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Report: Woman's Club of Minneapolis cancels 'Evening with Garrison Keillor'

The Woman's Club still has not addressed just why Garrison Keillor had been invited to star in its fundraiser.

The Woman's Club still has not addressed just why Garrison Keillor had been invited to star in its fundraiser. Leila Navidi, Star Tribune

The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis has been planning a fundraiser for the end of the month.

The club's 630-seat historic theater could use some renovations. The agenda of the night was dinner and a “rare performance,” according to the Facebook event, featuring soprano Maria Jette, pianist Dan Chouinard, and former radio host Garrison Keillor.

The longtime host of A Prairie Home Companion got the boot from Minnesota Public Radio after he was accused of “inappropriate behavior” with a colleague. Keillor claimed he’d merely placed a hand on her back to console her and apologized after she “recoiled." A subsequent investigation by MPR found a “years-long pattern” of similar allegations against him.

Keillor has maintained that his behavior was part of a consensual relationship, and he has continued to write and perform. According to WCCO, he’s appearing solo at the Dakota Jazz Club this week. But his upcoming show at the Woman’s Club, of all places, turned a few heads.

Not in a good way.

“Extremely disappointed at the decision to have Garrison Keillor host anything at the Woman’s Club,” one reviewer on the Club’s Facebook page posted on Tuesday. “It is baffling and reflects a disappointing lack of judgment.”

“Feels like a punch to the gut,” another added.

Nora McInerny, a writer and podcaster who recently gave up her columnist position at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine after its January edition featured Keillor on the cover, tweeted about Keillor's gig that same day.

But it looks like some kind of message might have been received as of Wednesday evening. In a report that aired Wednesday, WCCO said the Woman's Club would release a "statement" about Keillor's planned appearance some time today. The station didn't have to wait that long: an update to the online version of the story said the event had been “called off.”

A spokesperson with the Woman's Club confirmed this with City Pages Thursday morning, but did not say why the decision had been made. 

In a very brief statement to WCCO, Keillor said the club had invited him, and he’d accepted. (He’s played the same venue before.)

Tickets for the fundraiser ran $250 for dinner and a show ($150 of which was tax deductible) or either $100 or $75 for floor or balcony tickets. Here's how Keillor described the show he'd planned:

"Now that we are a certain age and no longer need to be cool, we're able to openly love certain things that, in our youthful sophistication, we had to keep secret. Maudlin ballads like ‘Poor Babes In The Woods,’ songs of undying love, ‘Love's Old Sweet Song,’ poetry that is not allusive or surreal but comes right out and says what it has to say.”