Thursday, April 29, 2010

Countdown begins for lemon-rasp. scones at the Hag

For all of those who pop into the Hag hoping - nay, PRAYING - that there will be lemon-raspberry scones sitting pretty behind the plastic case, I have an update. I called the Hag and was told they will return in about a month.

I did not ask follow-up questions, but my hunch is that raspberries aren't in season yet, which is what has caused the long period we have gone without. Not much we or the Hag can do about that. All we can do is look forward to their triumphant return. When they're back, I'll be sure to post about it here.

The countdown begins.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Neko, Hogan, Dylan amazing at the Fitz

I went to the Fitzgerald in St. Paul last night for Neko Case, despite the fact that Jakob Dylan was the headliner. Let there be no confusion about that. I can now say firsthand that Neko has the most beautiful voice in the whole wide world. Believe it.
However, the Neko experience turned out to be only part of what I loved about last night's show.

I don't know much about Jakob Dylan. I had the album everybody else had when he was frontman of the Wallflowers. (Ask me about his dad, on the other hand, and I will rattle off a thousand words on how he's the single most important and gifted contemporary musician, and I honestly don't know through what smudgy lens I would view music had I never set ears on "Blonde on Blonde.") And that's probably a good thing going into the concert. I had a clean slate.

I remember the Wallflowers as being an OK pop-rock band with a couple of OK hits and an interesting-sounding frontman. You certainly can't deny there's a bit of Bob in that voice. Last night, with Three Legs, Jakob seemed to have found a sound that completely suited him. And, I must say, it's a sound reminiscent of some of his father's best work: down-home, rock-country, lyrics that speak to the troubles of common people, with soaring back-up vocals by the wonderful Neko and Kelly Hogan. Voices so smooth and true, you want to close your eyes to take it all in.

I had imagined Jakob wouldn't talk or smile much. But he engaged with the audience and teased Neko a bit on stage. It was neat to see how much he clearly admired her talent. They sang a duet that was absolutely beautiful called "Smile When You Call Me That." Their voices seem to complement each other so well, hers so high and melodic and his so low and gritty. I wouldn't have minded her singing a couple of songs on her own. But she sang on every song, so no real complaints.
Overall, the show was low-key, very intimate and if you like alt-country, you definitely had a good time. The 90-minute set featured songs from Jakob's "Women + Country" album, his latest, "Seeing Things," from 2008, and also those Wallflower hits that I'm sure he can't get away with not playing. But instead of rushing through it like an obligation, he seemed to still enjoy playing "Sixth Avenue Heartache" and "Three Marlenas." And, my god, that is so appreciated. (On a side note, I went a Counting Crows-slash-John Mayer concert in 2003. Counting Crows had been playing their first hit, "Mr. Jones," for 10 years, meaning about 10,000 times, and still totally got into it -- changing the arrangement and putting a lot of energy into the song. John Mayer had been playing his first single for about 10 minutes: rushed through it, didn't care, stank up the stage.)

By the way, there isn't a single bad seat in the house at the Fitzgerald. I was in the fifth row of the first balcony and it felt like I could climb right onto the stage (which had various area rugs for the musicians to stand on and a large four-piece tapestry in the backdrop of a dry countryside with a tumbleweed in the foreground and a telephone pole in the distance.) If you get the chance to see a show at the Fitzgerald or especially to see a show on this particular tour, definitely go. Amazing show.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Neko concert added to vacation checklist

Neko Case!!! I'm going to the Fitzgerald tomorrow night (that would be Tuesday, in the event this blog entry is found and read later on this week) to see Jacob Dylan and Neko. Sometimes you just have to get the hell out of Dodge, you know?

On vacation this week, and I have the most domestic list of items to achieve: plant flowers, scavenge for rocks to landscape with, get a jump on painting the garage. Uhhhh. So I had heard about the Neko and Dylan concert on The Current and, on a whim, looked it up this morning. Turns out it's tomorrow night, so I checked for tickets and was able to score a seat in the front part of the first balcony. Not bad AT ALL. I had to have at least one super fun vacationy event on the ol' roster.

So, I'll fill you in on how it was. ... On a side note, wouldn't it be amazing if Riverfront Park turned out to be a venue for concerts like this? Neko at dusk outside by the river? Amaaaazing. Dare to dream.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Seth Aaron takes it all on 'Runway'!

The right person definitely won "Project Runway" last night. Seth Aaron had a great point of view, never shied away from it, and last night took it to a new level of sophistication.

The ever-arrogant "eSosa" (Emilio) on the other hand, got what he deserved. He took the elegance out of the equation for his collection, even though the runway show is supposed to be full of show-stoppers. Here comes a line of bright red sports wear, and one great dress. He's been so awful to other contestants, so disrespectful to Tim Gunn and so IN LOVE WITH HIMSELF that I couldn't help but smile as he was asked to leave the runway. "You are out." Indeed! ... Then came the biggest sore loser comment I've ever heard: "You don't have to be the winner to wear the crown," he said. Jeez. Get over yourself, dummy.

The reunion show right afterward was intersting. Emilio was still whining that he didn't win, embarrassing himself. And then they showed clips of his nastiness to throw in his face. But mostly it was the models and designers bickering amongst each other. Jay, who came in fourth, at one point said one of the models had "bad teeth and thick legs." It got awkwardly quiet, and then everyone told him how mean he was. What a butthead.

Anyway, I'm glad it's over. This season was weirdly boring. I need a break. I hope they wait a while before starting up again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

9 tons of sand dumped at Gustavus

Ha! I got a kick out of this YouTube video. Gustavus is preparing to put on "Arabian Nights" in Anderson Theatre, and part of the set involves sand ... lots of sand. Nine tons of sand, to be exact.

This video says it all ...

I have to know what it was!!!

I went to see "Dawning" tonight at Maverick 4 Theatres. It's an indie horror movie by Minneapolis filmmaker Gregg Holtgrewe. Very, very creepy.

As I said in my Go&Do column, it's been making a splash at film festivals partly because the villain in the story isn't made known. It's up to the audience to fill in that blank. The story line is about a broken family who goes to stay in a cabin in the woods. After something kills the family dog, a mysterious, bloodied man shows up inside the cabin claiming to need to hide from something outside. Who or what he won't say. So the tension mounts as the family has to decide whether he is the bad guy or whether they should offer him shelter from what's outside. Meanwhile, the situation puts heavy strain on already tenuous family bonds.

By the end, I was really freaked out. Something about the woods in this area of the country is scary enough already. Add an unknown assailant and you've got a recipe for me checking under my bed before I go to sleep tonight.

The cast and crew were at the screening and answered questions from the audience. Despite the unknown villain element really working for the film, I couldn't help but want to raise my hand and say, "Can you just tell us what or who you think was the bad guy?" I just wish I knew. Who or what it was must have been in Gregg's mind at some point during this whole process. I'm desperately wondering what's in his mind. Or maybe the actors had an idea in their minds so they could have a point of reference to react to as they were acting? ... In an age when you can Google an answer to everything, it's tough to not have an answer to something so intriguing.

If anyone else saw it tonight, e-mail me what you think it was at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Seacrest acting kooky

I had to post this link. Did anyone else notice this weird behavior by Ryan Seacrest on 'Idol' this week? I wonder what was really going on.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Meet the Band blogspot launches TODAY

Three ... two ... one ... LIFTOFF!!!

We have officially launched the Meet the Band blogspot, a site where all the members of our Meet the Band series can coexhist peacefully and be visited often by Mankato area music makers and music lovers who want to get to know a bit more about our music scene.

You see, The Free Press launched a series two years ago in which we do Q&As with various bands in the Mankato community. The idea was to show our readers that they don't have to go to the Twin Cities to hear great music. We've got it here. We've certainly proved that, as more than a dozen bands with diverse sounds have joined the Meet the Band family so far. We look forward to welcoming a whole lot more of them this year.

In the meantime, to catch up on the bands we've already introduced, head to and look through pictures in our photo slideshow, read band Q&As, visit links to audio samples and watch a video or two of live performances.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I'm not proud of this ...

... but I must tell you, I've watched every season of "Real World Road Rules Challenge," which has been, like, a dozen seasons by now. It's a TERRIBLE show. Basically: A dozen idiots stuck on an island or remote part of a tropical country, always half naked, half always fighting with each other, half always making out with each other, all forced to compete in physical challenges for the chance to win a few thousand dollars. It's just so very sad.

But there's just something so attractive and addictive, on that soap opera kind of level, about the stupidest, most hormone-driven young people on the planet acting out their basic instincts in half-hour increments. It's like watching the lowest common denominator of human being -- and I say this because they are arrogant, self-centered, poorly educated with an attitude of muscles and/or breasts valued over brains and/or compassion -- stuck in a cage with his or her peers, flinging dung at each other like monkeys.
The reasons people visit the zoo are the reasons I watch "RWRRC."

Anyhow, this season is "Fresh Meat 2." Which basically means a group of "pros" -- people who have competed in previous seasons of challenges -- compete against or sometimes with "fresh meat" -- people who have never been on the show before. When it's the newbies against the vets, it's always the newbies who get creamed. But it seems they may be pairing the vets with the new kids this time, which is a new spin on the show. I guess after a dozen seasons, they have to keep mixing it up somehow.

Wes the red-headed troublemaker is back. He's about as arrogant as a person can be. And the trailer is already showing a fight involving him. So, once again, it should be an action-packed season. Wednesdays at 9, I hope you'll cash in your TV-watching dignity with me for a half hour. It's the WORST show you won't be able to stop watching.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Runway" throws major curve balls

What the WHAT!?! It's 9:53 p.m. on Thursday, and I'm one commercial break away from finding out who won tonight's "Runway" challenge. That's right: I stayed awake through a full episode of "Project Runway," which has been almost impossible this season with the most boring cast on the planet. I was especially devastated when my Anthony Williams went home last week. He's so cute and quirky!!

Well, guess what!? He's back. Maya threw out the first curve ball of the night when she announced she was quitting because she wasn't developed enough as a designer. (Yeah, I didn't get it either.) The second curve ball: They brought back Anthony to replace Maya! Hurray! Hurray!

Third curve ball? Anthony totally killed it. They loved his black and white dress, designed as a piece Heidi could wear on the "Runway." So that means somebody who survived longer than Anthony is about to go home because of him. How very exciting, indeed.

Holy smokes! Anthony just won the challenge. It was a tie between him and Emilio.

So ... who is going home???
Jonathan. High time. Definitely, definitely time.

Breaking Mankato music news: Fleshtones, The Ledge coming to Red Sky

In Thursday's Free Press I hinted that Tim Lind and Shelley Pierce of KMSU's "Shuffle Function" would be making a pretty big announcement during the station's pledge drive regarding this year's Listener Appreciation concert at the Red Sky Lounge.

Here goes, in their words (and p.s., this is not an April Fool's joke):

with special guest

Friday, May 21st @ 7:30pm
520 South Front Street, Mankato, MN
The admission price: NOTHING!

This is, without question, the ultimate DREAM SHOW for Shuffle Function! We have been wanting to get The Ledge to Mankato ever since we started doing Shuffle Function almost nine years ago, and after we interviewed Peter Zaremba from The Fleshtones two years ago we really started working for it. Now, thanks to a very generous grant from the Minnesota State Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund, the dream has become a reality!


Once again, KMSU is giving you a life changing night of live music, and all because you have been such a loyal supporter of the programming we deliver. THANK YOU!