New Kids on the block
Two years ago, the Y.N.RichKids gave us one of the best jams of the summer, “Hot Cheetos & Takis,” a huge YouTube hit about the joys of crunching that gave a bunch of preteen rappers from Minneapolis’ North Side a taste of international fame. That same group — but with mostly new participants — has offered up a new video that could be a prime candidate for more viral fame. Titled “The Business” and stressing the benefits of hard work, the song is the product of the Beats & Rhymes program at the North Community YMCA’s Youth & Teen Enrichment Center. The videos feature only one star of the “Hot Cheetos” lineup, Dame Jones, who looks like a bona-fide rap star in a Jay Z-like white suit. He filmed the high-roller (and later high-flying) video opposite a few adult Minnesota rap luminaries, including Ant of Atmosphere and members of Grrrl Prty. The clip’s biggest star, however, might be 7-year-old Amijae, and the group’s lone girl, Lauren Hill, who voices the hook, “Don’t worry if I write my rhymes / I do my homework / I do my homework.”
Idling at ‘Idol’
One person at Wednesday’s “American Idol” auditions wasn’t there to participate. She already had her moment in the show’s spotlight. Paris Bennett, who finished fifth in Season 5, was sitting on the curb outside Mariucci Arena in support of her best friend, Cameron Wright, who was hoping to make the cut for Season 14. “I don’t want to be seen,” said a good-natured Bennett, who performs at First Avenue June 28 and will go on tour with “The Lion King” in August. “It’s all about them.”
Talking Twin Cities
Twin Cities audiences probably appreciated the shout-outs but at what point does it become pandering? On Sunday at the State Theatre, missing-in-action neo-soul star Maxwell gushed about Minneapolis and all its great music that influenced him. He even mentioned once dating a woman from Minnetonka and reminiscing about the 45-minute drive from Minneapolis to her place. Then there was OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder at Target Center on Tuesday calling Minneapolis/St. Paul one of America’s most beautiful places and then flashing back to the Colorado band’s second trip to the Twin Cities seven years ago in January when it was 17-below. “The door on our tour bus froze shut,” he recalled. “We had to have someone come melt the door.”
On the road again
More than 100 theater students from Edina High School are heading to the Educational Theater Association’s “Thespian Festival” in Lincoln, Neb. The school is one of 10 nationally chosen to perform at the annual conference. Edina staged “Fiddler on the Roof” last fall and festival judges came to evaluate. In January, the school was notified that it had passed the audition, so to speak. Three years ago, Edina brought “Anything Goes” to the same event. “We designed ‘Fiddler’ with the thought that we would take it on the road, so we stored the set over the winter,” Anthony Matthes, Edina’s director of theater, told I.W. Edina will send 54 actors, 25 crew members and about 25 musicians to the festival, at a cost of $770 per student. “We’re about the only school that brings its own pit band,” Matthes said. The school has been fundraising since last fall and plans fundraising performances this week, ending Friday.
The light-and-design installation at Orchestra Hall was a standout at Saturday’s rainy Northern Spark festival. Ever-changing light effects washed across the stage backdrop as Courtney Lewis, the Minnesota Orchestra’s departing associate conductor, led the ensemble in a dreamy reading of Kevin Puts’ atmospheric “Symphony No. 4: From Mission San Juan.” Designed by San Francisco artist/filmmaker Yael Braha, the patterns suggested curls of smoke, birds in flight, lashing rain and so on. The computerized designs played off the hall’s famous “tumbling dice” sound baffles and were triggered by microphones and sensing devices placed among the musicians. Everything rolled out perfectly at 7 p.m., but a system crash momentarily halted the 10 p.m. performance. While Braha and her crew rebooted the system, Lewis deftly hushed the applause and waited for a thumbs up from Braha before concluding the performance.
While starring in the touring show “Ghost: the Musical” at the Orpheum through Monday, Steven Grant Douglas could sure use a social secretary. On opening night Wednesday, the Minnesota thespian needed 26 complimentary tickets for friends and family (the show provides him with only two freebies but the rest of the cast helped him out). His parents attended on Thursday, and on the weekend there will be a busload from his hometown of Stephen, Minn., then the next day another bus from his parents’ church near Bemidji. “The bus will leave Stephen at 6 a.m., get here at noon, they’ll eat, see the show and then go back after the show,” Douglas told I.W. “I’ll greet them on the bus.” Other friends from his University of Minnesota Duluth days will just have to meet him at the stage door.