Milkweed Editions publisher Daniel Slager "paddled into the wilderness" this fall to broker a book deal with Dave and Amy Freeman, who spent an entire year living in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Freemans, from Grand Marais, Minn., departed Sept. 23, 2015, for a year meant to raise awareness of the environment and the proposed Twin Metals Minnesota sulfide-ore copper mining operation just on the edge of the BWCA. They camped at 120 sites, explored 500 lakes, rivers and streams, and traveled more than 2,000 miles by canoe, foot, ski, snowshoe and dog team. The couple documented their experience through social media, National Geographic and Canoe & Kayak magazine, and they have been featured on NBC's "The Today Show." Having returned in mid-September, the Freemans will spend the next several months working on a book, due to be published in fall 2017 by the hard-paddlers at Milkweed.
The kids keep rockin'
The extended Vee family was out in force for the premiere of the musical "Teen Idol: The Bobby Vee Story" at the History Theatre in St. Paul on Saturday. Jeff Vee, Bobby's son, was there with some of the grandkids. So were two sisters of Bobby's late wife, Karen, who merits a prominent role in this remarkably factual love story about the Fargo pop star ("Rubber Ball," "Devil or Angel") who eventually settled in St. Joseph, Minn., and saw dementia force his retirement three years ago and a lung disease take his wife last year. Vee is now in an assisted living situation. Jeff and Tommy Vee, who used to back their dad on tour and served as consultants for the musical, are still rocking. In fact, Tommy couldn't make it Saturday because he was gigging. "He's in Minot with Nelson," said Jeff. That would be the band featuring the late rock star Ricky Nelson's twin sons.
The ultimate fan experience for concerts these days is attending sound check and then a meet-and-greet with the headliner. For the privilege of doing both, Brian Wilson fans shelled out $500 each (it included a choice seat at the concert, too). On Sunday afternoon at the Orpheum Theatre, the 85 or so fans witnessed Wilson's band working its way through instrumental versions of a couple of hits sans Wilson. Then bandleader/saxophonist Paul von Mertens called for "Surfer Girl," which meant Wilson came lumbering onstage. "Hello, meet-and-greet people," he greeted. He sang that hit ballad and "You're So Good to Me" and asked a fan with a cellphone camera: "That light. Could you please turn that off?" Next, Blondie Chaplin, who'd toured with the Beach Boys in the early '70s, was summoned to the stage even though he was sleeping in the back of the Orpheum. He delivered "Sail on Sailor," and Wilson did "California Girls." That was it — 13 minutes of the great Brian Wilson in action.
Beyond the Fringe
Jeff Larson, who has worked at the Minnesota Fringe Festival for 18 years — the last three as executive director — is stepping down. "It's been a good, fun run, and the Fringe is in pretty good shape," said Larson, who thought it was a good time to try something new. He plans a trip to Italy. The Fringe board will search for a replacement, said chair David Frank. Larson said the move was not prompted by a lawsuit filed against the Fringe by actor Sean Neely, whose show about a pedophile won a festival slot but was later rejected.
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