November Arts and Entertainment Picks

November 2016’s top cultural events in the Twin Cities


The Gilded Palace Sinners

The notion that Gram Parsons would have turned 70 this month is strange, considering how the country-rock pioneer’s death at age 26 in 1973 renders him frozen in time and somehow outside the developments in music that followed (decades in which country absorbed the attitude, volume, and trappings of rock’n’roll, and rivaled if not eclipsed it in popular appeal—by the way, Keith Urban is playing Target Center this month). The Gilded Palace Sinners at the Turf Club is a group composed of veterans from a passel of Twin Cities roots bands, and they formed for the purpose of playing Parsons’s melancholy, tuneful, weirdly archetypal brand of country music—songs that sound as fresh today as they did more than 40 years ago when they were first released. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

suzanne vega, concerts, arts and entertainment, things to do, music, events11/7–8 

Suzanne Vega

She seemed to come out of nowhere in the mid-1980s, somehow sounding completely new and original (that voice!) while drawing upon the blueprints of folk and the architecture of the singer-songwriter genre to gird her storytelling tunes such as “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner.” She’s been active pretty much ever since, weaving through decades of collaborations and new recordings (the most recent being 2014’s Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles, which it’s safe to assume was not a collection of Miley Cyrus covers) and maintaining her chops as a vibrant performer who walks a tightrope between technical precision and bursts of emotional violence. Seeing her in the intimate confines of the Dakota should make for an evening of intensity and beauty. (Photo by George Holz)


The Lion in Winter

Director Kevin Moriarty was reportedly drawn to a life in the theater after watching former Guthrie head Garland Wright’s tempestuous staging of Shakespeare’s history plays. His take on the historical drama of King Henry II, his three sons, and his imprisoned queen takes a similar tack of finding the throbbing pulse in a familiar story. It’s as much a domestic tale as historical epic, with a family at Christmastime (albeit in 1183) stuck with their patterns of recrimination, power maneuvering, and duplicity as a backdrop for a Very Special holiday season. Moriarty sounds determined to shake the dust off this one, although anyone with a memory of the 1968 film of the same name knows that this is a very sturdy story indeed, and that wildly compelling domestic drama lies just underneath its surface of its royal veneer.

andy erikson, comedy, standup, arts and entertainment, things to do, comic, events11/22–26

Andy Erikson

There’s a certain sharp edge you can employ when you manage to convey a convincing sense of guilelessness, and standup Erikson slips her barbs past an aw-shucks quasi-Dada persona (after she says she grew up in a theme park, she adds, The theme of the park was “trailer.”). She took second place in the recent season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, and was a semi-finalist for an award named after the late firestarter Andy Kaufman—who may or may not have shared Erikson’s professed love for squirrels and unicorns, but who almost certainly would have seen a kindred soul who could embrace whimsy along with a hint of side-eye to keep audiences on their toes. Erikson appears at Acme Comedy Co., consistently one of my favorite Twin Cities venues for delivering sheer bellyaching hilarity. (Photo by Christina Gandolfo, 2015)

ramsey house, tours, victorian houses, arts and entertainment, things to do, christmas, events11/25–1/1/17

A Victorian Christmas at the Ramsey House

Much of what we think of today as Christmas traditions—the ornamented tree, the baking, the emotional repression—derived from Victorian England (which must contribute to our willingness to sit through the Guthrie’s 42nd production of A Christmas Carol). A Victorian Christmas is a family-friendly way to experience the holidays circa 1875 in the home of one of the leading families of the time. You’ll hear era music on a classic Steinway piano, watch actors portraying the family servants, and get a taste of a homemade cookie fresh from a wood-burning stove. Good fun even for those of us with perhaps-unfortunate Scrooge-ly tendencies. (Photo by Willette Photography)