Kevin Garrett, a 25-year-old singer-songwriter and Beyoncé collaborator, will play the 7th St Entry on Friday, Feb. 3. Photo by Shervin Lainez

Best Picks: Jan. 26–Feb. 8

Updated: May 17, 2018 - 3:53 pm

What to do downtown after work

Touched by grace

You may not know the name Kevin Garrett — you may even confuse him with a certain basketball player — but I’d expect to see it more often as the 25-year-old singer-songwriter is heading into his first headlining tour this year.

You may ask why he’s worth knowing. Well, Garrett has been itching to break out as a mainstream act for the past two years, touring with fellow R&B-tinged up-and-comers Alessia Cara and James Vincent McMorrow. He also co-wrote and co-produced “Pray You Catch Me,” the intro track to Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” just about every publication’s favorite album of 2016. If the graces of Queen B don’t do it for you, perhaps the comparisons to Sam Smith and James Blake — a Garrett fan and a collaborator, respectively — will. The connections are just as unexpected to Garrett.

“I think if you would’ve told me I’d have a credit on a Beyoncé album I would’ve slapped you in the face,” he said. “With the Sams and the Jameses, that’s extremely high praise. We’re all trying to make honest music, and it’s just cool to be in that conversation with those acts that I really admire.”

With this tour Garrett will come to the 7th St Entry at First Avenue on Friday, Feb. 3 with guest ARIZONA, an indie electronic-pop trio of New Jersey natives. The singer has booked a slew of intimate venues across the country where his brand of out-of-love — though never sappy — songs retains its bedroom-pop quality. They are places where Garrett expects to connect with the new fans he’s garnered in the past year on his own terms.

“The first time I was overwhelmed was in Chicago under a year ago, and it was the first time I could play a song and not sing because everyone was signing so loud,” he said. “I’m unsigned, and being unsigned you run into the perils of touring independently, so I’m kind of hands-on with every aspect of the production.”

Garrett will be touring on several recently released songs, including “Precious” — an emotionally defiant unrequited love song — and, most recently, “Stranglehold,” where the singer is at his best, allowing smooth bedroom vocals to shine over a bare-bones beat.

For readers, Garrett recommends listening to “Issues,” a new tune from singer-songwriter Julia Michaels, a similar artist-producer who co-wrote Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and pretty much any Demi Lovato, Gwen Stefani or Selena Gomez song in recent years. There’s also Felix Joseph, a producer who worked on “Stranglehold.” Finally, there’s Marian Hill, a rising R&B duo who Garrett went to high school with in Philadelphia.


Japanese street eats with Main Street detail

The small-but-mighty PinKU has had a — to use a food writing cliché — meteoric rise into the local food scene even if the entire restaurant could fit inside your garage. The concept opened last spring and is already preparing to expand to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport where it’ll bring its menu of perfected Japanese street food bites to a global audience. But for the time being you’ll have to find the restaurant between Keegan’s Irish Pub and Stem Wine Bar & Eatery on University Avenue, just a couple blocks inland from the Northeast Minneapolis riverfront. Beyond the bright yellow door you’ll find some of the best potstickers in the city, which chef John Sugimura — he’s nearly always working the counter — and his team simply, albeit elegantly, form. While you could probably spend a small fortune ordering course after course of seared salmon served in rolls or over rice or the yellowtail with crispy onions, a few $5–$7 options fill up a stainless-steel tray with enough for a delectable meal. Plus, if you’re new to sake Sugimura has several options to get you hooked.

IMG_6154Not just des(s)erts

In 2015 I wrote in a column that East Hennepin needed an ice cream parlor to bring sweet relief to a growing neighborhood bereft of dessert options. It’s nearly two years later and the area still hasn’t seen such a shop, but we may have got something even better now that Glam Doll Donuts has opened a second donut and coffee shop on Central Avenue. The best thing about Glam Doll is that the treats go well with either side of your commute, whether it’s an 8 a.m. sugary breakfast run or a 5 p.m. reward for getting through a tough day. And there’s even more in the Northeast location than the original Eat Street shop. Beyond the familiar glamorous pink there’s a mac-and-cheese donut that’s better than anything on those clickbaity Facebook videos that are just cheese and chocolate. For the after work crowd there are also champagne, sangria and beer pairings so you can say cheers while you’re biting into a Cosmopolitan Girl — my personal favorite — or something savory.