When Summit Brewing completed construction on its current facility in 1998, the term "taproom" probably would have been mistaken as a place where kids rehearsed dance routines in shiny, noisy black shoes. This weekend, the pioneering St. Paul brewery celebrates the grand opening of its much grander taproom, newly dubbed the Summit Ratskeller. The makeover offers many keeping-up-with-the-joneses touches befitting a modern taproom, like cooler overhead lighting, a giant video screen, bike racks and recycling bins. But it also gives the space a classic German beer hall vibe. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the brewery's new front entrance Wednesday, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said he hopes the Ratskeller can further his goal to "lessen the divisiveness" in the city. "There are few vehicles that do that better than drinking beer together," Carter added. Look for special events at Summit all weekend, including live music from 6-8 p.m. Friday with the High 48s, a Summit-themed Trivia Mafia starting at 6 p.m. Saturday and special exclusive beer tappings each day — including Sunday, when the brewery is now newly open from noon to 6 p.m.
A new face on KSTP
Paul Folger, currently an anchor for the ABC affiliate in Oklahoma City, will join KSTP-TV's news team on Aug. 1. He will anchor the Hubbard station's 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts, making him one of the area's most high-profile TV personalities. "I am all in!" Folger said in a statement. "I love the Twin Cities, and I can't wait to meet all of our viewers." Folger, who has done stints in Jacksonville, Dallas, North Carolina and Virginia, is filling a void left by Bill Lunn, who lost his anchor position last year and left the station in March.
Fascinating new thing
Semisonic took a big step forward in its gradual, decade-long progression toward becoming a fully active band again: It now has a Twitter account to go along with a new Facebook page. True to form, though, the first tweet from @SemisonicBand downplayed why the semi-Minnesotan trio is joining the 21st-century hype machinery. "Follow us for exciting news we'll share as soon as we figure out how to tone it down," the post read. Bassist John Munson played it up better on his own Twitter feed (@Munsongs): "We have things brewing! Records! Tapes! Give us a follow and you'll know all about it." Still no word of the long-awaited Semisonic MySpace page.C.R.
'Next' step to the stage
The future of Theater Latté Da starts Sunday. At 2 p.m., to be exact. That's when Latte Da opens its Next Festival of new works-with-music. First up is Harrison David Rivers' "To Let Go and Fall" (2 p.m. Sun., 7:30 p.m. Mon.). Taking its title from a John Cage love letter to Merce Cunningham, it's about two ballet dancers who reunite 25 years after their glory days. A full production is already set for Latté Da's upcoming season; this reading will feature Mark Benninghofen, Andre Shoals and Tyler Michaels. Next up is "Gun and Powder," Angelica Cheri and Ross Baum's winner of the 2018 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater. Thomasina Petrus, Ivory Doublette and T. Mychael Rambo appear in the musical, inspired by the true story of sisters who "passed" for white and became outlaws in the Wild West (7:30 p.m. July 20 & 23). Hope Nordquist and Kory LaQuess Pullam will lead "7 Shot Swing," a Roaring '20s adventure by Ryan Underbakke and Matt Spring, in readings at 7:30 p.m. July 26 and 28, followed at 9:30 p.m. by "Pansy," featuring Max Wojtanowicz, who co-devised the piece with Nikki Swoboda, with added lyrics and music by Michael Gruber. It's another true story, inspired by the 1930s gay underground cabaret scene in Los Angeles. Tickets are $15 apiece, or $30 for all four at the Ritz Theater, 345 13th Av. NE., Mpls., latteda.org.
Up against the wall
In a rare Twin Cities gig Sunday at the Dakota, Texas songwriting great Ray Wylie Hubbard accommodated a request for "Spider, Snake and Little Sun," about Minnesota folk-blues legends Koerner, Ray & Glover, but explained he doesn't always perform his best known song, "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother." He recalled going to see Bob Dylan in concert in the 1980s, wanting to hear "Masters of War." "He didn't do it — or I didn't recognize it," Hubbard joked. He did indeed serve up "Redneck Mother," adding a little local flavor by inserting Hamm's beer as a lyric. Skol!JON BREAM
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