For the latest installment of artist-curated virtual episodes of MN Original, we enlisted the help of one of the busiest, most connected, and most stylish musicians in the Twin Cities. We’re of course talking about none other than John Munson, bass player for local iconic bands Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic, and a MN Original alumni from our profiles of The Twilight Hours and The New Standards. With such a thoroughly established musical background, Mr. Munson’s picks for his virtual episode of MNO — which highlight the visual arts, sculpture, and theater, but not a single musician — are delightfully unexpected. Then again, this diversity of interests further underscores Mr. Munson’s multifaceted role as a creative force, artist and arts supporter, a fact which should come as no surprise to those who also know Mr. Munson from his work with the radio variety show Wits. Read on for John Munson’s virtual episode of MN Original!
John Munson:Keri Pickett is a pal of mine. She shot my wedding. But I chose her because I really relate to her mission of representing family and community — different communities and families — but those differences illustrate commonalities. I love how clearly she thinks about her work. Plus her pictures are lovely!
Michael Sommers from MN Original #211 (original air date: October 21, 2010) John Munson: I saw Michael Sommers do a a performance in a friend’s yard a few summers back. Once again, I have an appreciation for not only his artistry, but also the way that he presents his work in the community, seeking to build new communities and to find new audiences. But Kevin Kling’s comment in the piece really says it all: “He’s a genius, just look at his work!”
John Munson:Michael Kareken is an instructor at MCAD in the painting department. We met at Children’s Home Society when we were both getting ready to adopt. At that time Michael was doing very emotional figures and nudes. It’s exciting to see how his work has changed. His current subject matter of detritus is so intensely complex! His craft and curiosity inspire me.
John Munson: I love love love Lisa Elias‘s work. I will never forget seeing her gates at Crema the first time, back when I lived in South Minneapolis. And then seeing her work along the entrance to Highway 94 thrilled me — the idea of the river grasses flowing was so harmonious with the flow of traffic. So beautiful. She is such an unassuming person and so creative. How does someone make metal feel so soft?
Theater Latté Da is days away from opening their newest production, The Light in the Piazza, at the Ordway McKnight Theatre. We had the privilege of peaking in on an early rehearsal and if they sounded that good on only their second night together, we can’t wait to see the final product!
We’re excited to announce that MNO has 2 pairs of tickets to giveaway to 2 lucky winners! Click here to enter!
Have you ever fantasized about spending a entire night in a museum? Well, what if you had an entire night to play-or make art-in a fully equipped broadcast television studio?
As part of tpt‘s new initiative Open Air, focused on making public media even more public in the Twin Cities, we’re opening up Studio A, the station’s largest television studio space, for a local artist to create an installation as part of the Northern Spark Festival on June 8-9. The studio is a 4,000 square foot black-box broadcast studio, with a light grid overhead.
Preference will be given to projects that highlight the changing nature of media-and that build on the unique qualities of a television studio. In particular, we’d like an installation that is highly interactive and will draw a crowd.
We’re offering a stipend of $1500, plus a multimedia blog post on MN Original‘s MNO on the Go blog and promotion on tpt‘s and MN Original‘s social media platforms.
Application deadline is midnight, CST, Monday,March 11, 2013.
For the next three Sundays, MN Original will be taking a break while our Twin Cities Public Television cohorts take to the airwaves for the Spring Pledge Drive. So for a fresh perspective on some segments from the MNO collection, we let Gregory Euclide get behind the looking glass of the MNO On The Go Blog. Mr. Euclide was profiled in the third season of MN Original, and we asked him to curate a virtual episode of MNO. In four-plus seasons of MN Original, we’ve exposed Twin Cities arts fans to over fifteen-hundred local artists, all of whom inspire us through their art and creativity. We always love knowing what art and art-makers also inspire the artists we’ve featured. So without further ado, Gregory Euclide presents his MN Original.
Gregory Euclide: When I was in college I was in a band called Sheepometer (music to make sheep to). We opened at The Unicorn in Milwaukee for Low. Zak was in Low at that point. It was a pivotal moment for me in my life. I have always had an unhealthy obsession with music and this was a big moment for me. Years later, I faked being a journalist to get back stage to take photos of Sonic Boom and Low at the 7th Street Entry. I still have those photos of Zak, Alan and Mimi leaning against the walls of the entry.
When Zak left Low, he focused more on his visual art. I stopped playing music to pursue visual art as well. I see Zak at MCAD off and on. He has no idea who I am. I just remember being in awe of him and the music that they brought into the world. This MNO segment helped me catch up with a figure that I have long respected.
Gregory Euclide: Although Pitchfork reviewer David Raposa gave this album a 5.5 because it rocked too much, it is one of my favorite albums. Yes, they played faster and harsher on this album and they were a slow band to start with, but that is what made it so timely for me. It felt as if it was the right time in history for this to happen and the way they did it seemed logical to me. There is a lot of tension in this album. Listening to this segment from 2011 just reminds me what effect this album had on me when it came out. “When I Go Deaf” is the Low jackpot. You get the best of both worlds; the beautiful entry and the crush that follows. As a kid, hell, even now… I want to be playing that guitar – with that feedback coming out from behind me. It must feel so exhilarating to be able to perform and make something with such honesty , such emotion… such force.
Gregory Euclide: Kate is another artist who works across platforms. The work is a force that finds an outlet in whatever best fits the idea. It’s not, “How can I make a painting about this?” Or, “How can I make a sculpture about that?” It’s more like, “What is the best way to express this idea?”
Gregory Euclide: David and Ben do what they do really, really well. In the segment they talk about wanting their music to be a resting place from the modern world. I feel like I know what it is like to have the rural in your subconscious. When I listen to this music, it just feels like home to me. It feels like fireflies, cornfields and the quiet of rural summer nights.
MN Original: Suggestion for who you’d like to see profiled on MN Original?
Gregory Euclide: Sure… I’ve got one for you. A student of mine from way back: a musician, artist, teacher, David Andree.
Lite-Brite volunteers help build the installation.
The artist behind this audacious feat is none other than MNO alum Ta-coumba Aiken! Over the course of three weeks, Ta-coumba led a small army of more than 600 volunteers—everyone from federal court judges to homeless people—in the completion of the 12-by-24 foot installation, an original work entitled Forever Saint Paul.
Next Thursday, February 28 from 7-9 p.m., join us at the Minnesota Humanities Center for a lively discussion and interactive art project which will explore our similarities and exalt our differences!
Ta-coumba T. Aiken
The event is open to the public but particularly interesting to educators who can earn 2 CEUs. The cost is $10 and includes light snacks and materials. Participants will also leave with a DVD copy of MN OriginalEpisode #220 and a set of corresponding activity guides to use in the classroom.
If you’re impressed by Ta-coumba’s Lite-Brite finesse, you won’t want to miss him speak in person! Hope to see you there!
To some folks, nothing says “Happy Valentine’s Day” like one of those overstuffed drug store teddy bears, paired with a packet of iconic Sweetheart candy. But we think you’re different. We think you’d like to give your special friend something handcrafted by a Minnesota artist. So without further ado, here’s a taste of some of our favorite artist-made gifts for Valentine’s Day. What’s missing? Feel free to tell us below!
Adam loves the Twin Cities. Your sweetie loves the Twin Cities. Perfect match!
Celebrate your lover’s love of the Twin Cities with a poster print made by the ever-more popular Adam Turman (watch his episode here). If you’re feeling sentimental, this one might be just the thing. To send a saucier message, you might take the pin-up route.
Not just one artist, but a whole store full of their work! If you haven’t been to I Like You in Northeast Minneapolis, you are missing out on a whimsical tour de force of Minnesota artisanship. Handmade jewelry! Screenprints! Candles! Homespun yarn! Little buttons that say “I heart MN boys”! It will not disappoint.
Check out Karin Jacobson's jewelry at her trunk show February 12 & 13
Why give a man a fine art mosaic when you can teach a man to make awesome fine art mosaics? You know, as the saying goes. Artist Sharra Frank (watch her episode here) offers mosaic workshops for around $250. It’s the gift that keeps on giving (and guarantees you an awesome Valentine’s Day gift next year).
You’re past the stage of stuffing paper Valentines in your sweetie’s dressed-up shoebox, right? So why not graduate to a real, bonafide wall hanging, by artist Lisa Nankivil? (See how she makes ‘em here). A little pricier then a teddy bear, sure- but art is an investment! (stuffed animals aren’t).
Painting by Lisa Nankivil: So your purple couch and green rug can live in harmony.
Your significant other is as fine as porcelain (but not as breakable!), so build on that apt metaphor and get her/him a piece from porcelain artist Maren Kloppman, who makes beautiful vessels and pillows of porcelain (watch her in action here).
Come hang out in Lowertown (our hood!), while browsing the fruits of local artists’ labor at this local cooperative. Jewelry, painting, metalwork, ceramics, and more. Remember: As the AZ Gallery website proclaims, “Roses die…art lives forever!”
How better to show off your affection than to kiss your partner, have your kiss photographed, then give him/her a print of the photo? For one thing, it makes it easier to prove that he/she did in fact find you kissable. Participate in the Smooch! Project by attending one of their upcoming shoots- some even allow (well-mannered) pups.
When you're in love, the world looks as cute as Amy Rice's illustrations
Along with thousands of other Minnesotans, MN Original braved the frigid temperatures in Lowertown on Saturday, January 26 to sample beers from local and national breweries, listen to great local music, and put our Minnesota pride to the test. We also caught up the Claire, Lizzo, and Sophia from The Chalice to get their perspective on performing outside in the middle of winter. Read on for our interview!
MN Original: So performing outside in temperatures that are barely above zero for a crowd of beer-drinking music enthusiasts, is that the most Minnesotan thing you’ve ever done?
Claire: I think so, I think The Beer Dabbler is maybe the most Minnesotan event I’ve ever been to. I’m not a sports person so much so I’ve never, I haven’t been to that many sporting events in my life. But that was a really cool event. It was just like a bunch of people in solidarity out in the cold, in really good spirits, wearing flannel and beanies and 90% of the men had beards I think. And you know, just gathering to enjoy local music and drink local beer. There’s really nothing more Minneapolis than that I don’t think. So I’m seldom… I’m not a patriotic person, but that’s definitely made me kind of Minnesota patriotic. I was like, man, this is a cool place to live.
Lizzo: Yeah I’m from Texas, but I purified myself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka, so I think that’s the most Minnesotan thing I’ve done.
MNO: Yeah, probably so! So when you’re performing in a more extreme situation like that, do you think that gives you more energy? I mean, Lizzo, you were rocking it in short sleeves. How do you get pumped up for something like that?
Lizzo: Well I don’t know, it’s always an afterthought when it comes to the energy. I think it’s the people, you know, and I mean it’s the music. Whether it’s extremely hot, I mean I’ve performed in extremely hot and extremely cold, you know what I mean? The weather doesn’t really set you in your element, you know what I mean? And I think that goes for anybody. It’s kind of is an afterthought. Like for instance, up there I didn’t really notice how cold it was until I couldn’t feel my arms. On one of the last songs I was like, I can’t feel my arms, so I tapped on them a little bit to get some life going in them. Because I was steaming. I was standing there and looking at my body and there was steam coming off my head and off my arms. So it really was an afterthought when you’re doing what you love to do. I mean you can’t complain, you know what I mean? It was great.
Claire: I definitely felt inspired to move a lot. You know our shows are pretty aerobic, and kind of high energy anyways, that’s kind of generally what we do. But even more so I think we weren’t stationary very much during that set because it was way cold. I feel even more inspired to put on a really good show because that audience is, they’re troopers! I mean they’re standing out there in the freezing cold! Yeah it’s incredible. I don’t know, I can’t think of that many groups that I would stand out in the cold to watch myself. It’s an honor, honestly.
MNO: So what other performances and projects are The Chalice working on right now? What’s coming up next for you guys?
Claire: We’re kind of taking, not a hiatus, but we’re kind of putting The Chalice on the back burner right now because we all have a lot of other stuff we’re working on. And you know, starting with this group and kind of getting into this project was very, it kind of just happened, and we made a lot of sacrifices in other areas of our careers and stuff to kind of nurture this baby. When you’re presented with opportunities like we’ve been presented with, and when you have the opportunity to go on the kind of ride we went on over the past year, you don’t turn that down.
MNO: So I know that all three of you guys are very involved in the local music scene and tons of other projects outside of The Chalice. Lizzo, you were just in the tpt studios backing Greg Grease when we filmed with him [for a future episode of MN Original]. And Claire and Lizzo, we just filmed with both of you for an upcoming profile on Spencer Wirth-Davis of Big Cats. So can you tell me about the other music projects you have going on?
Sophia: I’m beginning a little project with Ryan Olson and Sypder Baybie and that’s coming out at some point this year, and it’s really, really fun. The thing about working with those individuals is that they’re brilliant and I feel I’m fairly new compared to Claire and Lizzo, and I love to be around people like that, that I respect and I feel they can coach me and help me become better. So I’m very blessed to have that opportunity. And Lizzo and I have a project coming out.
Lizzo: Me and Sophia are coming out with a mixed tape. And we performed some of those songs at The Beer Dabbler. And some of them, like the one where we went down in the audience, it’s more hip-hop, more rap, you know? Because The Chalice, I would describe as kind of a woman’s anthem, hip-hop pop, R&B. And so we’re doing it, we’re taking it to a new direction, we’re going somewhere else artistically. So it’s like a Jay Z and Kanye thing. And on top of that I’m coming out with my first solo project, which will be produced by Lazerbeak, and it’ll be called Lizzo Bangers, so that’s coming out pretty soon.
Claire: So right now I have a solo record that I’m working on, which is a pretty huge departure from anything that I’ve ever done before, so I’m pretty excited about that. It’s kind of like Beach House, or like Phantogram, really futuristic R&B, but also kind of indie, I guess. The word ‘indie’ kind of weirds me out, but I guess that’s kind of like the best way to describe it. And I’m stoked about that. So I’m knee-deep, halfway done with that at the moment. And then I’m also working on a little project with Katy Morley [from Gayngs]. We don’t have any of songs finished or anything like that, we’re just kind of messing around with that. And then I’m also working a different project, which is kind of rock and roll, like a soulful, foot-stompin’ blues/rock project as well.
MNO: What bands or musicians on the local music scene are you following and inspired by right now?
Claire: Katy Morley’s solo stuff, yeah she’s done some really cool stuff. It’s very kind of dreamy kind of atmospheric type stuff that is really cool. She does her own productions so I’m super excited about that. And then, this is probably like a broken record response to what’s exciting about local music, but I’m really excited to hear Polica’s next record, which is coming out this year, I believe.
Sophia: Everything coming out with the Totally Gross National Product, that whole crew, they make amazing music. Ryan Olson is killing it right now. Everything that I hear, I’m just like, ‘oh my God.’ That whole crew is going to come out with really beautiful stuff. I’m very inspired by what they’re doing. Lizzo’s new album is amazing, and Greag Grease too. So those people at the moment, they’re definitely inspiring me.
Lizzo: I’m really excited about the hip-hop. I’m really excited about the rap that’s coming out. Like Metasota, and obviously Greg Grease. And Bomba de Luz on the other side of things, Bomba de Luz has been really, really killin’ stuff right now. And the lady’s voice is just amazing. We’re gonna throw together a huge jam and she’s gonna like rock out with a bunch of other people. I mean, because that’s really what the scene is doing, you know what I’m saying? It’s just in this huge pot of collaborations. Everyone’s just been working with everyone regardless of genre or age. Because those Bomba de Luz kids are still in high school. In fact they’re working with Doomtree and they’re working with us. It’s almost like a family of musicians here you know, versus other scenes where it’s just a bunch of musicians.
Claire: And I think what’s really cool about the local scene is that we’re kind of off the radar, for better or for worse. You know, there isn’t a label presence here. It gives people a lot of freedom to kind of do crazy stuff and take risks and experiment because they’re not ruining the kind of chance of having the right person be there. And I think that musicians take pride in that fact but also that music fans here take pride in that too, and kind of like being a part of a kind of community that fosters that kind of creativity and that is welcoming about it. I think it’s something that music fans of this area like, have a lot of pride in you know, being the kind of fan base that will let artists change, just like Minneapolis is the kind of city that lets you do changes.
Check out some video highlights from The Beer Dabbler too! Special thanks to Mark Ryan Johnson for filming and editing, with music provided by Heiruspecs.
The corner of 43rd Street and Minnehaha Avenue in Minneapolis may look lifeless and frozen like the rest of the city on a 15 degree day in January, but the interior of the Ballare Teatro dance studio is practically vibrating with energy. A rehearsal space for the Twin Cities band Rhythmic Circus, the studio erupts with sound: taps, stomps, saxophone squeals, trumpet bursts, soulful shouts and joyous words. For the talented and varied crew of this self-proclaimed “high-energy rhythm experiment,” this is just another ordinary rehearsal.
Be sure to check out Rhythmic Circus on the TV(!) this Sunday, January 20, on MN Original‘s 100th episode, at 6pm on TPT2.
Percussion, guitar, and horns provide the soundtrack, but it’s the exuberant tap dancers that bring Rhythmic Circus that really bring things to life.
Scheduling a Rhythmic Circus practice session, with at least 11 schedules to coordinate, is no easy feat.
Speaking of feet, Executive Director Nick Bowman has moved his on the Rosie O’Donnell Show, the Ellen Degeneres Show, and Dr. Phil. He’s been the master tap teacher for the touring dance convention West Coast Dance Explosion for 7 seasons.
Hamming things up is never a challenge for the cast of Rhythmic Circus.
Exciting news, local music fans: we’re ringing in the New Year with Dessa and Trampled By Turtles! The pilot episode of The Lowertown Line will air on tpt2 on December 31, 2012 at 8:30 p.m. Check out the promo below:
The Lowertown Line was recorded with a live audience at tpt’s Lowertown studios on October 24, 2012. The program is hosted by hip hop artist Dessa and features rock and bluegrass style Duluth band Trampled By Turtles, who performed and shared stories with their inspiring musical guest – Alan Sparkhawk of Low, Retribution Gospel Choir and The Murder of Crows.
The Lowertown Line music special features a five-song set from Trampled by Turtles as well an insider Q&A hosted by Dessa about Trampled by Turtles formal training, song-writing process/style and their Duluth connections. During the set, the band also welcomed Alan Sparhawk from the Duluth band, Low to perform and Sparhawk joined Dessa and Dave Simonett in talking about his body of work, process and training.
“I was on tour when MN OriginalSeries Producer, Ashleigh Rowe called me about hosting a new music special, and I jumped at the chance,” says The Lowertown Line host, Dessa. “Parked in a Walgreens’ lot in Chicago, I chatted excitedly with the producers, gesturing like a crazy person; the tpt team has a fresh and genuine enthusiasm for every project.”
Tune into tpt2 on December 31, 2012 at 8:30 p.m. for The Lowertown Line.
With Twin Cities Public Television entering the second week of The Great Sustainer Challenge 2012, MN Original will take another break from the tv airwaves this Sunday evening. To help fill the void, we’re handing the keys to our blog over to Alison Scott, who appeared on MNO in its second season. We asked Alison to curate her own episode of MN Original and share a little bit about her choices:
Davina & The Vagabonds from MN Original #202 (original air date: August 19, 2010)
Alison Scott: I met Davina when she had just moved here. I’ve always found her story really fascinating. The fact that she up and moved here on a whim was really a gift for the Minneapolis scene. I love that MNO explores her writing space and the piano that fell off of a truck. She’s doing something different than any other musician in town, and this segment shows you why she is the way she is.
Alison Scott: This guy is a freak of nature. Any vocalist will tell you so. I’m not a particularly religious person, but Robert Robinson can make me a believer any day. I also love that the choir (Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir) in this segment is made up of all sorts of folks. All kinds of music lovers will love this one.
Alison Scott: I know I am in this segment, and I almost didn’t choose it for that reason. However, Darin Back is a genius, and I’m happy to recognize him any chance I get. MNO shows you exactly how he got where he is today, his background, his thought process, and how he shoots. If I was an aspiring photographer, I’d be taking notes.
Alison Scott: This segment is sooo cool! I need to hire this girl to do my next photo shoot. I’ve never seen photos quite like this before. Who knew clothes looked so cool under water!?! I enjoyed that MNO followed Rhea Pappas and her mom through the whole process, coffee and all. I love that her whole vision is about women, beauty, and empowerment. Very refreshing.
MN Original: What an awesome episode, Alison! Who would you like to see appear on MN Original that has yet to be featured on the show?
Alison Scott: I’d love to see the Minnesota Boychoir featured on MNO. My band and I have collaborated with them in the past and it was one of the highlights of my career. I also know that Kevin Bowe just shot his segment, so I’m really looking forward to watching that one when it airs. Kevin is always good for a crazy story or two!
Frontmen Zach Coulter, Matt Locher, Adam Hurlburt of the electro glam rock outfit Solid Gold have been playing together for more than 8 years. Getting their start in Madison, WI after two of the members met in an architecture class, their debut album Bodies of Water gained international attention for its layered and complicated sound. After taking a four-year break between albums, in which Zach and Adam toured with GAYNGS, the band released their second record Eat Your Young in 2012. Members also include brothers Jacob and Jeremy Hanson. In this video, Solid Gold performs “Elephants” from their record Eat Your Young, in Twin Cities Public Television‘s Studio A.
Special Thanks: B.J. Burton for audio mixing, and Bryant Locher for lighting assistance.