No 'Doubt' about tweeting
Not wanting the Guthrie to hog all the Twitter fun, the Minnesota Opera debuted its own controlled live tweeting at Tuesday's performance of "Doubt," the new opera based on the play and Meryl Streep film of the same name. A dozen tweeters were stationed in a balcony corner at the Ordway so as not to distract — and they fired off 40 missives by intermission. "1st opera I've attended with prominent cowbell and chorus of 'booger, booger, booger,' " wrote Tami Swenson. "Picturing nuns going down like dominoes," tweeted Angie Harmon Shoaf. But wasn't it hard to keep track of the action at the same time? "No," said Tessa Retterath Jones, who does PR for the Schubert Club, "but that's because it's in English." In another "let's get interactive" move, audience members were asked to expand on the opera's theme of uncertainty by answering the question "What are you certain about?" printed on sticky notes on the program covers, then pinning them to a bulletin board in the lobby. The best side-by-side responses: "papal infallibility" and "evolution."
He can go home again
Even though he has a No. 1 song in Japan with "Trouble," hotshot Brooklyn jazz/soul singer Jose James was celebrating his hometown of Minneapolis on his return to the West Bank Tuesday. Sporting an all-black Twins cap at the Cedar Cultural Center, he dedicated a song to the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone (for whom he campaigned) and reminisced about working at Depth of Field (across the street), delivering and setting up futon beds. "Nobody can assemble a futon like me," James, 34, boasted. That may be true, but I.W. was more impressed by James' distinctive D'Angelo-meets-Stevie Wonder-meets-Bill Withers-meets-Gil Scott-Heron vocal stylings and his excellent backup quartet.
We presume that Minnesota native Louie Anderson is a Vikings fan, but forgive him if he roots just a bit for the Detroit Lions next season. That's because Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh apparently saved him from drowning during practice for the upcoming ABC reality series, "Splash," a diving competition. Anderson was attempting to get out of the pool when he got tired and fell back in. Suh and trainer Greg Louganis, the former Olympic gold-medal diver, rescued Anderson. "I have every bump and bruise you should have when you're my age and out of shape," the comic told I. W. "I'm lucky that my health is the No. 1 priority for those involved in the show." The series, which will debut March 19, also features Kendra Wilkinson and Nicole Eggert.
Moody mystery tour
Even though Beatles insider Peter Asher presented his multi-media "A Musical Memoir of the '60s and Beyond" at the Dakota last January, he had some new wrinkles 12 months later. He's working on music for the new Superman movie and producing a tribute album to Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" with Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Maroon 5 as well as a duo album by banjo man Steve Martin and singer-songwriter Edie Brickell. But, since this Dakota gig was a celebration of old music, Asher trotted out a special guest — Denny Laine, the singer on the Moody Blues' first album and later guitarist for Wings (Paul McCartney's other band). Laine sang Moody Blues' 1965 breakthrough hit, "Go Now." Turns out that he, like Asher, is en route to Clear Lake, Iowa, this weekend for the annual Buddy Holly tribute. And Asher pointed out that he'd just discovered that it was Al Franken who appeared in a "Musical Memoir" clip he'd shown of a 1978 Rutles movie (a Beatles parody featuring Eric Idle and John Belushi). Quipped Asher: "I hope there's no state law against playing silly videos of your senator."
After this week's disappointing news that the River's Edge Music Festival has been canceled for this summer on Harriet Island (with the hope it will return next year), Twin Cities music lovers are wondering what big outdoor gigs might be left in 2013. At least one new event will be launched by a very reliable source: The first annual First Avenue Festival is on, confirms the club's general manager, Nate Kranz. It's slated for July 20 at Parade Athletic Fields (adjacent to the Walker's Sculpture Garden). You may remember, the First Ave fest was suspended last year after approval to use the site took longer than expected. At least one of last year's new festivals will return for a second act: The Summer Set electronic/jam-band/hip-hop fest will be back at Somerset Amphitheater in August, promised co-promoter (and performer) Jack Trash. As for anything else at Somerset, SoundTown's organizers left open the possibility it could be reborn this year; amphitheater owner Matt Mithun said it's too early to make any firm announcements on that or any other summer music events there. There are also the old reliables to count on, including the all-hip-hop Soundset on May 24; Rock the Garden on June 15 (lineup announcement on April 16) and the Basilica Block Party on July 12-13.
Live nude painting
"It's not an outfit issue, I assure you," the announcer said when the actors were a tad delayed for their reading. That's because three women in their 20s appeared in silky black robes and promptly removed them — to be clad only in jewelry and red high-heeled shoes. "Naked Girls Reading in Minneapolis" appeared at the Hennepin History Museum last Friday. Calling it performance art, they read excerpts from material about films – "The Hobbit," "Secretary," "The Fellowship of the Ring," like that. The "girls" weren't extremely adept readers, but the audience of 25 or so was indeed listening. And looking. Not leering, looking. The act wasn't sexual, quite odd at first. The group maintains it is "a living, breathing nude painting that asks viewers to exalt rather than dissect and scandalize female sensuality." The museum didn't sponsor the act, only rented the venue to the group, but director Jada Hansen said the museum and Naked Girls are exploring a partnership. The museum's enthusiasts, she said, consists of city people who "don't want old spinning wheels" but more edgy stuff. This was it.