A cross-section of Twin Cities music vets banded together to record an anti-racism anthem, released Wednesday ahead of a white supremacist rally this weekend in Washington, D.C. Memphis-reared blues belter Willie Walker — fresh off an award for best male blues singer in Living Blues magazine's critics poll — takes the lead in "Ain't Gonna Whistle Dixie Anymore," a song written by and recorded with Minneapolis troubadour Paul Metsa. Gospel/soul choir Sounds of Blackness also lent their giant voices to put an exclamation point on the song. "I saw your tiki torch parade on the blood red evening news," Walker slowly stews. "I remembered Timothy McVeigh and that Jesus was a Jew/Benedict Arnold waits for you in the hottest place in hell/The screaming souls will drown out your 'Seig heil' rebel yell." The track hit Spotify and iTunes/Apple Music on Wednesday via Rock the Cause Records, the St. Paul nonprofit that helped raise more than $1 million for cancer research from late Stillwater teen strummer Zach Sobiech's bittersweet anthem "Clouds." All proceeds from streaming and downloads of "Ain't Gonna Whistle Dixie Anymore" will go toward the (racism-fighting) Southern Poverty Law Center and St. Paul's High School for the Recording Arts, whose students were recruited to release a hip-hop version of the song due for release in September. A promo video can be viewed at youtu.be/9U2NkRuGpRY.
Tao of Steve
Steve Zahn doesn't feel ready to accept a lifetime achievement award. But after 25 years in films including "Reality Bites," "That Thing You Do," "War for the Planet of the Apes" and "Dallas Buyers Club," he's coming home to Minnesota to get one anyway. The Twin Cities Film Fest will honor him Sept. 6. at its annual festival preview gala at the Metropolitan in Golden Valley. Zahn, who was born in Marshall and grew up in Mankato and New Hope, says it seems premature. "I don't think of myself like I'm 50, you know?" he said by phone. (He is.) Zahn says it feels odd to "go to a set and be like, the oldest guy. It's weird. It seems to have happened overnight. But then I think it wasn't that long ago, like 1850, when I'd be dead." Be reassured, fans, he plans to keep acting "until I drop. It's the only thing I can do other than trim trees and dig holes. It was either that or be an outfitter at the Boundary Waters. For real." Tickets are available at twincitiesfilmfest.org.
Save the date
The Minnesota Museum of American Art, aka the M, will reopen its doors Dec. 2 after nearly a year of construction on its new 36,000-square-foot facility in St. Paul's historic Pioneer Endicott buildings. The M has been something of a nomad, inhabiting 13 spaces since its inception in 1894. "This museum has had so many different homes and lives — like a cat, the 9 lives of the M — but this is it: This is the one that will finally keep us going into the future," said executive director Kristin Makholm, who helped rescue the formerly bankrupt organization after coming on board in 2009. An installation of the museum's collection will kick off the opening. Duluth artist David Bowen will show real-time wave videos in a window gallery facing Robert Street, while New York-based Sheila Pepe has made crocheted shapes referencing Endicott architect Cass Gilbert. The reopening also includes a new Sifo Center for Creativity, offering studio classes for adults by such artists as Leslie Barlow, Maggie Thompson and Xilam Balam. "Art education, art making and learning are in the DNA of this museum," Makholm said. "It got lost in the shuffle. We are bringing that back."
Fans filled the Turf Club on Tuesday to see Texas iconoclast Kinky Friedman for probably different reasons. Some went to hear his politically incorrect humor, some for his alternately sentimental or witty country songs, some because they wanted him to autograph one of his many detective novels. Two men sitting close to the stage were there for political reasons: former U.S. Sen. Dean Barkley and Twin Cities ad executive Bill Hillsman. As Friedman pointed out, they were "two architects" of his campaign for governor of Texas in 2006. Said the Kinkster: "It was a race we won in every place but Texas."
Wheels on fire
Minnesota's favorite movie, music, bicycling and camping festival — OK, the only fest of that kind — Saturday's Square Lake Music & Film Festival near Stillwater will be headlined by David King, virtuosic drummer for the Bad Plus, Happy Apple, Halloween, Alaska, Dave King Trucking Co., etc. King will perform music he wrote for MCAD Prof. Tom Schroeder's "Bike Trilogy," three animated shorts that have garnered critical praise but have never been shown together. Along with a slew of local and international short films, there's a daylong slate of music, by psych-rock greats Flavor Crystals, Iowa tunesmith Pieta Brown, the new Sara Bischoff/Chris Bierden band Under Violet, beloved twanger Erik Koskinen and lush pop-rockers Night Moves, along with a set by buzzing R&B/space-funk showwoman Lady Midnight that starts at (when else?) midnight. Look for a ticket link and more info at squarelakefestival.com.
Chris Rock goes 'Fargo'
"Fargo" will return next year with one of comedy's biggest names in the lead role. Chris Rock follows in the footsteps of Ewan McGregor, Billy Bob Thornton and Kirsten Dunst by joining the fourth season of the Emmy-winning FX series that's set (mostly) in Minnesota. It's unclear how much of the action will occur in our state as Rock will play the head of a 1950s Kansas City crime syndicate. Series creator Noah Hawley planned to start production this week with Joel and Ethan Coen remaining as executive producers. "I'm a fan of 'Fargo' and I can't wait to work with Noah," Rock said in a news release. He recently wrapped up an international tour, his first in nine years, including a stop in Minneapolis.
Cool news: New York's Public Theater is bringing its production of "Sweat," which won playwright Lynn Nottage her second Pulitzer Prize, to Rochester, Mankato and St. Cloud Oct. 11-13 as part of an 18-city tour to places where the 2016 presidential election was closely contested. Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis, who grew up in Minnesota, said the tour by the theater's Mobile Unit — inspired by the work of Twin Cities theater-maker Michelle Hensley at Ten Thousand Things — is part of a mission to "speak to those who the nonprofit theater has largely ignored: the rural communities of the Upper Midwest." The play takes place in a Pennsylvania bar, whose denizens bicker and bond over a factory closing. One of those characters will also appear in Nottage's "Floyd's," which will have its world premiere next summer at the Guthrie Theater. Tickets to "Sweat" will be free; check publictheater.org for details.CHRIS HEWITT
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