has a big heart and a kind soul and we will miss him so much,” his sister, Kelly Abernathy, posted on his Facebook page. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 23 at the Washburn-McReavy chapel in Edina.