• 6th Annual Twin Cities Black Film Festival

    Thursday, September 18, 2008 to Saturday, September 20, 2008

    The Lounge (411 Second Avevue N., Minneapolis) and Sateren Auditorium at Augsburg College

  • Half-price tix for Blues in the Night @ Ordway

    Thursday, April 17, 2008 to Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    Ordway Center's McKnight Theatre, 345 Washington St, St Paul

  • What to see: The Piano Lesson, Third, and 9 Parts of Desire

    Yes, we’re supposed to get more snow, but please don’t let the weekend pass without getting out to a show! The best use of two hours between now and March 30, in my book, is either August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson at Penumbra Theatre, or Wendy Wasserstein’s Third at the Guthrie. If you can, see them both.

    The Piano Lesson is so compelling, I saw it twice. It’s the story of a brother and sister who fight over a piano that has intricate carvings depicting their family’s journey through slavery. At issue is whether to sell the piano to fund the family’s welfare today, or keep it out of respect for the price that was paid in human life to smuggle it out of a slave owner’s house. Typical of August Wilson plays, there are no set changes, and the spiritual side of life meets the practical in surprising ways. Under the direction of Lou Bellamy, the cast and the chilling light/sound presence of a ghost will draw you into the family’s living room and keep you entertained there until the final, whispered, “Thank you.”  read more »

    The art world loses a talent no less engaging than his smile

    Last year I was surprised by the news that a gallery of African art was to open in Richfield, a suburb in which “Black or African American persons” total only 6.6 percent of the population. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts)

    I visited the new Ampah Gallery, and though I had planned to look around for 20 minutes, I ended up hanging out for hours. The owners, Felix Ampah and his wife Silvia, handed me hot cider and showed me around. I was family.

    The owner-curators explained the symbolism in Felix’s work, most of which depicts the people and traditions of his native Ghana. I stayed for a class that Felix taught for the community called “Living with Art.” More chat, more cider, and the photo above, which is exactly how I will remember Felix, who died on February 26, 2008.  read more »

    Do we still need to celebrate Black History Month?

    Only after I had decided that my first show in February would focus on Black History Month did I start to wonder why we still observe such a thing in this melting pot of a country. So I asked you on the air: Is Black History Month necessary? Does it serve to remind us that black history is a vital and inseparable part of American history? Or does it relegate black history to a 28-day spotlight and underline racial divisiveness? Do we make a big deal of Black History Month so the white folks won’t feel guilty?

    Your calls were insightful and much appreciated. Guest T. Mychael Rambo and I heard from listeners from Anoka to Faribault. We heard from a couple of history teachers. And we heard from callers whose accents said “first generation immigrant.” While opinions differed as to whether Black History Month has a place in our schools and our communities (most said yes, a few sided with actor Morgan Freeman and said no), the concensus was clear that Americans of all ancestries ought to be celebrated equally as contributors to our cultural cornucopia. To express your opinion, click “Add new comment” below.

    After all that intensity, T. Mychael and I started talking snacks and discovered that we both secretly love Arby’s roast beef sandwiches. And those bacon- and cheese-loaded Potato Bites—yum! How convenient of them to situate a restaurant so close to the KTLK studio.

    For a listing of the Black History Month programs and activities we talked about on the show, and for listings from past shows, click here.

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