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Best Bets: Ondara plays Hibbing High, alma mater of his inspiration Bob Dylan

Find something to do in the Northland this weekend.

Black and white image of young man in patterned suit and fedora leaning on a counter, looking into the camera with a thoughtful smile.
Ondara came from Kenya to Minnesota, looking for the place where Bob Dylan was born.
Contributed / Darin Kamnetz via Tell All Your Friends
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From Kenya to the North Country

The artist known as Ondara moved from Kenya to the United States nearly a decade ago, zeroing in on Minnesota as the place to launch his music career since it was the home state of an artist he revered, Bob Dylan. "I thought I’d go to Hibbing and it would be a magnificent city with music coming from all over the place," he told the blog the Bluegrass Situation. While Ondara didn't find the Nashville of the North, he did find considerable success with a career that now includes two acclaimed albums — and a Grammy nomination for his 2019 debut, "Tales from America." This Saturday, Ondara will play the very stage where Dylan made a racket as a teenager: the Hibbing High School Auditorium. Thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, the show will be free for all. See kaxe.org for information, and to reserve tickets.

Sacred Heart rallies for Ukraine

Rachel Kilgour thoughtfully plucks an acoustic guitar, in tight shot set in hallway with bare lightbulb visible in background.
Rachael Kilgour is among the artists playing an April 21 benefit concert, for Ukraine refugees, at Sacred Heart Music Center.
Contributed / Kara Dupre

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, and takes an increasingly devastating toll on that country's civilian population, Northland artists are rallying to lend support. This Thursday at Sacred Heart Music Center, over 20 acts are joining a benefit called "Heart to Heart: Concert for Peace & Solidarity with Ukraine." Rachael Kilgour, George Ellsworth, and Fish Heads are among the musicians who will take Sacred Heart's stage starting at 7 p.m. A suggested donation of $10 per attendee will go to support medical aid and other supplies for Ukraine refugees. The show will also be livestreamed on YouTube. For more information and advance tickets, see sacredheartmusic.org.

This is what it sounds like when Birds Bar cries

Les Birds Bar in Superior
Birds Bar in Superior's South End.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

The vegetarian Prince may not have chosen a venue known for meat raffles to bear the torch of his memory, but nonetheless, Birds Bar in Superior is going purple and inviting fans to share the love. Thursday marks six years since Prince's tragic death at age 57: April 21, 2016, is still fresh in the memories of music lovers. Whether your preferred "Graffiti Bridge" is the Bong or the Blatnik, you can make your way to Bird's the following day, Friday, for a night of Prince's music. The bar also promises drink specials. Is that awkward, given that Prince also abstained from alcohol? Morris Day, sipping champagne from a martini glass in "Purple Rain," would probably say it's fine. For information and updates, find Birds Bar on Facebook .

A South Superior landmark was purchased by members of the family who ran the Office Bar.

George Morrison stamps released

Pane of 20 stamps depicting warm-hued abstract landscape paintings by George Morrison. The artist is visible in a photograph at the pane's left.
The George Morrison stamps will be available in panes of 20.
Contributed / USPS

The United States Postal Service is honoring the late painter George Morrison with an edition of five first-class stamps featuring the artist's abstract landscapes — including at least three directly inspired by Lake Superior. Morrison, who was Ojibwe, was born and raised on the North Shore and went on to become "one of the nation's greatest modernist artists and a founding figure of Native American modernism," as the USPS put it in a statement announcing the stamps. The official first-day-of-issue event will take place Friday at 1 p.m. at Grand Portage National Monument. Among those who will be on hand to mark the occasion are the artist's son, Briand Mesaba Morrison; Duluth Art Institute director Christina Woods; and Robert Deschampe, chairman of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. For information and to RSVP, see usps.com.

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Many of George Morrison’s popular abstract paintings capture the feeling of being along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Frog and Toad take the stage

Two men sit on an oversized mushroom prop, conversing while using fishing poles in a stage production. Man on left wears a tan suit, man on right wears a green suit.
Ole Dack, left, as Toad and Stuart Gordon as Frog in the Duluth Playhouse production of "A Year with Frog and Toad."
Contributed / Wes Drummond

Frog and Toad, two characters created by Arnold Lobel for a series of easy-reader books originally published in the 1970s, have one of the purest friendships in all of children's literature. When Toad gets groggy, Frog's there to push him out of bed and into the sunshine. When Frog gets sick, Toad's at his side with hot tea. When Toad is insecure about his funny-looking swimsuit ... well, Frog tells it to him straight: "You do look funny in your bathing suit." What are friends for? Find out in one of the last Duluth Playhouse Family Theatre shows to be staged at the Depot , playing from Saturday, April 23, through Sunday, May 1. The musical "A Year with Frog and Toad" premiered in 2002 at the Children's Theatre Co. in Minneapolis and went on to have a Tony-nominated New York run that Playbill called "groundbreaking" for bringing family programming to Broadway. See duluthplayhouse.org for information and tickets.

Dogs are very, very welcome

Puppies
"Did someone say sausage catching contest?"
Thinkstock.com

A "puppy kissing booth" might not be right for your dog. "Pup yoga?" Could be a bit of an ask. How about a contest for the best "sassy senior" dog? Your 7-plus-year-old might be into it if they're feeling, well, sassy. A sausage catching contest? OK, that one will probably be pretty popular. On Sunday, Earth Rider Brewery and the Duluth Dog Walker are partnering to present a Top Dog Festival with no fewer than nine hours of dog-friendly events described as a "dog-on good time." Whether or not you're a good candidate for the "owner who looks like their dog" prize, you and your best friend can enjoy fun and games from noon to 9 p.m. for a $7 entry fee that goes to support the Douglas County Humane Society. By the end of the day, you'll both be ready for the game of "quickest sit." For details and tickets, see earthrider.beer.

This story was updated at 7:40 a.m. April 20 to correct an error in the spelling of Rachael Kilgour's first name. It was originally posted at 8:06 a.m. April 19. The News Tribune regrets the error.

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at jgabler@duluthnews.com or 218-279-5536.
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