Review roundup


“Bare: A Pop Opera” opens today at The Underground. Photo by Andrew Benusa

Reviewer Paul Brissett called Renegade Theater Company’s “Things to Ruin” a“varied and energetic show.” 

Lawrance Bernabo says “Bare: A Pop Opera,” which opened Thursday at The Underground, is gut-wrenching.

Features editor Melinda Lavine lists 10 Robin Williams movies that are now available for streaming in her Indie Watch column.

This week’s A&E roundup

Sara Wabrowetz performs during the dress rehearsal of the Renegade Theater Company production of “Things to Ruin,” a pop musical revue-style show about what it is like to be young and alive in modern times. (Clint Austin /

This week’s A&E section features a story about the two pop musicals opening today: “Things to Ruin” in this corner; “Bare: A Pop Opera” over here.

Here is where I deconstruct the song “Stay with Me.” 

Tony Bennett reviewed Ire Wolves’ album “The Ascetic” and had big ups for its fresh sound.

Best Bets include: “Bare,” “Things to Ruin,” Art in Bayfront Park, Red Rock Grill Wars, live radio theater and The Zeitgeist Experiments.


Weekend A&E roundup (now with more blues)

Sonny Knight of Sonny Knight & The Lakers performs at the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth Saturday afternoon. (Clint Austin /

Is everyone properly Blues’ed out? If not, here is a retrospective of blues-themed stories that ran during Bayfront Blues Festival in this weekend’s DNT.

On Friday, we had tips for how to have a happy bluesfest.

On Saturday, we captured the sights and sounds of the 26th annual event.

Music reviewer Tony Bennett said headliner Los Lonely Boys spent too much time dinging around and then dished out a ton of cliches.

Sunday’s paper included a story revisiting everyone’s favorite tie-dyed dance man Erwin “Boogie Cat” Laitala.

Bennett reviewed Robert Randolph and the Family Band and said the titular player turns his guitar into a psyche-gospel weapon.

Bennett reviewed Guitar Shorty’s midday set and had kudos for his “guitar wizardry.”



Bayfront Blues Festival playlist

Hey Bluesfesters: Here’s a playlist compilation of as many acts that I could find that are performing at Bayfront Blues Festival. Take it for a spin if you’re looking to do some pre-game homework. Or save it for later when you want to reminisce about what unfolded. Your choice.


This week’s A&E roundup

This week’s A&E section is heavy in Bayfront Blues Festival coverage. The cover story is about a hometown band, Deja vu Drifters, which plays its first bluesfest gig to open the show in the acoustic tent Friday.

Here are some picks for bands to see during the three-day event.

Tony Bennett reviewed the Holy Hootenanners.

Best Bets include a buncha fests: Bluesfest, Found Footage Fest, Sprout Film Fest, and Willie Nelson at Big Top, Goo Goo Dolls in Tower and the Playhouse’s education program tackles “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Hamlet.”

This week’s A&E roundup

Illustration by Gary Meader

This week’s A&E section includes a story about the ticket-buying trends of local audiences. Meanwhile, here’s some stuff to check out at Howling Moon Music Festival.

Music reviewer Tony Bennett reviewed Jeremy Messersmith’s “Heart Murmurs.”

Best Bets include: Howling Moon, Jason Isbell, Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, “Venus in Fur,” Movies in the Park and booze and symphony and booze and opera.

I wrote a column about Prince, Kevin Bacon’s butt and sugar cereals.

Weekend A&E roundup

Alan Sparhawk (left) and Mimi Parker of the Duluth band Low perform on Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current during a live broadcast from Endion Station Public House in Canal Park on Friday afternoon. (Clint Austin /

The Current played live from Endion Station on Friday, a broadcast that included interviews with Mayor Don Ness, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low and Sarah Krueger. This also marked the opening of the new beachfront spot created by Team Raymond-Nelson.

Sunday’s Pursuits section included a story about photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson two years after one of her photos went viral. (You know the one: Schoep the dog).

Also on the internet:

The Pioneer Press had raves for “Die Fledermaus,” which included local soprano Sarah Lawrence in the role of Adele. Reviewer Ron Hubbard calls her a “charmer with a robust soprano voice.”

This week’s A&E roundup

More than 70 teams competed in the 2011 jigsaw puzzle competition at the Landmark Center during the 2011 St. Paul Winter Carnival. (Photo courtesy of Mike Scholtz)

This week’s A&E section has a story about the latest doc by Wrenshall filmmaker Mike Scholtz. The followup to “Wild Bill’s Run” is a look at the world of competitive jigsaw puzzling.

“Wicker Kittens” plays Friday at Free Range Film Festival. Here are some other picks for things to see.

Here’s another jigsaw puzzle themed piece by Scholtz, which was created for a 48-hour film festival in Minneapolis in 2008.


The headliner for this year’s Twin Ports Bridge Festival is KIDZ Bop.

Music reviewer Tony Bennett says Ween fans should like “Freeman” by Freeman. 

Best Bets include: Free Range Film Festival, The Current at Endion Station, All Pints North, Zenith City Tales, Comedy at Dubh Linn and a brewery tourin’ bluesman.


Bamford featured in New York Times magazine

Locally-grown comedian Maria Bamford is featured in a profile in the New York Times magazine (“The Weird Scary Ingenious Brain of Maria Bamford”)  – a story that is wicked long and includes hang time with the mental health advocate-”Arrested Development” scene stealer.

Bamford has a song that she sometimes performs onstage called “My Anxiety Song.” It has no melody. Instead, it sounds more like an incantation, a desperate verbal hum. “If I keep the ice-cube trays filled,” she chants, “no one will diiiiieeee.” She continues, in a monotone, “As long as I clench my fists at odd intervals, then the darkness within me won’t force me to do anything inappropriate or sexual” — here, she drops her voice a couple of notes — “at dinner partieeeees. . . . “

Bamford, whose grew up in Duluth and still has family in this area, said on Twitter:

“I’m in the NY Times! W my family!” 
“I’m in the @nytimes magazine section this Sunday! An expose, I hope.” 


Today’s A&E roundup

Dr. Lloyd Backus has developed his painting skills since he retired from Raiter Clinic more than 20 years ago. His watercolor paintings, such as the one shown above, are featured at a gallery showing in Duluth this month.

Pine Journal reporter Dylan Marvel has a story about a doc who traded in his stethoscope for a paintbrush.

Tony Bennett has a review of Trampled By Turtles’ “Wild Animals.”

Best Bets include: Reggae & World Music Festival, The Zeitgeist Experiment, “Take it With You,” Movies in the Park, Northwoods Music Festival and Dances on the Lakewalk.

Here’s my column, an impersonation of Andy Rooney.

There’s a whole bunch of other stuff, including a concert announcement and a new concert in the park series, etc. Check it, direct it here.

Lawrance Bernabo reviewed the Duluth Playhouse’s much buzzed about production of “Les Miserables.” Spoiler alert: He’s nuts about it.