Joe's Blog 7.8.10

Hey friends, I hope you all enjoyed your holiday weekend last week! I just got back from the outstanding Communist Daughter show in Mear Park tonight. It was a terrific night with a great new band and a huge crowd. We’re full on into the steamy days of Minnesota summer. But not to worry; with the heat comes some great opportunities to get out and explore. If you want to head outside, pay a visit to Lake Phalen for a guided tour of the newly restored shoreline ( Or if you’d rather hide out in the air-conditioning, we've got that, or if you want to lose your mind jumping up and down at some great band, check out one of the many shows starting this weekend.

Dragon Festival at Phalen Lake Park - Saturday and Sunday

One of the summer’s biggest and most exciting festivals is here: the Dragon Festival is at Lake Phalen this weekend. Not only can you watch the dragon boat races, but you can also check out the Dragon Dance in the Dragon Parade, see martial arts competitions, stuff yourself with delicious food, take the little ones to make some crafts, and pick up a souvenir from one of the many vendors. The goal of the festival is to celebrate Asian Pacific cultures, and with free admission to events starting early Saturday and running through most of Sunday, that should be easy to do. While you over at Phalen, you have to check out the wonderful statue by artist, Lei Yixin of our Sister City, Changsha China. Master Lei is currently working on the Dr. King Memorial on the National Mall.

The Stinky Cheese Man at SteppingStone Theatre - July 9 through August 1

SteppingStone has a great show opening this week. The Stinky Cheese Man is an oddball fairy tale that has become a classic and a favorite at SteppingStone—both for kids and, I promise, also for their parents. The name alone is enough to seduce any 4 or 5 year old kid that they need need need to see it. If need any more convincing, keep in mind that the musical is based on the wildly popular book by Jon Scieszka, which is probably familiar to you if you have little ones at home (Emerson's been pleading for weeks to go). If you buy your tickets ahead of time online, they’re only $7, so how can you say no?

A Taste of the Cities: 15 Artists at the AZ Gallery - Saturday

Check out this nice write up from my friends at LeToile...The Argyle Zebra gallery is the kind of gallery that's right up my alley: an artists’ co-op, dedicated to the artistic expression of its members -- always endeavoring to provide more opportunities for the creative crowd to flex their colors. This Saturday is an especially great example of that, as the AZ Gallery features 15 different artists in a diverse “sampling” of work. The AZ will be featuring works from both resident artists such as DC Ice, Kara Hendershot and more plus notable non-member artists including Rabi Sanfo, Erin Sayer, Jesse Draxler, Josie Lewis, and Christy Johnson.

Sweeney Todd at Gremlin Theatre - July 8 through July 18

Musicals not quite your thing? Too tame, too traditional, too cheesy? Then try Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. This classic Sondheim musical has experienced a recent surge in popularity after the Johnny Depp movie of a few years back. This has long been one of my favorite shows with some stunningly wonderful tunes. The Young Artists Initiative is ambitious thinking it can tackle this show, but I'm excited to see these young people take a crack at it. Tickets are only $10, and this show doesn’t run for long... if you're not into it, you can always bail and get a glass of wine at Biagio or try out the new Caribe restaurant nearby!

Orange Music Collective at Turf - Saturday

Turf has a fun show this Saturday. There are five bands, starting at 9:00 pm, for only $6. Dragons Power Up! will be back at Turf with their indie rock/catchy pop sound. They’ve been getting good reviews for their newest album Brace for the Bloom, and I’m expecting this local band to deliver. The last band of the night, Wizards Are Real, will be something a little different. They describe themselves as Jazz/Psychedelic/Rock, and this purely instrumental band definitely has a unique sound. Haroh, Japanese Space Program, and Company Inc. are also playing.

Alliance Francaise Bastille Day Celebration at the University Club of Saint Paul - Saturday

In France, Bastille Day is actually celebrated on July 14, but at the University Club, you can get a head start this weekend with the Alliance Francaise. There will be live music from a French cabaret orchestra, a vintage auto show in partnership with the Citroën Club of Minnesota, and the chance to play the traditional French game of pétanque—which is kind of like a sophisticated version of bocce ball. And of course, you can enjoy French food and wine.

Scream Like You Mean It 2010 at Station 4 - Sunday

This event speaks for itself—it’s an all-ages show, mostly featuring metal rock bands, at 3:30 pm on a Sunday. So, if you’re part of the under-21 (or even under-18) crowd and you want to catch some great live music, you won’t want to pass this up. Scream Like You Mean It is touring across the country, and the groups are mostly from the coasts—so this might be your only chance to see them for a while. The bands at this show aren’t exactly my usual fare, but they’re all metalcore groups that have been getting pretty good buzz (actually, Emery is a Christian Rock band, which should make for the best combination since the JC Superstar shows were at First Avenue). Have a great weekend everyone, and keep sending me your suggestions for fun events. Joe