What was a 50-something man doing at last weekend's Kiss concert in Hinckley with a homemade cardboard poster of the band that looked like something a 12-year-old boy might draw? Tommy Sommers' answer to that question is so sweet, even Gene Simmons was moved by it. The poster was made by Sommers and his lifelong friend Ward Harper before their first Kiss concert at the St. Paul Civic Center in 1977. When Harper died a few years ago, his widow, Nancy, gave the cardboard drawing to Sommers as a memento. "I was absolutely blown away that Ward had kept it all of these years," said Sommers, who brought it to the Grand Casino show as a way of honoring his friend. After the performance, he got the chance to present it to Simmons. "You could tell by his reaction that he was completely blown away by this, [and] he wanted to know all about Ward," recalled Sommers, who then handed it off to the bassist knowing he keeps a vast collection of Kiss memorabilia from far and wide. "I told him, 'This doesn't belong with me. It belongs with you.' " That's one way to melt the God of Thunder.
Douglas on the air
Paul Douglas is returning to the airwaves. Starting Aug. 1, the longtime Twin Cities personality will once again be spelling out the WCCO call letters, but for the radio station, not the TV station that terminated him nine years ago. He and Jordana Green will co-host weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m., a time slot previously held down by Don Shelby, Michele Tafoya and, most recently, John Williams. "I can tell you what I'm not going to do," Douglas said. "It's not going to be a partisan food fight. It's not going to be people shouting at each other. ... I'm interested in things that bring us together, as Minnesotans and Americans. I hope Jordana and I can fine-tune a solution-space show, provide resources that help people's lives and have a laugh together."
In a moving Facebook post, writer Sherman Alexie announced he is canceling or postponing much of his national tour to promote a powerful memoir about his late mother — a tour that includes a Sept. 14 Talking Volumes date at the Fitzgerald Theater. "I have been rebreaking my heart night after night," Alexie wrote. "I have, to use recovery vocabulary, been retraumatizing myself." Alexie's publicist said there was no word on the status of his St. Paul appearance.
Does art represent something essential about Minnesota? The planners at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport think so. For the past three years they have worked to showcase more Minnesota-made art. A private reception Wednesday showed off new works at Terminal 2, including "L'Etoile du Nord," Minnesota's state motto. At 6 feet tall, the piece by Minneapolis artist Philip Noyed shines with holographic rainbow vinyl and a crystal prism that casts tiny rainbows of light. Other works include "Migration" by Twin Cities sculptor Danny Saathoff and two enormous tile bathroom mosaics inspired by Minnesota scenes (think loons and dog-sledding) by Minneapolis artist Stacia Goodman. "It's a way to give our travelers a sense of place for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest," said Arts@MSP director Robyne Robinson. She promised that a "major piece" in Terminal 1 will be unveiled in 2020.
Launched last year, the National Native American Ten Minute Play Festival will be 50 percent bigger when it returns next month. The festival, which takes place Aug. 23-26 at Gremlin Theatre in St. Paul and Aug. 27 at the Minneapolis American Indian Center's amphitheater, will present 15 playlets by 17 writers, all under the aegis of New Native Theatre, whose founder, playwright Rhiana Yazzie, conceived the event as a way to cultivate new voices. The roster includes veteran William S. Yellowrobe Jr., who was part of the 2016 festival, and such new playwrights as Allan Gross of Leech Lake, Deanna Standingcloud of the Red Lake Ojibwe and Shannon CrossBear of the Lake Superior Ojibwe Fort William First Nation. "When we share our stories, we carry the past forward," CrossBear said.
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