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Eleven things to keep area audiences entertained in 2011

This is the time of year to make bold predictions for the next year, 2011. Unfortunately, one of the few things we can count on is that there will be a flood.

Aside from our annual rite of impending doom, there are plenty of things to look forward to in the new year. With that in mind, here are 11 items we are keeping an eye on in 2011:

Funny Fargo

The Fargo Theatre may be facing some cash-flow problems, as shown in December's campaign to raise $31,000 in 31 days, but the downtown icon starts the year laughing, in a big way. The movie house will welcome three rotund stand-up comics in the first quarter with Patton Oswalt, Jan. 12; Gabriel Iglesias, Jan. 28; and Louie Anderson, March 19. With these comedic heavyweights, how long before "Last Comic Standing" winner and "big" guy Ralphie May announces a show in the theater?

Fargo Film Festival

Speaking of the Fargo Theatre, submissions for the 11th Fargo Film Festival are due by Jan. 12, but one name is already set.

Winnipeg director Guy Maddin is the featured speaker at this year's Fargo Film Festival, March 1-5. His films "The Saddest Music in the World" and "My Winnipeg" previously played at the Fargo. Sure, it's not the Coen brothers, but Maddin's sense for his hometown is one of wonder, not limitations. It's a lesson local filmmakers could follow. Also: Keep an eye on "Prairie Love," the low-budget indie filmed in and around Minot, N.D., which screens at Sundance Film Festival at the end of this month.

Rourke turns 50

The Rourke Art Museum and Gallery turns 50 this year. Instead of a photo scrapbook, the museum will host "Midwest by Midwestern." Opening Jan. 16, the exhibit is a look at 50 years of the invitational that attracts about 100 artists every June. And if recent shows are any indication, the organization is not resting on its laurels. Of the six shows opening between the museum and gallery, four have been by artists under the age of 30. It will also be interesting to see how the Moorhead entity moves forward after a cut in city funding.

WE Fest

After a male-dominated lineup (Kid Rock, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean and Montgomery Gentry, to name a few) in 2010, this year's WE Fest bill is more female-friendly.

Country pop acts like Sugarland and Rascal Flatts team up with family man Brad Paisley for the annual country music festival outside of Detroit Lakes.

And if you're hoping for some country romance, couple Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton will perform at the festival. It's also worth noting that this will be the first WE Fest run solely by Rand Levy, a 25-year partner who assumed control of the event last fall. Last summer, Levy said he'd look at booking other events at the site if they made good business sense, so we'll see what he does.

Moondance Jams

Speaking of music, there's mixed news for the Moondance Jam and Moondance Jammin' Country festivals held annually in Walker, Minn. The good news is that both events will continue after founder and owner Bill Bieloh died of a heart attack in late September. His widow, Kathy, son, Jonathan, and daughter, Bri, said they would carry on the musical traditions. The bad news is the festivals could face a court fight over a questionable $2.4 million loan from the Leech Lake band of Chippewa. In the meantime, the 20th installment of Moondance Jam, July 14-16, booked the rock band 3 Doors Down while Jammin' Country, June 23-25, has Big & Rich, Dierks Bentley, Craig Morgan, Phil Vassar and Neal McCoy lined up for its fifth year.

Fargo brewskis

Looking for something fresh in 2011? Keep your eyes on the Fargo Brewing Company. This new brew crew has been steadily working toward tapping the beer market with its own locally produced suds. The group held a tasting in mid-December and hopes to open this summer, prime time for a nice, crisp cold one.

Moody Blues

The Imagine Amphitheatre at the Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead (home to the Trollwood Performing Arts School) gets pushed a little further as a concert facility when the classic rock act Moody Blues plays the site June 8.

The first two shows (the Blenders in 2009 and Garrison Keillor this past September) didn't totally test the space as a full concert venue, though the Keillor crowd pushed the parking issue. The Moody Blues, and its hit song "Nights in White Satin," may not be Metallica, but the group's symphonic rock packs more of a punch than a mostly a cappella band or Prairie Home folk.

Red River Valley Fair

The Red River Valley Fair has been teasing out its lineup on Facebook, promising to announce the first night's grandstand musical act when 2,000 people "liked" the page.

It happened, and this past Tuesday the fair revealed that the country acts Little Big Town and Jason Jones would open the first night on July 8. Now, the fair says more acts will be announced for every additional 500 "friends" added to the fair's Facebook page.

We're still waiting on the details, but the page promised four nights of rock and three nights of country concerts during the fair; and only two of those acts have played the fair before.

Even without the fair's official announcements, we can divine a little insight into the lineup. Concert industry websites and official artist pages have hinted that the LoCash Cowboys and Jason Michael Caroll will be playing July 10.

And the fair's Facebook poster claimed to be "very excited about our rock -- it's different than what we have had in the past!" So that eliminates the often-returning hair rock acts of Poison, Bret Michaels, Tesla and Hairball, right?

'Dakota Air'

Fargo-Moorhead fans of North Dakota Public Radio's "Dakota Air: The Radio Show" may have caught rebroadcasts of the show, but they'll get to check it out firsthand Jan. 15. That's the day Merrill Piepkorn and pals take over North Dakota State University's Festival Concert Hall. The touring monthly show has so far played Valley City, Bismarck, Jamestown and Grand Forks to good reviews but we'll see what this mix of music, skits and historical facts can do in front of a hometown crowd.

F-M Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Bernard Rubenstein's departure from the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra comes as a blow since the maestro helped make the organization more accessible without compromising its mission or integrity.

But Bernie's departure (he will remain in the position through the 2011-12 season) opens the door for a music director just as adventurous and engaging; perhaps even the FMSO's first female leader?

In the meantime, Rubenstein will be in the spotlight of the orchestra's next season, which will carry the theme "Bernie's Fond Farewell." The season will feature his favorite pieces, but no visiting guest musicians, only soloists from the community.

'Jersey Shore' in F-M

Fargo-Moorhead loves to look for celebrities. Just ask Hollywood couple Josh Duhamel and Fergie, who spent Christmas with family in Fargo.

So what will happen when Ronnie Ortiz-Magro from MTV's reality show "Jersey Shore" appears at The Venue at The Hub on Jan. 28?

Will the beefy bro-mantic exhibit his prowess of the GTL (gym, tanning, laundry) lifestyle? Will he pound too much Ron-Ron Juice, declare the hot spot to be a Grenade Free Foundation and smoosh some landmine, thus incurring the wrath of his sometimes girlfriend Sammi Sweetheart? We can only hope.

John Lamb is a writer for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, a publication of Forum Communications Co.