Quick Q+A: Emily Janisch + Northern Spark Launch Party


Regular Readers know we want Northern Spark, the all night art festival that runs the length of the Green Line and focuses this year on our upcoming climate chaos, to be a significant and ongoing part of our summer Arts & Culture scene. There’s a ton of exciting programming that includes installations, art, food, and more, happening this Saturday night—and it’s all free!  

One of the big reasons that the festival stays free is the ticketed Launch Party to kick off the night. The party includes drinks, an amazing roster of food, and music from Zuluzuluu. We sent some questions to NS Launch Party Coordinator Emily Janisch to get us and you pumped up for the Launch Party.

Secrets of the City: The food is such a great party of the launch party and definitely worth the price bump in our opinion. Do you know who/what you’re having?

Emily Janisch: Mercy // Cafe Alma // Eastside // Red Stag Supperclub // French Meadow // Handsome Hog // Silhouette Bakery & Bistro // Cafe Latté // Fulton Brewing // Crooked Water Spirits // Barefoot Bubbly // Sociable Cider Werks // Peace Coffee

I know there will chocolate cake from Cafe Latte, there will be salmon rillettes from Red Stag, and Chilled Sweet Pea Soup with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and Brioche from Alma. And the specialty cocktail exclusive to the evening and event is the Spark 75, details viewable here.

This year has another packed lineup that’s literally down the line. Do you have any personal favorites for the stops for Northern Spark? (Besides Mekong Night Market?)

Awesome, yes! Local Somali artist extraordinaire Ifrah Mansour’s My Aqal where people are invited to built a traditional Somali home together; Alien Technology II by Monira Al Qadiri (presented by Mizna and The Soap Factory)—this huge sculpture is of an oil drill bit, do you know how fascinating these drill bits actually look? Definitely alien.; and Sami Pfeffer’s Phone Valet— check your phone as you would your car and explore with REAL technology like film cameras and maps

Other than attend the Launch Party, what pro tips do you have for staying awake all night at NS?

Make it a goal to see 3 projects in each of our 7 zones along the Green Line and the sun will have risen before you know it. Just keep exploring because you will stay engaged! Also, Peace Coffee at the Launch Party 😉

Do you feel like Donald Trump was personally out to get you and Northern Spark when he backed out of the Paris Climate Agreement?

I think he made the festival that much more relevant and now everyone is even more focused on coming together in harmony for a cause. Climate Chaos, People Rising!

Anything else we should mention besides Zuluzuluu?

That this is Northern Spark’s only fundraiser of the entire year, which keeps the festival FREE!

Northern Spark runs throughout Saturday night. The Launch Party goes from 7-9 PM at Thresher Square and leads right into the evening. Tickets at different support points still available.

Burger Hunter: Shake Shack

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Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. He gets fan mail from our readers and from restaurants, in fact more than the rest of us! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

Driving across town to the biggest Mall in America has never felt so exciting. This hunt is all about the best things in life—like Shake Shack. Seriously folks, believe the hype. The ShackBurger is one of the best around. FR. Now always patty up when available. Here it’s a double so go there. Trust . . . The meat is from local legends the Revier Cattle Co and they set the farm bar pretty high in Minnesota. The grind is a mix of love that I really don’t know. My best guess is angus with brisket. Menu says hundo p angus. Either way, it’s so good you won’t care. Cliff Clavin your beef some other time. This ones all about living in the moment. Each and every bite. The cheese is out of control. You almost think it’s a Jucy Lucy! I long for it. Hard. It’s creamy and perfect. Now this burger is cooked medium and is juicy to the nines. Glistening and drip forward. The bun is potato, small and butter grilled. Just right. Get the ShakeSauce on the side so you can taste this meat. The sauce is likely just a combo of all the fav burger condos. Good for some Belgiums. Dips fool! The fries are crinkle cut and super hot. Shake is in the name so you better believe they got game. And they do. No ice chunks here. Bring the fam and hit some stores but I guarantee you it’s the burger you’ll remember most!

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.8   Presentation: 6   Originality: 8

Shake Shack, Mall of America #332, 60 E Broadway, Bloomington;

Quick Q+A: Jes Reyes + Ae Film Festival

altered esthetics

Visitors to the Southern Theater on the West Bank may have noticed the cool performance space also provides the home for Altered Esthetics, a volunteer-driven nonprofit art gallery and organization that also once a year hosts the fantastic Ae Film Festival

Before this weekend’s Ae Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday and runs in the performance space through Saturday with dozens and dozens of action-packed local, national, and international films, live music, and other related events, we checked in with Festival Director Jes Reyes to see how the organization crams it all in and how much prep we’ll need for their fest parties.

Secrets of the City: You pick the theme based on trends in submissions, and this year’s theme is Unravel/Reclaim—we easily get the unravel part, how much reclaiming is happening in this year’s selections? Can that even happen these days, or are we just going to keep unraveling?

Jes Reyes: I think with many of the films screening you will be able to tell right away that the subject or focus of the work is investigating, undoing, or trying to explain or express something complex. Specifically, with these works, too, there is definitely a sense that reclamation is part of that process. Whether it is reclaiming the fact that dance is considered a sin, or reclaiming the past by visiting your childhood home . . . We are constantly trying to reclaim things in our lives . . . our politics, our bodies, or minds. Film can help us do that because it is a form of communication and expression. So yes, we can definitely reclaim these days! Reclaiming is often necessary, especially during these last months with our current political climate . . . reclaiming can be healing. We want to offer a perspective that is positive.

Some film festivals with this many entries—including international pieces!—can take weeks of showings, but you all do it in three days! How does that even happen?!

Oh gosh, there are so many films that we want to show, but can’t fit in. It is probably the hardest part of the job! We create a schedule though of work that talks and dances with one another. They compliment each other! That’s why we pay attention to threads that connect the films together. We are able to narrow it down when we locate the theme that connects them.

This is a film fest inside a cool little live performance theater. How does The Southern setting add to the film fest?

We definitely play with the performance element. We want to engage and create active experiences for our audience during our screenings. Six Families and Why World are inviting our audience literally into our opening screening with an immersive experience of dance, music and moving image. We are asking people to arrive early to participate. Doors open at 6:30 PM and their performance will start at 7:15 PM. Each of our screenings actually will have a music performance.

There’s got to be pros and cons to Ae being a volunteer-driven organization and gallery. What can you all do that full time shops can’t?

Self-motivation, a deep love for art, and a joy in creating community. That is what keeps us going. It’s what makes us different and valuable to our local arts scene. Also, Altered Esthetics is run by artists for artists. That kind of says it all. We definitely have a DIY mentality that energizes us.

You’ve got a piece showing on Saturday as a piece of the very cool Feminist Video Quarterly program—how did that FVQ get included, how did Midway help, and weren’t you busy enough putting together the fest, you wanted to shoot video, too?

I think what you are asking me is how FVQ got involved with the festival. They were invited to partner last summer; before they even applied for their grant. This event with Ae is outside of their Midway VAF work. They will be showing an anthology of work that they have screened over the last year and a half. FVQ regular Tamara Alswager (of Drumbeat Red) will be performing before the free screening on Saturday.

How crazy does the closing party at Town Hall get?

If you like a conversation, making friends, and drinking beer—then it may get pretty wild! It is my last year organizing the festival so I am hoping to see many familiar faces, especially those I have screened over the years. I also want people to get to know our new on-boarding Co-Directors Chelsea Arden Parker and Ari Newman! Those who come out to our screening at 7:30 PM on Saturday can get 20% off at Town Hall with their ticket!

Thursday-Saturday, various show times. $20 general admission, pick your price available. Tickets to screenings available on the Southern’s Website.

Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave S, MPLS;

image: Nik Nerburn, Prairie Dreamers

Burger Hunter: Hi-Lo Diner

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Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. He gets fan mail from our readers and from restaurants! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

We’re Living Hi-Lo dirty clothes ain’t never lost no bet . . . Whoops slipped into an old White Iron Band classic. Well, that kinda gave it away. Yup, this hunt is east on Lake Street at the one and only Hi-Lo Diner. Now once again the burger might not be your number one choice cause the menu here has some muscles. Real good. But you’re missing out if someone in the group doesn’t get all religious on some burger meat. The Hi-Lo Burger is a 1/3 lb diner beef blend. What that means is who knows but what it tastes like is O-M-G. It’s got a choice cut in there for sure and probably lots o’ fat in the chucky. It’s grilled semi crispy on a flat top. Sensational buttery crunch outer but a soft juicy not drippy inner. Best of both worlds kinda thing going on here. The bun is airy light brioche buttery and likely baked by an angel. With a hint of garlic and crispy yet soft. It’s maybe the best brioche I’ve ever had. Damn Gina. Anywho . . . The cheese is American and practically running down the block. Each bite gets a nice blast. Nailed it. Order a malt so you don’t get egg on your face. They’re incredible. And remember to blast a photo cause you’re in a 1957 Fodero. I’m also dropping a pin on this kill. Got more work to do here. 

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.5   Presentation: 10   Originality: 9

Hi-Lo Diner, 4020 East Lake St, MPLS;

Burger Hunter: The Sheridan Room

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Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. He gets fan mail from our readers and from restaurants! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

Now that things have settled down a little in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, it’s a good time to go hunting! The Sheridan Room precisely at 337 on 13th is quite possibly the hipster capitol of the world. So roll up your skinnies and park your fixie right up front cause we’re rolling hard for meat. The Sheridan Room Burger is all scratchy and totes chef driven. Bun is onion and semi-sweet. Liked it. The grind is chuck and brisket so the pedigree is strong. Major league juicy town. Beard wipes galore. Medium be doing, which is nice. V loose pack on the meat. The burger is smothered in a super smooth gruyere. It’s yummy. There’s a magical cipollini onion jam that’s really just there the whole time. Adding depth to each bite. The lettuce is on the bottom where it belongs. Some sneaky mushrooms and a dijonnaise finalize the show. It’s a journey but they’re all together. Top marks chef. Comes with fries or an artsy salad. Loved the burger, love the place. Now there’s a nice aftershock of flavor that’s very lasting, reminding you of all its glory. Pro tip: Glass block windows are almost always a score. You see them you go in.

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.7   Presentation: 9   Originality: 9

The Sheridan Room, 337 13th Ave NE, MPLS;

Twincy Cheat Sheet: How Far Will We Go

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It’s almost impossible to keep up with the arts and the culture and the entertainment and food and drink and the people and the places here in MPLS + STPL, so we’ve put together this list of stuff that we’re using as talking points this week and sharing them with you to pretend like they’re you’re own.

Who: Esko Thompson

We’ve been a little hard on Art-a-Whirl since it felt like that certain punk DIY spark went missing and the music fest took over. We were won back this weekend by—no not Bonnie Bear’s “surprise” set at Indeed Brewing, lol—Esko Thompson (pictured), the pop-up installation that captured the ‘NORTHer’ spirit. A jab at the movement to brand us The North (which we support, btw), Esko Thompson is even further North than Askov Finlayson, in branding and actual MN geography. The store squatted in a barely under-construction space to sell camping cups, beanie hats that say NORTHER (which we bought), t-shirts, axes, and more of the stuff you see in hipster high end stores. It was social commentary, it was brilliantly executed, it was hilarious, it was art.

What: Square Lake Film Fest

With it’s mix of films, bands, and quick trip out of the city during the summer, the Square Lake Film Fest the easily one of the best block party/fests of the summer, which is why it also always sells out. This year’s music is even bigger than ever: Roma di Luna, Gramma’s Boyfriend, The Black Eyed Snakes, iNMiGRATiON, and a live film score and set by ZULUZULUU. Better get them tix! 

 Where: Head Flyer Brewing

We told someone that we just had some pretty good beer at the new tap room on Hennepin and their response was “which one”. Says a lot about our brewery growth! But we were bellied up on East Hennepin at the new Head Flyer, right by Familia Skate Shop. The beers were good—particularly the Juicy IPA and the “Tessellation” Pale Ale—and the space was fun, especially the extra cute puppy melting everyone’s hearts. Still not enough tap rooms!

Why (Oh, Why)?: Later bar close time for the Super Bowl

The omnibus liquor bill didn’t make it through the Minnesota Legislature, which means that the state hasn’t authorized bars to be open until 4 AM during the Super Bowl. For fans who come into town want to experience a taste of the our “Bold North”, we can’t think of a better way than saying “sorry, bar’s closed, we have these things called Blue Laws and you gotta find somewhere else to go” at 2 AM. And kidding aside, it’s total BS that the bill’s provision to let small breweries that become medium sized breweries like Fulton sell growlers not becoming law is a dereliction of legislative duty, but what else is new.

Quick Q+A: Cyn Collins + Complicated Fun

Complicated Fun

Of all the histories of not-that-long-ago local music, we’re maybe most excited for Cyn Collins‘ Complicated Fun: The Birth of Minneapolis Punk And Indie Rock, 1974-1984 thanks to both its subject matter near and dear to our hearts. Quotes like this one from award winning author Marlon James are also an easy sell: “Complicated Fun is a great rock book that works the same way as a great rock song. Find the right voices, lead with a riff, spit some truth, then watch everything explode. The result? Punk messing with punk, and birthing indie rock.” Count us in. 

And since you can’t have a book release on local punk and indie rock without the punk and indie rock, Collins will be joined on Friday at the Hook & Ladder by the Flamingo/Flamin’ Oh’sCurtiss A and the Dark Click, and others firebrands from that era.

We have a debate raging in our office about the context for this book. Some say you’re making a great case for the MPLS + STPL punk and indie rock as a wave of Post-Boomerism (without the Boomers?), but others say it’s the glory days of the Gen Xers (but somehow too early?). Which is it?

I’d say the context is a little of both, yet more the former—a wave of post-boomers (without the boomers) as most of the foundational musicians and fans were in their late teens, early 20s when they were performing at/going to the Longhorn starting in 1977. They were rejecting mainstream music and culture and generating their own new revolutionary music scene, which would inspire the Generation X to attend shows and form their own bands.

How long have you been developing this book? Is it a natural extension of your deep connection to the local music scene?  

I began developing this book about 6 years ago when I produced a KFAI/Ampers radio documentary on this subject. The book idea originated before then, and from that research and those interviews. I devoted most of my  time researching and writing it since The Minnesota Historical Society Press accepted my proposal in Spring of 2015. Yes, indeed it is a natural extension of my deep connection to the local music scene! I’m very inspired to share musicians stories with audiences.

Were the bars back at this time just cooler than our bars now? They sound like it.

Some of the interviewees note the bars then were cooler than our bars now. They note things like it was a small number of the same people (couple hundred) who went to the Longhorn every night, you’d see your friends there, who were also outside of the norm. There was a camaraderie, and they were there for the music, too. 

We love the book readings matched up with shows, like Friday’s set at Hook & Ladder with Curtiss A & Dark Click and Flamingo/Flamin’ Oh’s and the past reading at Electric Fetus with Kevin Cole and Flamingo. How much of you doing the book was for the release shows?

I’d say doing the book for the release shows, was part of it, hoping to celebrate the great artists who shared stories, many whom are still performing to this day and releasing new records this spring and summer, such as the Suicide Commandos and the Suburbs. I enjoy organizing these shows in relation to the book and possibly increasing interest and awareness of the foundation of our great music scene and these fantastic artists who deserve more recognition for their music.

How underrated is KFAI? We listen to it all the time.

We will be 40 years old next year! We have a large number of devoted member listeners and continue to reach new listeners, who love us and support us by becoming members as well! People who appreciate a vast range of great music in all genres curated by knowledgeable DJ’s listen to us. People who haven’t, are missing lots of  cool music and guests you would rarely, if ever, hear anywhere else. You can hear us streaming live at or 90.3 FM Mpls/106.7 FM St. Paul.