The Minnesota Twins will raise their batting average on at least one front this year: The lineup for their Midwest Music Showcase is better than ever. Featuring live performances by local musicians before and during Wednesday home games, the series will kick off at the April 27 night game against the Indians with rapper/rocker/wordsmith Astronautalis. It continues with Al Church (May 11), Sean Anonymous (June 8), the 4onthefloor (July 6), Har Mar Superstar (July 27), Mark Mallman (Aug. 10), Koo Koo Kanga Roo (Aug. 24) and Dem Atlas (Sept. 7). After catching some heat for booking only one act with a woman singer last year, the Twins and their radio station Go 96.3 FM — the Pohlad family owns both — went all out and booked two this year, Holidae (May 25) and Bad Bad Hats (June 22). Clearly, there are more pressing concerns in the personnel department.
Really big book prize
The award formerly known as the Dublin IMPAC Award (now the International Dublin Literary Award) has announced the finalists, and there's St. Paul's Marlon James, author of "A Brief History of Seven Killings," which also won the Man Booker Prize. The Dublin Literary Award carries a prize of 100,000 euros (about $114,000), making it the world's most valuable annual literary award for a single work of fiction published in English. Titles were nominated by public libraries in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The 10 finalists include books by Mary Costello, Marilynne Robinson, Jenny Offill and Dave Eggers. The winner will be announced by the lord mayor of Dublin on June 9.
A regular performer in the Twin Cities, veteran bluesman Taj Mahal talked about fishing at Gull Lake, "not Dull Lake," on Tuesday at the Dakota Jazz Club. Of course, he sang "Fishin' Blues," always a crowd favorite, and did some fine fingerpicking on guitar and banjo. Mahal also pulled a trick out of his Panama hat: bringing his daughter Deva Mahal to sing with him on "Lovin' in My Baby's Eyes," a sweet, loving blues that he said he'd written for her. She was in town visiting her brother Taj Jr., who lives in the Twin Cities.
Minneapolis composer Jake Runestad has won a top national honor, the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. Previous winners have gone on to stellar careers, including Kevin Puts, Jennifer Higdon and Aaron Kernis. Runestad has been keeping busy, just finishing a piece for the Santa Fe Chorale based on writings by Henry David Thoreau, and has several premieres of his work coming up in New York, Lincoln, Seattle and Cincinnati. Seems like it's about time for the Minnesota Orchestra, SPCO or Minnesota Opera to request a Runestad commission. "That would be great," he said.
Mixed Blood Theatre is calling its upcoming celebration of its 40th anniversary "A Red-Tie Affair." But, considering the venue for half of the evening, shouldn't they call this spring fling "A Purple-Tie Affair" instead? The Twin Cities theater company, whose mission champions "the successful coexistence of a multiplicity of peoples" in the words of founder Jack Reuler, has announced that it is having the first part of its gala on May 14 at Prince's Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen. That will be from 6 to 9:30 p.m. No, Prince is not scheduled to entertain. The second part, "the after-party," will be at Mixed Blood's firehouse theater on Minneapolis' West Bank.
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