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ART REVIEW | Don’t miss “In Which ____ and Others Discover the End Performance” by Ann Treacy
March 28, 2015, 3:40 am
Filed under: TC Daily Planet

(Originally posted in TC Daily Planey and now archived here)

ART REVIEW | Don’t miss “In Which ____ and Others Discover the End Performance” | Twin Cities Daily Planet//

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I love the idea of mashing up visual art, music and dance. Just last month I enjoyed a similar show (Stripe Tease) at the Walker. So I was thrilled to get walk-up tickets to the first of the Final Performances of In Which ____ and Others Discover the End Performance. I brought my favorite 10-year old date.

There were things we liked about the show, things we didn’t like as much and things that confused us. But we talked about it the whole way home and I think that’s a win for a gallery that “encourages work that challenges the status quo in contemporary art.”

We liked the art. There was just enough splash of color and the geometric shapes led to a big discussion of CNC machining. The make-do stage and hanging art left a feel like we were in another world or planet. Something almost retro and Twilight Zone about it. And the music. Admittedly participation from Brute Heart was what got me through the door. The music was very subtle and very much in the background but a huge component.

There is a Beckettian theme through the show, it starts when two performers discuss the body and the impact of a computer job on the body. It’s a circular discussion punctuated by accents, silly voices and the slowing of the bodies on stage. At one point the questioner asks how the interrogated knows she has a body. Because you said I did, was the exasperated answer. They could have been waiting for Godot. It was funny and poignant; something even my date has experienced—the giving over of power to the computer and experiencing the unintended consequence of disembodied feelings.

Then there was a story of a spring break in Italy and ghosts that may have been ghosts or may have been a figment of lucid dreams. Again very funny and involved more performers. In that segment the story and the movement really complimented each other.

Then there were some segments where the microscope lifted too high for me. Commentary on climate change, insurance and health care seemed like too much preach without the nuance of art. Now that being said, we enjoyed the movement and the dance throughout. My date liked the repetition of movement and the proximity of the dancers.

I liked the performers’ use of eyes. Weird in a dance to focus on something that by definition isn’t going to be moving much but there was a scary amount of passion in most of the eyes on stage. It draws you in and keeps you on point, like a good teacher. Added to that intensity is the knowledge that the show is interactive. (My date was asked to read a few lines.) When you command that much attention you depend on nuance and subtlety.

The show ended with a final speech that harked back to Beckett about “I’m good at this, I love this,” which I think speaks to the idea that we do what we can when we can. The rest isn’t indifference but detachment   based I assume on capacity.

Final Performances of In Which ____ and Others Discover the End Performance is showing March 28, 29, April 2, 3 and 4. The free shows are sold out but some spaces are reserved for walk-up audience members. We arrived at 7:00 and had no trouble getting in.

Wine, women and song with Tina Schlieske, Molly Maher and Katy Vernon by Ann Treacy
March 26, 2015, 3:42 am
Filed under: TC Daily Planet

(Originally posted in TC Daily Planey and now archived here)

Wine, women and song with Tina Schlieske, Molly Maher and Katy Vernon | Twin Cities Daily Planet//

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What could bring a parochial St Paulite to Anoka? Wine, Women and Song at the Lyric Arts, a one-night celebration of Minnesota women singers featuring Tina Schlieske, Molly Maher and Katy Vernon.

Although wine and beer are served, the Lyric Arts is a theater, not a bar. It seats about 230, creating an intimate atmosphere where the music is the singular focus for the audience. Each of the artists noted that it was a unique opportunity for them hear the music in such a concentrated mode –in front of a warm (but real) audience – say as compared to playing for a toddler and a dog as Vernon noted she had also done.

I had not seen Tina Schlieske live since she fronted Tina and the B-Sides. She shared through music and stories her life before, during and after life with the B-Sides. It was interesting to learn so much about her and the songs. She sang for an hour, including new and old songs, such as Barricade, which is a nice showcase for her voice, which is both raspy and clear and very controlled.

I especially enjoyed Hustlin’ Woman Blues, originally sung by Memphis Minnie, from Schlieske’s Evil Gal Blues album, an homage to blues women. It’s a down and dirty southern blues song and Schlieske belts it out as the song deserves. As an encore, she ended with Big Sky, which was a loudly and lovingly requested and enjoyed by the audience.

Molly Maher brought a country twang and herd of guitars to the show. I see Maher every month at Real Phonic Radio, but she rarely performs there. So this was a great treat. She played with Erik Koskinen. They obviously have an easy history that makes even the new songs feel comfortable to the audience. Maher has a nice, surprisingly low voice and she has a very entertaining stage presence but it’s really her guitar-playing that shines. She plays country songs like you listened to as a kid in the backseat of a road trip and like Keat’s negative capabilities, there’s a lot to understand in the heavy pauses in a song like On Your Way Out. Then there are also songs with no pauses like Monkey with a Tambourine that’s just a lot more pure story with dance potential.

Katy Vernon began the night with her ukulele, red party dress and London accent. Before I make this comparison, I feel like I have to say that I lived in London for years, so it’s not just the accent, but in just a few songs (like Five O’Clock) she was like a less poppy Lily Allen. But there was the same wit in a line like “five o’clock somewhere comes earlier every day” a line most mothers get. Vernon does seem to bridge a folksy country sound to pop sensibility.

The night was part of a Music in the ‘Burbs series, which continues next month (April 10) with Martin Zellar. Events like that might not be enough to get me to move to the suburbs, but it does show me another perk, which I’ll add to attached garages and proper stand-up showers.

MUSIC REVIEW | World beats with Corey Harris, Paul Metzger and Erik Koskinen on Real Phonic at James J Hill by Ann Treacy
March 20, 2015, 3:47 am
Filed under: TC Daily Planet

(Originally posted in TC Daily Planey and now archived here)

MUSIC REVIEW | World beats with Corey Harris, Paul Metzger and Erik Koskinen on Real Phonic at James J Hill | Twin Cities Daily Planet//

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My favorite regular gig went worldly this month as Real Phonic at the James J Hill Reference Library hosted a group of eclectic artists. Headlining was Corey Harris who seems to have toes in places around the globe. He was born in Denver, busked in New Orleans, lived in West Africa and soaked up sounds wherever he went.

Harris started with rock solid blues and a song called High Fever Blues. He has the voice of someone three times his girth. He sustains the low notes of yesterday’s dreams and hits the occasional imploring notes to strike a bluesy balance.

But the tone lightens considerably with songs that have West African roots, such as an instrumental by Ali Farka Toure, a musician from Mali about which Harris wrote a book. In that and a song called Mama Africa the tone is more that of a Rastafarian rebel song. There’s a comfortable repetition and lilt.

Also playing was Paul Metzger, a musician whose work I have enjoyed often. (Metzger organizes regular shows on Thursday nights at the Khyber Pass Café.) He plays a modified 12-string banjo, sometimes with a bow, sometimes plucking and sometimes strumming . As my 10 year old date said, it’s like Edward Scissorhands playing a harp.

It is the second time Real Phonic has featured an amazing banjo. Last time Michael Rossetto played classical music on the banjo while Metzger moves from classical to old world and out there and back again. It’s intense because of the nuance, the slight movement of the bow. But it’s also loud and melodic and screeching. It sounds like a group not a solo.

The poetic interlude was Amaris Coleman, a young woman from Twin Cities Academy, with an old soul that reared it’s expressive and beautiful head as she recited I’m a Fool to Love You by Cornelius Eady. Wow! A woman that young must be dipping into past lives to be able to recite with such expression!

Bookending the evening was Erik Koskinen and the Real Phonic Band (JT Bates, Paul Bergen and Frankie Lee). It’s a sign of something when your 10 year old remarks that JT Bates plays with everyone. But she’s right. The band was in great form and we got a sneak peek at songs that will be on the Koskinen’s upcoming album, which includes songs recorded live at Real Phonic shows over the years.

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