Your Weekend Best Bets: January 25-27

Friday, January 25

All the Good Folk

WHAT: CD releases from Mother Banjo and Vicky Emerson
WHERE: Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant, Minneapolis
WHEN: 8 p.m.
This may set a new precedent for CD releases: two for one. And why not? There’s so much good Americana out there, might as well make it a party, especially when you’re as good of friends (and as good) as these two. Mother Banjo, a.k.a. Ellen Stanley, is now filling out her sound with a five-piece band. Emerson recently returned from five years of living in San Francisco and New York, and the new album reflects the grit of wandering in the coastal wilds. Learn more at

Friday, January 25

Going Solo

WHAT: Musicians of the SPCO
WHERE: Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
The musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, locked out since fall, regroup for a couple of concerts this week, performing Italian Baroque concertos. The SPCO’s virtuosic soloists are front and center, including violinist Ruggero Allifranchini taking the lead in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Learn more at

Saturday, January 26

In Country

WHAT: The Tiger Among Us
WHERE: Mixed Blood Theatre, Minneapolis
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
The Hmong experience in rural Minnesota confuses the tropes of culture clash in this intriguing play by Lauren Yee (who had success with Ching Chong Chinamen when it premiered in 2009), performed by Mu Performing Arts. Hmong culture, after all, embraces hunting, farming, and other rural pursuits. But this is, well, the boonies; it’s foreign. Not that many a small-town denizen, of any background, hasn’t longed to be somewhere else. Learn more at

Saturday, January 26

Shattered Faith

WHAT: Doubt
WHERE: Ordway Center, St. Paul
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
The Minnesota Opera has been the most prolific producer of new operas in recent years. It continues that streak with this adaptation of John Patrick Shanley’s popular story—to perhaps the only medium left to it short of dance. In song, the full import of this battle of wits, wills, race, and righteousness in a Bronx Catholic school circa 1964 is unleashed, deepening the drama. Learn more at

Sunday, January 27

The Soviet Soul

WHAT: Concerning the Spiritual in Russian Art, 1965-2011
WHERE: Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis
WHEN: 1 to 5 p.m.
Religion was supposedly repressed in the Soviet Union. And yet it was there for anyone to see if they knew where to look, even (or especially) in art. This intriguing traveling exhibition at the Museum of Russian Art, which takes its rather academic name from Wassily Kandinsky’s influential 1911 book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, examines the ways that Soviet and post-Soviet artists transcended repression, argued for tolerance, and otherwise preserved their souls amid a soulless regime. Learn more at

Sunday, January 27

Whoa, Nellie

WHAT: Nellie
WHERE: History Theatre, St. Paul
WHEN: 2 p.m.
Playwright Kim Hines, who met Nellie Stone Johnson in her later years and spoke to plenty more people who knew her well, doesn’t mind suggesting that Johnson was pushy, to say the least. When she was on the offensive, fighting for economic or racial justice, manners fell away until she was satisfied. Her story, dramatized at the History Theatre, is almost unbelievable: growing up on a farm in northern Minnesota, organizing workers at the all-male Minneapolis Club, helping form the DFL Party, and advising Hubert H. Humphrey on his groundbreaking approach to civil rights. Learn more at

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