Minnehaha Avenue’s (Counter-) Cultural Corridor

Minnehaha_Falls-20050614BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE

Although it doesn’t have an association to advertise itself as such, Minnehaha Avenue has quietly become a Corridor of Culture over the last five or 10 years. A lot of it is with a distinctly alternative or counter-culture style. Starting at Lake Street and going south, we have Glass Endeavors. If you have not checked this out, you may think it’s just a retail outlet selling stained glass products, but it is more than that. They also offer classes in making your own stained glass, slump glass or glass mosaic items. They sell supplies and books for glassworking. They repair glass items of all kinds, and they produce stained glass on commission from your designs. Drop in at 2716 E. 31st St. or go to glassendeavors.com to get more details.
On the west side of Minnehaha, just south of Lake Street, you will find Patrick’s Cabaret, which offers a staggering array of unique shows featuring music, drama and the spoken word. Edgy, experimental, improvisational, culturally expansive, as its Facebook site says. Weekend cabarets, some guest curated, some themed, run pretty much year round. A singer-songwriter series brings lesser-known performers to the fore. Another popular series is The Calof Series: “A monthly series pairing two singer/songwriters and two storytelling/spoken word artists to present works-in-progress. Taking place in our intimate lobby lounge, audiences enjoy free admission, Peace Coffee, baked goods from New French Bakery, and the chance to discuss and shape new work with local artists.” (From the Facebook page.) The next one will be June 11.
!cid_F6872CE6BAE0434EB0EF09D7D6EE179A@Pride copyThe annual Longfellow Roots Rock & Deep Blues Music & Arts Festival on Saturday, July 18, is a benefit for Patrick’s and has a stellar lineup as always: Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition; Black Market Brass; Charlie Parr; Kent Burnside & The New Generation; Flood Brothers; Catl; The Last Revel; Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes; Frogleg; Willie Murphy & Angel Headed Hipsters; The Fattenin’ Frogs; Left Lane Cruiser; Joe & Vicki Price; Jeff Ray & The Stakes; ‘Spider’ John Koerner; Mike Munson; Bernie King & The Guilty Pleasures; Eleganza; Savage Aural Hotbed; Fury Things. This is a total neighborhood partnership, which includes Harriet Brewing, The Hub, Du Nord, Le Town Talk, Gandhi Mahal, Longfellow Business Association and Eagles Post #34.
Not next door but one or two to the south of Patrick’s is Harriet Brewing Taproom, which features live music, always on weekends, and some weekdays. Jack Klatt will be featured May 20 and 27, Bad Companions and Vernon Dixon on May 23, singer-songwriter and fiddle-player Jillian Rae on May 29, The May North on May 30, and Abstract Artimus on May 31.
Continuing south you find Peace Coffee on the corner of 33rd Street; every cultural corridor needs a good coffee shop. Two doors north of Peace Coffee is a hidden gem, the Trylon Micro-cinema. They constantly run series on various themes or directors or actors. Right now they are in the middle of an Orson Welles series, and the Work Sucks series runs through the four weekends of June. The upcoming Orson Welles films include “A Touch of Evil”, “Macbeth”, “The Lady from Shanghai”, and “The Southern Star”. The Work Sucks series comprises “Clerks”, “Nine to Five”, “Desk Set”, and “Car Wash”.
Behind Peace Coffee, facing onto the side street, is Moon Palace Books, a small independent bookstore worth checking out soon and often. Like so many independent, local businesses, Moon Palace does more than just sell books. It hosts numerous book clubs—Wild Read (for science fiction of all kinds), the Hard-boiled Book Club (self-explanatory). Also, do check out its website. It’s like the antidote to Amazon, and like that worthy world dominator, it has a wish list function, and sells e-books for Kobo.
About five blocks south and on the other side of Minnehaha are two cozy neighbors, the Minnehaha Free Space and the art studio of Ricardo Levins Morales. Minnehaha Free Space is run by a collective of anarchists, the MARS collective, or Martians. They offer a lot of homegrown cultural and educational events, including movie nights and singalongs from the radical songbook “Rise Up Singing.” Closely associated with MFS is EXCO—Experimental Community Education of the Twin Cities. All classes are free, and anyone can teach. (Contact EXCO or Minnehaha Free Space using their Facebook pages to find phone numbers and other current information.)
The art studio of Ricardo Levins Morales, on the same block of Minnehaha, is well known to counter-cultural activists. Ricardo’s art is found in posters, calendars, buttons and bumper stickers across South Minneapolis. He also speaks and facilitates for social justice groups. He calls his work Medicinal Art. A good way to connect with Ricardo is to go to his website rlmartstudio.com and sign up for his monthly email newsletter.
Almost a mile farther south is Minnehaha Falls Park, where a lively and eclectic concert series runs from late May through September. This year’s offering kicks off with folk/rock group War Poets on Wednesday, May 27, Eastern European and French Gypsy jazz group Talking Strings on May 28, and the River City Jazz Orchestra on May 29, all three at 7 p.m. June 3 will see the South High Community Band playing and the next Wednesday, June 10, Store Bought Hair, a wonderful neighborhood group that plays New Orleans-style jazz. On June 24, the Grateful Dead tribute band Not Quite Dead will be playing. This is only a small sample of the free, outdoor concerts, brought to you by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

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