She prompted some of the night's loudest cheers simply by walking onstage at First Avenue during 89.3 the Current's 11th anniversary party — after seven months away from her job. Then mainstay DJ Mary Lucia drew noticeable gasps from the crowd when she introduced her close family acquaintance Tommy Stinson to finish out Night 2 of her station's soiree. "He's my favorite member of … ," Lucia said three times, pausing for effect each time before naming one of the bands Stinson has played in. First came Guns N' Roses. Then came Bash & Pop. Dave Pirner had just surprised the crowd with a solo rendition of "Ziggy Stardust," so she didn't say Soul Asylum. Finally, she announced, "And he's my favorite member of the Replacements." That statement will likely stand until Paul Westerberg, her bro, agrees to play a Current party one of these years.
A memoir published in November by Adam Wahlberg's small Minneapolis press, Think Piece Publishing, has been acquired by Penguin Books. "Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself," by California author Julie Barton, is the story of how her golden retriever puppy, Bunker, helped her climb out of a severe depression. Penguin will publish the book in July, with rights sold in Holland, France and Korea. And the brains behind the deal? None other than Marly Rusoff, formerly of Minneapolis, founder of the Loft, now of the Marly Rusoff Literary Agency in New York.
Two nights after playing his first-ever solo concerts, Prince showed off another skill at Paisley Park — DJ'ing. During a dance party Saturday night, he took over the turntables for two stints. The first one featured him singing over his own records. That gives a new meaning to his mantra of "live music by live musicians."
Salute to a scenemaker
Singer-songwriter Michael McElrath pays tribute to an unsung hero of the Twin Cities music scene, his longtime love Mary Ellen Smith, on a new CD. "One of a Kind" recalls the smoky-voiced, no-nonsense woman known as the "Queen of Clubs" for her work on music calendars for the Twin Cities Reader, City Pages and the Star Tribune. "Mary Ellen performed an amazing service for the music community here," McElrath said. "She used to get notices for gigs written on napkins in felt-tipped pen." The two met in 1978 and helped raise each other's children. She twice pulled McElrath through cancer treatments before succumbing to the disease herself in 2011. He'll mark the release with a concert at the Aster Café (8-10 p.m. Sun., $10) featuring the CD's producer, guitarist Lonnie Knight, and vocalists Jane and Kyrl Henderson, who also appear on the record.
A 'Fish' story
"Nice Fish," the Mark Rylance/Louis Jenkins play that had its world premiere at the Guthrie in 2013, has been retooled for a run at American Repertory Theater in Boston. A native Minnesotan reported to I.W. that the show has changed a lot, based on her reading of our local review from the original. What was more than 2½ hours has been put in the theatrical sauna and come out at 90 minutes. Twin Cities actors Jim Lichtscheidl and Bob Davis are still in the cast but Jenkins is now on stage ("He's not an actor," the Boston Globe opined), and "there is no Norse goddess." Said I.W.'s spy: "I kept thinking that I was seeing it with different eyes than a Minnesotan or a Bostonian. Kind of like seeing the movie 'Fargo' after moving away."
The original Guerrilla Girls, who recently launched a month's worth of "Twin Cities takeover" activities meant to draw attention to the need for more demographic diversity on the arts scene, adopted the names of artists Frida Kahlo and Kathe Köllwitz along with gorilla masks back when they first started challenging male dominance in museums and galleries back in the 1980s. In their 30th anniversary year, might it not be time to reveal their real identities? That would prove too much of a distraction when the focus should be on their critiquing, Kahlo said. "What would happen to the powers of Wonder Woman and Supergirl if people found out who they were?" mused Kollwitz. A crafty, if not exactly parallel dodge — no wonder these women are so good at kicking dust off the frames of works by dead white men. Look for more takeover surprises, plus new Made Here storefront window art installments along Hennepin Avenue the week of Feb. 29-March 5.
She takes the prize
Little Falls, Minn., poet and bookseller Laura Hansen is the winner of the annual Stevens Poetry Manuscript competition. The prize includes a $1,000 honorarium and publication. Her winning manuscript, "Midnight River," will be published this year by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.