2. The lovely and talented Jackie Johnson says “I love listening to podcasts! In the car, while doing laundry or dishes or vacuuming, or just wanting a story that does not require visual focus, podcasts are a great means to hear stories, be entertained, and/or stay informed. Generally, I tend to be pulled toward story-driven podcasts, short-stories being my favorite. Today I'm recommending the work of a very smart and talented American Journalist, Phoebe Judge. I'm a fan of her two podcasts, Criminal and This is Love. They are both excellently produced, interesting explorations of the human experience. The first podcast, Criminal, tells stories that are somehow intertwined with a crime. Might be from the perspective of the victim, or a dive into an unsolved case, or a memorable means of investigation. They are all fascinating true stories from various perspectives. It's been around for a while now so there's hundred-thirty-something backlogged episodes for you to work through if you find yourself enjoying it. This is Love is Phoebe's newer podcast, just entering its fourth season. As you may have guessed from the title, the theme of this podcast is love. Stories surrounding love, different acts of love, moments shaped by love, stories about expressions of love. And this fourth season centers around animals. If you know anything about me, you'll know that I love animals, and so this season is turning out to be exactly what I need, maybe now more than ever! Stories that center around love and animals. It's my kind of thing. For added fun, this season's opening episode titled "Episode 19: The Wolves," is a crossover episode Criminal's "Episode137: Wolf 10." I can't recommend these podcasts enough, but if there were only two episodes you gave a listen to, it's those.
Please note that these podcasts are for adult listeners, and while Phoebe does a great job of including content warnings at the start of certain episodes, it's worth noting that these stories may reference violence, injustice, grief, or other difficult topics which parents may want to be aware of and/or screen before sharing with youth. The two I mentioned are on the safer side for a wider span of ages, but does share information about wolf behavior/aggression and poaching.
Sending love to all the animals, humans included!”
3. Actor (The Marvelous Wonderettes, Fools, Into the Woods, Pride and Prejudice) Jessica Vanek says… “I have been LIVING for the new “Losing my Mind: A Sondheim Disco Fever Dream” album. It features over 40 Sondheim tunes and just makes you want to get up and dance! In these drab times, this album gives the listener a sense of fabulousness. It also provides a fun challenge to try and guess each song you hear. Sondheim is 90 years old now, and he deserves to be celebrated in the most frivolous way possible. Here’s the link to the Spotify album!”
5. Actor (Fools, Crimes of the Heart, Into the Woods, Pride and Prejudice) and Costume Designer (The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood) Ellie Larson says… “My May Fave is the app Marco Polo! It is a video messaging app, so you can record a message and send it to your friends and loved ones. It is basically a combination of FaceTime and texting. Marco Polo is available for Apple and Android users. It has been such a great tool to stay connected with everyone during social distancing, and, it is super easy to use. I am bad at using new technology, but I figured it out fine. Jess (Vanek) and I Marco Polo pretty much daily and send videos of our plants and pets and talk about how excited we are to return to St. Croix Falls (<3). I highly recommend it!”
6. Actor (The Fantasticks, Leading Ladies, Elephant’s Graveyard, and many more!) Kim Braun is offering “…an abbreviated mixtape for my loving, creative community.
I know many of you already share some of my favorite musical artists; Joni Mitchell (oh my goodness I just discovered “Cactus Tree” this winter), Darrell Johnston (wrote a gorgeous song about murmurations this spring), and Danny Schmidt (just released some artwork for his song “This Too Shall Pass” which is fitting right now) to name a few. Below are a couple songs from artists you may or may not be familiar with that are my go-to listening choices to cleanse the soul. Enjoy!
“Emmylou” by First Aid Kit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PC57z-oDPLs
I was introduced to First Aid Kit as a student at Gustavus, where we were all enamored with this Scandinavian sibling duo. First Aid Kit’s cover of Fleet Foxes' “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” in the woods as young artists is beautiful. “Emmylou” encapsulates their awesome sister harmonies and unbridled vocals perfectly in an upbeat country tribute.
“Summer” by Josh Pyke https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJNKjkbzZGw
Friends in Alaska introduced me to Josh Pyke and this rendition with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra lifts singer songwriter simplicity to the ethereal in a way the Beatles effortlessly used strings. The restraint and build in this song perfectly pair pop with the refined, evoking unsettled nostalgia.
“Chandelier” by Twisted Measure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSjr6ixi4ik
Speaking of classical arrangements of pop hits, I can put headphones on and listen to this recording of Elon University’s a cappella ensemble three or four times for a meditation. I was first introduced to this through an uptown Minneapolis yoga class and not only does this do what many of my favorite covers do (take a point of view on a song that enhances the original), the vocal harmonies are divinely inspired and these young artists nail it in their interpretation of this song’s vulnerability. The cascading pop styling magnifies Sia’s hit song like Iron and Wine to The Postal Service or (see above) First Aid Kit to Fleet Foxes. Listen to this and breathe. Maybe find some movement or stillness. Bet you can’t listen just once!
I hope we can all be together again soon! Love, Kimberly Braun”
7. Incoming 2020 intern Sarah Weyrich says… “I am currently preparing for school to be over, but in the meantime, I am painting these little log ornament type things for all of the people in my senior class as gifts! I am also busy writing letters to my professors and friends. I try to do about one of these a day because they are super easy. It gets my creative juices flowing and takes my mind off schoolwork!”
Here is a link to the log ornaments: http://tiny.cc/6o46nz
8. Actor (1776, Rumors, Death of a Salesman, It’s a Wonderful Life: Radio Play, Lone Star Spirits) Erika Kuhn says…
Here is a link: https://newplayexchange.org
Check out previous Festival Faves at the links below!