MPLSzine - The Performance Issue

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ABOUT THE COVER: This picture was taken roughly 2 months after the acquisition of my first digital camera as I experimented with off camera flash. A Formaldehyde Junkies performance was always a great show to photograph, full of lots of energy and punk anarchy. Taken in October 2006 at the now defunct DIY show space New Granada.








Photo By Andrew Casey

LETTER FROM THE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR “I really enjoy being judged,” gushes Angela in the episode of The Office called “Performance Review.” Performance reviews came up a lot when the MPLSzine core team discussed this issue-we talked more than once about how job-related judgment could relate to the theme. My own office just went through a round of peer and self evaluations. I only had to review myself, but it was still a chore: It’s not easy to have perspective about yourself. You want to be fair and honest about your shortcomings, but you don’t want to be overly self-effacing. Your harshest critic is yourself, the cliche goes--but on the other hand, it can be hard to see flaws in something you’re very close to, or a routine you’ve been following for a long time. With that in mind, MPLSzine recently took a step back to discuss how we can be better at what we do, a mission we’ve officially defined as “Sharing your creativity. Celebrating our city.” We decided that publishing monthly, instead of twice a month as we have since last fall, would give us more time to reach out to new contributors, come up with the best ideas surrounding each theme, and make each issue diverse, engaging and good-looking. Since there will be only one fully designed issue a month, we’ll also work harder to bring you video, audio, photo and written content on our blog. And we’ll redouble our efforts to champion the work our contributors are doing elsewhere, and the creative goings-on in Minneapolis beyond MPLSzine. If you’re eager to submit content for an issue or the blog, head to, our new page dedicated to sharing the ideas we most want to see for each theme. Claim an idea that especially gets your head wheels turning by emailing us at Our September issue is Pleasure. Our October issue is Underground. Both are accepting submissions now, and it’s never too early to let us know what you’re thinking about creating. Unlike Angela, we don’t exactly enjoy being judged...but we know it’s important to look outside ourselves to see where and how we still need to improve (or even what we’re doing right). Send us a performance review at to let us know how we can keep getting better and make a magazine you want and love to read.

Sincerely, Colleen

SUBMIT TO MPLSZINE We are accepting submissions for

PLEASURE Publishing in September

We are accepting submissions for


UNDERGROUND Publishing in October

If you can’t conrtibute right away but want to learn more, email us anyway - We’d love to have you join us.


A Storytelling Open Mic Host Tells All. Allison Broeren is the slam master of Story SlamMN! and Poetry SlamMN!, a successful Fringe Festival producer and performer, and director of Mumble Mumble Productions. As managing director of Rockstar Storytellers, she hosts the Word Ninjas open mic on the second Tuesday of every month at Kieran’s Irish Pub, downtown Minneapolis. Signup begins at 8:00 pm and the show starts at 8:30. What are some of the nice things you’ve seen from newcomers to open mics? One of my biggest honors hosting an open mic is getting to see someone perform for the first time, see them really scared the first time, and then see them blossom into great performers. I see them grow into slam finalists and then move on to starring in Fringe shows. It’s great that they’re really open to doing their own sort of performance, not limited to doing what they have seen from other types of performers. I’m thinking of one person who, the first time he showed up, had driven into town—he lives way out—and he was shaking like a leaf. He had rumpled pages in his hand, he was kind of stammering around, and you could see his papers quivering the whole time. And he got better with each performance, and by the end of the season he qualified for the story slam finals. I really enjoyed watching him grow as a performer. 6

What advice would you give for someone thinking about it? I would say just try it. A lot of people just talk about it for a long time, but they never get around to doing it. The first time is the hardest, but then it’s over, and it just gets easier after that. I would suggest practicing before you come because we do have a time limit. A lot of times people think they only have a few minutes of material and then they get cut off in the middle. Other than that, don’t stress out, just show up with a good attitude and do it. Seriously? You’re a seasoned performer. How can you possibly tell a newcomer not to stress out? Well, I think it’s a friendly environment, a supportive environment. We’re all in it together. That’s the way to think about it. And, really, everyone wants people to succeed, because that makes it more fun for all of us. But they’re afraid of being hated! Have

you ever had someone that was booed at an open mic? No, absolutely not. It takes a lot to anger an audience so much they won’t clap. I’ve never seen that at an open mic. And we try to mention that it’s their first time. Usually there are people who stick around after the show to welcome them, maybe suggest other people they should watch. And we hope they come back! What’s the most difficult thing that you’ve watched? I’ve seen a few people show up that are dealing with some really hard mental issues and trying to express them, and I’ve seen a couple of people kind of melt down when the audience isn’t connecting with them, or get really frustrated or angry when the audience laughs at a point where the performer didn’t think it was funny. I’ve seen other performances that weren’t my thing, not necessarily something that I would enjoy. But that’s fine. It’s an open mic, open and uncensored. Maybe I don’t like it, but someone else might love it, and this gives people a chance to say what they need to say. Have you seen relationships blossom because of it? I don’t know about Word Ninjas particularly, but especially in the poetry slam scene, there have been

relationships started. No marriages yes, but one man did a really good love poems that kind of told the story of his relationship with his girlfriend and what brought them there that night. Then he proposed. You can’t leave us hanging. What did she say? (laughs) Yes. She said yes. That’s pretty cool that you’ve had two proposals at your poetry slams. Has anything else interesting happened? All sorts of things. We’ve had some local professional athletes show up to read something they’ve written, and they’re not generally recognized because most of us are not really athletic people. We’ve had local authors, or performers from other cities. I just, like, I really enjoy the open mics because I think they’re a genrebending space where anything goes. It should be a forum for people to try new things. We have people show up every month and do covers of authors that they like, and I think that’s really neat. Some nights are really awesome, and some are hit-and-miss. At the open mic, you never know what’s going to happen, and that’s what makes it really exciting to me. Stop by and see what you think. Interview By Christy Marie Kent 7

This is my favorite image I’ve shot ever in what is my favorite performance environment: a crowded living room or basement, people going

8 crazy MPLSzine // PERFORMANCE while I crouch in a front corner looking for that shot. Taken at the Organ Haus in December of 2007 of the Pukers from Iowa.

Photo// By MPLSzine Adam Bubolz9 PERFORMANCE


In the violet hour, after the sun has set behind the rolling hills, mists arise from the cracked stream bed known as White Woman Creek… And out of that mist comes the ghost of Anna-Wee... ​ er song still drifts across the tall H grasses like a single white cloud in the endlessly blue sky... Some have heard it, but few remember the legend of the white woman and the Cheyenne Chief. ​

- “The Legend of White Woman Creek”, a ghost story from Western Kansas.



Upon the tail end of the Minnesota Fringe Festival, I sat down with Katie Hartman & Nick Ryan - The Coldharts. Midwest natives and based in Brooklyn, New York, Nick is a playwright and Katie is a singer and an actress. They have been travelling the country (and now off to Canada, eh!) performing at Fringe festivals and getting great reviews. We talked about the life of performers, who sets the bar for success, and their latest work, “The Legend of White Woman Creek.”

Why The Coldharts? Katie: Funny story--the first production we ever performed in together was an improvised courtroom of God, and we played a husband and wife prosecuting team named Amanda and Cyrus Coldharts. That was in 2004, at the Woman’s Club--that was our first Fringe Festival. That’s when we subsequently began dating, but it was all Nick’s idea. (laughs) Nick: We started dating in secret because we were in an improv group and we didn’t want to make waves. K: We didn’t want to break up the band. N: Yeah, that was eight years ago. [Katie holds up nine fingers.] Yeah, nine years ago. When we were deciding what to call the production company...because we knew this show (LWWC) was going to have primarily me and Katie working on it, and we knew the next show will also be largely just me and 12 MPLSzine // PERFORMANCE

Katie working on it, so the company is kind of our touring company as a couple working in the arts essentially. We liked the name The Coldharts so we just ran with it. What drew you to this life path / career? N: My dad is a filmmaker and writer and photographer and just a jack-of-all-trades in terms of art, working as a video editor primarily. Growing up there was always a drawer that he had in his office that was just filled with camera equipment, microphones, and sound equipment, and we kind of just had free reign to go into that and use it for whatever we wanted--responsibly, of course-I don’t think I ever broke anything, now that I think about it. But from there it started me making performances, little pieces of the performing arts be it radio, video, or whatever at a very young age. I kept that up all through my formative years in high school and college,

and now it’s to the point that I realize that I’m just not trained to do anything else. Been doing it for ten years and even in those ten years there’s been a lot of lessons in terms of what it means to have a career in the arts--which usually means a lot of work for free, not being paid very much, and a lot of waiting around for something to happen. But it seems at this point I can’t do anything else basically. Do you want to do anything else? N: Not really. K: I’ve always been performing. My mom is a singer so we would sing around the house, make up songs, put on plays in the garage and the basement for all the neighbors. I was the eldest of three girls and my mom would call me the Pied Piper because whenever I’d go outside all the kids would come out and I would direct them or boss them around, depending on your perspective. We were always putting on some kind of performing arts piece but never professionally. I was never in any professional pieces as a kid--my mom actually would not let me. I thought about being a vet for a while, but biology and theater did not work on my schedule sophomore year at the U, so theater it was. Same question--is this what you want to do? K: Definitely. This is all I’ve ever wanted to do. At the end of the day, what is your measure of success--as creatives, as individuals--what is success to you? N: I’m coming up at a bend in the road right now. Early on, 10 years ago when I was just starting out putting on shows in a college environment, then the measure of success was just the fact that you could get anybody to come see the shows. That you could

sustain an audience to come back again to the show--and that continued through college into producing in the community here in the Twin Cities. At that point, the goal was always to be able to put up a show and to get a reaction from it, hopefully garner some good reactions. Now it’s coming up 10 years later, and this is the first year where I will be making the majority of my income from just playwriting and such. I’m finding the goals are changing because now it’s becoming the livelihood in addition to being the passion and the craft, essentially, which changes the goals slightly. One of the primary goals next year is to find enough work in order to be able to eat and feed our cat... K: The cat is very important--the cat sets the bar... [chuckles] N: Yes, Howard sets the bar--with the goal to continually become more serious, I feel, but at the end of the day it’s just to put up a show and to connect with an audience. That give and take is very rewarding and I think thats why we both do performing arts versus writing prose or something in a vacuum where you don’t have that immediate faceto-face satisfaction and reaction. K: The/My level of satisfaction varies with each performance. I usually have strong feelings about how a show went as a performer, and I rely on Nick to be my eyes and ears in the audience. Quality control, if you will. N: I think too that early on, the first 10 years of doing anything are just figuring out how to do it, and I feel like we’re getting to a point where we’ve been doing it long enough that we know how to do it and now it just needs to be done. You’re kind of competing against your own personal best, whatever that means to you. PERFORMANCE // MPLSzine



What’s your personal best so far? K: This show for me. I’ve been doing this piece for almost 10 months now and just within the last six weeks it’s the first time that I’ve been performing in a piece where I’ve felt something that I know in my body and it moves through me and I feel it as it comes. That helps it to stay fresh, and it’s a pretty intense show so it’s nice to be able to ride the wave of emotions that come with it with the audience. To me that’s been the most fulfilling part of the process. Every night you learn--oh that didn’t quite work in my opinion, and why, and how can I improve upon that. Just always striving to make it better. N: [Laughs] I’m never happy with anything I do. The eye of the creative is the worst critic--in any creative field you are subjecting yourself to the opinion of the audience--so, bravo for choosing a career that allows you to do that. In my opinion, it can be one of the most enriching growth experiences you can do as a creative. N: That is one of the most difficult aspects: You’re putting forth your work, usually very personal, on a public stage, and it’s open to criticism. People will tell you what they think and they don’t always like it. K: You’re never going to please everyone-and that’s not the goal, at all. N: Exactly, it’s to create a piece that will find its own audience. Like the show we are doing, Legend of White Woman Creek, it’s very quiet, very deliberate, very tense. It’s definitely finding its audience here but it’s not necessarily a show that everyone is going to immediately embrace. If you’re looking for madcap, this is not the piece. It’s been very

nice and rewarding to see people who are very interested in this type of folk music and ghost stories and the West and really come and embrace it and champion it. K: And it’s a change of pace at the Fringe, where a lot of people are going for fast laughs--and you come to Fringe to laugh. We’ve kind of found that our MO is that when you’re tired of laughing, come see us. During one performance I thought I heard people laughing, and that’s just my selfconsciousness as a performer and it was actually people sniffling and crying. It’s surreal--I almost don’t feel like it’s possible for people to be moved. N: We are pretty close to the material, too. After being steeped in it for 10 months, it’s hard to have any perspective on it. I always have to remind myself when I watch it, “Oh yeah, this audience has not seen it 35 times, so the next song will be a surprise for them.” But we’ve gotten great responses from people so far--people have been very giving and it usually spurs them to tell either some aspect of family history or music that they enjoy or personal work that they do themselves that they want to share, and that’s been really nice. K: It’s a musical about the birth of middle class in the Midwest, so we feel very at home in the material, of course, both being from the Midwest. It’s nice to be here and present it where people really connect with it. Where did the Legend of White Woman Creek come from? K: This was my favorite ghost story as a kid. I grew up in Kansas as a kid and my dad’s hometown is Hays, Kansas--Hays, America in northwest central Kansas...

N: It’s the only population center in between Kansas City and Denver on I-70, eight hours from Denver, six hours from Kansas City. It’s a pretty amazing place.

fled. I’m very proud of my heritage, I’m a sixthgeneration Kansan, my family homesteaded there in the 1850s, but today I feel that there is a great deal of intolerance. In creating “The Legend of White Woman Creek” - it was a K: It’s in the middle of the high plains, and love letter but it’s also a tragedy, which is my parents would farm me out to Hays very American. during summers and I’d go and stay with my grandparents. My grandmother told me What’s next after LWWC? this ghost story and some other local ghost stories--the Blue Light Lady, and there’s a K: LWWC was born out of the first annual really scary story about an albino woman Twin Cities Horror Festival last year, and who stops travelers outside of a cemetery in this year we’re really excited to be devising Wichita, and of course the Legend of White a new piece of theater with the theme of Woman Creek. We tell it differently than the horror that will go up at the second annual legend: Our story is a synthesis of the legend Twin Cities Horror Festival at the Southern as well as historical documentation from one Theater. It will be two weekends and it opens woman homesteader... on Halloween. N: As we started doing research on the show, we found there were aspects of the ghost story that made it very clear that it was just that, a local legend that perhaps had been based on something true at one point, but very obviously had been expanded and blown up and made quite a bit more. It had a tall tale aspect to it in some sense, so we went the route of synthesizing a new narrative that was perhaps the inspiration for this tall tale. Kind of like finding the derivative of an equation--if this was the legend, what could be the possibility for the true narrative that inspired this. We worked backwards, basically. K: It dealt with such heavy themes and it took place during the Indian wars. This is such a bloody part of our history and as a Kansan I was always raised with this righteous sense of justice, especially when dealing with Kansas history because Kansas was founded by abolitionists and feminists. People who wanted equal rights and for women to have the vote. That is a very different Kansas than the one that I grew up with and the one that I 16 MPLSzine // PERFORMANCE

N: We will have a Kickstarter for it. In order to run the festival we have a Kickstarter where if you donate x amount you get x amount of tickets to shows at the festival. Basically preselling the festival before we open. Along with our group, there are six other groups contributing to the Horror Festival, including drama, variety, horror, and dance. Do you think you’ll bring LWWC back? K: We are in talks to remount in the Twin Cities area, so if you missed it at the Fringe, you should have another chance to see it. Twin Cities Horror Festival Kickstarter: projects/1330049519/twin-cities-horrorfestival-2013 Interview By Bethany Hall Photos By Mark Ryan Illustration by Nicole Handel

It was a love letter but it’s also a tragedy, which is very American.



Movement 1 & Movement 2 Photos By Aaron Hays




BACON'S KARAOK As Minneapolis' undisputed karaoke champion™, I know all too well what a rush it can be to command a stage and hold an audience in the palm of your hand. But for others, it might not be as easy to master an artform as exhilarating and time-tested as karaoke. I've compiled ten tips that'll not only help you hone your stage skills, but will give you the power to conquer and melodically destroy any bar you step foot in.

S GUIDE TO KE DOMINATION Words by Christiaan "Bacon" Tarbox • Photos by Mike Billitteri

1. Alcohol Helps A lot of karaoke participants are able to dash for the mic and unleash the fury without any inhibition standing in their way, but some folks will need a little liquid courage to help loosen up. Considering that most of the bar's patrons will already be buzzed themselves, there's no shame in the risk of looking like a drunken ass on the stage. Just make sure you have a designated driver to get your butt home, because driving drunk is for losers! You're not a loser, are you? Didn't think so. (BONUS TIP: If too much phlegm is impeding your singing—or if you're hoarse from too MUCH singing—I've found that a straight shot of vodka never fails in clearing up those pipes for maximum performance efficiency.)

2. Make Sure Your Setlist Fits Your Audience

3. If It's Crowded, Choose Your Song Wisely

No two karaoke joints are the same, and therefore you'd do best to study your audience and determine what songs they'll respond most favorably to. If you're at a classy joint with live piano accompaniment like Nye's Polonaise, odds are that your stunning covers of Limp Bizkit or Nicki Minaj won't fly (if they're even available). Likewise, if you're at a college bar like Burrito Loco or Blarney, your chances of getting free drinks or getting laid because of your best Frank Sinatra or Fats Domino impersonations will be slim to none. Of course, nothing is set in stone, as stranger things have happened.

Karaoke junkies like myself want to get on the stage as much as possible, but when it's a packed house (especially on weekends), you'll probably get only one song in, unless you want to wait three hours for your next turn. As such, you're going to have to pick a tune that'll stick with the audience for the rest of the night. The best bet would be to pick the classic, high-energy crowd-pleasers, like "Don't Stop Believing", "Living On A Prayer", or "Come Sail Away", if you want to wrap the audience around your finger. However, any adventurous 'oke fiend knows that it's always a thrill to…

4. Take Risks Despite my advice in the previous two tips, stepping outside one's comfort zone is integral to building up your karaoke street cred. Maybe your singing style is more hip-hop than rock 'n roll. Maybe you prefer duets with your buds rather than going solo. Perhaps you're more comfortable with Top 40 hits than oldies. Shake things up! Take a chance! You never know how good you really are unless you surprise yourself and others. Show up early on a weekday when there's hardly any other patrons, and practice on songs and genres that you're less confident about. Once you feel ready, you can show off your newfound skills to your crowd when they least expect it.

5. If It's Over Seven Minutes Long, You Might Be Pushing It Crowds can become disinterested as easily as they can become engaged with a performance, and sometimes it's difficult to gauge the bar's energy levels. As such, you don't want to lose whatever goodwill you have with your audience by doing a ten-minute long song when a bunch of people are waiting their turn. So unless the crowd is sparse and you have time to spare, it's best not to put Iron Butterfly or Meat Loaf in your song queue.

6. Choreograph It, Baby! When you're doing karaoke, it's not just about the singing. When you get on that stage, you're tasked with giving your audience a full-blown SHOW. Therefore, adding an ample amount of flash, charisma, and dance moves will only help your performance. It's especially helpful if you know the words by heart, freeing you from staring at the lyrics screen and giving you carte blanche to shake your ass Tina Turner-style. Do you feel that? That's electricity, my friend. And it's all you. (BONUS TIP: If you're REALLY dedicated, or if it's a special occasion like a birthday, then accessorize! If you want to make a light show out of your performance, bring glow sticks or other illuminated props. Wanna make that Bob Dylan song ultra-authentic? Break out that old harmonica and go nuts. And if you want to do your best Tom Jones, bring a hat to leave on. Whatever clothes you DO remove, however, depends on the tolerance of the bar's security.)

7. Spectators Are A Part Of The Show, Too It's not enough to just entertain the crowd with your performance: sometimes, you gotta make them part of it. Watch any video of Freddie Mercury or Mick Jagger on YouTube and you'll see how easily they galvanized the crowd with their electricity and sheer charisma, making them feel as though they belonged onstage with the talent. Whether it's encouraging the audience to sing along, clap in unison, or even leaving the stage and embedding yourself in the crowd while performing, getting the whole bar involved in your musical shenanigans makes a world of difference.

8. No "Friends In Low Places". Seriously.

9. Always Applaud For Others

Don't. For Christ's sake, just don't. Please.

Quite a few people can get pretty nervous or shy when they sing at karaoke. Not everyone is a natural showman, but the fact that they're getting up there in front of a group of strangers takes a lot more balls than you'd think. Believe it or not, I've actually heard people boo or jeer others during karaoke, and there's no place for such harsh reactions in this environment. Even if the singer's absolutely tone-deaf or rhythmically challenged, they should get all the kudos in the world for just trying. So whether they're a karaoke god or a total noob, always give them a hand for keeping the spirit alive. If they sang Nickelback, just bite your tongue and clap anyway.

(BONUS TIP: While we're at it, no Creed. Or Jimmy Buffett. Or fucking Nickelback. Come on, you guys.)

10. Have The Time Of Your Life Karaoke is my sport. It's therapeutic, relieves stress, it's a great way to meet people and hang out with friends, and most of all, it gives you a chance to get away from the doldrums of real life and become the superstar you've always wanted to be, even if it's only for a few minutes. Some of the best nights of my life have been getting drunk with my buddies until last call, rattling through the all-time classics on the stage and reveling in the warm, yummy glow of the crowd's love and adoration. As long as you live in the moment and own that microphone with every fiber of your being, you will become a bona fide karaoke champion.

BACON'S TOP TEN KARAOKE KLASSICS 10. “Sweet Transvestite“- Rocky Horror never fails! A flamboyant showtune is always a fun change of pace during karaoke night. Plus, it's the only way I can really perfect my Tim Curry impersonation. 9. “Dream On“- Remember what I said about showmanship? If you can channel Steven Tyler, then you can do anything. And hitting that infamous high note is a time-honored rite of passage for any serious karaoke nut. 8. “Wonderboy“- Tenacious D isn't a traditional band to ape at karaoke, but damn it if I can't slice the Hydra's throat and grab its scroat for a receptive audience. 7. “Under Pressure”- My favorite karaoke duet song ever. I love Queen and David Bowie with a passion, and aside from that embarrassing moment at the beginning where everyone thinks you're gonna sing "Ice, Ice, Baby", it's a perfect opportunity for you and a friend to take over the bar when competition is out of the question.

6. “Don't Stop Believing”- Yes, I know, I KNOW. Everyone does this Journey standard, no matter where you go, to the point of done-to-death parody. But a classic is a classic. Very few songs capture the entire bar's undivided attention from the opening notes to the fade-out, and this is one of them. 5. “With A Little Help From My Friends“ (Joe Cocker version)Now THIS is a terrific song to sing when you're wasted. I always make sure to tousle my hair, contort my face, and jerkily animate my body when I sing Cocker's Beatles cover, and odds are that I'll be drunker leaving the stage than when I got to the stage. Hey man, this is art. 4. “Don't Stop Me Now“- Again: I fucking love Queen. Freddie Mercury is one of my idols, and any chance I get to perform one of his classics, I will take it. 3. “Born To Run”- Despite my love for glam and progressive rock, a lot of the best karaoke songs can be a challenge to do sometimes since I'm a bass-baritone and

not a tenor. If I'm not down for a high-pitched tune (which is rare, because I am a beast and you know it), I always fall back on Bruce Springsteen's blue-collar anthem. 2. “You Shook Me All Night Long“- The best way to end the night, since it'll ruin your throat beyond repair. It's AC/DC, so it also kicks serious ass, and you're guaranteed to get the crowd behind you. 1. “Come Sail Away”- My secret weapon. The pièce de résistance. The rock ballad of all rock ballads. Every time I break out this Styx masterpiece, I bring the house down and then some. Hearing the crowd chant the chorus with me en masse gives me serious goosebumps, and it's the very reason why karaoke and Bacon are a match made in heaven.

To Miss New Orleans Do You Know What It Means

by Jennifer Sandquist Oh New Orleans... I love you. I have missed you even though it’s only been a few short months. Just as I was getting ready to leave for the Dakota last night, I received an email confirming our participation in the Satchmo Summerfest in August. We’re donating another one-of-a-kind trumpet this year, auctioning it off on eBay this time around and donating all proceeds to the French Quarter Festivals Incorporated. The email I received from Marci started out, “Hey Friends”--yes, that is why I love New Orleans. Everyone there seems like they want to be your friend--not in a weird way, just in a hey, we’re all here on this planet together, let’s have a good time kinda way. It’s hard to describe unless you’ve been there...and once you have it’s sort of addictive. More than one time I have been walking down the streets of the city only to have a stranger flash me a smile and say, “Smile, darlin’, it’s a beautiful day.” No, i am not joking--it’s happened several times. Everyone says hello, everyone dances, everyone sings--it’s a really happy place. 26 MPLSzine // PERFORMANCE



Photo by Jennifer Sandquist

photos by Jennifer Sandquist

Well, last night The Rebirth Brass Band brought a little slice of that happy place right here to Minneapolis. I have been to the Dakota many, many times; I have seen a lot of very talented musicians on that stage...but I HAVE NEVER EVER SEEN ANYONE DANCING THERE. Last night, people just couldn’t contain themselves. At one point i saw a woman with a parasol start a mini second line...a man whirling his napkin above his head just as i’ve seen paraders do in NOLA...they were pulling people onstage to dance...the floor was literally moving beneath us...and for a second I wondered if the Dakota had planned for this type of merriment. Were the floors designed to hold dancers? Or just sitters? IT WAS AWESOME! I remember talking to members of The Pocket Aces Brass Band the first time I went to New Orleans a few years ago. I was so blown away. I told them people would eat that music up in Minneapolis--we don’t get straight ahead New Orleans brass bands here! And based on last night, I would say, there’s a severe need for it. Just imagine us Nordic shut-ins going to a brass band dance party in mid-January. Someone please open a dance club like that here. This piece was originally published as a blog post at do-you-know-what-it-means-tomiss-new-orleans.html.


Snapped outside the Dresden Dolls Concert in New Orleans... perhaps the performance capital of the world.

Photos By Jennifer Sandquist



Talk to Strangers

by Susan Woehrle

Photo by Andrew Casey


It was winter, early December in 2005 in a third-ring suburb of Minneapolis and I was fundraising for Clean Water Action. A fresh layer of snow illuminated by the full moon made for easy navigation and the weather was perfect: twenty degrees, no wind. I had on my winter boots and had bundled up, careful to keep my face uncovered so that people could see what I looked like when they peeped through their windows to see who was at the door. I have a face which can only be described as “cherubic” and I wear glasses, so generally my looks worked to my advantage after the sun went down. The neighborhood where we had been dropped off by the van (CWA had three, akin to the Mystery Machine without the psychedelic paint which we called the Vanimal, Bruce Vanner and Big Red). I had gotten sidetracked by a lengthy discussion about musical theater with Tom Reed, now something of a local celebrity. Then, however, he was my manager and canvassing partner for the evening. I got to the end of the street after having picked up a few more small contributions. Tom checked in again and I told him that his advice had worked and that I had over $30. “Great! That’s fantastic!” I would tell you what the people who didn’t give said, and how they refused, but a good canvasser learns to forget about everything except the people who give. Otherwise the task of facing each new neighborhood becomes overwhelming. One thing canvassers never forget, however, are the circumstances and details surrounding their largest contributions. I had never had what we called a “rockstar night,” where a canvasser fundraises $300-$500 or even considerably more. My quota at the time was $130 per night and I had been having difficulty raising

even that on a consistent basis. I was in this neighborhood to make up for a sizable deficit in my biweekly quota. I crunched alone through the snow and walked up a hill to the next section of my turf when I saw it: a huge white ultra-modern house, at least four stories high and dotted with windows which were laid out and shaped in the most haphazard and irregular fashion. It looked ghostly in the moonlight, surrounded with snow. I was reminded of the revamped farmhouse in Beetlejuice and shivered. As I approached I noticed that the lights were on. This is not unusual in a large house; lights are often left on in expensive houses to keep burglars away. I decided that I would feel much stupider if I left the house alone and saw someone there than if I knocked and no one was home. I went up to a glass door which could have been the front or back door. I knocked and knocked and waited. I was about to leave when a young Asian man descended the stairs from the third floor. I could tell what floor he started from because the stairway was open and all the levels in the house could be seen from where I was standing. It was a masterpiece of architecture and interior design. “Can I help you?” said the man with no discernable accent, who was a good five inches shorter than me. I told him who I was and, because I assumed he was well-educated, cut right to the chase: “I’m with a non-profit environmental lobby. We fundraise so that we can lobby the legislature on these issues,” I said, tapping the clipboard. He read the issues running across the top of the clipboard, his brow furrowed. “So let me get this straight,” he said slowly and quietly, “I give you money, and you use the money to lobby on my behalf on these issues,” he tapped the clipboard. “Yup, and I’ve been



encouraging people to chip in $365.” He started walking away, mumbling something about the amount and in my enthusiasm I said, “Feel free to give more! $720 gives us $60 a month and is a great level.” “More? No I meant less!” I wondered if my mistake could be used to some advantage. “Well, we are up against deep pockets.” And I shut up and let him think about it. Overjustification is an easy way to not only get someone to give less, but to decide that the whole thing is not worth the trouble. “I don’t know,” he said, writing $365, “It just seems like a lot.” In subsequent weeks I was asked to relate that very story over and over. There was even a special meeting called where I addressed a large group of CWA workers to tell the story. It was the one of the greatest times of my life. After getting someone to write me a check for $365, what could I not accomplish? When I first started at CWA in 2004 I was at the end of a nannying gig in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood of Southeast Minneapolis. I was no longer in school and I had no clear plans for future employment. One June day I was walking past the Clean Water Action offices. On the sidewalk outside the front door stood a young man I had worked with as a line cook the previous year. He was taking a smoke break and asked if I was looking for a job. “That is so funny because yes I am.” I was hired that day to work on the 2004 campaign for Kerry out of the CWA office, no fundraising. After the election I was out of a job, but I found out that the CWA field team was willing to take me on. As I would find out much later, the CWA field and phone canvass were considered one of the elite fundraising teams in


Minneapolis, along with MPIRG and NARAL, with whom we did cross-trains and sing karaoke on Thursday at Mac’s Industrial Bar. All three organizations used the Progressive Action Network (now defunct) training protocol and all three promised new canvassers that the training guaranteed success for those who followed it faithfully. I was awkward at first, the only girl in a crew of boys who had been working together for 2-3 years. I begged them to give me pointers, let me shadow them and give me extra training. They had a boys club mentality which included calling Wednesdays “Gang-bang Wednesdays” (like “hump-day”, get it? Ha ha) and sighing loudly and rolling their eyes whenever I asked for, nay, demanded their assistance. In their defense, new canvassers come and go and spending any sort of time on me would have been akin to a 4-H club member naming their show calf. That is to say, a waste of emotional investment, destined to end in heartbreak. Not in my case, as it turned out. I learned the tricks of the trade through the help, however reluctantly given, of my compatriots. They saw that I wouldn’t be fired due to poor performance, but as the winter grew closer I think they were expecting me to quit. Aside from the cold weather there is the early dark of winter, which could daunt even the most doughty outdoor fundraiser. I feared neither the dark nor the cold and stayed on. One week ended with me, bundled head to toe $5 short after five hours in thirty below zero. I met the boys in the coffee shop afterward for some cocoa and when they found out they each reached into their pocket for a dollar so I wouldn’t miss quota.

CONTRIBUTORS Publication Director Chris Cloud

Layout Director Bethany Hall

Illustration Director Kyle Coughlin

Editorial Director Colleen Powers

Visual Director Andrew Casey

Layout Intern Amanda Reeder

Leslie Barlow graduated from University of Wisconsin-Stout with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art. Originally from South Minneapolis, she moved back to Minnesota in 2011 and has continued creating and exhibiting works in the area. During the school year she works at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in the art department. See more at and Adam Bubolz is a live music photographer and cofounder of Minneapolis music blog Reviler. Since 2002, you’ve been able to find him and his trusty Pentax anywhere from basement shows to arenas and everywhere between. You can find his work regularly at and his personal portfolio Born at the crossroads of the nation, Aaron Hays now resides in Minneapolis and works as a freelance photographer, among other things. See more of his work at and follow him on Tumblr at and on Twitter at @aaron_hays. Christy Marie Kent is a writer, storyteller, speaker, and insurance geek. She was born in Mississippi, and although her parents moved throughout the South, she found them every time. Now she lives in Minneapolis (don’tcha know), where she writes, blogs about farmers’ markets at, and tells stories to anybody who’ll listen. You can connect with her at http://, on Facebook at http://www., and on Twitter at @christymkent.

Editorial Intern Ashley Wolfgang

Jennifer Sandquist is a Minneapolis artist specializing in acrylic painting, photography and collage. You may have seen her work at various locations around the Twin Cities as she shows frequently here and in neighboring states. When she isn’t painting or snapping photographs she is head of Art, Marketing and Social Media at Harrelson Trumpets, a custom trumpet maker based here in Minneapolis. She keeps a regular blog for both her art and the trumpet company. You can read more from her here: http:// and Christiaan Tarbox, better known to the world as Bacon, is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s journalism program, a freelance graphic designer, a film review blogger, undisputed Minneapolis karaoke champion, and a professional nerd. Follow him on Twitter: @thatbaconguy Susan Woehrle has lived in Minneapolis for several years, going to Augsburg College for English Literature and volunteering in her local DFL chapter. She has worked as a line cook, campaigner and security guard but what she really loves about Minneapolis is our great theater, writing and storytelling scene. See her Efolio here: http://susanwoehrle.efoliomn. com/ Follow her on Twitter at @suzwoehrle and see her photography on SprayGraphic: spraygraphic. com/susanwoehrle




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