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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 April 25 - May 1, 2007
Friday 27 April @ 13:28:28
Hot TicketsBright Eyes :: Ted Leo & Pharmacists :: Soul Sounds Open Mic :: MN Rock Country Hall of Fame 3-day Bash :: Joseph Arthur & the Lonely Astronauts :: Songs of Innocence and Experience :: The Big Wu :: MicroCon: The New Graphic Phenomenon AND THIS WEEK'S HOT PICK: The Baron @ History Theatre


Bright Eyes
State Theater
With this month's release of Cassadaga, it's finally happened: Nebraskan Conor Oberst has completed the arduous transformation from indie wünderkind to indie wünderadult. Part of the transformation was a simple matter of logistics (it's pretty silly calling a 27-year-old man a "boy wonder"), and part of it is the rooted, grown-up sound the man has honed. Although there are certainly legions of adolescents longing for the days when Oberst's voice quavered on the edge of breakdown and erupted into shouting fits, that boy has left the building for good. Cassadaga finds a confident bandleader whose frog-in-throat vocal blues are sung close to the vest even as his folk-pop songs expand in eccentric directions thanks to some unanticipated electronic manipulation. If only every artist made it through his or her growing pains sounding this self-assured in the end. With McCarthy Trenching, Oakley Hall. 7:30 p.m. $30. All Ages. 805 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. 612-339-7007. ROB VAN ALSTYNE

Ted Leo & Pharmacists
First Ave
There are times in a musician's life when another musician becomes something more than just someone you respect or whose music you enjoy. More, even, than someone whose sound you'd like to pillage and incorporate into your own. They become someone you want to be, and for a while there in 2003, I wanted to be Ted Leo. I was completely cognizant of the fact that he'd come up through an entirely different scene than I had (as a member of D.C. punk band Chisel and then as a creator of bizarre sound collages as Tej Leo and finally--when I discovered him--as a propulsive and politically volatile singer-songwriter), but I wanted what I made to bear the same stamp of righteous anger, intelligence and attention to detail. There's still no finer example of the cumulative power of this than "Ballad of the Sin Eater" from 2003's Hearts of Oak: "On the road to Damascus," he shouts against a backdrop of spike-toothed bass and drums, "the scales fell from my eyes / And the simplest lesson I learned at the Mount of Olives: That everybody lies / And the French Foreign Legion / You know they did their best / But I never believed in T.E. Lawrence / So how the hell could I believe in Beau Geste?!" Just that little snippet from his venomous screed against American influence abroad ("You didn't think they could hate you now did you?" goes the chorus) references Paul's conversion to Christianity at the site where God will begin redeeming the dead at the end of days, and two famous symbols of colonial expansion: Lawrence of Arabia and the titular character of a 1924 novel about the French Foreign Legion ("Beau Geste"). Do I think political music can literally change the world for the better? Not really. But a well-educated populace is a start, and Ted Leo's here to rock your face off and leave you a little better informed than you were before you knew him. 8 p.m. $12/$14. 18+. 701 1st Ave. N., Mpls. 612-332-1775. STEVE McPHERSON

Soul Sounds Open Mic
Palm Court Restaurant
The newest open mic in town is an innovative little undertaking called "Soul Sounds Open Mic & Jam Session," produced and hosted by Twin Cities spoken word veteran Sol Testimony on Thursday nights. Sol Testimony's format mixes mediums along with spoken word, hip-hop, music, comedians and more, plus guest visual artists who come in to share their work. You can even do a five-minute play if you've got one handy. However, hardcore rappers who have to cuss and talk bad about women can find someplace else to do it. Tonight's lineup includes core members of Edu-Poetic Enterbrainment, and a jam session begins at midnight. 9 p.m. 18+. 2424 Central Ave. NE, Mpls. 612-789-3373. DWIGHT HOBBES

MN Rock Country Hall of Fame 3-day bash
Medina Entertainment Center
The idea of honoring Minnesota musicians in a formalized "hall of fame" began seven years ago, but the first induction happened in the summer of 2004. Event organizer Cindy Grant said this year's ceremony will be nothing short of an extravaganza, with 33 rock and country inductees (including Lipps, Inc., Joey Molland from Badfinger, Big John Dickerson, the Flamin' Ohs, Northern Light, Middle Spunk Creek Boys, the original garage band Litter, in addition to separate lifetime achievement award presentations, which include Famous Lashua, John Volinkaty (writer of No. 1 country hit "Satin Sheets") Charlie Wagener, Vic Tedesco, Billy Batson, Ernie Batson, Karl Mueller, and Marsh Edelstein. (Edelstein is a talent agent/manager/nightclub owner with a 45-year musical history. He will be "roasted" Thursday night at 7 p.m. at The Metropolitan, 5418 Wayzata Blvd., Golden Valley.) Although Prince has not yet been named as an inductee, Grant says "eventually he will be, but we're also looking at who came before him." For a complete list of inductees, see the event website (rockcountryhall.com). This three-day splash, which includes autograph sessions and a chance to see the living history of Minnesota music past and present, is an event that should leave your head spinning. Thu. 7 p.m., $20 advance tickets at marshroast@gmail.com; Fri. 6 p.m. – 1 a.m. $14/$16; Sat. 1 p.m. – 1 a.m. $18/$20. Best value: two-day event tickets, $31 (not available day of event). 500 Hwy. 55, Medina. 763-478-6661. SID PRANKE

Joseph Arthur & the Lonely Astronauts
Varsity Theater
Joseph Arthur started his career as a solo troubadour with an affinity for spicing up his pop with tinges of psychedelia and repeating the formula on stage courtesy of legions of looping effects. I personally was never too enraptured with Arthur when that was his template. Recently, however, the man dropped the best album of his career, this fall's Nuclear Daydream, and decided to follow that feat up by assembling a crack rock band to back him up and dubbing them the Lonely Astronauts. Apparently Arthur decided to cherry pick some top Twin Cities talent for his group, as the Astronauts feature Golden Smog singer/guitarist Kraig Jarret Johnson on backing vocals and guitar. Unsurprisingly for anyone familiar with Johnson's past output, he's brought a plucky Stones-y vibe to Arthur's pop party, as can be heard on the raw just-released recording Let's Just Be, a quickly thrown together album of loose limbed folk-rock cut by Arthur and his band over the course of a few days during a break from tour. With Stars of Track & Field. $12. 18+. 1308 4th St. SE, Mpls. 612-604-0222. ROB VAN ALSTYNE

The Baron
History Theatre
I went to college with a kid named Raschke; we worked together at the University's radio station, which was then WMMR. I didn't know him well, but, if you grew up in the '70s as I did, the name Raschke meant just one thing: The Claw. Specifically, Jim Raschke, a professional wrestler who billed himself as Baron von Raschke, and stalked the ring with a sort of Teutonic menace, threating the audience with a curled hand--the claw itself. When Raschke goose-stepped across the ring to another wrestler and fixed his claw on the man, well, buddy, that was all she wrote. The Claw could apparently inflict unendurable pain, even unconsciousness, and it was the purest theater the Twin Cities had ever seen. So, of course, whenever I chatted with this Raschke kid at WMMR radio, I would menace him with my own curled hand, which he seemed to accept with a resigned weariness. Finally, another student pulled me aside and informed me that this kid was actually Baron von Raschke's son, and, as a result, he had spent his entire life enduring his classmates and friends waving clawed hands at him, and was pretty sick of it. Well, he must have gotten over it, as I feel certain that that young man was the Karl Raschke, who, with his father and writer Cory McLeod, created a play in celebration of "The Baron," now playing at St. Paul's History Theatre. For fans of wrestling, fans of Minnesota history and fans of great kitsch art, this is a must see. I know I'll be there, waving a menacing hand at the stage. Through May 20. 30 10th St. E., St Paul. 651-292-4323. MAX SPARBER

Songs of Innocence and Experience
Orchestra Hall
A given musical performance's degree of spectacle is rarely a guarantor of quality, but sometimes, it's hard to ignore. Composer William Bolcom spent 25 years setting all 46 poems from William Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience" to music, and the result is an epic score so grand that it's only been performed in its entirety nine times since its first performance in Stuttgart in 1984. Vocal Essence's production is going to jam over 400 musicians onto Orchestra Hall's stage to perform the piece, which moves from traditional opera to country and western to rock and back again, following Bolcom's sense of Blake's own compositional process. "Current Blake research," he wrote in the liner notes to the Grammy award-winning 2004 recording on the Naxos label, "has tended to confirm what I had assumed from the first, that at every point Blake used his whole culture, past and present, high-flown and vernacular, as sources for his many poetic styles ... The apparent disharmony of each clash and juxtaposition eventually produces a deeper and more universal harmony." The same can be said for Bolcom's piece, which really does deserve to be heard live--no matter how many Grammies it garnered, it's hard to believe the recording can possibly do justice to such a multivalent and nuanced piece of work. These will truly be two performances (the second one on Sun., Apr. 29 at 2 p.m.) that can genuinely be called "once in a lifetime" experiences. Well, unless you go to both. 8 p.m. $20 - $35. 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls. 612-371-5656. STEVE McPHERSON

The Big Wu
The Big Wu may very well be the most successful jam band since the Dead. They certainly are some of the strongest musicians around these parts. The problem for hometown fans is that the Wu spend a lot of their time knocking out crowds around the country. Who knows when they'll swing through here again, so, this is a golden opportunity to get down and join a throng of happy revelers. And it's a measly ten bucks for a band that could charge a lot more and easily get away with it. 9:30 p.m. $10. 18+. 917 Cedar Ave., Mpls. DWIGHT HOBBES

MicroCon: The New Graphic Phenomenon
State Fairgrounds
This weekend, the Midwest Comic Book Association (MCBA) holds its annual MicroCon Comic Book Convention, a one-day wonder to tide you over until the big Fall Con in October. The MicroCon boasts exhibits, dozens of vendors dealing in all types of comic books and tons of comic book-related paraphernalia. There will be appearances by over 75 comic book writers, artists, inkers and publishers, including Dan Jurgens, the writer and artist known for creating the superhero Booster Gold, his work on "Marvel vs. DC" and for his lengthy runs on the Superman titles "Adventures of Superman" and "Superman (vol. 2)," particularly during "The Death of Superman" storyline; Doug Mahnke, the artist and penciller most recognized for his work on "JLA," "Batman" and "Seven Soldiers;" Tom Nguyen, inker for "Green Lantern Corps," "Batman," "JLA: Classified;" and guest of honor Herb Trimpe, the Silver and Bronze Age artist best known for his work on "Incredible Hulk" and his co-creation of X-Men's Wolverine. Whether you want to chat with Marvel and DC creators, buy one-of-a-kind original artwork, search for "Daredevil" #169 and "Amazing Spider-Man" #38 to add to your collection, or snag some one-dollar bins of filler books, the ComicCon is the place to be. There will be free MCBA grab bags, hundreds of door prizes and free creator autographs. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. $6; $5 with foodshelf item; free for children 9 and under. Free parking. Progress Center, 1621 Randall Ave., St. Paul. MNCBA.com or 612-237-1801. AUDRA OTTO
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