Greenway Glow – arty things happening on the urban bike trail

I admit, I only cruise the Midtown Greenway when something fun is going on – but I’m not a biker and I don’t live in Minneapolis. So I’m glad that I get a chance to check it out every now and again. Last night we popped in for the Greenway Glow.

It’s a festival from 7 pm to midnight on the Greenway, which is a rehabbed train track intended for bikers and walkers. (I’m going to say mostly bikers.) There were 20 or so stops I made it to a few:

Big Bubble

You walk through. Someone said it was like being born again. Maybe but a lot dustier with way more static cling!

What Makes a Heart Grow

Poetry on the outside – Life Jeanie’s bottle on the inside!!

Flamenco Dancing

Hot Metal Pour

Seemed very cool and kind of dangerous

Reactionary Cubes

Rainbow Generator

Ghost Pictures

I’ll have to add that picture later – it was an opportunity for us to create slow motion light-up photographs, which was pretty cool.

As intended I left feeling like I should make more of an effort to walk or run the Greenway. I’m just a little suspect of the walking friendliness of a trail that really is unabashedly bikers first.

Grand Oak Opry sprouts a new branch for The Pines

Want to catch a glimpse at the heart of St Paul’s West Seventh neighborhood? Then check out at the Grand Oak Opry. It is the ultimate house concert location. Sean and Tim open up their backyard (and bathroom) to guests to enjoy local music. Sounds pretty mundane but it’s a pre-civil war house with a double lot, shaded under a 200 year old oak tree (hence the name) and we’re not talking 20 people!

While it was started in one backyard, the whole neighborhood has adopted the regular event. Neighbors are taking money ($10/person donation all going to the band). Neighbors are selling t-shirts, giving directions and watching the show. This has been going on for years and they have never had a call to the police! (Maybe having the Mayor in attendance helps – but I don’t think that’s the reason.)

Want to catch the heart swooning? Come when The Pines are playing. It’s as if the music is coming from the wind at times. Last year, The Pines brought in 300+ guests. That was a record breaker. They blew that away last night with 525+. The crowd was so big that the neighbor next door opened up his backyard too!

While I’ve loved The Pines in several location (News Years at the Icehouse comes to mind), the Grand Oak Opry was really made for them and them for it! The moment they started the crowd hushed to hear Benson Ramey’s aspirated voice, smooth sounds of David Huckfelt and Alex Ramsey on the keyboard. There’s something wintery and ethereal about the songs that feel so refreshing on a summer day – like a breeze finally coming across crowd.

They played for an hour – old songs, new songs, borrowed songs. Folks of all ages sat on blankets and folded chairs, eating and drinking picnic goodies they packed themselves. Kids stood up, sat down, stood up, dragged parents to the bathroom – again. Benson talked about rabbits and a squirrel ran across the powerline above him in jealousy. David observed that despite today’s politics – this is what it’s really about – power in the people in a community. And fireflies flew past. I’m not even making that part up. I haven’t seen a firefly in years but it seems everyone wanted in on the show of the summer.

It’s a tough act to follow but the Grand Oak Opry is going to try with three more shows scheduled: Lady Midnight (Aug 5), Jayanthi Kyle (Aug 12) and Frankie Lee (Sep 2).

Leslie Rich rocking the Whiskey Junction with Rocket Soul Choir

Thursday night Leslie Rich played at the Whiskey Junction. My only regret is that it wasn’t a later show – one where folks might get up and dance. Leslie Rich plays fun, super dance-able rock music. By the end of the show there were a few folks on out on the floor, which is pretty impressive for an early gig on a school night. But two hours later, we have all been up there.

Originally from Belfast, Rich moved to the US in 2004 and makes Minneapolis his home. Previously he had played with several bands in Belfast and a few in Minnesota, including Hounds of Finn, which as you might surmise from the name pulls strongly from his Irish roots. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his new setup. Turns out it’s there’s not a lot of traditional Irish music to be found; it’s just straight up rock.

There are hints of punk (which I guess you could say was like Stiff Little Fingers) and bits of folk (easy comparison would be Van Morrison and while I’m sure there’s an influence the musical similarities aren’t direct) but it’s really rock.

There’s often a slow build to the songs (as in Kidder’s Son) that sets the story of the song then the rest of the band hops on and we’re off to the races. He plays with Pete Boulger on the drums and Jason Wahl on bass. They have been performing as Rocket Soul Choir since 1997. The experience shows. The music weaves like an intricate tapestry, each member with a colored thread creating its own design that comes together to make the experience more interesting for the audience.