Taking back the power through punk – Genital Panic CD release at 7th Street

The silver lining of the current state of affairs in American politics is the wave of women raising their voices (to use the vernacular of the Women’s Mach) to effect change. We just don’t all sound as good as Tina Schlieske and Genital Panic doing it.

Genital Panic is taking punk back to politics in the spirit of Dead Kennedy’s using sardonic and simple observation to point out the obvious – something’s broken. Locker Room Talk isn’t just Locker Room Talk – if it takes hard core passion and a bubble gum chorus to make the point, so be it.

The sound is fun. Watching with a friend we warred about whether it was like X, the Go-Go’s, the Bangles or Patti Smith. Schlieske’s voice is strong and powerful, awesome yell when you need it and not afraid to go high when it’s appropriate. The band was also awesome. Some members were drafted in late when originally scheduled guests couldn’t be there but they nailed it with the cow bell on Donnie Talks to Russia along with the keyboard suspense rift, the tight bass on Menopause or the dark string interlude on Action Pants.

As much as I loved the music, what I really loved was the message. Schlieske told the story behind the new project. She had seen the work of Valerie Export, a feminist artist who, in 1968, wore crotchless pants into an art house cinema. She walked around with her genitals exposed at face-level to make a statement about the historical portrayal of women in cinema. (Action Pants: Genital Panic is the name of a poster series created to commemorate that famous viewing.)

For better or for worse, it’s time for women to take back our power by raising our voices, by reclaiming terms, by calling out what’s happening around us – through the #MeToo movement or a song such as Pussygrabber.  It’s happening with more women running for office, with more people voting (even in midterm primaries!) and daily protests. And it’s great to see a local hometown music hero joining the soundtrack for change with a bold change in her sound. It’s time for us to be heard!

Also every punk show should start out with a song about menopause.

Doug Collins & the Receptionists CD release – retro and fun

It can be concerning when the lead singer hits the stage with a vintage, brown polyester suit on. It sets a high bar. You better have the chops to back it up – and I am pleased to report that Doug Collins looked awesome in the brown suit and had the chops. There’s something retro, yet timeless in his music. It dates back to the early days when country and rock really did blur. I enjoyed seeing Doug Collins & the Receptionists at the Turf Club for the release of Good, Sad News.

My favorite song of the night was Conversation with my Heart. It opens his CD. It’s one of those super happy, snappy sounding songs with words that don’t necessarily match. It’s maybe just a little bit of what we need given the world today. A vacation from the gloom, without forgetting. It was great to have Katy Vernon take to the stage to sing it with him at the Turf Club. It just does a heart good to see so much joy in playing.

Halfway Through is another toe tapper. It has a more Americana sound but still upbeat. Ironically I had spent my day driving home from Winnipeg with my dad, listening to Willie’s Roadhouse the whole way. Hearing Collins sing Halfway Through fit the soundtrack of my day. But even after 8 hours (long time at the border) it’s music I enjoy, especially when it’s done well.

A bonus was Collin’s cover of Babba O’Reilly. I’m a sucker for The Who at the best and worst of times. It’s was a different rendition and I liked it.

Another super bonus was catching Katy Vernon before Doug Collins. Another musician with happier beat and sound than lyrics but it’s really hard not to enjoy a thoughtful ukulele!

You can see how Collins looks and sounds in his brown suit on his new record. We appears to be sporting it on the cover.

John David and the Jerks album release at Seventh Street Entry – I Love You Means I’m Lucky!

It’s going to be a strange comparison, but John David reminds me of JJ Grey. There’s a swampy sound to this Northern band. But also they both share a joy on stage that is infectious.

It was fun to see John David & the Jerks play with the Collapsing Stars and Monica LaPLante at the Seventh Street Entry. David started by playing a dozen (or so) old songs and followed up with a rendition of the latest album in its entirety. The crowd clearly loved it. It’s always smart to go from the known to the new.

I found the newer material to be more reflective, especially with Swedish Dreams. It’s a pretty song. It’s mellow but melancholy is a positive way. But then there’s still danceability and toe tapping to be found in a song such as Friend Like You. David’s voice has a slight Dylanesque lilt. The band is awesome and really go full tilt.

Lowland Lakers album release Lost in the Move at the Turf Club

There’s a sadness, longing and remorse in the music of Lowland Laker’s latest album, Lost in the Move. But there’s a sense of redemption too – or maybe growth. It’s calmly uplifting in a country music way.

The band at the Turf Club included regular members Haley Rydell ( on guitar, violin and vocals), Nate Case (on guitar, banjo and vocals), Taylor Donskey (on bass and vocals) and a borrowed keyboardist in Dave Mehling.

Let the Light Through is a slow song; Case is lead singer. It’s dark but it’s good. You have to like a song that fits in a Shakespeare quote!

Turns out He Doesn’t Waltz is about Donskey’s grandfather. It’s slow, pensive and Donskey sings. He has almost a bluesy voice and extends the words in a slow way that adds interest and I’m sure is reminiscent of his grandfather.

But they aren’t all slow. I like the uptick of All I’m Good For, sung by Rydell but written by the former bassist, Matt Donoghue, for his daughter. The keyboards on that song are especially catchy.

Sign Spinners at The Walker

One of the best things about the Twin Cities is the huge number of fantastic things that happen nearly every night! Thursday I enjoyed bike night at the MIA and then Thursday at The Walker. Spoiled!

At The Walker I was introduced to Sign Spinners. They are street level advertisers/performers that spin or dance with marketing signs. Apparently I’m driving down the wrong streets because I had never seen them. So it was super fun to see them at The Walker with the gorgeous background!

And just FYI – apparently sign spinners can earn $15-20/hour or more!

Body Cartography Part 3: Action Movie – one-on-one dance performance

Me before the performance – couldn’t take one during!

I have a crush on an art exhibit – Body Cartography at the Weisman Art Museum. I went to the artists’ talk (with Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad) , the terrifying, yet awesome, felt room and earlier this week I went to action movie. It was a personal dance performance. A perfect third date.

I signed up in advance and was handed off to a dancer/artist. He walked me around the galleries, often with my eyes closed. He would tell me when to open and close my eyes and led me through the gallery by holding my hand, or gently nudging my back. At times he’s leave me alone, run to a location nearby and tell me to open my eyes and I’d watch and the art, from a distance.

I was a little nervous at the prospect but it wasn’t scary at all. Turns out it’s comforting to give over and let someone else lead you around.

I know the Weisman pretty well. And I had learned about empathetic kinesthesia in the artists’ talk so I had an idea of what to expect. My dancer (Justin) was very kind and explained the process to me and he looked like Kraig Johnson (Run Westy Run) back in the day. So what’s not to like there.

It is interesting to have permission to stare at someone at close range. As I remember it, we moved side-by-side at first so by the time I really was in a position to stare there was a comfort level and because it was a performance it felt rude not to watch.

I started off trying to anticipate movement but that dissipated pretty quickly. Soon after, there was a pull at times, especially when Justin was close and the movement was easy, to want to mirror the same action. But my Midwestern shyness prevented any of that. But there was a pull.

It’s awesome and strange to have a short, immersive encounter with one person.

BodyCartography felt room at the Weisman: terrifying, fascinating, philosophical

Sometimes art is a lot of what you bring to it. If your head is in a dark place, you see things differently. But I don’t think it makes it any less legitimate – just more cathartic than you might otherwise find.

Felt room is an immersive performance piece by BodyCartography at the Weisman. (I wrote about the artists’ talk earlier.) It is performed in a sealed room. You sit, stand, lounge where you want; the dancers work around and with you. The performance is three hours long but there’s an open door policy.

I was a little late so I set off alone, down a hall, then choose a door (the other might be locked or go to a closet, I don’t know) that opened into a mini, light-blocking antechamber and pulled back the weighted curtain. Into the darkness.

I could see another patron inches from me. I felt others were around. You could hear shuffling and movement. There was white noise – but the space was pitch black. My eyes never acclimated to it.  It was dark for about 20 minutes. I found it terrifying; so much so I thought about leaving. I stood frozen, afraid to bump into another patron. I wished my eyes to see because I was afraid of dancers milling about. I thought I saw them and I thought there were all much bigger than me. Mostly men. (In truth – five apparent dancers, none much larger than me and seemingly women.)

I felt like people were walking by and nearly touching me (and everyone) but not quite – like nearly poking at your nose or bristling your arm. It occurred to me that it was entirely my imagination but it is what my senses told me. Again terrifying.

Then there were glimmers of light and then a soft red light – bright enough to see but shadowy. I realized we were in a big room. Lots of performers sitting throughout the room. (Although truthfully I spent the whole performance wondering if the only performers were the apparent dancers – or if in moments of darkness some of the patrons were in on the act.)  Back in the red light, a mob of rags and sheaths of cloth start moving in the corner. Dancers under the heap move like one, giant organism. Sometimes the movement was angry and menacing. At other times it moved with less emotion. Eventually the organism oozed into the patrons’ space – at least a few and it was interesting to watch that interaction.

Mostly I was thankful that I could see. Thankful that I wasn’t scared.

The performance had segments based on action of the dancers. Stage of darkness. Stage of organism. Stage of whirling dervishes. Stage of mime. Stage of reunification but not as the same organism of something higher order but still of one free will. (I’m carefully not saying one mind.)  Between the segments often the darkness fell again. I never got to like the pitch black but I did become more comfortable with it.

If I had been 20 minutes later I would have missed the darkness. My feeling for the show would be entirely different. Less intense, easier but less meaningful.

Jeff Krause CD release Naked and Hardhearted at the Icehouse

Jeff Krause looks like he sounds and that’s a treat. With a winter beard and a black hat and a couple of guitars, he’s the picture of Americana. He has the patience on stage to unfurl his songs like good stories. He gives room for the other band members to weave in their characters (especially the keyboard), which adds a depth to the songs and end of the song comes in its own time. With nice punctuation!

Like the old school country I used to listen to on road trips with my dad (OK, still do), Jeff’s lyrics are lessons to be learned. “How does he treat you when no one else is in the room.” I ought to needlepoint or tattoo that awesome line somewhere obvious.

The slow steady build of Trying to Forget You is one flavor classic country. The keyboard takes a little dance during the song. The drums push it forward and Jeff was joined on stage by Lena Elizabeth. She offsets his voice nicely. Jeff has a gravely, yet young voice. Picture your favorite (male) country singer in his heyday. The chorus is particularly catchy.

Love You this Way is another slow one. It feels like the last song at the high school dance – or maybe the song after last call in the honkytonk. But they aren’t all slow. There are some toe tappers too. There was a new song (for a future CD) Better Shoot Me Now that was a hip shaker with a great guitar interlude.

BodyCartography – step one: the artist talk

I’m excited about a show and experiment at the Weisman – BodyCartography. The friendly guerrilla group has taken over (parts of) the Weisman Art Gallery for a few weeks. I am looking forward to  interactions with them. I was going to wait and write about my experience after the fact but I’ve decide to write as I enjoy.

I started with the artists’ talk. A chance to meet the founders of the BodyCartography Project Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad. (Actually I had met Olive before helping her on a website – but briefly.) The husband and wife team have worked together for at least 20 years. We showed up for the event and were led to a large room with lots of space to sit on the floor. So that made me nervous and glad that I was with a friend.

But the talk was super interesting on the history of BodyCartography. They have done large (and small) scale site specific performances. Think flash mob before the days of flash mob. So they might walk/saunter/dance down main streets of San Francisco. I remember them performing outside the Instinct Gallery in downtown Minneapolis a few years ago. Aine and I were fascinated. The dance was more like movement than say the tango and it seemed to involve purposeful – yet sometimes pained – connections with the setting, including the people nearby.

I learned that’s about empathetic kinesthesia, which seems to be encouraging people to react to your movement. Or at least that’s the case if the performance is a one-on-one deal. (Which I am seeing soon. And yes I’m a little terrified.) I imagine when you’re both dancers that you try to feed of each other – to riff like improvisational jazz but in your bodies.

It was interesting to hear about how movement, surrounding and video was used to create art and performance pieces. I love the different perspective of art when focused on movement above vision. As Olive pointed out in the talk – vision is the last sense we master as babies. And yet is seems the sense we rely on most as we carry out our day.

They also bring in a lot of science. We could see the makings of an embryology project in development. There are also works with connections to environment – which makes sense given how we move around the environment.

So now I’m prepared for my next encounter on Sunday, the felt room…

felt room is an immersive performance installation designed to conjure imagination, speculation, and perception, engaging viewers in a practice of vibrant potentiality. In the darkness of felt room viewers are offered an escape from a world of constant illumination.

Becky Rae Dalton album release Ready or Not at The Hook and Ladder

Walking into the Hook and Ladder I was welcomed by Becky Rae Dalton and her unassuming rock band. Four people on stage – two guitars, bass and drums. There’s a country twang, I heard some great rock strong solos and there’s a thoughtful folk rock sensibility. It’s the kind of music you might pack for a road trip.

Becky’s voice is strong and clear. There’s something comfortable in her voice. My friend insisted that it’s because she sounds Minnesotan. He may be right and I mean that in the best way. There’s some something warm and straight forward about her voice. Listening to older albums I think that her voice has become more naked and strong. She played an older song Thursday night, Blue; there was gypsy feel to the staccato pace of the song and her voice had a lilt. I liked the song and her voice in it but it also drew me to the purity of her voice in other songs.

Ol’ Mississippi is a potential breakout song on this album. It has that country twang. There’s a freedom in the lyrics and the feel of a hot summer day (ironically the name of an entirely other song) to the song – like you’ve been walking a long time and finally sit down. It has an easy but traveled pace.

As a special bonus – it was fun to see that Becky’s video was a the top of the top five City Pages videos of the week!