No go at the Guthrie

There hasn’t been one concert this year at the Guthrie Theater, long a prestigious venue for a wide range of musicians including Led Zeppelin, Elton John and Mos Def. The empty slate does not represent a fundamental change in policy, Guthrie general manager Hillary Hart tells I.W. The Guthrie’s contract with Sue McLean & Associates (SMA), its long-standing exclusive concert promoter, ended late last year. “We can still rent the Guthrie for shows,” explained SMA poobah Pat McLean, who took over the business after her aunt Sue died in 2013. However, this fall, SMA is presenting Leo Kottke and Sounds of Blackness, two Guthrie perennials in the holiday season, at the Fitzgerald Theater, which has a slightly smaller seating capacity. Said Hart: “Nothing has fundamentally changed with our desire to do concerts here. Availability [of the theater] has become one of the biggest challenges for programming concerts.” In other words, the theater shows, not concerts, must go on.

Jon Bream

Have Merce

In 2011, Walker Art Center acquired the archives of the path-breaking Merce Cunningham Dance Company. The collection, which includes sets, props and costumes by the likes of Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol, forms the basis of “Merce Cunningham: Common Time,” a major survey that also will include performances by notable dance troupes and former Cunningham associates. The exhibit will debut Feb. 8-9, 2017 at the Walker and Feb. 11-12 at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which is partnering on the program. Cunningham, a frequent Walker performer who died in 2009, was an influential figure in 20th-century dance who changed the field by his cross-disciplinary collaborations, most notably with composer John Cage, his life partner. The “Common Time” exhibit will include listening rooms for visitors to hear musical works commissioned by Cunningham. There also will be film and video installations and — most important — dance performances by Cunningham veterans and France’s Ballet de Lorraine, among others.

Rohan Preston

Purple praise

All the critics love you in New York, Prince famously sang, and all the critics at Entertainment Weekly love Lizzo. EW named Lizzo one of “eight hot new artists to hear now.” No. 6 on the list, Lizzo is hailed as a Detroit-born artist who has been praised by Prince and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. EW touts her upcoming December album, “Big GRRRL Small World” and its “undeniably empowering tunes,” including the “glitchy soul shakedown ‘Humanize.’ ” The album is out Dec. 11 but you can hear “Humanize” — and get a free download of that and other tracks — at

Breaking news

Never underestimate the pragmatism of a 10-year-old. After hobbling around doing his brace-and-crutch walk onstage, Otto Dregni, who plays Tiny Tim in the Guthrie’s “A Christmas Carol,” asked his father, writer and Concordia St. Paul prof Eric Dregni, “Why is everyone always saying ‘Break a leg’ before I go on? That’s stupid since I already have a broken leg.”

kristin Tillotson

‘Sampler’ sales

I.W. was surprised to learn that for the first time in recent memory, the Cities 97 “Sampler” — Volume 27 — didn’t sell out in its first day of release. Only 25,000 of the 30,000 copies were purchased on Tuesday when the 17-song CD went on sale at Target stores in the Twin Cities. The annual charity fundraiser, which has raised more than $12 million over the years, is always a fast-seller. So what’s up this year? Could it be that Cities 97 has lost its core “Sampler” audience by switching to more of a Top 40 format in the past couple of years? Could it be that Cities 97’s new followers prefer downloads to CDs? Or could it be that such new stars as Vance Joy, Rachel Platten and Matt Hires just don’t have wide appeal?


Rockin’ the Bakken

Minnesota native Michael Sanders is returning home to head the Bakken Museum, that stately hub of electricity and magnetism knowledge on the western side of Lake Calhoun. He succeeds Dr. David Rhees, who has retired after 23 years in the job. Sanders, who most recently was executive director of the Dubuque County Historical Society in Iowa, was previously director of operations at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and before that worked for 10 years at the Science Museum of Minnesota. In Dubuque, he oversaw the National Mississippi Museum and Aquarium, where he was instrumental in increasing attendance and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educational programming. k.T.

Chambre de musique

Those aesthetes at the St. Michael Cinema are opening Le Musique Room, a 194-seat listening room in one of the megaplex’s empty theaters. The inaugural show will be Wednesday with local country-music and KFAN personality Chris Hawkey in a private show for country radio’s BOB. Martin Zellar, of Gear Daddies fame, is booked for Dec. 3, and local piano popster and Cities 97 personality Keri Noble is set for Dec. 12. Alcohol will be available. Consistent with the room’s faux title, the theater has French art and decor in its entrance. But the complex has not changed its name to Cinema de Saint-Michel.J.B.