About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Astronomique Single Release of Mimic Forms – 60s aesthetics and 80s musical influence

Astronomique is the band you thought you’d be seeing in the future back in 1987. They’re a synth pop band with 60s aesthetics and 80s musical influence. They played Thursday night at the Icehouse to introduce their new single, Mimic Forms.

There are four members: Logan Andra Fongemie on vocals and keyboards, Sean Hogan on vocals and guitar, Mitch Billings on vocals and drums and Jordan Morantez on bass guitar. The band is solid; the keyboards really set the tone of the music, bringing the space age feel. There’s a nice contrast between the harder rocking band and the pop appeal of the keyboards. The vocals – especially on tracks where Fongenie and Hogan both sing – bridge the difference. There’s a sweet and salty, high and low, mix that sounds really good together.

Adding to the space age feel was a Sci-fi video on in the background, the video for their new release Mimic Forms (shared below); I presume. The folds in the majestic curtain behind the stage of the Icehouse make it difficult to confirm. It was fun to guess the movies that influenced the obscured video (Barbarella, Tron?) in the same way it’s fun to guess the influence on the music. Mimic Forms is less synth, more vocals than some of their earlier songs. There’s something soothing and almost wavy to the music.

They also played the B-side to the new single, 23rd Century. I enjoyed the Spanish feel in the castanet-sounding drums.

Sarah Morris: Americana singer song writer with a lot of friends

The Hook and Ladder has never felt cozier than with snow blowing outside and a sold out show for Sarah Morris inside. Even the stage was brimming with a rotating cast of impressive characters.

I was immediately struck with Morris’ song writing; her ability to turn a clever phrase like “good at good buys” into a full-fledged song: good at goodbyes. It reminds me of the kind of old school country music I listened to during a road trip; the “if you don’t leave me I’ll find someone who will” listen-twice lyrics.

Morris talked about her song writing style or tactics – the online writing groups and video challenges. In fact, my favorite song from the show and the latest CD (Hearts in Need of Repair) apparently came from a video challenge on a day when she was very sick. The song feels like a childhood music box and celebrates breezy summer love and suits her sweet voice. It’s emblematic of the love songs on the album.

Bare Bones Halloween Extravaganza

Big news – Aine and I got front row at the Bare Bones show *and* we got to sit on the hay bales. Not the ground. It was our major award for being early.

The Bare Bones has been doing big puppet shows for Halloween since 1994. We haven’t been seeing them that long – but maybe 10 years. It’s done outside at Hidden Falls the two weekends before Halloween. We have been there freezing. We’re been there in T-shirts. This year was huddle together in hoodies weather.

The show was awesome. We’ve been seeing it for years. This year the show was lighter on story, higher on concept, which was really nice. It seem brings out the music and lets the puppetry seem more like art than story. That being said, each scene does have a simple theme or plot.

My favorite part was the giant skeleton. It comes crawling onto the stage and it’s so well done. It’s large movement and the bones are so bright. The skeleton later walks and dances and rides a turtle. It’s so visual. I just loved it.

Aine’s favorite part was the four live people performing as puppets. They had a repeating dance step where puppeteer becomes puppet.

Here are some snippets from the show:

Michael Ray Pfeifer Love Americana Style

Thursday night Michael Rey Pfeifer released his new CD, Blind Faith at the Hook and Ladder. There was a lot of love in room with family from all around, which seems fitting for a man who seemed to write a lot about love for the new CD.

Starting with the CD namesake Blind Faith, a song about love that comes with time. It, like most of the songs, has an old school county rock sound. There’s a 70s twang to the guitar in this song but there’s also a poppiness in the album that hearkens back to earlier days.

Marry Me Tonight has a different boppiness with the sentiment and toe tappiness of a surf song. It’s fun to listen to and has a multi-layer American feel with the overt Americana and covert beachiness.

Pfeifer writes songs for guitar players and guitar lovers – from the guitar start of Marry Me Tonight to the standout guitar solo in Rockets. It’s no wonder he has so many strings on stage. He is ably backed up with Curt Hutchens on guitar, Dan Carlsen on bass, Pat Wheeler on guitar and Ryan Inselman on drums.

Holly Near and John McCutcheon performing together September 23 for Chile fundraiser

Near and McCutcheon join for benefit concert to support Educación Popular en Chile (EPES) a Community Health Initiative in Chile

Date/Time: Saturday September 23, 2017, 7:00 pm
Location: Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 9185 Lexington Avenue North, Circle Pines, MN

Additional Information:
On Saturday September 23, 2017 Educación Popular En Salud (EPES) is celebrating their 35th anniversary with a benefit concert featuring musicians Holly Near and John McCutcheon. The concert will take place at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Circle Pines. Tickets are $25 in advance; $30 at the door. Order online http://epes35.brownpapertickets.com/.

Folk musicians John McCutcheon and Holly Near will be playing a show. Multi-instrumentalist McCutcheon is regarded as a master of the hammered dulcimer; he writes from the heart highlighting social injustice all over the world. From Broadway to protest march, Near’s award-winning work speaks a message of equality and peace. She has spent time in Chile collaborating with EPES.

Near says, “Through dictatorship, fire, earthquake and poverty EPES has survived, always there in solidarity with those who get hit hardest by life’s challenges. I have visited Chile three times at the invitation of EPES. I have always been inspired.”

EPES was created in 1982 to promote health with dignity for the poor through empowerment, mobilization and collective action. It began as a program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELCH) and maintains close ties nationally and internationally with the Lutheran church and is an ELCA Global Mission supported ministry. EPES works with community members to advocate, train and assist with community health in the face of both natural disaster and in support of ongoing wellness especially for women and children.

Since 2010, 150 people from 19 countries have participated in International Course on Popular Education in Health, (fondly referred to as la Escuela). Those students bring their knowledge home teaching others and improving community health where they live. The impact echoes. Earlier this year EPES helped Chile deal with ramparts fires that destroyed 1,151 homes and left 6,162 people with precarious housing.

The benefit will help support their continued efforts. The concert is hosted by EPES and Action for Health in the Americas (AHA), the US counterpart to EPES. Please visit the AHA website for more information on EPES and the upcoming concert. http://actionforhealth.org/

Sheep shagging and more at family day at The Walker

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone but I accidentally took Aine to see sheep porn at the Walker. It was awesome!

It’s First Saturday. (Free in and lots of kid-centric activities.) Some months it’s a melancholy reminder that Aine isn’t a kid – she’s a teen. (The big girls quit going years ago; they have been teens for longer.) This month it was a celebration that Aine is a teen. It is a gorgeous day so most activities were happening in the still-pretty-new sculpture garden – including Les Moutons (the sheep) from CORPUS, a Toronto-based troupe. The premise is four actors dressed as sheep, a shepherd and (spoiler alert!) a brief cameo from a wolf!

It’s a day in the life of sheep. They are corralled into a fenced area. There’s a ram that gets kicked out for being … um … too amorous. The sheep are shorn and fed. They are milked and one pees. (Yup – super interesting costuming going on here!) The ram breaks away from his “naughty corner” and has his way with a ewe. The wolf comes. The sheep escape. The shepherd leads them out. That is the story. It was probably 40 minutes long. It’s pretty interactive. Kids get to feed the sheep lettuce and one brave kid drank the newly extracted sheep’s milk.

My favorite and often overheard comment from the kids in the crowd – Look mom it’s a cow. Not sure if we need to work on French or science in the schools. The faces of the sheep-actors were amazing. They were blank and distant. They all did body-breathing like sheep do. (I’m pretty knowledgeable about sheep after a trip to the State Fair last week!) And then there’s the whole part about sheep doing what comes naturally. Every sophomoric adult (and semi-adult) in the crowd was shocked and laughing. It was done in good taste – but it was done! It was like an old school Rocky and Bullwinkle moment where (city) kids wouldn’t have a clue about the Easter egg hidden for the teens and older. We loved it!

The Suburbs sell out First Ave playing new and old music

Friday night First Avenue turned into a time machine. The Suburbs on stage and happy crowd bursting the seams. There may have been a more pounds and more wrinkles than 1986 but there were also fewer curfews and fake IDs. Yup the crowd that has been enjoying the band for decades was in their rightful place at the foot of the stage.

But the crowd was open to new songs – and the band started with Lovers off their latest release Hey Muse! People were happy enough for the new. Followed up with Hobnobbin from In Combo, released in 1980. But it was the third song – Waiting that really got the join jumping.

The band too is a mix of original and new flavors, including founding members keyboardist and singer Chan Poling and drummer Hugo Klaers. Saxophonists Max Ray (who played with The Wallets back in the day) joined the band years ago. And there were some newer folks including Stevie Brantseg and Jeremy Ylvisaker on guitars, Steve Price on bass, Janey Winterbauer on backup vocals, Rochelle Becker on Bari Sax and Stephen Kung on horns and keys.

A great blend of Minnesota musicians!

Show highlights include the tried and true favorites: Life is Like and Love is the Law – the de facto anthem for marriage equality. But toes were tapping for some of the newer songs too – Hey Muse! and Turn the Radio On.

Opening for The Suburbs was Ryan and Pony. I just caught the tail end of their set but it was fun and upbeat. Just a little bit hippie in a good way!

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.