The houses that Mick built
For more than three decades, executive Mick Anselmo influenced just about every format in Twin Cities radio, from launching powerhouse sports station KFAN to, most recently, spearheading efforts at WCCO (830 AM), which remains one of the nation’s most respected all-talk stations. But at his retirement party Tuesday, the emphasis was on country music. Kenny Chesney, George Strait and Big & Rich were among the big names who contributed personal video messages to Anselmo, who started K102, the region’s leading country-music station, and later its competitor, BUZ’N (102.9 FM). Guests, including folks in the business who flew in from Miami, Nashville and Austin, signed a giant oak barrel wishing their friend well as he officially retires next Friday as head of CBS’ three local radio stations. “This is the payoff,” said Anselmo, taking a break from greeting well-wishers at the Pourhouse in downtown Minneapolis. The Country Music Association honored Anselmo in 2005 for his contributions. Shannon Knoepke, CBS market president in the Rochester/Faribault region, will assume Anselmo’s duties, which include running WCCO, BUZ’N and Jack FM (104.1).
What did Alice Cooper do on a day off from the Mötley Crüe farewell tour? The Crüe’s opening act did his own headline gig Sunday at the State Theatre in Minneapolis. What did the Crüe do on their day off? Well, frontman Vince Neil showed up at Coop’s show. Looking un-rock-star-like in a plain black turtleneck, long black scarf and bluejeans, Vince joined Alice for the finale of “School’s Out” and “Another Brick in the Wall.” The Crüe went back to work again Tuesday at Target Center, for their third farewell gig in the Twin Cities. Of course, that was just a prelude to Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour at Target Center on Wednesday.
Joe Dowling, the former Guthrie artistic director, was in the Twin Cities for a few days before heading to visit his daughter in Australia for the holidays. He told I.W. he has nothing against Australia but wishes “she’d move closer.” Dowling and his wife, Siobhan McKenna, live in New York and have their Minneapolis condo on the market. He told I.W. he is headed for Georgetown University in the new year for an extended workshop on Chekhov (one of his passions) and then to his Irish homeland to direct “Othello” at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Dowling will work with Peter Macon, who played the title role in Marion McClinton’s 2014 production at the Guthrie.
Dominick Argento is apparently a man of broad-ranging interests. When fellow Minneapolis-based composer Jake Runestad saw his idol sporting a workout shirt reading “Football is life” at the YMCA, he had a tongue-in-cheek revelation: “I now understand his long game,” Runestad mused, “and also his hatred of musicians rushing through his works.”
Short-story writer George Saunders came to St. Paul this week to read from his prizewinning collection, “Tenth of December,” and his newly rereleased book, “The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip.” His appearance was the final event in a yearlong series celebrating the 20th anniversary of Rain Taxi Review of Books. “Gappers” is a fable, a picture book along the lines of James Thurber’s “Thirteen Clocks” or Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline.” When it was first released in 2000, Saunders said, “We decided to sell it to adults and to kids — because that’s more! But bookstores said you can’t do that.” Now that Saunders is better known (“Tenth of December” was a bestseller), he probably can. Although “Gappers” is a short book, Saunders didn’t read the whole thing but stopped at a pivotal moment, telling the audience members that if they want to know what happens next, the book is for sale in the back of the room. “Hey, I’m here to move some books!” he said. And he did.
From pupil to principal
After a three-year vacancy, the Minnesota Orchestra’s principal oboe chair has finally been filled by a hometown talent. Joseph Peters grew up coming to concerts at Orchestra Hall, and many of its players were his teachers and role models, he said. The position was held for more than 40 years by Basil Reeve, who retired in 2012, and acting principal John Snow ably filled in during the gap (longer than usual due to the 15-month lockout). Peters, who was most recently principal for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, begins his new job in Minneapolis with concerts New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. He first appeared with the Minnesota Orchestra at age 18 as finalist in the Sommerfest “Minnesota Idol” contest.