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Black Friday better for retailers, including small stores, than Small Business Saturday

FARGO—Even for small businesses here, Black Friday could be a better day for sales than Small Business Saturday.

That's a main takeaway from a new national analysis of transactions at...

Pixabay / Special to The Forum
5 Minnesota musical holiday gift ideas, from First Avenue to Bob Dylan to Prince

Minnesota music is well-represented this holiday season, with box sets from some of our biggest stars as well as a lavish new book devoted to First Avenue, the nightclub enveloped in silver stars. Here are five gift ideas for those looking for some homegrown musical treats.

“Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 – 1979-1981” (Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings): Bob Dylan’s ongoing “Bootleg Series” stands as one of rock music’s most generous and thoughtful archival projects. What makes it even more fascinating — or possibly infuriating to some — is that Dylan hasn’t been afraid to shine a light on his less-popular eras.

While many folks (present company included) are eagerly awaiting the long-rumored “Bootleg Series” devoted to “Blood on the Tracks,” “Trouble No More” is still worth exploring. It focuses on one of the oddest times in the Minnesota native’s life, his late-’70s conversion to evangelical Christianity. Across three albums — the excellent “Slow Train Coming” and its lesser follow-ups “Saved” and “Shot of Love” — Dylan wrote Christian-themed lyrics and used gospel-inspired production methods to preach to his largely confused audience.

The 2-CD/4-LP version of “Trouble No More” offers 30 live tracks from 1979 through 1981, three of which are previously unreleased songs from the era. The more devoted Dylan fan will want the deluxe set, though, which adds six more CDs featuring soundchecks, rehearsals and studio outtakes as well as complete concerts from Toronto in 1980 and London the following year.

The deluxe box also includes a DVD featuring the new “Trouble No More: A Musical Film,” which mixes behind-the-scenes footage, concert excerpts and modern footage. During the era surveyed, Dylan was working in the studio and on stage with some heavy hitters — Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler, Chicago bluesman Al Kooper and Benmont Tench from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers — who help sell even the dodgier songs.

“First Avenue: Minnesota’s Mainroom” (Minnesota Historical Society Press): At first glance, “Minnesota’s Mainroom” looks like a handsome coffee table tome that documents the history of downtown Minneapolis’ famed First Avenue nightclub, which is set to turn 50 in 2020. And, yes, it’s filled with hundreds of terrific images, from dramatic concert photos taken by house photographer Daniel Corrigan to snapshots captured behind the scenes and in the crowds by employees and friends of First Avenue.

“First Avenue: Minnesota’s Mainroom,” a history of the Minneapolis nightclub written by Chris Riemenschneider. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society Press)

But what holds it all together is the deeply researched and utterly compelling history of the venue written by Chris Riemenschneider, a music critic for the Star Tribune. He wisely uses various points in the club’s history — the disco era of the ’70s, Prince and “Purple Rain” introducing the club to the world, the near-closure of the venue in 2004, the ceiling collapse of 2015 – to spin a true page-turner of a tale.

Riemenschneider covers it all, from Joe Cocker’s opening-night performance to First Avenue’s more recent moves into St. Paul via the Turf Club and the Palace Theatre. But it also serves a sort of history of decades’ worth of alternative and underground music in the Twin Cities, tracing the careers of dozens of acts, both local and national, who used the stage as a launching pad to greater success.

“A Minnesota Holiday Vol. 9” (Phil Thompson Productions): The annual “Minnesota Holiday” compilation features 15 homegrown acts singing seasonal tunes and this year’s edition includes Sheila E. (“Santa Baby”), the Blenders (“Sleigh Ride”), Keri Noble and Chris Hawkey (“Givin’ You My Love”), Connie Evingson (“The Christmas Song”) and Kat Perkins (“Silent Night”).

Cover art for the compilation CD “A Minnesota Holiday Vol. 9.” (Courtesy of Phil Thompson Productions)
Cover art for the compilation CD “A Minnesota Holiday Vol. 9.” (Courtesy of Phil Thompson Productions)

Available at metro area Kowalski’s Markets for $12.99, the CD is a fundraiser that’s donated more than $400,000 to Minnesota nonprofits. This year, profits will go to Be the Match, which focuses on bone-marrow transplantation. As a bonus, each CD comes with buy-one-get-one-free offers for admission to Ice Castles in Stillwater and the Sea Life aquarium at Mall of America as well as a BOGO coupon for Davanni’s Pizza and a free dinner and show ticket to Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ outstanding production of “Sister Act.”

“Savage Young Du” (Numero Group): Since St. Paul trio Husker Du split in 1987, there have been almost no reissues or remasters of the band’s work, even as abundant praise from bands like Pixies and Nirvana helped introduce Husker Du to new audiences.

The group recorded most of their most famous albums for California indie label SST Records, which has long been at loggerheads with the members of Husker Du (who have had their own issues with each other) over control of that music. But the Chicago-based Numero Group bypassed SST with “Savage Young Du,” an exhaustive 3-CD/4-LP set that documents Husker Du’s early years.

It includes their first demo tape, recorded in May 1979, rehearsals and live songs recorded both in the Twin Cities and on the band’s first national tours. “Savage Young Du” also collects early studio recordings with sound that’s stunning considering the relatively low-tech tools with which they were created.

Grant Hart actively participated in the project, although his death in September meant he wasn’t able to see “Savage Young Du” on record shelves. But it stands as a fine reminder of his indisputable talent.

“Purple Rain” (Warner Bros.): Much like Husker Du, Prince’s back catalog has never undergone the reissue/remaster parade that’s become standard for most major musicians, although in this case it was Prince’s decision to keep focused on the future, not the past.

Still, it was a thrill when the deluxe “Purple Rain” finally arrived his summer, more than two years after it was announced and 14 months after Prince’s death. Given the legal mess that is the Purple One’s estate, it might be the only official peek into Prince’s vault that fans will get for some time.

A newly remastered version of the landmark “Purple Rain” soundtrack paired with an 11-track bonus album of previously unheard songs from the era is available as a 2-CD set. The expanded deluxe box adds another disc of b-sides, remixes and single edits (including two versions of “Erotic City,” a song nearly as popular as anything that made the album) as well as a must-see DVD with a March 1985 concert shot in Syracuse, N.Y.

Prince performs in concert at Riverfront Coliseum during his Purple Rain Tour in Cincinnati, Ohio on Jan. 22, 1985. Prince's publicist has confirmed that Prince died at his his home in Minnesota, Thursday, April 21, 2016. He was 57. (AP Photo/Rob Burns)
Prince performs in concert at Riverfront Coliseum during his Purple Rain Tour in Cincinnati, Ohio on Jan. 22, 1985. (AP Photo/Rob Burns)
Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump started off his first day of Thanksgiving vacation by resuming his taunts of the father of a UCLA basketball player detained for shoplifting in China, saying Wednesday that he was an “ungrateful fool.”

In a series of tweets fired off before dawn, the president complained yet again that LaVar Ball, father of LiAngelo Ball, hasn’t given him credit for the release of his son and two other UCLA basketball players from detention in China.

LaVar Ball, left, and Donald Trump. (AP Photo/John Locher, AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
LaVar Ball, left, and Donald Trump. (AP Photo/John Locher, AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Tweeting from his Florida vacation home, Trump said: “It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME.”

“Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair,” he said, referencing the flamboyant boxing promoter whom Trump once saluted as “a phenomenal person” despite a conviction for manslaughter.

Trump also warned that Ball “could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you” had it not been for his intervention.

“But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China,” he wrote.

LiAngelo Ball and two UCLA teammates were released after a brief detention in China while Trump was visiting the country. Trump has taken credit for the release, saying he discussed the situation with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

LaVar Ball, whose eldest son, Lonzo, plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, has repeatedly minimized Trump’s involvement in winning the players’ release, telling CNN earlier this week: “If I feel nobody did anything, I don’t have to go around saying thank you to everybody.”

Trump had previously said he should have left all three players in jail.

Trump on Wednesday also spoke out against the idea of keeping NFL players in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem as a response to some players refusing to stand to protest racial inequality and police brutality.

“That’s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart?” Trump wrote. “This issue is killing your league!”

Airline Error Fare Search Engine Launched By CheapFlightsFinder

Airline Error Fare Search Engine Launched By CheapFlightsFinderLONDON, Nov. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- As travellers clamour to find the best flight deals this black Friday, CheapFlightsFinder introduces a new service which displays the cheapest flights ever published from your local airport including super cheap airline error fares. The new...

Corporate Whistleblower Center Urges MDs or Employees with Any Proof of Hospice Providers' Involvement in a Scheme to Bill Medicare For People Not Dying to Call About Potential Rewards

Corporate Whistleblower CenterWASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Corporate Whistleblower Center says, "One of the easiest types of whistleblower rewards for an individual can involve a healthcare company billing Medicare for hospice services for people who are not dying. If you are a medical doctor or an...

Activity Ark Helps Families Set Sail on Fun Voyage of Faith

Activity Ark explores the Bible through story, play, activities, family discussion questions, and a toy or game.NEW YORK, Nov. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Busy parents looking for help with nourishing their children's spiritual development can now find it in an innovative, fun-filled "Sunday School in a box" collection delivered direct to their home. The Activity Ark (www.activityark.com) package...

BlindsChalet.com Announces Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sales. Professional Installation Services Now Available.

Blinds Chalet Honeycomb Cellular ShadesPHOENIX, Nov. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- BlindsChalet.com, America's Foremost Window Covering Experts, is offering 55% off all their blinds, shades, and shutters for Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year. Customers can take advantage of this sale starting today. This marks the lowest...

Texas Pitmaster Named World Barbecue Food Champion

Fred Robles named World Barbecue Food ChampionORANGE BEACH, Ala., Nov. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- This month, chefs from around the world gathered for the 2017 World Food Championships, the highest stakes food competition in the world. This multi-day culinary competition, sponsored by WESTERN Premium BBQ Products and Cowboy Charcoal,...

Essentia Health fires dozens for not getting flu shots
Essentia Health, the Duluth-based health care provider, this week moved to terminate workers who had defied its mandate that all employees receive flu vaccinations. The Duluth News Tribune reports on the step, which affected nearly 50 workers. Essentia, which runs hospitals and clinics in four states, announced the flu-shot requirement last fall. Some employees and unions protested, citing religious or other objections, but a court sided with the company. As Minnesota Public Radio notes, at…
A man is about to launch himself in his homemade rocket to prove the earth is flat

Seeking to prove that a conspiracy of astronauts fabricated the shape of the Earth, a California man intends to launch himself 1,800 feet high on Saturday in a rocket he...

"The Blue Marble" is a photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft en route to the Moon at a distance of about 29,000 kilometers (18,000 mi). Flat earth theorists argue such photos were faked by NASA. Image via Wikipedia.
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