Saying 'no' to Joe's job
One of the highest-profile candidates for soon-to-be-empty post of Guthrie artistic director is not in the running. Acclaimed actor Mark Rylance told I.W. he won't be replacing Joe Dowling, now in his final season. "I can't do that at the moment," Rylance said. "It wouldn't be the right time. Maybe, I think, five or 10 years from now, I'd be much more interested." Rylance, who grew up in Wisconsin, has had Tony-winning success on Broadway ("Boeing Boeing," "Jerusalem") as well as ample experience on the Guthrie stage (2008's "Peer Gynt" and 2013's "Nice Fish," which he co-wrote with Duluth poet Louis Jenkins). He was the first artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, finishing a 10-year stint in 2005. But Rylance is too hot right now for desk duty. Not only is he starring in the PBS miniseries "Wolf Hall" but he'll soon appear in two Steven Spielberg movies — a Cold War thriller opposite Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan and Alan Alda, and "The BFG," based on a kids' novel by Roald Dahl. Regarding the Guthrie, Rylance said: "I've talked to a lot of people, including Joe, about it and his hopes for the place. They asked me my views as someone who's worked there."
A new focus
After seven years nurturing the Mpls Photo Center, co-founders Abby and Orin Rutchick are looking to sell the business and settle in California near their two children and four grandkids. Incorporated as a for-profit business in north Minneapolis, MPC is unusual in that it provides many of the educational opportunities and community features common to nonprofit organizations such as the Northern Clay Center. They all operate galleries that stage regular exhibitions, complete with publications. All offer lectures, classes and workshops primarily for adults. They all have studios, work space and equipment for rent or cooperative use. "Nobody is going to get rich," Orin told I.W. "It's like a community center or a hobby farm for photography. Rather than playing basketball, they're doing photography."
Tickle Torture busted out gold body paint and thongs to sexify "Sex Shooter." Maurice Jacox busted a gut singing a mournful "I Would Die 4 U." And Lizzo literally busted out of her dress singing the climactic moments of "The Beautiful Ones." Those were the highlights of Tuesday's live tribute to "Purple Rain" at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, which preceded a screening of the 1984 Prince film as part of 89.3 the Current's ongoing 10-day, 10th-anniversary celebration. With Heiruspecs serving as the house band, the show kicked off with "The Voice" alum Ashley DuBose grinding her way through "When Doves Cry" and ended with an all-star, balloon-drop-accompanied "Let's Go Crazy." Lizzo's segment was where the show really got crazy. The local hip-hop queen worked over a male model onstage and got so physical with her delivery that she lost control of her slinky purple dress. Without missing a beat, she pulled up her malfunctioning wardrobe, dropped to a prone position and sewed up the night's most powerful performance.
After graduating from South High School in Minneapolis, singer Jose James was told by a teacher at MacPhail School of Music that he'd never make it because he sings like Billie Holiday. So James moved on to a classical teacher at MacPhail, who told him to keep singing in his Holiday style but instructed him on proper breathing and other techniques. "The message of this story," James, who now lives in Brooklyn, explained at a homecoming concert Wednesday at the Dakota Jazz Club, "is there's always another door." Indeed. Twenty years after being warned at MacPhail, he was in town promoting his upcoming third album for the prestigious Blue Note jazz label: "Yesterday I Had the Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday."
The last serenade
There may be other great jazz broadcasters yet to emerge in Minnesota, but certainly none who rode around Harlem with Duke Ellington, or had songs written in their honor by jazz greats Oscar Pettiford and Art Farmer. Dulcet-toned Leigh Kamman, who died in October at 92, will be feted with a celebration Sunday that reflects how he was beloved by musicians of all stripes. Ten acts are scheduled, with guitarist Dean Magraw and drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt kicking things off at 4 p.m. Performers include singers Connie Evingson and Debbie Duncan, nonagenarian sax marvel Irv Williams, trad-jazz masters Butch Thompson and Charlie DeVore, and the groups Twin Cities 7 and Locally Damaging Winds. A jam session at 7:30 p.m. will wrap things up. The event is in the Grand Ballroom of the St. Paul Hotel. A suggested donation of $20 will benefit KBEM (88.5 FM), Minnesota Public Radio, the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and Jazz Central.
Making Garden plans
Rock the Garden, the annual music fest sponsored by Walker Art Center and 89.3 the Current, will be a two-day event — June 20-21 — for the second year in a row. Performers will be announced on March 31. Tickets will go on sale April 2 for Walker and Minnesota Public Radio members, and April 7 to everyone else. Who's going to perform? Let the speculation begin.