What was he smoking?

Texas writer Joe Nick Patoski, author of the acclaimed new Willie Nelson biography "An Epic Life," got his start writing in the Twin Cities when he worked as a record-department manager at the Electric Fetus in the mid-1970s. "My first record review published in Creem was sent from the Fetus over the transom," Patoski told I.W. "I received a $30 check and a letter of encouragement from Lester Bangs that I've never forgotten." Patoski hasn't forgotten the Fetus either; he'll be reading and autographing his book there at 1 p.m. Saturday.

JON BREAM

Choosing for boozing

Fans who didn't jump on buying tickets to the Hold Steady's sold-out First Avenue gig Tuesday are probably wondering why the band downsized from a State Theatre gig last fall (also a sell-out) back to the smaller club to support disc No. 4, "Stay Positive," which came out Tuesday. Frontman Craig Finn said, "It was exciting to play the State, but -- and I'm speaking for our booking agent now -- I'm guessing that with a Hold Steady show and First Ave's ability to sell more liquor, it ends up being about the same money as at the State. It's less tickets but a lot more booze."

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

After the deluge

While Basilica Block Party revelers were told by officials to sheek shelter in either a nearby parking ramp or under the freeway overpass, where did Ziggy Marley wait out the rainstorm last Friday? He and his band walked from their trailer into the Basilica of St. Mary and plopped down in a pew. There were some fest-goers in other pews but Ziggy had security guards. He did remark about the ominous skies. After the deluge, he took the stage and serenaded the faithful with Bob Marley's "Positive Vibration."

JON BREAM

She's ours! (Kinda) There are no contestants from Minnesota on the new season of "Project Runway." However, I.W. is adopting designer Terri Stevens. It's not unfounded -- her mom, Kathleen Stevens, has lived in Maplewood for 16 years, which means that Terri has visited -- that includes seeing Prince perform as often as she could at Glam Slam. Stevens, 39, grew up in Chicago and lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she works as a visual manager at Victoria's Secret. She is a dancer at heart, and takes dance breaks while designing. As last season's winner Christian Siriano coined "fierce," Stevens has her own catch phrase. "I always say, 'It is OVAH.' When something is done, it is beautiful and don't touch it," she said. With one challenge OVAH, we look forward to seeing more.

SARA GLASSMAN

You don't like Mondays?

Will Blue Monday fade to black? The open jam led by musician/polymath Willie Murphy has weathered several moves, from the now-closed Viking to the 400 Bar, both on the West Bank, to its current home at the Eagles Club in south Minneapolis. Maybe because it's a bit off the beaten path (and yes, it is on a Monday), attendance has been falling of late; the event needs to start "pulling its own weight" if it's going to stay in its current home, according to a recent e-mail from Murphy. So fans and jammers alike who love the gig and love Willie -- who digs the gig himself -- had best be showing up and showing some love, quick like a bunny.

JUDY ARGINTEANU

Zenon takes it on the spine (and thigh)

After savaging a new "Romeo and Juliet" by choreographer Mark Morris the week before, it's a wonder that the New York Times' chief dance critic, Alastair Macaulay, had any negativity left in him. But he did, and it came out in his Tuesday review of Minneapolis' Zenon Dance Company, which performed last weekend as part of the SummerDANZ festival in Manhattan. Zenon danced works by Sean Curran, Bebe Miller, Wynn Fricke and Colleen Thomas. Macaulay cited "the company's lack of technical rigor, especially in thigh and spine," and noted "a recurrent blurriness in the way Zenon's choreographers ask its dancers to move." Mr. MacGrouchy did find favor with Jeff Bartlett's lighting design in one work, praise that may have helped in a week when Bartlett was ousted as artistic director of the Southern Theater in Minneapolis after 30-plus years.

CLAUDE PECK

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