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Saturday, September 24, 2011

The 2011 Ivey Awards - "In Praise of Twin Cities Theater"

The following is a guest article written by HowWasTheShow theater reviewer Janet Preus.

September 19, 2011 The 2011 Ivey Awards

by Janet Preus,

This is not a review of this year’s Ivey Awards show or even a recap. However, I will say that my partner and I (who is a musician, recording engineer and a tough critic) so completely enjoyed ourselves that I intend to gush about it. This event brings together the arts and entertainment community like no other—everyone, as they say, was there—the feeling of goodwill and camaraderie in the State Theater Monday evening was unmistakable and memorable.

This year the Iveys chose to highlight costumers and their work, which made for even more than the usual spectacle associated with this event, and those honored in every category clearly deserved recognition, which was especially satisfying. But more, it’s one heckuva show. I would say that it featured the very best that Twin Cities theater served up this last year, but honestly, they could have picked an entirely different group of shows and performers and still put on a dazzling show. The breadth and depth of talent in this town is simply staggering. I know this because I’ve been reviewing it for several years and I can’t possibly get to all the shows I’d like to see. It’s that good.

If I can encourage you in some way with this short article to see more live theater, that’s what I’d like to do. Every time you’re sitting on the fence about going out to see a play, I hope this pushes you off of it and sends you out the door. Maybe you’re not sure you’re going to like this play you’re considering. So what? Go! Then write the producing company afterwards and tell them what you did like, and tell them you’d like to see what they put up next time.

Maybe you’re afraid your companion won’t like it. So what? There will undoubtedly be something that you do like, so go! Nobody nails everything every time. This is live theater, not filmed perfection. That’s why it’s such a great shared experience. That vulnerability can’t be felt in front of a TV screen, or the larger screen, either. YOU are a part of this one and essential to the larger story.

Maybe you’re tired and just want to collapse in front of the tube and zone with something mindless. You’re allowed to do that once in a while, but not on a regular basis. While your brain is succumbing to mush, your friends in the theater are being taken to a new place, discovering a new perspective, connecting with a shared idea, laughing or crying, perhaps, getting annoyed, motivated, charmed or dismayed. But something is happening with them, and you can be a part of it.

You can find reviews of many shows right here – and not just the most high profile theaters. We cover a wide variety; the size of the theater or company does not determine our decision to review. We do this pretty much for one reason: we love theater.

Go see everything you possibly can in the coming season. Then go to the Ivey’s next September and you, too, will feel a part of the Twin Cities theater scene. It’s quite wonderful. Just go!

- Janet Preus

Monday, May 09, 2011

CD Review: Kevin Steinman's "Pre-Existing Condition"

There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Kevin Steinman yet. But with the release of his new full-length CD Pre-Existing Condition, I have a feeling 2011 is going to be the year Steinman becomes much more of a household name. Produced by Andy Thompson (Jeremy Messersmith), Steinman made every effort with this record to work with some of the best musicians The Twin Cities had to offer. The roster includes Chris Koza, Linnea Mohn & Luke Anderson of Rogue Valley (is it any surprise Rogue Valley will join Steinman at his CD Release show 5/14 at the Fine Line?) Also featured are on the album Ben Kyle of Romantica, Alicia Wiley and Brianna Lane.

With debts to Paul Simon and Jack Johnson nationally, and Halloween, Alaska here in Minnesota, intimate and honest are two adjectives that come immediately to mind to describe Steinman’s songs. He has a distinctive ear for the vocal line, perhaps partly stemming from his extensive of experience as a singer in an a capella group right after college. Pre-Existing Condition is crisp, clear and knows what it’s trying to say. Its tight production and slow pop confidence give this album mainstream appeal. (“Just in Time” could easily slip in amongst the Coldplay on Cities 97.) But “Pop is not an evil word,” as Steinman said in a recent radio interview. To say your parents might like this record as much as you do is no backhanded compliment. It just might be true.

The simple arrangement of the first of 11 tracks on the disc, “Moonlight Navigators,” (listen on bandcamp) grabs you right away and sets the tone for what's to come. “Understanding Eyes,” is tightly-written Elvis Costello-esque pop. “Straight of Georgia” is a pretty finger-picked ballad reminiscent of Chris Koza, and I can easily imagine the edgy, minor key “I Look for You” playing over the final credits of a major motion picture. If I had to pick a single from the album it would be that one, but perhaps as icing on the cake, Steinman includes a new version of one of his earlier best songs, “Wish.”

(Watch the video for "Wish".)

Hear Pre-Existing Condition in its entirety at a CD listening party Tuesday, May 10th at Kings Wine Bar in Minneapolis (4555 Grand Avenue South in Minneapolis) at 9 p.m. (Steinman will also do a DJ set.) Then see Steinman perform live with his band at a CD Release Party at the Fine Line Music Cafe Saturday night, May 14th. The May 14th show is a duel CD release party with Farewell Milwaukee, also featuring Rogue Valley and Joey Ryan. Not to be missed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Voltage: Fashion Amplified 2011 Compilation to be Released

Voltage: Fashion Amplified, the Midwest’s premier rock and roll fashion show announces the release of its 2011 Limited Edition 10-track compilation CD featuring songs from the 2011 Voltage bands Pink Mink, Communist Daughter, Fort Wilson Riot, Phantom Tails and Me And My Arrow. The release of the CD will be celebrated with a listening party at Kings Wine Bar (4555 Grand Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55419, 612-354-7928, on Tuesday, April 5th at 9 p.m. hosted by DJ Jake Rudh. The listening party will feature CD pack giveaways and chances to win event tickets to Voltage 2011 on Friday, April 15th.


  1. Pink Mink – Black Door
  2. Fort Wilson Riot – Forgotten Language
  3. Me and My Arrow – LA Air
  4. Phantom Tails – The Oven Of Romance
  5. Communist Daughter – The Lady Is an Arsonist
  6. Pink Mink – Earthquake on the Loose
  7. Fort Wilson Riot – All My Friends
  8. Me and My Arrow – TMND
  9. Phantom Tails – All Good Things
  10. Communist Daughter – Northern Lights

The CD was made possible through the generous support of Copycats Media and Rare Form Mastering, says David de Young, CD Producer and Voltage committee founding member. “Each time we put this out I feel it’s one of the strongest compilation CDs that comes out in Minnesota each year, and this year is no different.”

Voltage is a production of MNFashion and takes place April 15th at First Avenue in Minneapolis. Proceeds from sales of the CD will benefit MNFashion. (

For more information on Voltage: Fashion Amplified visit