This Week in Saint Paul: Monday, June 30–Sunday, July 06, 2014

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Wow! We made it through our TV Takeover. Thanks to everyone who came to the party and everyone who saw our edition on the airwaves. Kudos to anyone who made it to last week’s Lowertown Reading Jam, Soul Sounds Open Mic and Almanac’s TV Takeover. We love the support. We love showing off Saint Paul in all its glory and the panorama of stories that make our town great.

Now, it’s festival time again. The fireworks won’t only be in the sky.

almanac live

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If you were not able to join us at the TPT studios Friday night for Rewire’s TV Takeover, you can still see the remarkable show. The party was one of the biggest in the series and the acclamations for the show are pouring in. Check it out here. Be prepared to cry at these wonderful stories. There are a few good laughs, too. We did.

donte-collinsDonte Collins is among a trio of brothers who are among the most talented and rising spoken word artists in Minnesota. He will be the headliner for this week’s Soul Sounds Open Mic, Thursday, July 3. Donte competes nationally and performs all over the Twin Cities at a variety of universities and theaters including the Walker Art Center, Orchestra Hall, Pillsbury House Theatre, Penumbra Theater, University Of Minnesota, Augsburg, and St. Paul College. He is a veteran of “Brave New Voices” and is the author of the forthcoming Mice in the Basement of Heaven. Come and hear Donte and share your own work. This is the first Open Mic of the month, so there will be a workshop session starting at 5 p.m. with the open mic starting at 6 at Golden Thyme Coffee Shop. Golden Thyme is at 921 Selby Avenue (at Milton).

holiday festivals

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On Friday and Saturday, July 4 and 5, the McMurray Fields at Como Park will host Hmong Freedom Celebration and the 34th Annual Sports Festival. It is a family-fun sports festival and entertainment. This gathering draws over 50,000 attendees each year. There will be 400 merchandise booths, different sports competitions and entertainment. This is a great opportunity to meet neighbors, sample wares and food fare, and get a taste of Saint Paul. McMurray Fields are between Como and Jassamine avenues, west of Lexington Parkway, at 1155 Jessamine Avenue West. Festivities last all day.

garrison-keillor-prairie-home-01A Prairie Home Companion has as much history in Saint Paul as it does in Lake Wobegon, which happens to be not far from my home town. It has been running for 40 years, and while it’s legendary host Garrison Keillor started his public radio life down the road from where I grew up in Stearns County, the pallet for much of the “News from Lake Wobegon,” the show got its start at Macalester College, down the road from where I live, now. Macalester will host a three-day celebration a stone’s throw from the hall where its first live broadcast took place on July 6, 1974. A Prairie Home Companion’s 40th Anniversary Celebration will be held Friday, July 4, Saturday, July 5 and Sunday, July 6. It is an event filled with activities, concerts, smatterings of live music, shows and memories. There are paid shows and free activities on all three days. It’s is worth stopping by to see the people and catch a glimpse of history. Macalester College is at 1600 Grand Avenue. Festivities begin at 11 a.m. each day of the festival.

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Where will you watch fireworks on the Fourth? There are great places from which to watch them in several great neighborhoods. Kellogg Park along the river in Downtown is a great place. The High Bridge on Smith Avenue is a good place where many will gather. Other bridges over the Mississippi River such as the Robert Street Bridge and the Wabasha Street Bridge are solid places as well. Harriet Island, of course, is a central location, but it is flooded. Locations overlooking the river valley in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood are worthwhile places to go. You can even get a good glimpse of the show from the bluffs overlooking Downtown, near Summit Avenue. Pick your spot and enjoy.

9-nights-of-music-logoWhere else can you meet your neighbors? Music in the Parks continues, as does the Ordway’s Summer Dance Series. The History Center is your next spot for this summer’s Nine Nights of Music. The fun starts at 6:30 p.m. each Tuesday through August, with lessons from Tapestry Folk Dance Center. Live music begins at 7 p.m. This Tuesday, July 1, will be a French/Latin/Gypsy mixer featuring Café Accordion Orchestra. Bring a chair or blanket and a picnic, or purchase food from the History Center’s Café Minnesota. Admission to museum exhibits is free on Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. The History Center is at 345 Kellogg Avenue.

swing-dancing-cavesHaven’t gotten enough dancing? On Thursdays this summer, head to the Wabasha Caves for Swing Night at the Wabasha Street Caves. It’s a partner dance night, where you can start with lessons from the Arthur Murray Dance Studios at 6:15 p.m. and then dance to one of the Caves’ regular bands from 7 to 10 p.m. It’s a night of fun, but remember the speakeasy password: “Gus sent me.” Wabasha Street Caves are at 215 Wabasha Street South on the city’s West Side.

Music

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On Thursday, July 3, Merciless Ghost will be at Khyber Pass for their installment of Khyber Pass Thursdays. Emel Sherzad and his family are longtime owners of the Khyber Pass Cafe. For not quite as long, Emel has hosted Radio Duende/International Jazz Conspiracy on KFAI Radio. His show has been delightfully and impossibly eclectic, reaching into the far corners of the music cabinet for sounds you will rarely hear anywhere else. That sensibility informs the selection of performers for this Thursday night series that is varied enough to include strong jazz artists, Gamelan performances and chemistry lab performance art, and a few folk musicians to keep us honest. This week, you can follow the improvisations of Merciless Ghost, jazz artists who are not afraid to reach into the nooks and crannies of sound and interpretation. Khyber Pass is at 1571 Grand Avenue. The music starts at a real jazz time, 9 p.m.

nikki-matteson-rich-rueNikki Matteson and Rich Rue are regulars down at the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar. They grace the stage the first Saturday of each month. Their sound ranges from acoustic blues rock, country blues, soulful old timey and psychedelic folk, and includes their interpretations of classic female blues tunes and ’60s-like electric guitar sounds. Nikki brings her exceptional voice to dreamy, sultry, unguarded lyrics. Rich, who taught himself to play the guitar, is one of the area’s exceptional musicians. As they say, they “would like to extend their musical room to those who enjoy a certain kind of time-travel.” So this Saturday, July 5, head to the Dog at 8 p.m. The Black Dog is at 308 Prince Street.

Theater

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While The Red Box is still playing at Park Square Theatre, we have several opportunities to see theater in the parks this summer. On Thursday, July 3, the Classical Actors Ensemble will stage Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor Lost at Newell Park. This outdoor comedy of manners pits contemplative pleasures of the mind against the passionate pleasures of the heart. This is a great way to spend a summer evening. The show starts at 7 p.m. Newell Park is between Hewett Avenue and Pierce Butler Route at Fairview Avenue.

Kids

z-puppetsNeed something for your elementary school–aged child to do? How about puppets? The Hayden Heights Library hosts The Secret Life of Puppets on Thursday, July 3. Join Z Puppets to learn techniques, skills and a few “secrets” of how to turn sticks, cloth, strings and even your hands into living puppets. Come make some fun and some magic. The Hayden Heights Library is at 1456 White Bear Avenue. The fun starts at 10:30 a.m.

Big and not-so-big kids, design and baseball

saints-design-a-jerseyWhen I was a kid, designing a baseball uniform was my fantasy. I used to dream up cool ideas that would look striking on the space-aged synthetic turf and cookie-cutter ballparks that replaced the grass that always needed tending and the rickety timber-supported bleachers. I think I was inspired by the funkiness of the Oakland A’s, the mix-and-match experiments of the Pittsburgh Pirates and, of course, the real space-age experiment of the Houston Astros. You may be one of those kids too. Maybe you are just an apparel design kid. Or maybe you are just bored, but the Saint Paul Saints are giving all of us the chance to live out that fantasy with their Jersey Design Contest. The prizes are not big, but you will have a chance to see your design worn by the team in their August 8 game.
It may be that the Saints are building their arts cred as they plan to move to Lowertown for the next baseball season. They have done well to sponsor the Art of Baseballs contest and exhibit during Art Crawl. This just might be more fun. Maybe my 10-year-old self will enter. The entry period ends July 7. Check the official rules for more details. I’m interested to see what flair makes its way around the bases.

Is this enough for your calendar? I guess it’s not enough for ours. Remember to look at the Almanac arts calendar. Hang out with your neighbors and have a great holiday week.

This is Saint Paul and there is so much more. Find what’s fun for you at the Almanac arts calendar. Have a great week. Take the train, if you get a chance.

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