Over his 70-year career, New York photographer Elliott Erwitt has snapped everyone from Fidel Castro to Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But his favorite subjects are always kids, dogs and tender personal encounters. The latter two faves came together in his 2010 portrait of Weinstein Gallery director Leslie Hammons and Teddy the French bulldog outside the south Minneapolis gallery. Erwitt surprised Hammons by including the picture in his 2014 book “Regarding Women.” And now gallery owner Martin Weinstein has insisted on spotlighting the photo in “Regarding Elliott,” the gallery’s current show on view through Jan. 9. Sweet.
Kottke’s fun house
Leo Kottke’s annual Thanksgiving-time hometown concert took a little different tone this year at the Fitzgerald Theater, thanks to opening act Nick Forster, the bluegrass stalwart and radio host of the syndicated “eTown.” Forster played all his Minnesota trump cards, recalling his performances on “A Prairie Home Companion” at the Fitz with his band Hot Rize and introducing his wife, Helen Forster, a graduate of Richfield High and the University of Minnesota. She sang a Bessie Smith-inspired blues number, “Baby, It’s Alright,” that she wrote at age 16. Said her hubby: “The world’s most precocious Catholic schoolgirl.” Forster plugged his late father-in-law’s place, the Great Lakes Bar and Fun House. But nothing was more fun than his duets with Kottke. Well, maybe one of Kottke’s zingers, which came after he sang one phrase of a song and stopped. “You know I get to stop anytime I want,” he announced. “You don’t see Adele doing that.”
Lonely hearts band
“It seems like every year now I have a friend die,” Curtiss A told us this time last year, explaining why he tears up singing “In My Life” nowadays during his John Lennon memorial concert at First Avenue. Alas, this year’s 36th annual tribute — scheduled Tuesday — comes tinged with yet more bad news. Curt and other local musicians are ruing the terminal cancer diagnosis given to Monty Lee Wilkes, longtime sound engineer for these tributes, the Replacements and countless others. “He’s one of the coolest guys,” Curt said, not only noting that Wilkes “will be on everybody’s mind” at First Ave but also, “We’re all getting damn old.” The latter was to poke a little fun at two other longtime tribute participants, bassist Rusty Jones and drummer Steven “Tilly” Thielges, for wanting to avoid the louder portions of the show (Jones suffers from tinnitus). Thus, the tribute will start early (7:30 p.m.) with a stripped-down, mellower set featuring Jones and Thielges, he said, “and then we’ll get a couple nurses to wheel them offstage, and the rest of us will get up there and kick ass.”
Kissinger and tell
Author Jane Smiley cannot only hold forth on topics ranging from “Golden Age,” the final installment of her trilogy about an Iowa farm family, to attending an Arianna Huffington party to how to make a killer tomato pie. Smiley, who wrapped up the Talking Volumes season at the Fitz on Wednesday, also can hold her own against bombastic fellow writers. Over lunch, she related a recent experience with Henry Kissinger biographer Niall Ferguson on the British chat show “This Week.” After she sparred on the air with Ferguson, who characterized her style of historical fiction as inferior to actual nonfiction, the BBC got e-mails and calls from viewers annoyed at his ambush, saying they would buy her book, not his. “I was trending on Twitter,” she told I.W. “For 12 hours, anyway.”
The emotional zenith of the Minnesota Orchestra’s annual meeting this week was musician Kate Nettleman’s sweet valentine to orchestra patron Lee Henderson, a good guy who did all he could to try to solve the infamous lockout. Henderson died in May, just days before he and his wife, Polly, were to accompany the orchestra to Cuba. Nettleman, the orchestra’s acting associate principal bass, announced that the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, a group the players formed while they were locked out, would be dissolved and the remaining funds given to the orchestra to establish a fund for education and community programs. “We could never have asked for a better champion than Lee,” she said. “His vision, his can-do spirit were so important. We miss him terribly but his spirit will stay with us.” Nettleman’s emotional comments brought the crowd to its feet — something I.W. has never seen at an annual meeting.