Tuesday, July 28, 2020

"Talkin' Bout My Generation" by Chronofon at Crooners MainStage Tent

My second concert at Crooners MainStage Tent, created for this pandemic summer 2020, was a show by a group I've seen several times before at Open Eye Theatre. The quartet known as Chronofon (Bradley Greenwald, Dan Chouinard, Diana Grasselli, and Prudence Johnson) creates and performs what I like to call "edutainment" - shows that are informative around a certain composer, genre, or era of music, while also entertaining with great performances of that music. This is my fourth Chronon show, and they've all been really well constructed to tell the story in a fun and interesting way. Talkin' Bout My Generation: The Summer of '66 is no exception.

Since they performed without the lighting effects and projections they usually have at Open Eye, they performed this show as a radio play. Songs from 1966 were interspersed with actual news stories of the time. Some were amusingly old-timey, others sounded eerily as if they could have come from 2020 news (riots on the streets of Minneapolis, a Black teenager shot by the police). The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Along with Dan Chouinard on keyboard, the vocalists were accompanied by Dean Magraw on guitar and Gary Raynor on bass. Of the two dozen or so songs they sang, a little over half were familiar to me (having been born seven years after this summer). Any song that allowed for four-part harmony was a highlight, including "Monday, Monday" by the Mamas and the Papas, "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys, and the Beatles' "Nowhere Man." Other highlights include "Summer in the City" by the Lovin' Spoonful, a charming song about a star-crossed love between the honeysuckle and the ivey that I know I've heard Bradley sing before, "Georgy Girl" by the Seekers, Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," "Fremde in der Nacht" ("Strangers in the Night" in German, because all I ever want is to listen to Bradley Greenwald sing in German), and the finale that merged Simon and Garfunkle's "The Sound of Silence" with poignant quotes, eventually morphing into the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out." Life is very short, indeed.

ICYMI, here's a bit about my experience at Crooners. The stage is under a tent between the parking lot and Moore Lake. Also under the tent is spaced table seating for two or four, and bar seating. Just beyond the tent are 2-3 rows of drive-in car parking. You will be directed to your space, which allow at least six feet between cars, and the sooner you arrive the better your spot ("doors" open one hour prior to showtime). If you don't drive a convertible and would like to be out in the open air, you can bring chairs, or use the chairs they have there, and sit just in front of your vehicle. There is the option to tune in your car radio to the sound system, which didn't seem necessary to me for the music, but may help if the concert includes a lot of speaking, which was a little harder for me to understand. The protocol is, like at all restaurants and public spaces, to wear masks while not eating. Although I took mine off when sitting in my open car well away from others.

Crooners is offering a limited dinner menu for service at the tables, or in your car. I'm a vegetarian and there are a couple of options - the veggie flatbread and spinach artichoke flatbread (hold the prosciutto) are very good, and delivered right to my car (I literally did not leave my car the entire night) in a take-out container. The bill is delivered towards the end of the show in the typical bill folder, which felt like too much touching things for my comfort level, but I had my hand sani handy as usual. I would love to see an online option for paying, to eliminate the need to pass objects back and forth.

Click here to view the full schedule of events. A few noteworthy theater-adjacent concerts: