Art Hounds: It's the end of summer, here's what's happening outside

A group of people perform in colorful clothes and costumes outdoors.
The three Vice Principals of Strange Land Middle School, Jacob Miller, Joni Griffith and Corissa Bussion.
Courtesy of Mixed Precipitation

Monarda Thrasher loved Mixed Precipitation’s traveling production of “The Magic Flute” when they saw it earlier this month in Grand Marais, and they highly recommend this fun, modern take on Mozart’s opera.

Mixed Precipitation calls its traveling series “The Pickup Truck Opera” because the truck and trailer are both the mode of travel and part of the set design. Set in Strange Land Middle School, this production explores teacher shortages, burnout and toxic positivity. Papageno and Papagena are janitors, and the raging Queen of the Night is recast as an education administrator.

The dialogue is in English, and performers slip easily from German arias to pop songs and back again. As an opera lover, Thrasher worried that this shortened production might leave them wanting more, but they said there was enough of the original music to satisfy, danced and sung in a way that kept their whole family entertained.

The outdoor production takes place Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Alexis Bailly Vineyard in Hastings, as well as Sept. 10 at Swede Hollow Park in St. Paul and Sept. 11 at JD Rivers’ Children’s Garden in Minneapolis.


Minneapolis comedian Robert Fones plans to spend his Labor Day weekend at Prairie Fyre music festival in Wood Lake in southwestern Minnesota. The camping/music festival runs Friday evening through Monday, with a line-up of over 50 bands and performers. Fones says the space that will hold the event is beautiful, and he’s intrigued by the line-up of music, burlesque, comedy, and poetry.

Festival attendees can also join in on glitch art workshops Saturday and Sunday mornings in nearby Granite Falls and get back in time for the musical events that start at 2 pm. Friday evening’s opening event features a Q&A with comic book author Rob Sheridan, who is best known for his art work with Nine Inch Nails.


Will Dykes of the band Montclair really enjoys the sound of the Rat Castle Jazz Ensemble. He says the Minneapolis group has a unique sound that doesn’t pander and they collaborate and connect with other local bands.

You can find the Rat Castle Jazz Ensemble’s work on all streaming platforms as well performing across the Twin Cities.

Here they are at the White Squirrel bar in St. Paul:

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