Minneapolis-based Suzie, the solo project of Mark Ritsema, will kickoff a tour at 7th Street Entry on Wednesday, April 26. Submitted photo

Minneapolis-based Suzie, the solo project of Mark Ritsema, will kickoff a tour at 7th Street Entry on Wednesday, April 26. Submitted photo

Best Picks April 20–May 3

Updated: April 18, 2017 - 10:55 am

What to do downtown after work

Pour yourself some ‘Chardonnay’

With a guitar in hand and microphone at the ready, Mark Ritsema becomes Suzie.

Under his solo project moniker, the former Night Moves guitarist and keyboardist has been experimenting with his own nostalgia-driven, bedroom-rock glam band. Along with a growing cast of guest musicians, the band’s sound has expanded over the past few years, which ranges from bubblegum shoegaze to alternative rock while never straying too far from Ritsema’s characteristic atmospheric songwriting.

“That’s definitely my base. I love dream pop and bedroom-quality stuff,” he said.

Suzie’s latest full-length release, “Chardonnay,” debuted earlier this year and features an ambitious blending of synth and guitar. Chief among the 12-song album are songs like “Backseat” and “Burn.” The first, the lead single off “Chardonnay,” combines ’70s-era psychedelic vocals with an infectious synth line and lyrics that explore an unequal relationship. It pairs well with “Burn,” a summery glam tune that has Ritsema’s songwriting at its best. The track would be perfectly at home at a throwback-themed beach party, blaring out over the sand as partiers dance, brews in hand.

Ritsema will kick-off his first tour in the past two years with a show at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry on Wednesday, April 26. The 18-plus show will feature opener MURF, a “RoboCop”-themed hardcore punk band. The short tour will take Suzie between Sioux Falls, South Dakota and New York.

Ritsema is churning out songs for the tour, including premiering “Over It,” a ’90s-style track that combines the styles of “MMMBop” of Hanson fame and Primal Scream.

“I was wanted to write a Hanson-style song,” he said.

The song is part of “The Greatest of All-Time Vol. 2,” a Forged Artifacts compilation whose sales will benefit the American Civil Liberties Union. “Over It” oozes a dreamy, almost beachy pop while the song covertly deals with the near-constant stimuli of today’s digital life, a newfound phenomenon that, as Ritsema says, can make it impossible to be excited anymore (“Turn me on, turn me young / I’m getting old man / And I’m too young to be over it”).

Ritsema recommends The Journal readers check out “Prisoner,” the latest album from alt rocker Ryan Adams, as well as artists Alex G, D.R.A.M. and Lil Yachty.

TACO CAT BY EB 2A stray Taco Cat

Northeasters, take heart. It’s been three years since Taco Cat graced South Minneapolis, and it’s been three years since those in Northeast Minneapolis have yet to enjoy direct access to the beautiful tacos, nachos and more that the restaurant churns out of Midtown Global Market. But the wait is over. Taco Cat has launched a food truck that has taken up a Thursday evening residency at Dangerous Man Brewing at 13th & 2nd. The truck debuted at the taproom in mid-April carrying an abbreviated menu of simple tacos, nachos and French fries, all perfect items to wash down with a locally brewed beer. Taco Cat will continue the residency until the first winter blizzard, which means Northeast Minneapolis has plenty of Thursdays to enjoy tacos and more without a trek to the other side of the city. Check for the truck after 4 p.m. until about 9 p.m. right outside the brewery on Second Street Northeast. There are warmer days ahead.

Photo courtesy of Betty Danger's Facebook page
Photo courtesy of Betty Danger’s Facebook page

The most exciting two minutes in sports — with a drink

If you’re like me, sometimes watching sports can even be exhausting. Luckily, some sports have it right. One such sport is the Kentucky Derby, a horse race that’s over in just two minutes. Yet, it’s somehow enough to throw a party over. Betty Danger’s Country Club will once again host its annual Kentucky Derbatante on Saturday, May 6 with all the classics, from a mint julep bar to some of the city’s best derby attire, but you wouldn’t go to Betty Danger’s without a little strangeness. There will also be a dance party with DJ Strangelove, bouncy horse races on the bar’s own race track and even a live pony petting and posing coral. Guests with the most dapper derby hats can compete for their own prize. Tickets, which include a mint julep, are on sale now — and it sold out last year, so it’s best not to wait.