Fargo area arts events for the week of April 17 – 23, 2014
Through the weekend
With the Easter weekend, many museums and other venues will have holiday hours. Be sure to call ahead to see if your destination is open. Happy egg hunting!
Theatre B opens the provocative comedy “Clybourne Park” (video at top) Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. with additional shows Friday and Saturday at the same time. The Bruce Norris play, which won several awards including a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award, uses humor to address issues of race and the meaning of community. The play runs weekends through May 17. Details and tickets: [Theatre B]
At the Fargo Theatre: “Grand Budapest Hotel” and, opening this weekend, “Cesar Chavez.” Click for showtimes: [Fargo Theatre]
Thursday, April 17
MSUM presents the Spring BFA Exhibition #2 with an opening reception from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Roland Dille Gallery. [MSUM]
Cyclist and activist Ana Rusness-Peterson will celebrate World Book Night with an interactive bike trip through Fargo and Moorhead, giving away books at each stop. To participate or cheer on Ana (and literacy!) visit her Facebook event. The tour starts at 6 p.m. [Ana Rusness-Peterson/Facebook]
CD release party for “Love, Loss, and Regret” by the Pat Lenertz Band Thursday, April 17, 10 p.m. The Aquarium Pat Lenertz Band/Facebook
This Thursday, the Pat Lenertz Band is hosting a CD release show for their first album, “Love, Loss, and Regret” at the Aquarium. The full band features a talented range of area musicians including Lenertz on guitar and vocals, Trevor Pearson on drums, Casey Conners on guitar, Mike Jenkins on keyboards, and Travis Atwood on bass.
Lenertz is practially a household name in the Fargo music scene, thanks to his involvement with bands Bad Mojo, The Legionnaires, The Quarterly, and Heavy is the Head.
“It was great to include all the musicians on it from the downtown scene,” Lenertz said. “Fargo is unique in that we facilitate unity and growth in our musicians and I love that. I want our downtown scene to shine.”
The Pat Lenertz Band does indeed shine an the ambitious new album that took a year to record at Legionnaire bassist Ken Davis’ Positively Tenth Street Studio.
“It’s like a club, hanging out with your buddies and making music,” Lenertz said. “The process just fit that. It took a while. We have such a good objective relationship where we won’t hurt each other’s feelings and it totally facilitates creativity. We have a history as we had recorded two albums with the Legionnaires before. From day one, I didn’t want to put any time limits on [the album]. I knew it would take as long as it was going to take and it’s a reflective album.”
“Love, Loss, and Regret” is a concept album that reflects changing seasons of moods. The album is woven with lush and eclectic arrangements that including diverse instruments such as cello and mandolin. Lenertz said that cello “thickens a song” and is the closest instrument to the human voice. The album is “not linear, it is fluid and dynamic reflecting emotions from heartache to love.”
“It tells a story,” Lenertz said.
It’s both a rare and a magical quality when musicians can skillfully translate raw, unadulterated pain into a gorgeous, nostalgic tribute. When listening to the song, “Farewell to You,” the listener viscerally feels Lenertz’ pain of losing his best friend and former bandmate Cody Conner two years ago.
Lenertz’ soulful baritone warbles with remorse: “I can sing with the best of them / but now I can’t make a sound / I feel like I’ve let you down.” A stripped down melodic guitar solo accompanies Lenertz and the song ends on a wistful and nostalgic note: “Farewell to you my old friend / I’m sure I’ll see you again / Never got what you wanted from this life and in the end / Farewell you to you my old friend.”
Along with their music, Lenertz and area musicians have paid tribute to the nonprofit Cody’s Legacy Foundation, which donates music scholarships and instruments in Cody’s memory. The foundation raised $15,000 for its first benefit. While Lenertz was influenced by tragedy and grief, “Love, Loss, and Regret,” primarily features relatable, melodic songs inspired from a variety of experiences.
“I don’t ever question the muse. It’s like a light switch. It comes from a higher place and I am like a vessel sometimes,” he said. “Oddly enough, most new songs were written while taking a class. I probably wrote ten songs in only a few weeks.”
Once inspired, Lenertz then brings ideas to bandmates.
“I’ve learned to have a unified front in song writing. The song should have a skeleton, at least have a verse and a chorus. It’s like taffy, my bandmates all take a piece and pull.”
The song “Minnesota Rose” is a joyful romantic ode featuring the lyrics: “Like the petals of a flower / you are soft to the touch / I am head over heels / cuz’ love you so much / You are my Minnesota Rose.”
Meanwhile, the folksy “Shila” is an upbeat song with infectious riffs, a groovy solo, and rhythmic drum and bass sections. Instrumental songs feature an island flavor infused with roots rock.
Different “NPR-inspired bumper tracks” punctuate songs to literally give it the feel of switching a dial on a radio complete with crackles, hisses, humorous quips, applause, and voice overs. The bumper tracks provide a seamless transition from songs of varying mood and show the influence of its Americana roots. The Pat Lenertz Band skillfully pays tribute to their various influences which include classic bands and artists such as the Grateful Dead, Willie Nelson, John Prine, and Waylon Jennings to modern influences such as Band of Horses, Dawes, and Ween.
Above all, what makes The Pat Lenertz band stand out from others is their positivity, insight, and wisdom.
“It’s been a blessing to be able to play with my friends,” Lenertz said, “I want to keep recording with friends, keep making music, that’s it. That’s happiness to me. I’m going to keep playing until no one wants to hear it anymore.”
About the author: Tessa Torgeson is a social worker by day and aspiring writer, yogi, friend, bass player, and cat lady by night. Follow her via: blog, Twitter, or Facebook.
April is National Poetry Month, and we’re working on a series of YouTube poetry readings in celebration … and we want you to celebrate with us! It’s pretty simple: pick any poem from any poet, record yourself reading it, post that video to YouTube, then share it with us (and all of your friends, of course).
To kick things off, Kris is reading a poem by Heidi Czerwiec entitled “Bettie-Shaped Space” from her book “Self Portrait as Bettie Page,” released late last year at Barefoot Muse Press. Heidi is an assistant professor of English at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, where she lives with her husband and son.
Gerald Vizenor reading NDSU’s Beckwith Recital Hall Monday, April 28, 3 p.m.
Submitted by NDSU University Relations.
An award-winning and internationally acclaimed Minnesota-born Anishinaabe novelist, poet, historian and screenwriter is scheduled to visit North Dakota State University on Monday, April 28.
Gerald Vizenor, professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkley, will read selections from his new novel “Blue Ravens” at 3 p.m. in Beckwith Recital Hall. A book signing and reception will follow.
“Blue Ravens” is the story of two young Anishinaabe men from Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation drafted into the U.S. Army during World War I. The book commemorates the lives of two of Vizenor’s White Earth uncles who died in combat.
Vizenor, the principal author of the newly approved constitution of the White Earth Nation, has explored the history of Native peoples in many genres, including the novel “The Heirs of Columbus”, the poem “Bear Island: The War at Sugar Point” and the experimental history “The People Named the Chippewa.”
He recently retired as Distinguished Professor American Studies at the University of New Mexico. Vizenor previously created the American Indian Studies program at Bemidji State University.
He is the founding editor of the University of Oklahoma Press American Indian Literature and Critical Studies Series and the University of Nebraska Press Native Storiers Series.
The author of more than 30 books, Vizenor is the recipient of the Minnesota Historical Society’s Lindbergh Prize, as well as the American Book Award, Fiction Collective II Prize, Western Literature Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award and a Film in the Cities Award.
Vizenor’s visit is sponsored by the NDSU Office of the Provost; College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Department of English; College of Human Development and Education; Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Studies; College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Allied Sciences; College of Science and Mathematics; Department of History, Philosophy, and Religion; Department of Modern Languages; Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
Talk to a few theatre educators and one idea clearly stands out: the theatre is a place to build confidence.
For Shanara Lassig, that starts early on, even before kids become part of the school system. As a preschool owner and a part of Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre’s Training Ground program, she’ll be introducing pre-kindergarten kids to the stage.
“We play, mostly,” Lassig says, “but there’s a lot of theatre stuff going on in there. They’re imagining everything, so we do a lot of imagination play.”
“Through it all, they’re learning confidence and becoming a little less shy. Most of them are doing this in front of people for the first time,” she continues.
That theme runs throughout the wide variety of options in the Fargo area available to these kids as they get older. In addition to Training Ground, which offers training for all ages, they can get involved with programs like Trollwood Performing Arts School, Act Up Theatre, or the Gooseberry Park Players, which all offer education independent of well-established elementary, middle-school, and high school programs. Three of the area’s universities have academic theatre programs and offer further opportunities for development on top of these.
Part of building that confidence comes from giving kids a chance to be part of something bigger than themselves that also serves as an alternative to athletics, says Adam Pankow, a theatre educator in the West Fargo School District who also heads their Summer Arts Intensive, which begins in June.
“Our responsibility is to get kids on the fringe. I just love that. We’re just a bunch of mismatches that have found each other and we make art together. This is a place to belong and feel accepted and put yourself out in the world. This is a positive and creative place,” he says.
The change Pankow sees in theatre kids can be nothing short of extraordinary. Plus, those skills translate into places far beyond the stage.
“I’m writing a ton of college recommendations right now and I look at students I’ve seen over the course of four years. I think ‘this kid, freshman year, could barely say their name.’ But now they’ve become these great and confident leaders, and that’s awesome,” Pankow says, “in terms of their maturity and growth, theatre is a piece of that.”
Expanding options for involvement
Theatre programs are on the uptick, with recent years seeing new programs and existing programs growing in size and scope. This proliferation of options might seem like overkill, with parents, students, and audiences bewildered by Fargo-Moorhead’s expanding theatre landscape. But Pankow counters that demand for these programs also continues to increase.
“Population-wise, all of our schools are just booming,” he says. “In the last 10 years, there’s been a dramatic shift in how our schools are valuing arts programs. And the bar keeps getting raised by our productions. All of this has built a culture that has increased our need for programs like (the Summer Arts Intensive).” He says that these programs are beginning to tinker with their schedules to accommodate each other, which gives more students a chance to be involved in one or another without overloading their time.
As these programs bring in more and more students a few might get lost in the shuffle, says Justin DePaolis-Metz. He’s starting a new theatre program, Spotlight On Youth, that works with students with special needs or who are caught between middle-school and high-school programs. He also understands that theatre is a crowded field, but adds that this is also a reason to refine their focus toward the kids who need it most.
“We wanted to supplement, not supplant, what was already out there,” he says. “And whatever they get from our programs they can take to every other program. They can go anywhere and benefit from what they learn.”
It’s a point of pride for all of these educators that the Fargo metro is a “theatre town,” and that all these opportunities add up to more well-rounded kids and, ultimately, adults.
“What’s appealing to me about theatre as opposed to other subjects is that you’re going to put every kid where they’re going to be most successful and where they’ll work together in the best way,” DePaolis-Metz says. “We can show each student their own personal success, as well as collective success, which is such a cool way to teach kids.”
Image: Shanara Lassig teaches a class of pre-kindergarten children at The Stage at Island Park. Lassig introduces the kids to basic concepts of theatre and has them take part in imagination play. Her class is part of a broad spectrum of theatre education opportunities in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Photo by the author.