July 27th, 2017

Bob Dylan festival returns to St. Louis Park

After a year’s hiatus, an annual tribute to Bob Dylan returns. At 6:30 p.m. July 29 at Wolfe Park in St. Louis Park, a group of Minnesota musicians revisits the songs of the flower power generation.

Kevin Odegard, leader of the Minneapolis band that backed five cuts on Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks album, is a co-producer of this, his final park concert. Fellow Blood on the Tracks alumnus Peter Ostroushko will also appear with his signature mandolin. Ostroushko is nationally known for his appearances on A Prairie Home Companion, among his many other accomplishments.

The concert is co-produced by Stan Kipper, who has played with Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jay “Thunder Island” Ferguson and many of America’s greatest stars. Other musicians on the bill include Barbara Meyer, Gary Lopac, Aaron Ollswang, Jim Steinworth, New Primitives and surprise guest musicians. The MC is St. Louis Park’s Magic Marc Percansky.

Opening the show is Milwaukee’s Kharma Shotgun, the official band of Guitars for Vets charity. The show is rain or shine, thanks to the completion of the sheltered ROC, St. Louis Park’s new covered facility adjacent to Wolfe Park.

July 26th, 2017

David and the Philistine Woman: Throwing rocks

David and the Philistine Woman, by Paul Boorstin, Top Hat Books, 316 pages, $19.95

Reviewed by NEAL GENDLER

One problem with writing a novel based on biblical characters is that most readers are familiar with the basic story, and usually, you can’t change the outcome.

So you have to imagine what the characters might think and do around what’s described in the Bible, which usually is bare-bones enough to provide lots of room for invention.

In his entertaining David and the Philistine Woman, officially out Aug. 8, Paul Boorstin creates several subplots explaining why David had to face the Philistine killer Goliath, and why with only his slingshot.

Shepherd David is anointed by the prophet Samuel to succeed Boorstin’s unstable King Saul, who rules a small, poor kingdom of Israelites frequently raided, robbed and brutalized by the neighboring wealthy, warlike Philistines. The Holy Ark frequently must be moved so the Philistines don’t find and capture it. Keep reading →

July 26th, 2017

On the Fringe

Minnesota’s annual non-juried theater festival presents a collection of Jewish plays

by MAX SPARBER

The 23-year-old Minnesota Fringe Festival is one of the great experiments in theater. It is unjuried, which means that anyone who applied has a chance of being accepted, regardless of experience or the quality of their work.

Playwright Kit Bix adapts It Can’t Happen Here for the Fringe Festival. (Sinclair Lewis Productions)

Instead, shows are picked by a lottery system. This means that a lot of work that would not get produced elsewhere winds up at the Fringe Festival. Occasionally, this is for the worse, as genuinely dreadful plays manage to make their way onto the stage every year. But, for the most part, it is for the better. Mainstream theater can be disappointingly unadventurous and unexpectedly myopic. The Fringe gives a chance for plays to take the stage that might not have a chance elsewhere, telling idiosyncratic stories and presenting worldviews that don’t get much of a chance to be heard elsewhere.

And there are always some plays that directly address the Jewish experience, or provide opportunities for Jewish talent. Here is our list of plays in the 2017 Fringe that have some Jewish content. Keep reading →