By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
From Bon Voyage to Bons Mots
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT Bon Appétit's bright, booth-lined front room that feels like one of those archetypal young people's hangouts of movies and TV shows past. All that's missing is a jukebox and a vintage pinball machine. But beyond the front counter of this Dinkytown café-and-suds joint, you'll find a narrow hallway and a space about the size of one of First Avenue's bathrooms called the Bone, a more clubby miniature room dominated by numerous booths, a pool table, and a chest-high stage.
Proprietor Samir El Khoury says local musician Fred Gotfredson has taken charge of booking the recently revived venue, filling its calendar with local jazz, rock, and acoustic acts. But the most noteworthy date came and went Friday, November 19, with a rap lineup starring locals Abstract Pack, Kanser, and Acupuncture. The evening celebrated the return of hip hop to Dinkytown after a six-month absence.
Last spring the weekly Sunday-night Headspin event had gained the Bone national attention in the rap press, but those shows were put to a stop in May when the building's landlord caught wind of neighborhood complaints (see "Bon Voyage," May 26, 1999). El Khoury admitted to stretching the limits of his entertainment license, which excludes loudly amplified music. But the 18+ club has resumed its rock schedule anyway and decided to give rap another chance, albeit at a lower volume with periodically scheduled shows rather than weekly events.
The night I attend the Pack set, the crowd acts as a reality check to the fears that uninformed people retain about hip hop's multiracial clientele: There are no thugs, guns, or pimps here, only a peaceable assembly of young men and women. The closest thing there is to "trouble" is a spontaneous and brief b-boy dance face-off (El Khoury discourages dancing), and while the breakers engage in some spirited body-rock taunting, they wind up shaking hands afterward. The line between crowd and performers is frequently blurred: Try-D, of the local crew Interlock, hangs out in the deli and talks to fans when he's not throwing out sharp freestyling between sets; and one audience member, John Harrison, is pulled onstage to beatbox and sling lyrics during Abstract Pack's "Phone Sex." The Pack are tighter than ever (if no less Abstract, of course), and appear well prepped for a much bigger on-campus concert: their December 3 slot opening for Outkast in Northrop Auditorium, with fellow St. Paulites Kardel and C4.
After the Bone show winds down at 11:30 p.m. and Abstract Pack pack up for a gig in Iowa, the crowd spills out into the street, bathed in the multicolored neon glow that pulses through the front windows. A couple of days later, I call El Khoury and ask if he has received any complaints or police reports. At press time, he hasn't. Live music is alive and well in Dinkytown. (Nate Patrin)
Cooking Up Local Music
PUBLICIST, DJ, AND scene-hopping socialite Rachel Joyce hosts a new cable-access show in the truest cable-access spirit. Playing With Fire cajoles local and visiting musicians to test their culinary skills on camera, with Joyce playing Julia Child before interviewing guests between bites. Joyce and Romona Ramdeen have already taped a diverse array of locals chowing down: Blue Star 74 (an encounter that airs Wednesday, December 1), The Short Fuses, Esther Godinez, Pablo, and Willie Wisely. All the Pretty Horses and Best Kept Secret are on tap for future episodes.
Joyce even interviewed Chicago blues upstart Ronnie Baker Brooks. "He's the only guest that couldn't really cook," Joyce says, though Brooks was happy to scarf her homemade chocolate pecan pie. The show airs every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. on MTN, Channel 33, in Minneapolis, and will air in St. Paul beginning this spring. (Peter S. Scholtes)