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/

Sculpture Garden Opens, Northern Spark lights up the night

June 10 is a day that will live on in Twin Cities art infamy. We flexed our art muscles, mopped up our sweaty brow and saw how art and politics mix – sometimes unintentionally.

The day started with the grand re-opening of the Walker Sculpture Garden. The garden kept some of the old (Spoon and Cherry) and brought in some new (Katharina Fritsch’s Hahn/Cock). I love her Blue Rooster and I’d love it twice as much if it were twice as big. (It’s 25 feet tall.)

Fritsch’s work is interesting – deep colors, everyday items. The Walker is showing her work inside right now too in a show called Multiples. It includes a creepy work of matte black rats in a circle with their tails tied in a monkey knot. The Rooster is a nod to feminism but also a playful addition to the garden.

The gardens are much more open. Like a good friend getting a haircut, it’s hard to pinpoint all of the differences but a lot of trees are gone or severely trimmed. The greenhouse (former home of the Frank Gehry Fish) has lost its walls. It’s more of a patio now.

The walkway up the side of the Gallery has some real potential. The sprinklers might be the best part of a visit – when it’s 95 degrees. Right now there’s a lot of no-go space as the flora fills in. The garden feels less like a secret now – but more like a part of the city.

What was missing was any trace of The Scaffold, the gallows turn jungle gym that bore an unfortunate resemblance to the gallows of the 1862 Dakota execution. The structure was completed a month ago and torn down a week ago after mediation between the Walker and Dakota community. New sod lives where the structure was.

If the Dakota community asked that the work be entirely erased, I respect that. If the plan is to replace that piece with something that celebrates the Dakota or other culture, I applaud it. The visual silence wasn’t deafening – but it was heard.

Just hours after the garden party Northern Spark started – a night of art. This year the art took place up and down the Green Line (train from St Paul to Minneapolis). One of my favorite nights of the year.

We started in Minneapolis at the opening ceremony. In the shadow of the US Bank stadium, we arted it up in the park. One of our favorites – the Night Library was there but sadly a 2-hour wait. But we caught a little bit of the cardboard drive-in, saw wonderful birdhouse art and learned that if we don’t’ clean up our act chocolate could be extinct by 2030!!

We also saw an IRL string-art infographic. You chose a color of string based on your age and wove that string through the art based on your survey responses. Love the idea of using interactive art like that to show results.

Next stop – Cedar Riverside. We saw some markets, a Ramadan meal but mostly people bustling about. I love that art brought people to a community that might be new to them. I think that’s the best part of Northern Spark – bringing people to communities. Cedar Riverside can be a little rough – but people live there. Families live there. They take walks. They play soccer. They speak 100 languages (collectively – not just one smarty). A lot of Somalis live in the area now. It’s been a home to new Americans since the 40s – it will be interesting to see who is living there in 10 years – and selfishly what culinary traditions they will bring!

We hit the Weisman next. Perhaps my favorite exhibit of the night was the Un:heard Resonance. It was real time creation of music and video based on interaction with nature. Somehow touch turns to electronic music. Very cool.

Little Africa was next – just off Snelling. There was a super cool VR thing you could try on the train. We were disappointed that we weren’t able to download that in time to use it. I wonder if it works after the event. We also saw a sad movie on what happens to the computers you throw out. People in poverty tearing apart computers for whatever copper or metal could be sold. Tearing apart include the toxic burning away of plastic. It hurt my lungs to watch it on screen! (Gotta plug my buddies at PCs for People if you need to donate your old computers!!)

Then we ran into a hiccup. We were going to take the train to the next stop but there was a 28 minute wait. I love the train. I loved the idea of taking the train stop to stop BUT at 2 am – a 28 minutes wait can be a buzz kill. It would have been nice to have more trains throughout the night. And speaking of trains – I enjoyed seeing the trains but just like it was interesting to get people to Cedar Riverside at night – being on the train reminded me of our neighbors who ride the train at night for shelter. (My friend Monica has been cataloging that journey.)

Finally we landed in Lowertown – by car. We caught the tail end of a Native storyteller and saw some spectacular nature superimposed on buildings and painted on the street.

I say finally but we have some hopes of visiting the Mekong Night Market tonight. Always another summer favorite that was combined with Northern Spark this year.

We took some breaks to meet new people and see old friends, which means we didn’t see everything but we saw a lot. I love the idea of art between the Cities. I love the idea of getting people out and about to see the different corners of the Cities. While I’m a supporter of raising awareness of climate change. I sort of miss the days when the focus on Northern Spark was art and community. I understand the teachable moment – but art and community seem like pretty good lessons too!!

Imbue Yoga Grand Opening Party with Live Music June 11 – 3-8 pm

imbueI’m always looking for gigs that are kid-friendly. Now I must admit I’m not above stretching the limits when I need to, but I’m delighted when I find something that is genuinely a good kid fit – such as the grand opening of Mary Bue’s new Yoga Studio. Here are the details…

Imbue Yoga Grand Opening Party
Saturday, June 11th 3 pm – 8 pm
Free mini-classes, refreshments and live music by studio founder Mary Bue, and her musical friends Katy Vernon, Dirty Knobs and Brian Just located at 2223 E 35th Street – Minneapolis, MN 55407

I’m also very curious about Mary Bue’s latest venture into Yoga. I have enjoyed her music – she plays keyboard and has a very sweet voice. The last time I saw her was for an album release – Heart’s Desire. I remember how retrospective the music seemed. And while she performed a mock funeral for her keyboard, which as I recall was going to be taking a backseat to her voice, there was still a lot of joy in the music. So I’m excited to learn more about the Yoga.

Here’s a preview on her place…

Imbue Yoga is an intimate, body-positive and beginner friendly yoga studio located in the Corcoran neighborhood of south Minneapolis. Founded and renovated in April 2016 by indie musician and yoga instructor Mary Bue, Imbue Yoga will host yoga classes in multiple styles 7 days a week, offer meditation instruction and workshops with visiting instructors and an host an eventual art gallery. Our mission is to provide skilled, non-intimidating yoga instruction to help alleviate stress, build community, increase physical fitness, improve balance & flexibility and boost immunity in our fast-paced, urban culture. Offering group and private instruction to all skill levels from absolute beginners to advanced practitioners.

Midwest Music Fest in Winona: scratching the surface with 20 bands in 2 nights

Sunday morning I woke up singing Apollo Cobra; I think that means they won the last night of the Midwest Music Fest in Winona. It started on Thursday night – but we arrived on Friday. There were around 65 bands playing in 9 venues – mostly in Winona, mostly within blocks of each other. We saw 20 bands, preparation for a video podcast and the taping of The Current’s Local Show. Darn good weekend!

Part of the magic and difficulty of the weekend is the wealth of talent. Again, we saw 20 bands, I wanted to see another 20 more and probably could have been wowed by plenty of the folks who weren’t on either list. One hiccup in the planning is the scheduling of the bands. It’s not staggered and it is jam packed. Bands start and end at the same time at most venues, which meant we caught a lot of half shows and tail ends. That and the chilly rain are my only complaints.

This was my first MWMF and first time really hanging out in Winona when there wasn’t a wedding or graduation on the agenda. I didn’t realize how manageable the area was – much of the action takes place in a 3-block radius. It was easy to bounce from place to place.

MWMF - charlie parr Our adventure started at Ed’s No Name bar. We waiting in line (for minutes) to get into see Charlie Parr, playing with Mikkel Beckman. We got right up to where the action was. In fact I have to say the crowds were friendly throughout the weekend, making room for folks who like to dance inches from the stage. Parr and Beckman – both stalwarts on the music scene – play bluesy folk music; think washboards on stage and whooping from the crowd.

MWMF - surf zombies

Second band was Surf Zombies at Broken World Record – just across the street. They are as advertised, hard driving surf punk music. It was dark and they played loud and fast. Absolute contrast from Parr, in tighten your seat belts it’s going to be a bumpy night kind of way.

Third band was Al Church in the tent. I really enjoy Al Church in BBGUN. I think his solo work might be aimed more at my kids – but there was a lot of energy and interest from the crowd. Also around the tents were some tasty food trucks. A good move since Winona was not awash in restaurants.

MWMF - hot cellars

Fourth band was Hot Cellars in the Eagle’s Club. They are kind of retro garage with a female lead singer and a bands from the late 60s. Fun to check out, they too might make my be sure to see later list.

MWMF - reina

Band five was Reina Del Cid; a band I wanted to catch. They were back at Ed’s No Name and the place was packed. It was a folksy rock groove. I would like to have a chance to see them again for a few more songs.. Maybe the best you can hope when you play or attend a festival so jam-packed is to set up that sort of speed-dating fan opportunity.

MWMF - ultrasounds

Band six was the Ultrasounds back at Broken World Records. Women playing punk is hard to beat in my book. And they weren’t all women on stage but it’s nice to see them front, center and dominating the stage. With local bands like Kitten Forever and Bruise Violent, we soon may get to a point where it’s not even worth noting women on stage!

MWMF - gospel

Band seven was Gospel Machine in the tent, where I heard very sad news that this was one of their last gigs. They have a very international sound – garage gospel I’ve heard it called. A mix of gospel, ska, blues, dancehall. The songs tell a story and it is great for dancing. They are one of my favorite local bands; I will miss them.

MWMF - farewellBand eight was Farewell Milwaukee, a last minute substitute for American Scarecrows. Just caught a couple of songs, but always enjoy their slightly country leaning rock music that reminds me of what I grew up listening to in my dad’s car – again in a good way.

MWMF - murder shoed

Band nine was Murder Shoes, another band that was new to me. They are alternative, pretty hard driving at times but an element of sweet at others.

MWMF - hieruspecsBand ten was Hieruspecs in the tent. They always rock it with a little hip hop, a little rock and lot of funk. Really hard not to like a band from St Paul anyway – but they were just what the Audience wanted.

The grand finale for Friday night was Erik Koskinen. I’ve seen Erik many times and he never disappoints. They place was packed. The joint was jumping. He played all of his most rocking country songs And there were plenty of off duty musicians in the crowd; a sign of how instrumental Erik is to the work of other local musicians.

MWMF - current

We started Saturday at the recording of The Current’s Local Show. They started with Mike Munson and Mikkel Beckman. It was fun to see how the radio show is produced. I was there with a consummate audiophile, so I got a bonus explanation of how high tech everything really with The Current setup. Also got to hear how smart Beckman is – and learn about his passion for water. A passion that we take from granted in Minnesota but is so important everywhere.

MWMF - hobo

Our first gig of the day was Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank out in Trempealeau, Wisconsin. It’s a beautiful drive and sadly for us the place was too packed to order lunch but we did get to hear some Americana from Duluth.

MWMF - daytrotterBetween the first and second gig we stopped in to see Daytrotter’s set up for their podcast series. Again, being with an audiophile I got the opportunity to learn more about the recording equipment. All I can share was that it was a lot more vintage that The Current’s setup. Actually it was a reel to reel tape setup, which even I could see was pretty cool. Fun to get an inside peek and fun to have a few recordings of the whole event. Great marketing for the local musicians and fun way to share the event with folks who couldn’t be in Winona.

MWMF - dusty heart

Our second gig was Dusty Heart at the Masonic Temple. Dusty Heart is the duo of Molly Dean and Barbara Jean; both who have solid solo reputations and who I have seen perform together before. We walked into the beautiful building and we told right away that we’d made a good choice – because “these ladies have lovely voices” and the advice wasn’t wrong. They do. They are also good song writers. It’s fun to hear country classic themes from the woman’s point of view – such as with a song I particularly like – Cigarettes and Matches.

MWMF - persian leaps

Gig Three was Persian Leaps, a band I have tried to see several times when Fate has intervened. I caught just a couple of songs of a solid indie rock trio. The beats are easy to follow the vocals are easy to listen to – actually sound a little like Bill Bragg to me.

MWMF - dig deep

Gig Four was Dig Deep at the Broken World Records. Heading banging blue grass. That’s about all I can say – it’s a combination that I should have seen before Winona!

MWMF - PHO

Gig Five was PHO in the tent. They are a funk band from McNally Smith College of Music. There are 8 of them, they’re young, they have a ton of energy. They were another great crowd pleaser even in the rain. It’s feel good crowd music.

MWMF - fury things

Gig Six was Fury Things. I can’t say enough about this band. They are old school punk. They hit it hard, play fast, say little. I first ran into them covering Hole for a Girl Germs show and have been a fan ever since. Just saw them last week with Bob Mould – the are the next generation of great Minnesota hard core.

MWMF - frog leg

Gig Seven was Frog Leg at Broken World Records. They sound like a Bunker’s band to me although they are probably too young to have been playing at a place like Bunker’s for very long. It’s funk with the full band.

MWMF - fevers

Gig Eight was Little Fevers. They were billed as Surf Rock so I went in expecting something very different. It’s Lucy Michell; she has a unique and quirky voice, which I like but the band was more alternative than surf. They do win the award for the best band picture in the program.

MWMF - dang

Gig Nine was a surprise change up when Ed’s No Name was at capacity at the wrong time for us. So we headed to see Dang Ol’ Tri’ole. We walked into an a capella rendition of something pretty uplifting with lots of harmony. Their music is positive and folksy.MWMF - apollo cobra

Final gig was Apollo Cobra, a band I like a lot and haven’t seen in a long time and they did not disappoint. They are a techno dance band. People get pretty friendly and a little sloppy on the dance floor. I was delighted when they pulled onto stage a bride to be in bachelorette attire who knew all of the words to their songs. And there was an interesting version of Prince’s Controversy, which was a good fit for them. They were a great end to a fun weekend!

Record Store Day in the Twin Cities: 11 shops in 6 hours

Another successful Record Store Day! We beat last year’s record (pun intended) by one. We visited 11 record stores in St Paul and Minneapolis – and had a generous lunch break at Stella’s, because who can resist seafood on a patio on the first gorgeous Saturday of the year.

Here’s our agenda…

rsd 2016 cheapo
First Stop: Cheapo Records in St Paul – it’s about a mile from the house and it’s the record store I have been going to since I was a kid. I think it’s where I bought The Hawaiian Pups – an album I listened to 1000 times as a kid. They were all business on Saturday. Lots of people waiting in line hugging heaps of albums.

rsd 2016 eclipse
Stop Two: Eclipse. It was nice to see their new location. The have moved just up the block from the old place but it’s much larger. There was a good crowd when we were there. Eclipse has a nice array of records – my very favorite was the ornamental “Fonzie’s Favorites” record cover. In a pinch I could tell you every song on at least one side it; it got a lot of air play in my house.

rsd 2016 agharta
Stop Three: Agharta. Fun to see a live band. I knew they had DJs scheduled but the live band was new to me. Not sure who is was – but Americana. That was perfect for us since we are both fans of country twanged music.

rsd 2016 barely
Stop Four: Barely Brother. Sadly we happened to stop by during a music break – but we could see several local musicians on deck – Adan Linz, who we were sad to miss. The bonus of Barely Brothers is the proximity to several vintage stores – we spent a little time visiting there too. It would be fun to know about the ripple effect of Record Store Day on nearby shops and restaurants.

rsd 2016 extreme noise
Stop Five: Extreme Noise. OK this is a record store that really separates the women from the girls. It focuses on some genres that I love and my favorite 11 year old thinks it’s too loud. I could hear a band leaking out of the sound proof studio in the back. (It’s not really soundproof but it’s pretty good!) I thought it sounded great; it was too loud for others. Extreme did have their 20 year catalog on the offer for the day, which was a fun takeaway.

rsd 2016 hymies
Stop Six: Hymie’s Records and their whole street festival. We hung out here for a while – and actually one of us went back later to hear more music. We came specifically to hear Chastity Brown. We are big fans. We saw her last at the Guerrilla Girls event earlier this year. She spoke there a little bit about racism and gender discrimination; she touched upon it on Saturday too. In fact she played a song by Nina Simone claiming that Simone is more eloquent that Brown but I’m not so sure that’s true. I think she does a nice job talking about what it is like to be a woman of color in a way that is meaningful to listeners. We also saw Bruise Violent – a very different genre but another favorite – at least for the one of us who likes loud music.

rsd 2016 dead media
Stop Seven: Dead Media. I had never visited Dead Media and I was delighted to have an excuse. It’s small but friendly. There was a band playing but too crowded for us to get close. I did make a bonus trip later in the day to see Kitten Forever, when I had a chance to check out the outside albums too. I’m pretty sure they got most of the albums from my parents old collection. I haven’t seen that much John Denver for a while.

rsd 2016 electric fetus
Stop Eight: Electric Fetus – finally. Electric Fetus is another tried and true record shop for us. We visit often when they have bands playing. I’ve been known to drop way more money than intended on tickets and dresses there. I’m not much of a shopper – but tickets and dresses are exactly my weak spots. I was on the search for an album by TV Girl. I was sad to not find it here – or anywhere else but we did find a great vibe.

rsd 2016 fifth element
Stop Nine: Fifth Element. Last year, we were taken aback by the friendliness at Fifth Element. This year we came when live music was happening – made for a fun trip but less visiting with staff. The place is still a nice mix of music, art and culture.

rsd 2016 treehouse
Stop Ten: Treehouse Records – they have a great collection of albums and very knowledgeable staff. Although I think it was walking out of Treehouse when my date remarked that every record store had a different smell – and they do. Treehouse is a little musty – maybe the smell of years of great albums.

rsd 2016 hifi
Step Eleven: HiFi Records and Hair. To be fair we got there too late to go in – but after a long day we’re taking full credit to beat last year’s visit to 10 record stores. I am a fan of HiFi Hair – in fact last time I had my haircut it was there. Jon Clifford did a great job. A great location and music take the sting out of going to get your haircut. Actually it was kind of fun. I should go back before Record Store 2017!