I’m looking for a winter escape. I am not a snowbird, nor am I likely to find the space for a sunny vacation in an alternative climate. Alternative states of mind and heart are easily at hand. I remember my days as a bookseller and joining David Unowsky at annual Hot Stove League events where we sold a few books and heard even more baseball stories. (This year’s annual dinner is tonight, Monday, at the Prom Center; check the above link.) Or maybe instead of “California Dreamin’,” you can follow Mary Turck’s musings in “Seed dreams in the dead of winter,” because books are not the only thing for which libraries are good, and besides, as her piece points out, there is a lot more to the seeds than remembering the summer months. Still, as is the case each week, our suggestion is art! Here’s to some Saint Paul Dreaming!

Words and Letters and More


One of the purposes behind the Saint Paul Almanac is to allow young people to realize the importance of one’s own voice. We do this through partnerships, initiatives, and the community editor process. On Tuesday, January 13, the East Side Freedom Library will host a screening of another story of youth who found this truth in their own lives. On Tuesday, as a part of their Education and Discussion Film Series, the library will show and hold a talk on the dramatic movie Freedom Writers. It is the story of Los Angeles high school students who were labelled “low achievers,” who used to be labeled “the dumb kid class” when I was in school. This story shows how a group of students found voice and success in the classroom, as writers and as advocates for change. As one of the students depicted in the film explained, “We discovered that writing is a powerful form of self-expression that could help us deal with our past and move forward.” The Freedom Library is at 1105 Greenbrier Street on the East Side. The movie starts at 6 p.m.


Maybe you noticed a slightly different bustle at Golden Thyme Coffee Shop on Selby last week. TruArtSpeaks has picked up the ball in the spoken-word community with Re-Verb Open Mic. Breathing new life into the tradition, Re-Verb features local and national artists as it cultivates poetic devices and artistic craft. Core to the practice of this workshop is recognizing the “importance of dialogue during the creative and performance process” as well as the world, social, and community issues that inform and inspire the work. On Thursday, January 15, you can see for yourself. This is a multigenerational platform open to everyone, if you want to perform or listen or discuss. Each week has a different topic. This week is “Epitaphs for King.” The mic starts at 6 p.m. Golden Thyme is at 921 Selby Avenue, at Milton.

poetry-slamThe next day, TruArtSpeaks kicks off the 2015 Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series. This summer, they will bring a team of spoken-word artists between the ages of thirteen and nineteen to the international Brave New Voices competition in Atlanta, Georgia. Over the years, Be Heard has proven the depth of the spoken-word artist community in the Twin Cities.

Register to perform here. You can watch some great emerging voices with more than a handful of gem performances. There is an over-600-strong community of wordsmiths in the Be Heard community. The first event is Friday, January 16, at Walker West Academy, 760 Selby Avenue at 6 p.m. Check it out.



On Saturday, January 17, switch from the brand-new to a brogue from history. Join the Minnesota Scottish Fair and Highland Games with the Minnesota Scottish Celtic Dance Association for Robert Burns Night 2015. Just as our emerging spoken-word artists are raising society with their political voices, so Burns’s eighteenth-century voice helped cultivate an enduring Scottish identity. This is a night filled with celebration, poetry, and feasting. You don’t have to be Scottish, Celtic, or anything else to join the fun at Celtic Junction, with a social hour beginning at 6:30 p.m. The program begins at 7:30 and dancing is at 8:30. Celtic Junction is at 836 North Prior Avenue.


history-theatre-bannerThe History Theatre has been bringing us stories and perspectives from our past for three and a half decades, with full seasons of theatrical production. History is not static, and this is an important impetus behind their Raw Stages New Works Festival. The series give us a chance to peek behind the curtain as playwrights develop their work and allows us to give feedback in this interactive arts-discovery process. This year they have commissioned four stories to be staged at the theater, located at 30 East 10th Street in Downtown.

Kira Obolensky
Kira Obolensky

On Wednesday, January 14, Raw Stages presents a script reading of Stewardess by Kira Obolensky. This new work is about a Northwest Airlines stewardess who challenged the company and the industry in a fight for gender equity in the workplace. Catch the telling of this story in its early stages at 7 p.m.


Josh Wilder
Josh Wilder

The next night, Thursday, January 15, sit in on the Raw Stages reading for Highwaymen by Josh Wilder. We are still talking about the impact and social implications of the construction of I-94 through St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood. Wilder depicts some of the drama and politics that surrounded that bit of history. This reading is also at 7 p.m.


Kevin Kautzman
Kevin Kautzman

On Saturday, January 17, listen to Kevin Kautzman’s Ernest and the Bull. It is a telling of Hemingway’s final days at the Mayo Clinic as his memory and health wane and he is faced with the ultimate writer’s block. This reading begins at 2 p.m.

The final Raw Stages piece for this year might feel a little more contemporary for many of us, but it is definitely a story that has been getting a lot of attention here in the Twin Cities as well as elsewhere. Complicated Fun: The Minneapolis Music Scene takes its title from The Suicide Commandos popular song from 1979. My very brief life behind the disc jockey college radio mic didn’t make it to this cut, but I know there are a lot of my not-much-older contemporaries who could add a note or two to this story, or at least learn a new verse.

bedlam-theatre-logoHistory is serious stuff. Maybe it’s time for something funny. For four nights at Bedlam Theatre in Lowertown, you can see an alternative staging of The Most Dangerous Game. What happens when a hunter is hunted by another hunter on his own private hunting island? Find out what happens to him, and to yourself each evening from Wednesday, January 14, through Saturday, January 17. Shows begin at 8 p.m. Bedlam is at 213 East 4th Street.

two-sugars2 Sugars, Room for Cream is still running at the Park Square Theatre. Meanwhile, they are starting a run of a musical starring the hardest-working man in show business in the Twin Cities, T. Mychael Rambo.



Beginning Friday, January 16, Park Square brings us a musical adaptation of The Color Purple. Based on one of the seminal works of fiction with the same title by one of our country’s deans of letters, Alice Walker, this is a story of the power of song, hope, resilience, love and that of the personal letter. Check here for show dates and times. Park Square is at 20 West 7th Place in Downtown.

landmark-logoWhat do you do when you know that the moon is in love with you? Although the moon’s glow has shone on me, I am not sure I have been the recipient of that amour. Moonstruck: An Improbable Romance tells the story of a girl who is so lucky, but how does she show the moon the love is mutual? You can find this and also spy the magical moving art on Friday, January 16, with “All Geared Up: Artwork that Moves” which is featured in this performance and starring Rachel Johnson and directed by All Geared Up artist Cecilia Schiller. The show is in the North Gallery at 7 p.m. (If you are curious for another look behind a curtain, you can join a workshop on Wednesday, January 14, when Schiller will give a hands-on workshop demonstrating how she goes about the gritty process of taking an idea and transforming it into a working prototype. Maybe the kids will be thrilled with this, too! Wednesday’s workshop is from 6 to 8 p.m. It is free but reservations are requested by e-mailing


the-falderalsDunn Bros. Coffee on Grand, the original Dunn Bros., has a great almost-nightly music series. On Thursday, January 15, The Falderals take the tiny stage and will fill the room with a pocket of warmth. The Falderals is a little band with a big sound: two guitars and two voices blended together to create a unique folk-pop fusion. This acoustic singer/songwriter duo has been playing together for a decade. They have gone from playing on the streets of Chicago to playing at Midwestern weddings, funerals, and fundraisers and now to the Twin Cities. They’re worth a look, so do so at 7 p.m. Dunn Brothers is at 1569 Grand Avenue, just east of Snelling Avenue.

donald-washington-quartetThis week, two venues will feature renowned jazz clarinetist and saxophonist Donald Washington. Both Khyber Pass and the Black Dog will be honored by the generative talents of musician, musicologist, and educator Donald Washington. He will be joined by Almanac favorite Davu Seru on percussion and Brian Roessler on bass. Jazz Police calls Washington’s performances “musical adventure.” It is an adventure he has passed to and shares with other musicians and pupils. Washington once said, “Music is the way we live. It’s our life, and that’s why our music is different.” Maybe that is why jazz (along with baseball) is one of the things that so honestly tells the American story, even when we want to make it more simple with pop (or t-ball).

Thursday, January 15, Washington will make a rare solo appearance for Khyber Pass Thursdays. Khyber Pass is at 1571 Grand Avenue. The improv starts at 9:00-ish.

On Friday, January 16, Washington and the Donald Washington Trio will be at the Black Dog at a “jazz hour,” but likely a bit after 8 p.m. The Black Dog is at 308 East Prince Street, kitty-corner from the Farmers Market.


There are three interesting opportunities to catch music from a few periods of classical music this week. Two are over the lunch hour, and one is a Friday night special.


On Thursday, January 15, Schubert Club Courtroom Concert series hosts the MPLS (imPulse) Choral Ensemble. MPLS is less than a year old. Their twenty-four-voice ensemble, as they say, “seeks to re-imagine traditional conventions in choral music and to engage audiences with eclectic music in diverse spaces.” They like to inform their performances with a sense of their next audience in order to build community. The Courtroom Concert series is a noontime series held in Landmark Center’s Room 317. Check here for more about this concert and its program. Landmark Center is at 75 West 5th Street, across from Rice Park.

the-baroque-room-bannerFriday’s noontime event is at the Baroque Room. Their Lunchtime Concert Series welcomes Joseph Jones on bassoon and Tami Morse on harpsichord for “Baroque Bassoon, Medieval Aroma.” Their program will be the Galliard Bassoon Sonatas No. 3 in F and No. 5 in D. The Baroque Room is at 275 East 4th Street in Lowertown. The hour-long free concert starts at noon.


Friday evening marks the return of Lowertown Classics. This is a favorite, informal venue where people can hear top classical, modern, and avant-garde musicians in an intimate setting. Host and world-renowned guitarist Eva Beneke has invited Ladyslipper Ensemble with Egyptian American mezzo-soprano Sahar Hassan; long-standing member of the beloved Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Chris Brown on bass; Chris Kachian, a guitarist and professor at the University of St. Thomas; and clarinet player Pat O´Keefe, a Twin Cities favorite who recently joined Eva in a concert at the Central Library. Lowertown Classics is at the Lowertown Lofts Artists Cooperative, 255 East Kellogg Boulevard. (Enter in the alley entrance.) They begin at 8 p.m., and they always have free wine and candy.


Coyote-DreamsThe Minnesota Museum of American Art has a new exhibit. Thursday, January 15, is the Opening Reception for Julie Buffalohead: Coyote Dreams. Buffalohead’s work constructs a “narrative imagery drawn from myths and fairytales, Native culture, and personal experience.” An enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, Buffalohead is a Minnesota-based artist whose work takes familiar iconic characters and casts them in a way that challenges their usual assigned roles. The program will also include a storytelling program organized by poet Heid E. Erdrich. The event starts at 7 p.m. The gallery is at 141 East 4th Street, at Robert Street in Downtown.

Winter Carnival. Source: Minnesota Historical Society
Winter Carnival. Source: Minnesota Historical Society

It is another full week. Still, it would be good to check out even more events leading up to the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, including the Snow Park, the Crowns and Gowns Fashion Show, and the Queen’s Tea.

There is, of course, more to keep you busy. Just look at the Almanac arts and culture calendar. Busy. Warm. Escape. I hope I see you on the town. It will make us all warmer. Have a great week!

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