When he’s not busy conducting orchestras, Leonard Slatkin writes books. His second, with the terrible title “Leading Tones,” has just been published by Amadeus Press. In it, the founder of Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest devotes one chapter to “the ugliest labor dispute in the history of American orchestras.” That would be the lockout that silenced Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis for 15 months until it ended in January 2014. Slatkin criticizes management and musicians about equally in his overview. The former remained quiet for too long about mounting financial troubles, and the latter failed to pose early questions about funding when times were flush. The musicians’ side issued misleading statements, Slatkin charges. Management should have granted the demand for an independent audit of its books, he says. Slatkin, music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, includes a none-too-subtle scolding of music director Osmo Vänskä, who ditched his neutrality and sided with the musicians. Advises Slatkin: “If you are music director, stay out of it unless both sides ask you for advice. Even then, mostly listen.” Overall, Slatkin argues that the two sides too easily lost sight of what was most important: performing music for the public.Claude Peck
Taken to Hart
A week after his death from cancer and hepatitis C, Twin Cities music guru Grant Hart of Hüsker Dü has been nicely eulogized with press ranging from a sweet essay by the great Rob Sheffield for Rolling Stone to the cover of his hometown alt-weekly City Pages. A public memorial service has been put off for a few months pending the creation of a foundation in his honor, said the rocker’s widow, Brigid McGough. “Grant put a lot of time into deciding he wanted the foundation to serve the needs of women artists,” said McGough, whom Hart married July 5. Marriage wasn’t the only positive life change as his terminal illness took hold: He also became a grandfather when his son Karl Turbenson and wife Kristen welcomed their daughter Grace over the summer. “He was over the moon about seeing his granddaughter,” longtime pal Lori Barbero of Babes in Toyland confided. All more ways Hart’s legacy will love on.
Minneapolis photographer Michael Crouser’s new book, “Mountain Ranch” (University of Texas Press), is a gentle yet powerful collection of photographs documenting the cattle ranchers who live and work in the mountains of northwest Colorado. Capturing this fading tradition, however, happened completely by accident. “Some friends were living near these ranchers and invited me to come out” for calving season, Crouser explained. “I was not in a very creative place at the time — my mother had passed away and I wasn’t taking a lot of pictures.” When he finally gave in, Crouser found the experience rejuvenating. And he found the ranchers welcoming. Crouser spent the next 10 years documenting their lifestyle — the way they work from horseback, brand with hot irons and irrigate by shovel. An exhibition of black-and-white images from “Mountain Ranch” opens Friday at the Minneapolis Photo Center, with Crouser giving a talk at 6 p.m.
Rock ’n’ roll morning
Kiss co-founder Gene Simmons turned into Shill Master No. 1 in Minneapolis on Wednesday morning at the KQRS (92.5 FM) studios, helming on an-air interview and news conference to hype that night’s Children Matter charity concert with ex-bandmate Ace Frehley, Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen and former Eagle Don Felder in tow. When Frehley counted off all the natural disasters of late where relief efforts are needed — hurricanes and earthquakes — Nielsen quipped, “Sounds like one of Gene’s hotel rooms.” Frehley and Nielsen were asked for memories of past gigs at First Avenue. “Isn’t that in St. Louis?” asked the Space Ace, who played there as recently as 2009. He then remembered, “Oh, yeah, the Prince place. That was a great one.” Conversely, Nielsen’s memory proved razor-sharp: “We played there when it was still Uncle Sam’s,” he said, pointing to early ’70s gigs before singer Robin Zander was in the band.
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