June Arts and Entertainment Picks

northern sparkNorthern Spark

It is indeed a very northern event, an evening you might dream of during one of those winter’s nights when it gets dark before five and the longest walk you feel like taking is to turn the dial on the thermostat. Where else would you want to avail yourself of a summer night by staying up until the sun rises, along with thousands of others, moving through the city to interact with pop-up art installations, strange experimental performances, and huge video installations tricking the eye? This year and next, Northern Spark’s focus is on climate change and the role of culture in the global paradigm shift we will require in order to have hopes of mitigating it, with themes including food supply and our relationship to the species of the world, with projects running along the Mill City district. northern.lights.mn (Photo by Ian Plant)

paul simonPaul Simon

When I saw Paul Simon perform in St. Paul a couple of years ago, he was on a double bill with former Police-man Sting. Simon had already completed his impeccable set when Sting launched into a version of “Roxanne” only to have his sound system go haywire amid shrieking feedback. Visibly frustrated, and at one point trying to perform the song without amplification, Sting was ready to explode. But Simon came to the rescue, with an acoustic guitar to rope his compadre into an Everly Brothers tune and imploring the crowd to give Sting some love because, after all, it was the poor man’s birthday. The audience roared. Then, when I got home, a quick dive into Wikipedia revealed that Sting’s birthday was actually more than six months off—Simon had fooled us all. This time out, at the Orpheum, who knows whose birthday it might be. hennepintheatretrust.org (Photo by Matthew Straubmuller)

south pacific posterSouth Pacific

The Guthrie’s summer musical revives Rodgers and Hammerstein’s post-war classic. Debuting on Broadway in 1949, this story of an American nurse, a French expat, a U.S. officer, and a young Asian woman unapologetically took on racism with a side dish of imperialism in the afterglow of world war. It’s one of the most well-received and successful musicals in history, of course, and the New York Times assessed a 2008 production at Lincoln Center as close to perfection. If there’s been one persistent criticism of the show over the years, it’s that the proceedings revolve mostly around Western sensibilities with stereotypical “natives”—it should be notable to see how director Joseph Haj (rounding out his first full season at the helm of the cobalt battleship) addresses this tension. guthrietheater.org

Edgar Winter Band

For my money, the award for the most absolutely bananas music clip on YouTube belongs uncontested to Edgar Winter. Recorded in 1973, with his group performing live on the proof-is-in-the-pudding, no lip-synching British TV show The Old Gray Whistle Test, Winter performs his signature song “Frankenstein” and absolutely tears it up. Over the course of nine-plus minutes, Winter spools serpentine melodies and growling fuzz on a keyboard strapped to his body, grabs a horn and nails a long wailing saxophone solo, then proceeds to pound out a rolling beat on percussion as the instrumental freak-out goes into the stratosphere. It’s delightfully gonzo, and as good as any representation of the jazz-blues-heavy-rock stew he brings to the Dakota, a sound that keeps evolving into new realms as the decades pass. dakotacooks.com

Twin Cities Pridetwin cities pride, rainbow flag

When I interviewed Minneapolis’ Michael McConnell earlier this year about being one half of the first gay marriage in Minnesota 44 years ago, one of his fondest memories was taking part in the very first Gay Pride Parade in the city in the dawn of the 1970s. “That one had 25 people in Loring Park,” he remembered, noting that in a couple of years the number of participants reached the thousands. And what a celebration it has grown into today, with a Beer Dabbler, a Family Picnic, and a 5K run. Still, the Loring Park festival is the heart of it all, a celebration of joy, of being how God made us (all of us), and an expression of freedom as American as apple pie. tcpride.org (Photo by Liudmila Klimova – Fotolia)

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