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John Lamb, Published May 02 2009

Chords vs. keys: Museum Gala touts guitar while piano men play

Fargo will be buzzing tonight with two of the bigger-ticket events of this year’s arts and entertainment calendar: The Plains Art Museum’s annual Gala and the Elton John/Billy Joel concert at the Fargodome.

While the two are entirely different, with the Gala’s theme celebrating the current show, “The Art of the Guitar,” and John and (particularly) Joel known as “Piano Men,” the tickets look like a musical marquee matchup and a feast for the senses.


Gala: The Plains Art Museum is 24 years old, though it grew out of the Red River Arts Center, which started in 1965.

Concert: Sir Elton John is 62 years old. Billy Joel turns 60 on May 9.


Gala: Tickets are $90 (they were $80 until April 18) with $45 tax deductible

Concert: Tickets are $52, $98 and $178 to get closest to the stage.


Gala: With the guitar as the motif, organizers lined up a variety of fine area pickers, such as Brenda Weiler, Tom Carvell and Tim Sparks, to perform from 7 to 9 p.m., followed by the horn-driven Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome from 9 to midnight.

Concert: Each singer has more than three decades of hits, so you’re bound to hear lots of familiar tunes.


Gala: This year’s celebration revolves around the “Art of the Guitar” exhibit, which displays different types of instruments as well as how they are crafted. Additionally, the Museum features more than 90 works by regional artists for auction.

Concert: The “Face 2 Face” tour will once again feature the singers facing each other across their pianos as they swap songs, though each will get a solo section to focus on their own music.


Gala: The Green Market, located in the Plains Art Museum, will present an array of foods from Spain and Portugal or inspired by the area, such as seasoned pork and cheeses such as cabrales, manchego and tres leches (three milk).

Concert: The Fargodome offers an array of foods and cheeses in the form of nachos, hot dogs, chili dogs, hamburgers, pizza and pretzels with nacho cheese sauce.


Gala: You can expect a blend of perfumes and colognes with a distinct hint of pork in the air.

Concert: Look forward to a bouquet of that “new T-shirt smell.”

The look

Gala: While the art on the wall may be the draw, sometimes what guests wear is the real show. Some view the event as a grand entrance for spring and summer wear, while others approach it as a more formal adult prom.

Concert: Sir Elton has retired his most flamboyant concert attire, but don’t expect anything too subtle. So again, the ticketholders could supply the real show. It’s hard to imagine too many people dressed like vintage Elton, but it will be interesting to see how many people plunk down $30-plus dollars for concert T-shirts.

Either way, you can expect to see lots of black at each event.


Gala: Once again, Happy Harry’s Bottle Shops offers a free wine tasting from 7 to 9 p.m.

Concert: Once again, the Fargodome offers a selection of wine ($5) and domestic draft beers starting at $3.50.

If you go

If you go