This is the time of year when things are quiet on the literary front. Booksellers are bundling up in front of the fire with their publisher catalogs and dreaming of which authors will stock their shelves and visit their stores, hopefully before winter leaves us. Meanwhile, around town, there is still more than enough happening to tempt us out of our hibernation and keep us connected to the pulse of the city.
Coming Almanac Events
This week, on Thursday, Jan. 9, The Tish Jones and Soul Sounds Open Mic return to the Golden Thyme Coffee Café, with featured artist Marisa Carr. Like many of us at the Almanac, Marisa believes in art as a vital tool to engage, challenge, and mobilize others by intersecting the personal, political, and spiritual.
Spoken word’s rich intersections are part of why Soul Sounds exists, so if you are working on something along those lines, or really need some inspiration these days, come along to listen and share. Golden Thyme is located at 921 Selby Avenue. This Soul Sounds event includes a monthly writing workshop. The workshop starts at 5 p.m., and the open mic begins at 6 p.m.
The first time I saw Dean Magraw, he and his amazing guitar were backing Barbara Cohen at the Cedar Cultural Center, along with Lowertown’s Marc Anderson on percussion. For decades, Magraw has proven to be one of the most talented musicians in the Twin Cities, displaying his virtuosity across the genres of jazz, folk, Celtic, rock, and more. These days, he plays out with Davu Seru, who weaves intricate percussion around the established and emerging jazz ensembles, fresh from a great show at Pangea World Theater with a cast that includes Lowertown Reading Jam curator, J. Otis Powell‽
Seru is a real Renaissance man, a PhD candidate in literature and a self-taught musician who knows the cultural history behind both disciplines. Magraw and Seru can be seen at the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar on Tuesday, Jan. 7, for First Tuesdays with Dean Magraw and Davu Seru. They are often joined by other musicians to create some of the most textured jazz improv in town. The show starts at 7 p.m. The Black Dog is located at 308 Prince Street in Lowertown.
On Saturday, Jan. 11, the pace changes at The Baroque Room, which will host Crossbows, presented by the Glorious Revolution Baroque. Their collection of works features some of the earliest pieces written for violin, as well as one piece that shows off the grandeur of the harpsichord. Crossbows players are Carrie Hennemna Shaw, soprano; David Douglass and Miriam Scholz-Carlson, baroque violin; and Tami Morse, harpsichord. Compared to improv jazz, this may appear on the surface to be a sedate evening with highbrows, but Glorious Revolution Baroque describes themselves as “early music brought to you by pleasure-loving trouble-makers.” If you did not get into trouble New Year’s Eve, here’s your chance. The event starts at 8 p.m. The Baroque Room is in the Northwestern Building at 275 East Fourth Street, Suite 280. More information and tickets.
If you are still in a jazz groove, on Saturday, Jan. 11, you can alternatively walk just a few steps in the same building to Suite 200 where the Adam Meckler Orchestra will perform and give a jazz workshop in Studio Z. The Orchestra is an eighteen-piece ensemble that performs original, modern jazz music composed and arranged by trumpeter Adam Meckler. Jazzpolice.com described Meckler as “an excellent trumpeter, a wise bandleader and an inventive composer.” He also has received the praise of legendary Twin Cities radio personality Leigh Kamman.
This Jazz at Studio Z event will feature a workshop with Adam Meckler at 6 p.m. and a concert at 7 p.m. Visit www.jazzatstudioz.org for more information on this show and workshop. To learn more about Adam Meckler, visit www.adammeckler.com.
Film and Theater
On Tuesday, head over to the Minnesota History Center for a glimpse of a Saint Paul story seven years in the making. American Heart is an intimate look at the lives of three refugees who have made Minnesota their home and encounter life and medical journeys that baffle viewers of this story as much as they do the doctors who care for them. The film is centered around a clinic “tucked away” in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood that has a reputation for providing care for a population of clients from around the world. This documentary is produced by well-known local filmmaker Melody Gilbert, directed by local director Chris Newberry, and edited by Saint Paul’s Bill Kersey. The screening begins at 7 p.m. The History Center is at 345 Kellogg Boulevard West. The event is free.
I don’t quite believe the classics have become so obscure that we do not have any uses for them except to impress others at highbrow parties with our perfect Cliff Notes recall. A twist of rambunctious spoof and rhyme might be just the spice you need to rekindle your interest. This week, Park Square Theatre, lauded by Lavender magazine’s recognition for best production of last year, helps us send the archetype themes of a Molière work on a hilarious riff. Friday, Jan. 10, starts their run of School of Lies, featuring Tony-nominated director David Ives. The theater is at 20 West Seventh Place in Downtown and runs through February 2. Check the link above for dates and show times.
Kids and Family
We have not forgotten about the kids. Looking at the Almanac events calendar, it seems like there are more literary events for young people than there are for adults this time of year. On Sunday, Jan. 12, the Saint Paul Public Libraries and the Red Balloon Bookshop present award-winning young adult author Laurie Halse Anderson. Her newest work, The Impossible Knife of Memory, is based on her own childhood experience with a father who suffered from PTSD. Anderson is the author of the National Book Award finalist and Printz Honor Book Speak, and of four other much-acclaimed young adult novels. The Impossible Knife of Memory tells the story of a single father who returns from the Iraq War with deep emotional wounds, and the daughter who wishes she could heal him.
This is a ticketed event. The event presentation and Q&A are free and open to the public. A line for autographs will form after the presentation in the order of the numbered tickets that were given out at the time of the book’s purchase or upon arrival at the event. To get a ticket or for more information about this event or call 651-224-8320. Twenty percent of all event book sales will go to the Saint Paul Public Library, so support literature and our libraries!
To immerse kids in artistic expression, turn to SteppingStone Theatre, which has just announced open registration for winter classes for kids, toddler-aged through grade 10. SteppingStone Theatre School for Young Actors employs professional artists in age-appropriate classes to help children and young adults pursue their acting craft as well as “enhance self esteem, confidence, and a sense of community.” They even have no-school-day workshops for elementary school–aged students. These classes are popular, so it’s good to think about signing up now! Register online or call 651.225.9265.
Curling up with a good book in this weather is a great idea, but don’t let the cold push you into seasonal stir-craziness. We need to get out, see our neighbors, make art, and support our community. Don’t forget to check out the Almanac calendar for more happenings this week and beyond. Let us know what you think of your arts experiences and let us know what we’ve missed. Hope your year is off to a good start.