August Arts and Entertainment Picks

Minneapolis Farmers Market

For much of the year, I’m happy to escape the elements to catch an event indoors—with welcome respite from cold temps and dark, long nights. But in these months, the Lyndale Farmers Market is a cultural destination full of light and the brashest tones of summer. Grab a coffee, something sweet, and wander around the fresh produce to inspire your next meal (grill pieces of olive oil–brushed rye on both sides, then top with goat cheese, sea salt, and thinly sliced radishes—just trust me). I rarely leave without artisanal honey or sausage, or a talk about plants with an expert grower. Even the jigsaw puzzle of the jammed up parking is tolerable, because we’re there in all our variety, under the sun, joined over the sacraments of food, delighting in the senses and the heat and flavor that marks the best of the Cities.

louis ck, comedians, things to do, stepping out, arts and entertainmentLouis C.K.

Stand-up comedy is a weird thing, like alchemy with arguably less gold. It reminds me of big-time boxing (with fewer head injuries): It’s a stark, existential, utterly individualistic endeavor. It takes ridiculous bravery to even try it, and an impossible intersection of qualities to become great. The rewards at the top are incredible, and the greased slide back down to the pack is steep, precipitous, and often very sudden. It’s an art form in which the best performers betray no trace of the countless hours of painstaking observation, interpretation, writing, honing, and practice that go into what you hear—and it’s all geared toward forcing you to have a complex, involuntary physiological reaction called laughter (which Sigmund Freud spent reams of paper trying to figure out, with mixed success). I can’t claim to know more than anyone else about what’s funny, but I think Louis C.K. is among the all-time best. He says things that seem dark and strange, until you find yourself laughing uncontrollably. That’s greatness. (Photo by Spc. Elayseah Woodard-Hinton / Wikimedia)

ray lamontagne, things to do, concerts, arts and entertainmentRay LaMontagne

New Englander LaMontagne first emerged in 2004 with Trouble, with his voice sounding like it was describing all the images and memories from an unsettled, yet frequently beautiful, fitful night’s sleep. He’s gone on to be impressively prolific, with five more albums since, steadily raising his profile as one of the great introspective songwriters since the long-lost Nick Drake (while earning positive comparisons with multi-talent powerhouse the Band). His work is sumptuously atmospheric, appearing in scads of movies and TV shows (The Town, Rescue Me). And he appears at the State Theatre on the heels of the release of his new album, Ouroboros, an ancient symbol of re-creation and the eternal—I should know, I have one tattooed on my shoulder. (Photo by ETownHall / Wikimedia)

charlie wilson, concerts, things to do, arts and entertainmentCharlie Wilson

Tulsa’s the Gap Band was one of the most prolific and funky R&B combos of the 1970s and ’80s (I came on board with the funk after some friends had an extra ticket to a P-Funk All-Stars concert in 1984: Free your mind and your ass will follow, as George Clinton so famously advised). Their hits included “Outstanding” and “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” proving a versatility that could encompass bass-heavy, snaky dance beats as well as tear-welling ballads. Wilson, the lead singer for the group he founded with his two brothers, is a solo artist now, as relevant as ever, collaborating with Kanye, Beyonce, and Common, among others. He’ll draw upon a decades-long career at the State Fair Grandstand, an all-time influencer who will get the late-summer night shaking properly. (Photo by raymondboyd51 / Wikimedia)

Under the Gaslight

A young woman’s dream of marriage is wrecked by a secret. She runs away, but a nefarious character plots to have his way with her—who will save her? This is the kind of melodrama that has been bread-and-butter for the Minnesota Centennial Showboat since 1958, pairing vaudeville-style U of M student performances with old-timey music that makes for a truly fun, throwback summertime experience (did I mention it’s air conditioned?). This is the last hurrah for the Showboat in its current incarnation, the final chance to step off the dock into this immersive, time-warp experience, floating theater and Victorian parlors and all.