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Open Veins of Hip-Hop: Ana Tijoux at The Cedar

To spark discussion, the Walker invites local artists and critics to write overnight reviews of our performances. The ongoing Re:View Series shares a diverse array of independent voices and opinions; it doesn’t reflect the views or opinions of the Walker or its curators. Today, Walker Performing Arts Intern and Radio K DJ Sam Segal shares his perspective on Ana Tijoux […]

Photo: Nacional Records

Photo: Nacional Records

To spark discussion, the Walker invites local artists and critics to write overnight reviews of our performances. The ongoing Re:View Series shares a diverse array of independent voices and opinions; it doesn’t reflect the views or opinions of the Walker or its curators. Today, Walker Performing Arts Intern and Radio K DJ Sam Segal shares his perspective on Ana Tijoux and Maria Isa at the Cedar Cultural Center on October 4, 2014. Agree or disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments.

The Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz was once asked whether he only writes to a Dominican or Latino audience. The interviewer, Jasmine Garsd from NPR’s Alt.Latino podcast, pointed out how much Spanish goes untranslated in his work, and she questioned whether this was a move to limit his audience to members of his community. Diaz wholeheartedly disagreed. “There’s always a space in any piece of art for a completely random person that you didn’t imagine to fall in love,” he said. I wonder if when Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux was writing the songs she performed on Saturday night at the Cedar, she imagined that a white, non-Spanish-speaker from Minnesota could connect with them so deeply.

Tijoux was accompanied by the guitar, bass, drums, and percussion of a live band, as well as samples from her percussionist’s laptop. She began the night with the title track off of her new album, Vengo (I remember enough high-school Spanish to know that means, “I come”).  Sampled pan flutes cried out on their own before the band dropped in a sharp Andean groove. Any of the audience’s previous associations between the pan flute and sterile, generic “World” music left the building. The instrument became anthemic, and Tijoux’s relentless flow locked into rhythm with it immediately.

Later in the set, she broke out “1977,” a single from 2010 that the audience may have recognized from its appearance in an episode of Breaking Bad. The beat was based on a sample that sounded straight out of a Morricone Spaghetti Western score. Tijoux seemed to be reclaiming this music from a film industry that often used it to Orientalize and demonize Latin Americans.

The packed crowd was about as enthusiastic as I’ve ever seen at the Cedar. Gone were the crossed arms, muted head nods, and desperate attempts to avoid eye contact that I was used to at indie-rock shows.  Groups of friends around me embraced and danced without shame. Hands waved in the air without any desperate prompting from the performer on stage. It made me think: when people characterize Minnesotans as shy and insular, who do they really think of as being “Minnesotan?” Maria Isa, the opening performer, referred to herself as a Sota-Rican, seeing no contradiction between her Puerto Rican and Minnesotan identities. Her music fused traditional Puerto Rican Bomba music (itself a pretty syncretic genre), R&B, and classic Twin Cities backpack rap.

Ana Tijoux grew up in France after her politically active parents were exiled during the Pinochet coup. Yet, she finds a balance between her French and Chilean identities in hip-hop. She managed to combine conscious rap, traditional Chilean folk music, the protest anthems of Victor Jara, and the feminist theory of Beauvoir. With hip-hop’s sampled beats and total lyrical freedom, it makes sense that the genre would attract artists looking to express their multiplicity.

Ultimately, though, I didn’t spend my night tallying up Tijoux’s influences; the music was too fluid and engaging for that. No, I spent my night dancing and vowing to learn how to speak Spanish again.

Rock the Garden 8-Ball: Lizzo

After the announcement that Lizzo has joined Rock the Garden 2014, she told The Current that she felt like a “gift-wrapped package with glitter coming out of the top.” Originally from Detroit and raised in Houston, Lizzo and her music have been giving steadily to the Twin Cities over the last few years, and the […]

Lizzo photographed in Minneapolis on February 8th 2014

Photo: Cameron Wittig

After the announcement that Lizzo has joined Rock the Garden 2014, she told The Current that she felt like a “gift-wrapped package with glitter coming out of the top.” Originally from Detroit and raised in Houston, Lizzo and her music have been giving steadily to the Twin Cities over the last few years, and the Twin Cities have been giving right back. She told DazedDigital.com, “Coming to Minneapolis I felt the most comfortable I have ever been . . . We all want to create art. I’m not saying it’s higher or lower, or better or worse. It’s just everyone can see eye to eye there.” Much of this local love for Lizzo came from her 2013 release of Lizzobangers, an album she made with Lazerbeak (Doomtree) and Ryan Olson (Gayngs, Marijuana Deathsquads). Her brazen verses are equally comical and combative, harkening back to some of the industry’s first female MCs, and her sound encompasses an array of influences. She told The 405 that “Beyoncé is a constant inspiration,” and that her dream collaboration would be with Bach. Lizzo’s videos are similarly wide-ranging: “Batches & Cookies” celebrates marriage equality and baked goods, while her new “Faded” video features cameos from Har Mar Superstar, Caroline Smith, and Macaulay Culkin.

Lizzo provides us with the third edition of Rock the Garden 8-Ball (following Dessa and Jeremy Messersmith) as she ponders her past life, career options, and other not-so-pressing questions.

What’s your best kept Twin Cities secret you don’t mind sharing?

Vicki at Paula’s Nails in Uptown. She’s an amazing nail artist.

What are three of your tour necessities?

Shower, panties, FaceTime.

If you had to pick another career, what would it be and why?

I’ve always wanted to be a novelist, I loved writing epic fantasies when I was 6.

Do you have a favorite park/green space in the Twin Cities?

Theodore Wirth Park! Now I’m super close to it so I love walking around the quaking bog.

Write a haiku about your current location.

Soft billowing cloud

White noise rolling steadily

My bed (is the shit).

What is your favorite sound?

French horn fanfare.

Do you think you were anyone specific in a past life?

A male diplomat.

What’s the last (or favorite) book you read?

Just read Spiral Bound, by Dessa.

Rock the Garden 2014 takes place on Saturday, June 21, and Sunday, June 22. See the full lineup and buy tickets here.

Rock the Garden 8-Ball: Jeremy Messersmith

Singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith once told The Current that as a kid, he dreamed of growing up to be a biochemist, of creating vaccines and curing diseases. All grown up, that’s not exactly where he finds himself, but his music, including this year’s Heart Murmurs, may still provide a remedy to those titular afflictions of the heart. He […]

Jeremy Messersmith. Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford

Jeremy Messersmith. Photo: Kyle Dean Reinford

Singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith once told The Current that as a kid, he dreamed of growing up to be a biochemist, of creating vaccines and curing diseases. All grown up, that’s not exactly where he finds himself, but his music, including this year’s Heart Murmurs, may still provide a remedy to those titular afflictions of the heart. He assures on “Tourniquet,” the album’s first single: “When you feel like dying, think you won’t be missed / I will be there in an ambulance.” Messersmith’s music is highly personal; “songs are a way for me to process and understand things,” he told the Star Tribune. The songs of Heart Murmurs are buoyantly melodic and consistently catchy, whether depicting joyous love or aching heartbreak. He has been touring these songs across the country, including two sold-out shows at First Avenue this February, and on Saturday, June 21, he’ll stop by the Walker for the first day of Rock the Garden 2014.

After Dessa’s consideration of life’s questions both big and small, Messersmith gives us our next installment of Rock the Garden 8-Ball, describing some of his Twin Cities favorites and providing some wise words from Terminator 2.

What’s your best kept Twin Cities secret you don’t mind sharing?

The Midtown Global Market. It’s funny how many of my friends in Minneapolis have still NEVER been there. It has The Salty Tart, The Rabbit Hole, Hot Indian, Holy Land, Sonora Grill, and so many other fantastic food options. It’s also a venue and community space. It doesn’t get much better than that!

What are three of your tour necessities?

A slanket, a jumprope and a giant bottle of hand sanitizer.

Do you have a favorite park/green space in the Twin Cities?

I’m not sure if this counts, but I’d pick the Greenway. It’s beautiful, functional and busy. It’s still one of the greatest urban bike paths I’ve seen.

What are you afraid of?

I’m not a particularly brave person, but most of my little fears about things (heights, public speaking) pale when compared to the big picture. My biggest fear is simply that we humans will not outlive our adolescence as a species and we may never get to travel the stars. We are rapidly making our own world uninhabitable through reckless and short sighted environmental destruction. That’s the fear that keeps me up at night. Okay, that and clowns.

What is your favorite sound?

I think my first impulse is to say silence, but that’s been done to death by John Cage already right?

Apparently, I’ve been conditioned by the advertising industry because I find the sound of a can of soda opening to be profoundly satisfying. The worst part of that is that I never drink soda!

If you could choose your last meal, what would it be?

My last meal would consist of a glass of Pinot Noir, a chocolate tart, and a mushroom crostini with amanita mushrooms. Of course, amanita mushrooms are fatal, but I’d much rather go out on my own terms than give satisfaction to whoever was trying to execute me!

What fictional character do you most relate to?

Any Haruki Murakami protagonist. I’m cheating a little, but I often find them to be fairly passive, introverted males in their mid-30s. They also seem to spend a lot of time cooking and eating while crazy things are happening all around them. Sometimes being a traveling musician feels an awful lot like that.

What advice do you have for young people?

I’m going to quote Terminator 2, the film I try to live my life by: “No fate but what we make.”

Rock the Garden 2014 takes place on Saturday, June 21, and Sunday, June 22. See the full lineup and buy tickets here.

“Drone, not Drones” Sounds this Weekend at the Cedar

Low’s set at Rock the Garden last summer sparked a surprising amount of controversy for a local music performance; everyone had something to say about the 27-minute, drone-infused rendition of their “Do You Know How to Waltz?” The band received harsh backlash online, was defended ardently, and inspired questions about performers’ responsibility to their audience. […]

Low’s set at Rock the Garden last summer sparked a surprising amount of controversy for a local music performance; everyone had something to say about the 27-minute, drone-infused rendition of their “Do You Know How to Waltz?” The band received harsh backlash online, was defended ardently, and inspired questions about performers’ responsibility to their audience. Philip Bither, the Walker’s Senior Curator of Performing Arts, called it Rock the Garden’s own Rite of Spring.

Something that Low’s Alan Sparhawk said during the show, delivered more calmly and eloquently than any of their naysayers, has had a lasting impact: “Drone, not drones.” Borrowed from his friend and Twin Cities music organizer Luke Heiken, the phrase has become a succinct pro-drone, anti-war statement.

In an interview with the Walker, Heiken detailed his position on drones: “I’m told [drones] are important to track down terrorists and to keep me and my family safe,” he says. “But there is a line crossed when we fly these things into sovereign nations and use explosives to kill people, without a trial, who are believed to be present and write off the loss of life and limb for any people caught in the blast.”  He also described his plans to organize a benefit concert, fueled by the attention his cause has received from the Low set.

After months of organizing, Heiken’s dream is finally coming together in “DRONE NOT DRONES: The Live 28-Hour Drone” this weekend, February 7–8. As the event’s Facebook invite states, “We don’t have the right words to stop ‘targeted killings’ or ‘collateral damages’ or ‘illegal assassinations.’ All we can do is drone on and on about it.” And drone they will.

The drone begins early Friday evening at the Cedar Cultural Center. Proceeds from the event will go to Doctors Without Borders. By the time silence falls late Saturday night, musicians like Paul Metzger, Tim Kaiser, Zak Sally, and Martin Dosh will have contributed to the sound. And of course, after last summer’s events, a drone festival in Minneapolis isn’t complete without Low, scheduled for primetime Friday night. If you loved their RTG set, grab a blanket and pillow and head to the Cedar this weekend.

Songwriting with Abraham: Minneapolis Artists Collaborate with Cruzvillegas for Music & Movies 2013

Abraham Cruzvillegas, La curva, 2003. Speyer Family Collection, New York. Photo courtesy the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City.
Roe Family Singers. Photo by Sara Rubinstein

Roe Family Singers will perform on August 5.

For a band accustomed to old-time standards like “King Kong Kitchie” and its own original bluegrass numbers, the task might’ve been a head-scratcher: compose music to accompany lyrics written by a Mexico City–based conceptual artist and play it live. But Minneapolis’ Roe Family Singers – as well as two other acts playing 2013’s Summer Music & Movies in Loring Park — was up for the task.

Abraham Cruzvillegas‘ lyrics are different in that they are more abstract, and the meaning behind them seems more up to the listener to fill in or deduce,” says the band’s Quillan Roe. “This is closer to how we write our own music, with lyrics used to evoke an emotional response that the listener can fill in themselves with their own experiences, or with their responses to how the music makes them feel.”

The exercise shakes up a format that the Walker has presented for more than 30 summers: a band paired with a film. The past two editions featured commissioned live musicians accompanying classic films — Brute Heart’s score for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in 2012 and Dark Dark Dark’s score for Fritz Lang’s Spies in 2011 — but this year the Walker will try something new by adding collaboration with a visual artist to the film/performance tradition. Cruzvillegas, whose Autoconstrucción Suites  is currently on view at the Walker, chose the four films featured in Summer Music & Movies 2013: Roadways. He also provided lyrics for three of the bands to transform into a new song to debut within their Music & Movies sets.

The musicians are excited to work with Cruzvillegas’ words. A few members in the Roe Family Singers (August 5) studied visual art, so they’re particularly interested in working on this project, while Grant Cutler (August 19) chose to use Cruzvillegas’ working method as inspiration. About his creative process, Cutler says he’ll “attempt to put the song together a little like how Cruzvillegas puts together sculpture. With found objects (or in my case found sounds). Maybe using a lot of sampled sounds that are just ‘around,’ and then working in the lyrics over that.”

Abraham Cruzvillegas, La curva, 2003. Speyer Family Collection, New York. Photo courtesy the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City.

Abraham Cruzvillegas, La curva, 2003.

Cruzvillegas’ interest in the transformation of found objects is rooted in his childhood in Ajusco, in the south of Mexico City. As Cruzvillegas explains:

The autoconstrucción concept comes from a building technique that is led by specific needs of a family and by the lack of funds to pay for constructing an entire house at once. People build their own homes slowly and sporadically, as they can, with limited money, with the collaboration of all family members and the solidarity of neighbors, relatives, and friends. Houses show the autoconstrucción process in their layers, through which it is possible to experience their transformations, modifications, cancellations, and destructions; they evolve according to changes in the lives of their residents.

In the summer of 2008, Cruzvillegas applied this concept of autoconstrucción to music during his residency at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow. There, ten different musical groups worked with his lyrics to create and record original songs, with music ranging in genre from traditional choir and post-punk to ukulele and pop. It wasn’t finding wood to make a sculpture, but instead used human capital as a medium. The project also brought a local connection to his work. Unlike the usual process of making a sculpture in a studio and then transporting it to a museum, this project added local musicians who brought their own experiences and ideas to the lyrics and stories Cruzvillegas wrote.

In Minneapolis, in addition to providing lyrics for the bands, Cruzvillegas also selected the films, all road films in one sense or another. Although the bands were chosen independently from the movies, it doesn’t mean that they don’t like to think about the films they are paired with. Grant Cutler will perform alongside Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, which he says might be one of his favorite movies growing up (despite the scariness of Large Marge). “I hope it comes across as a big crazy experiment,” Cutler says about the set. “Aby [Wolf] and Holly [Newsom, of Zoo Animal] and I were toying with the idea of covering Tequila, but we’ll see.”

Grant Cutler, Holly Newsom (of Zoo Animal) and Aby Wolf will perform on August 19.

Grant Cutler, Holly Newsom (of Zoo Animal) and Aby Wolf will perform on August 19.

Summer Music and Movies 2013: Roadways

Monday nights, 7pm, Loring Park. Free. Hosts from 89.3 The Current will be spinning between the bands and films each Monday.

July 29: Prissy Clerks; DJ Barb Abney; The Hawks and the Sparrows

Aug 5: Roe Family Singers + Charlie Parr; DJ Bill Deville; Cochochi

Aug 12: The Chalice; DJ Jill Riley; In the Pit (En el Hoyo)

Aug 19: Zoo Animal + Aby Wolf + Grant Cutler; DJ David Campbell; Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

The Prissy Clerks, Roe Family Singers, and Zoo Animal + Aby Wolf + Grant Cutler will each perform an original song based upon lyrics provided by Cruzvillegas.

“Drone, not Drones”: Behind the Slogan that Capped Low’s Infamous 27-Minute Set

Arguably the most buzzworthy moment of Rock the Garden this year — competing with Dan Deacon’s parking ramp rave and a homecoming set by native son (of sorts) Bob Mould — was a controversy-stirring performance by Low. Instead of giving an audio tour of its latest release, The Invisible Way (Sub Pop), the Duluth indie […]

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Arguably the most buzzworthy moment of Rock the Garden this year — competing with Dan Deacon’s parking ramp rave and a homecoming set by native son (of sorts) Bob Mould — was a controversy-stirring performance by Low. Instead of giving an audio tour of its latest release, The Invisible Way (Sub Pop), the Duluth indie trio filled its entire 27-minute set with one song, expanding the 14-minute 1996 tune “Do You Know How to Waltz?” by nearly double. As if by way of explanation, Low front man Alan Sparhawk concluded the set with three now-infamous words: “Drone, not drones.” Asked about it later that night, he told journalist Chris Riemenschneider, simply, “I got it off a friend’s bumper-sticker, and thought it was fitting.” Now that the dust has settled, we got in touch with that friend — Minneapolis’ Luke Heiken — to hear more.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 3.18.50 PM

A fixture in the Twin Cities music scene for years, Heiken ran ScheduleTwo.com, a site (and record label) that up until mid-2008 livestreamed concerts from local music venues. One day in February, Heiken was playing around with an industrial sticker maker and came up with a phrase he liked: “Drone, not drones.” That same night, Sparhawk tweeted, “Mim sez these drones are bullshit. That’s all I gotta know. #potus” — presumably a response to news of a leaked white paper on the Obama administration’s justification for “targeted killings” using unmanned aerial vehicles. Heiken tweeted back, sharing his slogan and, the next day, an image of his sticker. He liked the phrase so much he bought the URL dronenotdrones.com and hatched a plan to do something with it — a benefit show or compilation album to raise funds for groups working to help the innocent victims of the war on terror. On June 12, he tweeted to Low, asking if the band might be interested in such a project.

Fastforward three days, when Sparhawk on stage “dropped that #TruthBomb on #rockthegarden,” as Heiken put it on Twitter. He wasn’t in the crowd, but Sparhawk’s words — which he later credited to Heiken — prompted action: “I really need to get on it now that Al has forced my hand by tipping it.”

“I was inspired by people caring about the message and wanted to strike while the iron was hot, so knowing releasing music would take a while to put together, I made the t-shirts,” he says. Proceeds from the shirts, as well as the compilation and benefit concert he’s hoping to pull off, will go to either Doctors Without Borders or the Red Crescent, or both. With bands and labels approaching him, he’s making good progress towards his dreamed-of Drone Not Drones recording, which, like the benefit show, he hopes to see released this winter. He’s hoping it’ll be released on vinyl, but acknowledges it may have to be a digital release instead. He’s already confirmed the participation of Twin Cities artists Take Acre, Paul Metzger, and Peace Drone (a side project by members of Flavor Crystals and Magic Castles), German musician/sound artist Stephan Mathieu, and Sparkhawk himself, and he hopes to have more confirmed bands to announce soon.

While Heiken’s stance on drones is nuanced — his personal view isn’t as bumpersticker-ready as the slogan on his t-shirts — his take on the mini-controversy over Low’s Rock the Garden set isn’t.

“I’m told [drones] are important to track down terrorists and to keep me and my family safe,” he says. “But there is a line crossed when we fly these things into sovereign nations and use explosives to kill people, without a trial, who are believed to be present and write off the loss of life and limb for any people caught in the blast.” He takes issue with the lack of clear governance of drone use. While manned flights are heavily regulated, he says it’s the “wild west” where drones are concerned.

Low's Alan Sparhawk at Rock the Garden 2013. Photo: Amy Fox

Low’s Alan Sparhawk at Rock the Garden 2013. Photo: Amy Fox

He calls the flap over Low’s droning set, however, purely “ridiculous.”

“If I got on the Internet every time I saw a band I was bored by,” he says of the online furor, before trailing off. “This shouldn’t be a tragedy. People creating Twitter accounts for it? I’ve never seen people dislike a set so much they’d go out of their way to do that.”

Heiken has seen Low perform “Do You Know How to Waltz?” before. “It’s one of my favorite musical memories: sitting with my now-wife under a blanket in the dark listening to that song. It’s ridiculous that so many are complaining about that at a modern art museum. Even without that, if Low played their normal set, the squares would’ve been turned off. Nothing they could’ve done would’ve made people who where there for Metric or Dan Deacon happy. But it made lots of Low fans happy.”

Meet the Minnesota Artists of This Clement World

Cynthia Hopkins has invited a slew of talented Twin Cities musicians to perform beside her in next week’s Midwest debut of This Clement World. This part-music, part-theater performance investigates expansive issues of climate change and more personal struggles with addiction. Pulled from various music scenes of the Twin Cities, Cynthia brings these twelve musicians to […]

Cynthia Hopkins in This Clement World, Photo: Ian Douglas

Cynthia Hopkins in This Clement World. Photo: Ian Douglas

Cynthia Hopkins has invited a slew of talented Twin Cities musicians to perform beside her in next week’s Midwest debut of This Clement World. This part-music, part-theater performance investigates expansive issues of climate change and more personal struggles with addiction. Pulled from various music scenes of the Twin Cities, Cynthia brings these twelve musicians to support her in the performances here at the Walker. We wanted to know more about this eclectic group of performers, so we asked them to tell us their most rewarding or memorable musical experiences and answer a more casual question related to their everyday lives. Check out their answers below (and learn such things as what they listen to, where they can be found on a Saturday night, and what they ate for breakfast)!

Crystal Myslajek, Piano

My most memorable performance is actually a toss-up between two performances with my band, Brute Heart. It would be either performing Brute Heart’s original score to the silent film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, in August 2012 in the Walker’s Open Field for the Music & Movies series, or playing in First Avenue’s Mainroom for Minneapolis-based, Polica’s record-release show. For me, both experiences reflect the vibrant fabric of music and art in Minneapolis. The Walker’s movies in the park have been a longstanding summer staple for many a Minneapolitan and I had always wanted to play First Avenue having grown up in the Twin Cities going to many shows there since I was a teenager.

What have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been listening to a lot of ambient music. Some of the artists on my playlist are Grouper, Stars of the Lid, and Tim Hecker. I’ve also been thoroughly enjoying the newest release of local music duo Father You See Queen and the lovely guitar and vocals of Chicago-based singer-songwriter Julie Byrne.

Crystal Myslajeck (left) of Brute Heart, Photo: Sophia Hantzes

Crystal Myslajeck (left) of Brute Heart. Photo: Sophia Hantzes

Larry Zimmerman, Trombone

I’ll never forget the first time I performed with my quintet, Chestnut Brass Company, at the Jeju Seaside Arts Center in South Korea–an amphitheater full of (mostly) Koreans clapping in unison to our arrangements of George Gershwin & Irving Berlin songs. What a rush, and now we’re looking forward to our sixth trip to Jeju this August!

What is your favorite thing about the Twin Cities?
There’s something really special about a bright sunny day in February, with fresh snow on the ground and in the trees. A lot of places you won’t ever see that, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Larry Zimmerman (second from left) of Chestnut Brass Company, Photo: abelcentral.blogspot.com

Larry Zimmerman (second from left) of Chestnut Brass Company. Photo: abelcentral.blogspot.com

Erica Burton, Viola

One of my most memorable experiences as a musician came when I played in-studio at the Hideaway for Lazerbeak of Doomtree. It was the very first time I had played music outside of the classical genre, and it was thrilling.

What have you been listening to lately?
Lately I’ve been listening to Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You,” The Pharcyde’s “Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde,” and John Mark Nelson’s “Waiting and Waiting.”

Erica Burton, Photo : facebook.com/Laurels.String.Quartet

Erica Burton.  Photo: facebook.com/Laurels.String.Quartet

Zack Lozier, Trumpet

Last summer, as a member of Doc Severinsen’s latest orchestra, I arrived at a rehearsal to find a chart labelled, “Duet/Split-Lead.” I later performed “Well Get It,” a Dorsey classic, trading note for note, right next to Doc at the front of the stage! I sure hope it’s in the show when we go back out in April.

What did you eat for breakfast?
This morning I had corn grits with cotija cheese, a hard fried egg, dark roast coffee, and an orange juice.

Zack Lozier (right), Photo : Andrea Canter

Zack Lozier. Photo : Andrea Canter

Jonathan Sunde, Tenor Vocals

My band, The Daredevil Christopher Wright, got an opportunity to perform for 50 or so people on a rooftop balcony in Paris overlooking La Basilique du Sacre Coeur. The opening act was a two-person, one-act performance of a Bertolt Brecht play. It was absolutely as bizarre and romantic as it sounds.

What have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been really excited about Nina Simone. I picked up her Pastel Blues record and am really enjoying. She’s amazing.

Jonathan Sunde (middle) of The Daredevil Christopher Wright, Photo: thedaredevilchristopherwright.com

Jonathan Sunde (middle) of The Daredevil Christopher Wright. Photo: thedaredevilchristopherwright.com

Karen Townsend, Alto Vocals

Last summer I played accordion for Open Eye Figure Theatre’ s Driveway Tour. It was incredibly rewarding to be part of these hilarious puppet shows that bring communities together for highly entertaining, free, outdoor, family friendly (yes, adults LOVE it too) entertainment in various backyards and neighborhoods. After performing 40 shows last summer in the Twin Cities and Tulsa, I still laughed at every joke and thrived off of the responses of the children and adults in the audience.

Which animal do you identify most with?
The snake. I was born in the year of the snake. I am about to give birth to my first child who will also be born in the year of the snake. I love encouraging people to shed what is no longer serving them. I like to visualize snakes and their movements when thinking about how to introduce concepts and ideas that people may not be open to if I just come right out and say it. I’m always looking to slither my way in, past the armor, to the most kind and compassionate part of the human heart.

Karen Townsend, Photo: karentownsend.bandcamp.com

Karen Townsend. Photo: karentownsend.bandcamp.com

Leslie Ball, Alto Vocals

My most memorable experience as a performer — over so many decades! — would have to be a three-way tie:
1) in the ’70s:  the adventure of weeks spent entertaining our troops on a U.S.O. tour in Panama, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and  several other Caribbean islands
2) in the ’80s: the privilege of singing  for Stephen Sondheim and others in a private presentation of a new work
3) in the ’90s: the honor of being a backup singer for Gene Pitney at his Carnegie Hall concert

Where can you be found on a Saturday night?
At the stunning Southern Theater hosting BALLS Cabaret, the longest-running weekly midnight cabaret in human history (now in our 22nd year). BALLS is a greenhouse for artists of any discipline or experience, nurturing creative community in a sober environment every Saturday night at midnight. BALLS was cited in the New York Times as a “must-see” while in the Twin Cities.

Leslie Ball, Photo: circleofgracemn.org

Leslie Ball. Photo: circleofgracemn.org

Parker Genne (Soprano Vocals)

My most memorable performing experience was busking on the streets in Edinburgh for fringe before my evening shows. There was this magnificent afternoon where I was singing away with my ukulele and this older Scottish gentleman who I noticed singing along to every tune I sang, accepted my offer to join me, and we busked together and made a killing for two hours. We had crowds as we belted our tunes, the best being “Down by the Riverside.”

What is your favorite thing about the Twin Cities?
The people, my family and friends that I love so much, and the lakes we swim in, sail on, and run across in the winter.

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Also performing with Cynthia Hopkins are local musicians: Jesse Edgington (bass vocals), Jake Endres (bass vocals), Jason Sunde (tenor vocals), and Lauren Asheim (soprano vocals).

Cynthia Hopkins performs the Walker Commision of This Clement World March 7-9, 2013.

Tortoise Poised for Local Synergy Friday Night

The best way to understand Tortoise is to remember that they are a group formed entirely of bassists and drummers/percussionists. With background and side projects in grunge and hardcore bands, Tortoise emerged from the need to be creatively versatile, with the musicians pursuing ambience, math-rock, and dub in a heady and steady brew that adds […]

Tortoise

The best way to understand Tortoise is to remember that they are a group formed entirely of bassists and drummers/percussionists. With background and side projects in grunge and hardcore bands, Tortoise emerged from the need to be creatively versatile, with the musicians pursuing ambience, math-rock, and dub in a heady and steady brew that adds up to the retroactive label of “post-rock.”

Also it helps to place Tortoise among their contemporaries: Fugazi came a little bit earlier and aren’t usually associated with Tortoise, but Fugazi’s Red Medicine seems to be tapped into the same zeitgeist as both Tortoise and Slint (a member of whom left to join Tortoise in time to work on the album Millions Now Living Will Never Die). Slint seem like the paranoiac cousin to the kinder dub-math ambience of Tortoise’s earliest albums. Or to say it another way, Slint would never have named a track on their album “Ry Cooder.” Slint would also never have segued into positively Reich-ian repetitions like on the famous Tortoise track “Djed.” And it’s hard to imagine a band like Mogwai without Tortoise’s prior steps.

Tortoise’s newest album Beacons of Ancestorship remains just as intellectually gregarious as Tortoise’s earlier work (the track “Yianxianghechengqi” is a mix of what one music reviewer called “Schoenberg and hardcore”) but the music seems more immediate. They’ve stayed current with explicit explorations of dubstep ideas (on “Northern Something”), and the opening track “High Class Slim Came Floating In” even feels at times like a jaunty take on contemporary R&B instrumentals before becoming an extended jam sesh of rumbling minimalism.

For their Walker show Friday night, Tortoise will be joined onstage by the Minneapolis Jazz All-Stars: Douglas Ewart (formerly of AACM), JT Bates (of Fat Kid Wednesdays, the Pines, and Alpha Consumer), Mike Lewis (of Happy Apple, Gayngs, Alpha Consumer, Andrew Bird), Greg Lewis (trumpet guru of Redstart and elsewhere and father of Mike Lewis), and Michele Kinney (of Coloring Time, Jelloslave).

Seeking Local Actors/Singers/Dancers

The Lisps are seeking local actors/singers/dancers to join the ensemble of FUTURITY: A Musical by The Lisps, for performances at the Walker Art Center, April 26-28. FUTURITY: A Musical by The Lisps is coming to the McGuire Theater soon and is looking for local performers to join the ensemble to play soldiers, scientists, and members […]

The Lisps are seeking local actors/singers/dancers to join the ensemble of FUTURITY: A Musical by The Lisps, for performances at the Walker Art Center, April 26-28.

FUTURITY: A Musical by The Lisps is coming to the McGuire Theater soon and is looking for local performers to join the ensemble to play soldiers, scientists, and members of the chorus.  Strong singing, movement and acting skills a must.  Unfortunately, they are unable to consider members of Actors Equity Association.

FUTURITY tells the story of a soldier’s quest—inspired by Lord Byron’s brilliant daughter, Ada Lovelace—to save humans from themselves by inventing an omnipotent, steam-powered “brain.” Melding the Civil War with sci-fi and American folk with avant-rock, The Lisps have crafted a unique and compelling portrait of war, human imagination, and technological hubris.  The show arrives at the Walker from its much-anticipated premiere at the American Repertory Theater.

To participate, you must be available for all of the following rehearsals:

Friday, April 20, Saturday, April 21, and Monday, April 23 from 10 am–6 pm; Tuesday, April 24 from 11 am–6 pm; Wednesday, April 25 from 11 am–11 pm; Thursday, April 26 from 10:30 am–5 pm.  And for Performances: Thursday, April 26, Friday, April 27, and Saturday, April 28 at 8 pm (available 7 pm–10 pm).

Interested performers should send an email to FuturityTheMusical@hotmail.com with the link to an online video of themselves singing a song (3 min maximum) and performing a contemporary monologue (1-2 minutes) with a resume or paragraph describing their skills and relevant experience.  If you avidly play any instruments, please let us know that as well. Each performer will receive a small stipend and a pair of free tickets to one of the performances.

Deadline for submission is April 6. Chosen performers will be notified no later than April 9th.

More from FUTURITY

> Listen to music from the show: “How Much” and “Singularity”

> Read a Boston Globe profile about the show, its DIY aesthetic, and its mathematic background

> Hear a review from WGBH Boston

> Read more about the Steam Brain “Franken-drum set” from WBUR Boston

 

Unveiled: the trailer for Dark Dark Dark’s live score for Fritz Lang’s “Spies”

Grab a blanket and cuddle bud and join us on the Open Field this Monday, August 22, as Summer Music and Movies makes the jump across Loring Park  to the Walker. At dusk we will listen to the commissioned new score by local musicians Dark Dark Dark  accompanying the film Spies while relaxing under the stars. Here’s a great […]

Grab a blanket and cuddle bud and join us on the Open Field this Monday, August 22, as Summer Music and Movies makes the jump across Loring Park  to the Walker. At dusk we will listen to the commissioned new score by local musicians Dark Dark Dark  accompanying the film Spies while relaxing under the stars.

Here’s a great teaser vid about the piece made by Dark Dark Dark made (or 3D as we like to call ‘em)… Check it out!

The Details: 89.3 The Current host Barb Abney spins from 7-8:30pm and at dusk the captivating chamber-folk sextet Dark Dark Dark unveil their new live score for Fritz Lang’s 1928 classic Spies joined by over 40 musicians, singers, and dancers (The Modern Times Spychestra!) for a spellbinding evening of silent film and live sounds.

Spies is a viscerally thrilling tale of a criminal mastermind and his love affair with his secret agent operative by Fritz Lang, the audacious director of Metropolis. This will be a rare exhibition of silent film―in all its virtuosity. See a clip of the film here.

To read more about the film, check out Film/Video intern Matt Levine’s great blog here.

The Walker’s moody and glamorous Open Field by night

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