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The Black Dog inspires creativity -- its high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and spacious tables encourage daydreaming, journaling, doodling and other precursors to art making.


Twin Town High (vol. 8)

Your Locally Grown Alternative Newspaper

Hot Tickets for January 17 - 23, 2007
Wednesday 17 January @ 20:47:44
Hot TicketsBest New Bands of 2006 :: Switzerlind :: Level Collective :: Old Joy :: Labor and Sustainability Conference :: Ol' Yeller :: Monroe Crossing & VocalEssence :: James Curry :: Dessa AND THIS WEEK'S HOT PICK: Bill Batson's 50th Birthday Party at the Turf


Best New Bands of 2006
First Ave
On all other nights, these fantastic bands could be spread across a half-dozen venues, and you'd be stuck catching buses or trying to scam free parking to catch them all. Why on this night do they all play in the same place? Because it's time for Radio K's Best New Bands night! Last year, I predicted that there'd be another whole raft of talented bands deserving of our attention to populate this year's show at First Ave, so I'm going to go ahead and say I told you so. When I was on Homegrown this past Sunday for their annual Critics' Picks show, we talked about nearly all of these bands�from the catchy new songs The Alarmists have written since they put out their smashingly Brit-pop debut EP, to First Communion Afterparty's all-together-now psychedelia, to Maria Isa's Twin Cities reggaeton, to Jeremy Messersmith's part in the song-driven album renaissance this year that included Chris Koza, Tim O'Reagan and a host of other singer/songwriters. Homegrown's own Dave Campbell will be hosting the festivities along with Jason Nagle, who mans the DJ chair for Minnesota Music on Cities 97, and nothing says fun like Dave Campbell and his highlighted hair. Full lineup: The Alarmists, First Communion Afterparty, Jeremy Messersmith, Maria Isa, One for the Team, Vampire Hands and White Light Riot. 7:30 p.m. $7. 18+. 701 First Ave. N, Mpls. 612-338-8388. STEVE McPHERSON

Hexagon Bar
SwitzerlindHere's what I know about Switzerlind: almost nothing. While I was working on an article about Mouthful of Bees, I caught Switzerlind opening for them in the basement of Java Jack's and two things stood out. Firstly, the band members (Mike, Nick and Sam Hoolihan and Andy Imsdahl) played musical chairs with instrumental duties the whole night. Some bassists and guitarists might switch off every now and again, but I've rarely seen a group where every chair is up for grabs on every tune, and the members covered their parts (bass, guitar, drums, keyboards, heck, even some killer tambourine) with aplomb. The music was a compellingly mellow blend of indie rock and jazz, reminiscent of the instrumental records of sometimes Tortoise member Bundy K. Brown, and it was a perfect fit for the parents' basement vibe of Java Jack's. No vocals, no solos; just fantastic little melodic ideas and grooves that made for easy listening, and I'm not talking about Barry Manilow here. The other thing that made them unique? A friend of theirs sat in front of the stage and frosted cupcakes that got handed out at the end of the set. Remember: The quickest way to a crowd's heart is through their stomachs. Singer/songwriter (and sometimes Beight guitarist) Brian Just opens the show and the political/personal folk of Tuesday's Robot closes out the night. 9 p.m. Free. 21+. 2600 27th Ave. S., Mpls. 612-722-3454. STEVE McPHERSON

Level Collective
Gallery 13
Level CollectiveWith the ongoing innovations of new technology, it's inevitable that visual arts are impacted, redefined and transformed. The artists' group, Level, formed in the summer of 2005. This collective of eight 20-somethings work in graphic design, fine arts, painting, drawing, multimedia and sculpture. The group says their strength is based on their differences rather than their similarities. At first glance, their artistic emphasis is on rich color, with inspirations that range from animation to commercial logos. There is a concern for the environment, as artists use both traditional methods and the latest technological advances. This is a chance to see the art of the future now! Through Feb. 4. Artist panel discussion, 7 p.m. 302 13th Ave. NE, Mpls. 651-592-5503. LYDIA HOWELL

Old Joy
Oak Street Cinema
Old Joy"Old Joy" wowed audiences at Sundance and ended up on 50 Top-10 Films of 2006 lists. With quiet intensity, two old friends face the cultural malaise of our times. After reuniting, they recognize just how disconnected they've become. Director Kelly Reichardt ("River of Grass") avoids pyrotechnics in favor of trusting her actors. Mark (Daniel London) is on verge of first-time fatherhood when he's invited to a weekend camping trip by his old friend Kurt (Will Oldham), a free-spirited, aging hippie. The scenic Pacific Northwest offers elegiac beauty as these two middle-aged men personally and politically confront lost dreams. A winner of the John Cassevetes Award (for films made for under $500,000), "Old Joy" is a meditation on what really matters in life. Through Jan. 25. Nightly 7:15 & 9 p.m.; matinees Sat. & Sun. 5:30 p.m. $8/$6. 309 Oak St. SE, Mpls. 612-341-3134. LYDIA HOWELL

Labor & Sustainability Conference
United Auto Workers 879 Union Hall
Corporations pose a false ultimatum: Jobs or environmental protection. On Friday and Saturday a coalition of Twin Cities' unions, activists and Green Party members will gather for the Labor and Sustainability Conference to create united labor and environmental movements for the 21st century. Friday night's keynote speaker is Jack Rasmus, author of "The War At Home: The Corporate Offensive from Reagan to Bush." Saturday's workshops focus on global warming, labor organizing, union activist issues, the Ecology Center and other environmental groups, and includes a dinner and performance by the Minnesota Spoken Word Association. The event is free and open to the public.
Fri. 5 p.m.; Sat. 8:30 a.m. � 5 p.m. 2191 Ford Pkwy., St. Paul. 612-310-4742 or LYDIA HOWELL

Ol' Yeller
Trollhaugen Ski Area
Ol' YellerOne of the best moments of the 1965 B-movie "Ski Party" is when James Brown and his Famous Flames dogsled into the ski lodge and perform an audaciously funky rendition of "I Got You (I Feel Good)" to a crowd of square, white California coeds. Trollhaugen ain't no Sawtooth National Forest, and Ol' Yeller ain't no James Brown, but that shouldn't stop you from road tripping the 45 minutes to Dresser, Wisc., for a night of downhill thrills (and spills) and a good dose of hard drivin' rock 'n' roll. Every Friday Trollhaugen keeps the slopes open until 3 a.m. and features live music in the lodge. This week Ol' Yeller will serenade ski bunnies from an elevated stage (which band members say feels like a sweltering 100 degrees, thanks to the roaring fire below). Last year was a good one for frontman Rich Mattson and the boys�guitarist Andy Schultz, bassist Greg McAloon and drummer Ryan Otte�who garnered two Minnesota Music Awards for best rock album and best rock group. Mattson says they have a lot of new material for an upcoming and as yet undetermined release, and who knows? Someday Ol' Yeller just might make it to the big screen. Sources say they played a wedding iin Ojai, Calif., last year that was packed with Hollywood writers, producers, managers and various Tinseltown elite, including actress Amanda Peet. Wouldn't she be cute in Annette Funicello's cameo role in a Ski Patrol remake? Per Mattson, hecklers are welcome. 9 p.m. 2232 100th Ave., Dresser, Wisc. 800-826-7166. NANCY SARTOR

Bill Batson's 50th Birthday Party
Turf Club
Photo by Daniel CorriganYes, it's hard to believe that the Batson Brothers have been terrorizing Twin Cities eardrums in various guises for more than 30 years and can still wipe the stage with anyone willing to take them on. Hell, those recent Little Steven's Underground Garage tours? In a perfect world, The Hypstrz/Mighty Mofos coulda, shoulda, woulda been the headliners, and left pretenders like The Mooney Suzuki cowering in the dressing room and questioning their manhood. Of course, things rarely go the way they should, and the Mofos were left in the garage they damn near built�or at least remodeled. I'm guessing it didn't bother them a bit, since a real garage wouldn't be festooned with banners for AT&T, Rolling Rock and Pepsi Slice (well, maybe Rolling Rock). But forget all that corporate crap�come to the Turf on Saturday and let the fuzz-toned, reverb-drenched sonic maelstrom wash over you in celebration of singer/frontman/provocateur Bill Batson's 50th birthday. Bevies, friends, loud music? What more do you need? A white shirt and black nylon pocket comb? With Superhopper. 9 p.m. $5. 21+. Corner of Snelling & University Aves., St. Paul. 651-647-0486. SC ISADORE

Monroe Crossing & VocalEssence
Ted Mann Concert Hall
Photo by Todd SpenceBluegrass evolved sometime before WWII as a distinct slice of American roots music, taking its name from Bill Monroe's band, the Blue Grass Boys. Basic melodies, stark stories and specific instrumentation�usually banjo, fiddle, mandolin, acoustic or Dobro guitar�provide a signature sound where harmonies are king. As a genre, it's a musical amalgam that borrows from old-time music, blues, ragtime, gospel and jazz. But classical? That's the unique spin Monroe Crossing (who's name pays homage to Bill Monroe) and VocalEssence are putting on their concert dubbed "Bluegrass Harmonies." This premier event is being called a "bluegrass mass" and is the first time the traditionally classic VocalEssence singers will explore mountain music. Monroe Crossing may be the hardest working bluegrass band in the upper Midwest, touring hundreds of days a year. Their most recent release, Into the Fire, is about as honest a recording as you can get, recorded live, but with no audience. This collection of one-take tracks doesn't use multi-tracking or overdubs, so there's no interference with the group's pure simplicity and authentic sound. The result is a clean, infectious blend of upbeat, toe-tapping numbers and soulful, melodic grooves. 8 p.m. $20 - $35. 2128 S. 4th St., Mpls. 612-624-2345. NANCY SARTOR

James Curry
Big V's
James CurryThe way James Curry (that's a band, not a man) play folk music�and we're not talking Peter, Paul and Mary�showcases the guitar-picking duo's harsh, barebones style. With vocals as raw as the Dust Bowl and somber lyrics, it's some sweet music. Brian Tischleder sings and plays guitar, and Casey Fearing sings and plays lead. The two have played together for about five years at a bunch of places, including O'Gara's Garage, Urban Wildlife, Mayslack's and Acadia Caf�. Now they have A Brand New Suit, an intriguing CD debut. A special plus for this gig is ace keyboardist Peter Schimke (Wain McFarlane & Jahz) who is a guest pianist on "Tonight I'm Dancin'" and plays organ on "Let It Rain." (no, it's not an Eric Clapton cover). All the tunes on this disc are first-rate originals, except for a Woody Guthrie cover of "Pastures of Plenty." With Palookador. 9 p.m. $3. 21+. 1567 University Ave. W., St. Paul. 651-645-8472. DWIGHT HOBBES

Triple Rock Social Club
DessaWhen Dessa raps, she doesn't just talk to a beat. She executes the craft with a sure, fluid, and very inventive hand, bringing a whole lot of food for intelligent thought. And when she sings, you could pile Sade on top of Joni Mitchell and not come near Dessa. Her vocals are sensual sorcery matched to incredible lyrics. "Kites," off her EP False Hopes (Doomtree Records), is nothing less than hypnotic. If she doesn't include this number in her set list, start a crowd chant and beg her to do it. You'll thank yourself. Jessy Greene, a recent Minnesota Music Award recipient, sits in on violin. The evening is billed as Minnesota Choice Coalition Presents: Rock for Roe. With Tina Schlieske, Spider Fighter. 8 p.m. $10/$15. 629 Cedar Ave., Mpls. 612-333-7499. DWIGHT HOBBES
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