Friday, June 1, 2012

Sparhawk, DuSu FF, Celebrity Idol and Artist Kamikaze IV

"There's a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing." ~Eccles. 3:5

If you have been refraining (from embracing the arts), now is not the time. This week is a time to step forward with open arms and take it in. I'm referring here to the Duluth Superior Film Festival (DuSu FF) and all the other happenings here in the Twin Ports as we enter the month of June.

Alan Sparhawk, courtesy Andrew Perfetti
Last night was day two of the film festival, a night with two Sparhawk events. The first was a screening of the Alan Sparhawk film Low: You May Need A Murderer. At nine, Sparhawk and the Black-Eyed Snakes were setting up to perform at Tycoons, the former City Hall of this city on a hillside. Sparhawk and the Black-Eyed Snakes were a highlight of last week's Blood on the Tracks Express, generating so much energy that they nearly knocked the train right off the tracks. Literally. If you were there, you know what I mean.

As I reflected briefly on these things this morning, it seemed the Sparhawk name has something of a superhero quality about it. I can picture one of the Avengers being named Sparhawk. And it may be no coincidence that his name begins with an S and has eight letters like another famous superhero that our generation grew up fascinated with. "Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird... it's a plane.... faster than a speeding bullet... more powerful than a locomotive."

He also knows how to be a ham.
For what it's worth, tonight the first of two local short films programs will air at 9:00 p.m. at the Sons of Norway Hall, one of them being a ten minute documentary/interview with Alan Sparhawk, produced last year by Andrew Perfetti and Twin Ports Underground. Sparhawk's Retribution Gospel Choir contributed a gig for the 2011 Rock Out Autism event at Clyde Iron Works and the performer generously gave a piece of himself to the cameras. (This was my second encounter with the gifted musician whose group that night was comparable to a Hendrix experience.)

All the other short films on the docket tonight involve local film makers, directors or writers including  Kohta Asakura, Jaime Merideth and Brian Barber, Jon Bothun, Zach Anderson, Jerree Small, Kathy McTavish, Ethan Holbrook, Toby Thomas Churchill, Nicholas Sunsdahl and Ed Newman... most or all of whom will be present tonight. I suspect the evening will be followed by a lot of engaging conversation.

Preceding these creative short pieces will be director Michael Neelson's Last Day At Lambeau, also at Sons of Norway Hall, airing at 7:15. Around the corner the PROVE Gallery will also be hopping, a cinema celebration with many film makers and festival guests in attendance. This free event will be open from 7:00 till 10:00 p.m.

If music is your thing, the film festival includes three nights of music gigs at Tycoons. Tonight you can catch Cars and Trucks w/Planemo and tomorrow evening you will find BNLX w/Equal Exchange. Last night, in addition to the Snakes, the film Under African Skies screened to a full theater at Zinema 2. In this film, Paul Simon returns to South Africa 25 years after producing his stellar Graceland album. The documentary juxtaposes then and now footage to reveal the tensions and challenges that nation endured under apartheid. I'm sure this will air ago on HBO or some equivalent station in the year ahead, a worthy addendum to the Graceland story.

As for music, the Twin Ports scene really is a seven-days-a-week venue for performers of all types, but next Wednesday will be a very special kind of show that you will undoubtedly want to attend. It's a fund-raiser by the American Red Cross called Heartbeat Idol. Evidently patterned on the television model, Heartbeat Idol is a celebrity karaoke competition, except the celebs will be performing with a live band, the Bryan Olds Band. (It is a fund-raising event for AEDs, a piece of equipment that saved at least 31 lives last year in Minnesota alone.)

The host/moderator/MC will be radio personality exemplar Ken Buehler, local weatherman and president of the Duluth Depot. The judges for Wednesday evening's competition at Grandma's Sports Garden will be John Heino of the Centerville All Stars, Tessa Lenneman of the Duluth Playhouse and Mike Herrick of the Superior Chamber. Celebrities slated to perform include the ubiquitous Senator Roger Reinert, Linda Kratt of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, Congressional candidate Jeff Anderson, Ed Newman of AMSOIL, Christa Lawler of the Duluth News Tribune, Steve Greenfield of Greenfield Communications, and more.

I've been told that there are going to be two winners for this event, a Fan's Choice and a Judge's Choice. I also have it on good authority that there will also be one loser, whose body will be dropped through a trap door into a pit of vipers and whose anguished screams will be recorded for use in another local film maker's production tentatively titled Rattled By Adders, to air at DuSu Film Festival IV in 2013.

All that to say it will be pretty competitive, even if I am not myself the competitive type. (Oops, my nose just grew an inch.)

This is an sneak peak of my team's project.
Speaking of competition, you may want to mark your calendar for June 7 as well. Next Thursday will be Artist Kamikaze IV at Pizza Luce, curated by the Limbo Gallery. I will be writing more about this in a couple days but I wanted you to get it on your calendar now. Artist Kamikaze is also a competition in which aritsts who work in different media are paired to see what they come up with. I believe there are at least twenty artists involved this year, including myself. The opening night will include wine and the opportunity to vote for your favorite works. If you can't be there, be sure to grab a lunch or dinner at Pizza Luce during the month of June to check out what everyone has come up with.

Then there's an Ochre Ghost opening June 8 and.... wait... let's not get ahead of ourselves. Hope to see you on the town tonight. Spring really is a good time to embrace the arts. The weather is absolutely perfect. May your weekend be the same.

PS: Speaking of Sparhawk, let's not forget his two night stand at the Duluth Play Ground titled "A Murder In Silk" in which he joins Gaelynn Lea (violin/vocals) to produce music  while silk painter Lee Zimmerman does live painting. Maybe I should compare him to Superman again? Thanks, Alan, for all your contributions here.

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