From young jazz musicians to boomer rockers, an oratorio on slavery and some mighty fine blues, we are privileged to be able to choose from a rich palette of music here in Minneapolis/Saint Paul. Music certainly lifts the spirit.
Wednesday, May 7
Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) Two acoustic guitars + Jazz + Bluegrass + Two creative minds + Two virtuosos = Fireworks for guitar lovers.
Michael O’Brien Quintet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Donation) Minneapolis bassist O’Brien has been based in Brooklyn for a few years now, and lately has been traveling (and playing) around the world. He’ll be joined tonight by Brandon Wozniak, sax; Jake Baldwin, trumpet; Tanner Taylor, piano; and Mac Santiago, drums; to rework some of his old arrangements and play songs from his fine CD, Tunes I Like to Play, which you can sample on his website.
Thursday, May 8
Charmin & Shapira & Friends @ The Dakota. 7pm (No Cover) When the sweet vocals of Charmin Michelle are combined with the tasteful, swinging sounds of Joel Shapira’s acoustic guitar, the results are sublime. Tonight they’re joined by friends on sax, bass & drums to round out an engaging evening of music.
Maurice Jacox @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Donation) Maurice brings his vocal chops to the “basement family room” of jazz. Thomas West will accompany him on the JC piano.
The Dakota Combo @ Antonello Hall, MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis. 8pm (Free) In September of each year, an open audition is held for high school students to study and perform as part of the Dakota Combo. They study with bassist Adam Linz, jazz coordinator at MacPhail, and then perform at various venues and schools during the school year. This marks the Spring concert for the group, which is as talented a group of young musicians as you can find. Full disclosure: I chair the organization that sponsors the group.
Friday, May 9
Paula Lammers @ Parma 8200, Bloomington. 7:30 – 10:30pm (No Cover) Lammers, a sweetly swinging vocalist, teams up with Phil Aaron on piano and Ray Siegel on bass to deliver an evening of standards seasoned with some under-recorded gems. Here she is doing No Moon at All.
Will Kjeer/Levi Schwartzberg Duo @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm (Donation) Here are two high school seniors who are members of the Dakota Combo and who also have been playing professionally around town. Pianist Will Kjeer has been playing with his own group, Blue Haven, as well as with veterans such as Steve Kenny, Dave Brittain, & Jana Nyberg. Levi Schwartzberg plays both vibes and piano in bands such as Blue Haven, Sound Skirmish, and the Cosmic Troubadours. Both are finishing their second year with the Dakota Combo and will be heading off to college next fall.
Courageous Endeavors CD Release @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm, ($8) Four twenty-somethings, each of whom has been making his mark in Twin Cities jazz, are releasing Prototype, their debut album of original songs. Though the use of a Fender Rhodes gives it a slightly 70s vibe, the time signatures and melodies are 21st Century. The group includes Nelson Devereaux, saxes; Joe Strachan, Fender Rhodes; Brian Courage, bass; and Miguel Hurtado, drums.
Saturday, May 10
Group 47 @ Sweet 317, Northern Warehouse, 308 Prince Street, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Trumpeter (Flumpeter?) Steve Kenny has gathered some of the best young talent around for this group: pianist Will Kjeer is finishing up his senior year in high school; Thomas Strommen, sax, is a sophomore at UW-River Falls; drummer Alex Burgess also studies at River Falls; while bassist Adam Tucker has been playing and recording music in the Twin Cities for a number of years. Though their new album, Straight to Vinyl, won’t be out for another month, you can hear some previews in the comfy confines of a house concert. For tickets and more info, go to http://Sweet317.com.
Monday, May 12
Brian Grivna @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Donation) Tenor sax player Grivna is a veteran of the Buddy Rich Orchestra, the Guthrie. He’s toured with the Minnesota Orchestra and with Bobby McFerrin and the SPCO. He continues to work with both the Orchestra and SPCO, as well as in the pit band for touring shows. His appearances at Jazz Central are always a delight.
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, May 7
Erik Koskinen Band @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10pm ($8) If anyone ever asks how to define Americana music, point them to Koskinen’s recordings. With his writing and singing, Koskinen has a way of connecting with the hopes and fears of both toilers and dreamers. His incisive guitar playing draws from rock n’ roll, country and even some classic folk.
Thursday, May 8
Cooker John & Mikkel Beckmen @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) Mikkel Beckmen, of the rub board and found percussion, brings in a different guest each week for a genial gathering of business folk, old hippies, and young fans of roots music. This week he’s invited fingerpicker/acoustic blues singer Cooker John to share the stage.
Youngblood Brass Band @ The Triple Rock, Minneapolis. 8pm ($12) Madison is about as unlikely a place for a New Orleans Brass Band as Minneapolis, but these guys have made it work. YBB has collaborated with hip-hop artists, sold out dates in over 20 countries and continue to stretch boundaries and gain fans. Twin Cities trumpeter Adam Meckler has been playing with them on their recent tour through the west, which has also included a number of workshops in elementary and high schools. Opening is Mpls rapper Botzy.
Friday, May 9
Dee Miller Band @ The Sherwood Lounge, Saint Paul. 9pm (No Cover) This venue has remained under the radar as far as I know. Not so The Dee Miller Band, with the potent combination of Miller on take-no-prisoners vocals and Jimi “Primetime” Smith on guitar.
Friday, Saturday, May 9, 10
Kelly Hunt @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) The piano-pounding sassy singer from Kansas City has been appearing at the Dakota so often, she’s probably sampled most of their dinners. She has a new CD, The Beautiful Bones, about to be released, and it’s already garnering praise, so expect some new material.
Saturday, May 10
TU Dance 10th Anniversary Concert @ The Ordway, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($23 – $48) It’s been ten years since Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands, both veterans of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, started their own troupe. They are marking the anniversary with the premiere of Hikari, an Ordway-commissioned pice created by Uri Sands in collaboration with master wood block print artist Hiroki Morinoue. Uri Sands will also perform Alvin Ailey’s Twin Cities with special guest Laurel Keen, and the troupe will also perform Lady, a signature piece for the company, and the Minnesota premiere of Uri Sands’ One. All in all, a very special evening for fans of dance.
Let My People Go! A Spiritual Journey Along the Underground Railway @ Hamline United Methodist Church, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($20, $30) This is a concert-length oratorio featuring T. Mychael Rambo and Aimee K. Bryant in the roles of narrator, and the 75-voice Oratorio Society Chorus. It’s presented by the Oratorio Society of Minnesota. In essence, the piece by composer Dolnald McCulloug interweaves spirituals into a script that explores the ingenuity of America’s slaves, who created “coded” messages within much of their music.
Boom Boom Steve & The Knockouts @ Holihan’s Pub, White Bear Lake. 8pm (Tip Jar) This small East Metro club provides an intimate space for listening to the passionate harp playing of Boom Boom Steve, with John Franken, guitar; John Shroeder, bass; and Dwight Dario on drums. One or two couples can also dance.
Sunday, May 11
Pat Donahue & Daddy Squeeze @ The Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 5pm (Tip jar) Both Donahue and Dan Newton are expertly conversant in a number of genres. The master finger-picking guitarist and wizard of the “stomach Steinway” combine for an evening of music that may range from blues to gypsy jazz to polkas.
Sultans of String @ The Fine Line, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($15) This Canadian quartet of two guitars, bass, and fiddle has received raves wherever they go, with their blend of gypsy jazz, Spanish flamenco, Arabic folk, and other genre-blending sounds.
Flamin’ Groovies @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 8pm ($25) Comning out of San Francisco in 1965, The Groovies played what would eventually become known as power pop, using a two-guitar attack to rock up some r&b, classic rock n’ roll, and originals. They were mostly ignored, and certainly outsold by the more psychedelic bands of the time. After the inevitably splintering, quitting, they became cult favorites. After finally reuniting a couple of years ago, they are on the move and on tour. They still rock out, as you can see in the video below. Might Mofos open.
Monday, May 12
Willie Murphy’s Blue Monday Jam @ Richfield American Legion, Richfield 7pm (Tip Jar) Willie’s been doing a Blue Monday Jam for decades, though the location has changed from time to time, as when the old Viking Bar closed. You never know who will show up and take part, but you do know it will be fun, as Willie goes through a repertoire that includes old rock n’ roll, blues, and originals.