Welcoming the New Year. Music for Dec 28 – Jan 3

December 28, 2011

It’s that odd time between Christmas and New Year’s. Lots of reunions as folks return to their nests and then seek out friends after family time. Where to go. What to do. Then, whoops, it’s New Year’s. Amateur night to some. A grand chance to celebrate for others, whether the past year was good or bad. There are many, many choices for New Year’s Eve, and I couldn’t begin to give them all, though I’ve a suggestion or two, especially in jazz, since there are but a few options. Whether you choose a night out, dinner with friends, or the comfort of your own home, have a healthy and prosperous New Year.


Wednesday, Dec 28

Minnesota Youth Jazz Band @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 7pm. (No cover). The Twin Cities Jazz Society provides an opportunity for various young bands to perform from time to time. Hear’s your chance to hear the next generation of jazz musicians.

She Swingeth, Indeed

Nichola Miller @ Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5). Nichola has a take-no-prisoners attitude when it comes to singing torch songs. Tonight she will be accompanied by the Tanner Taylor Trio, making this gig doubly enjoyable. Word is, her latest CD, “Thou Swingeth,” will be reviewed in Downbeat. To hear some of her singing, go here.

Thursday, Dec 2

Dave Hagedorn and Dan Cavanagh @ The Artists Quarter. 9pm ($5). Hagedorn is the vibist/percussionist who plays in the Phil Hey Quartet and Pete Whitman’s X-Tet, in addition to his duties teaching at St. Olaf. Dan is a pianist/composer and former student of Dave’s who has won a number of awards and commissions for his compositions. Should be a heady evening of improvisation.

Friday, Dec 30

Rick Germanson Trio @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) Rick returns for his annual stint at the AQ. He’s a winning pianist, with technique and taste, and a penchant for Latin rhythms. He’s played with Elvin Jones, Wynton Marsalis, and Marlena Shaw, as well as being a part of Louis Hayes’ Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band.

Saturday, Dec 31

Open Season @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 6pm  – 8:30pm (tip jar) An early bird celebration with Todd Harper, piano; Nathan Hanson, sax; Cory Grossman, cello; and Pete Hennig, drums.

Maude Hixson & Rick Carlson @ Honey, NE Minneapolis. 6:30pm – 8:30pm  ($15) A cabaret/dinner show for those who want to get an early start on the evening. Hixson on vocals, and Carlson on piano – a perfect match.

JoAnn Funk and Jeff Brueske @ The Saint Paul Hotel Lobby Bar, Saint Paul 8pm – Midnight (no cover). Great cocktails and appetizers, and elegant music from pianist/vocalist Funk and bassist Brueske.

Carole Martin @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm. ($45) An annual tradition at the AQ, Martin has a warm, yet sophisticated singing style that creates an appropriately celebratory vibe for New Years. She’ll be accompanied by Dave Karr on sax, Rick Germanson on piano (see above), Graydon Peterson on bass, and Kenny Horst on drums.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz in the Twin Cities, go to the KBEM Calendar, here. For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz check out the blogs Bebopified, Jazz Ink, and Jazz Police.

Monday, January 2

Saint Paul Live! featuring Lucia Newell and Pete Whitman’s X-Tet on KBEM (88.5 FM)  7pm – 8pm During the Summer and early Fall I was mentioning performances that were being recorded for KBEM. Well, the results of those recordings are being broadcast every Monday at 7pm starting on January 2nd. Each one hour show will feature two artists. The inaugural show features the sublime Lucian Newell and the exciting X-Tet.

Roots, Blues, Other….

Wednesday, December 28

The Eddies on KFAI & @ The 331 Club, NE Minneapolis. 7pm (Tip jar). Tune in to KFAI at 90.3FM or 106.7FM at 5pm to catch the Eddies,  Saint Paul’s favorite almost acapella group. Then head over to the 331 in NE Mpls to catch them live.

Thursday, Dec 29

Butanes @ Shaws, NE Minneapolis. 8:30pm (No cover) Whether they are backing national stars, heading up a revue, or simply laying it down in a neighborhood bar like Shaws, nobody plays the blues like Curt Obeda and the gang. Here’s a video of the Butanes at Famous Dave’s this past April, with both Willie Walker and Maurice Jaycox on vocals.

Havana Hi-Fi @ Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9:00pm ($10) A six-piece combo playing Cuban dance music and more. Featuring the trumpet sounds of Zack Lozier.

Friday, Dec 30

We were all young once.

Cats Under the Stars Reunion @ Bunkers, Minneapolis. 9pm The legendary Iron Range turned Minneapolis band might be considered the first jam band in the area, with their blend of blues, bluegrass, reggae, and original songs. They were in heavy rotation in area roadhouses like The Cabooze, the Union, and the Uptown, and are the band that brought singer/songwriter/author Paul Metsa to the Twin Cities. This is their first reunion in three years.

Salsa del Soul @ Crooked Pint Ale House, 501 Washington, Minneapolis. 10pm ($5) Looking to get some exercise and enjoy good music at the same time. The pulsing rhythms of Salsa del Soul will get you up and dancing, even if you’ve two left feet.

Jeffrey Broussard & the Creole Cowboys @ The Eagles Club #34, 25th & 25th, Minndapolis. 8pm ($12) Button accordionist Broussard plays that infectious music known as zydeco, and puts a slightly contemporary spin on it. The results had the NY Times dance critic full of praise for Broussard. This event is put on by the folks at Krewe de Walleye, so you know there’ll be dancin’ a plenty, with lessons starting at 7pm.

Saturday, Dec 31

Soul, Gypsy Jazz, & Daddy Squeeze @ Crooked Pint Ale House, Minneapolis. 6pm. (No Cover) The evening starts with Paul Metsa & Willie Walker at 6pm, continues with the Big 3 Gypsy Jazz Trio at 8pm, and then Dan Newton & Daddy Squeeze come out to finish out the evening at 9:30. The Big Screen will feature the Times Square Ball Drop, as well as movie clips throughout the night.

Davina & Vagabonds @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 6pm & 10pm. ($75) This is the big ticket item of my suggestions, though it’s hard to find a more appropriate group for a night of celebration and partying. Davina and the gang have been tearing it up throughout the nation and Europe, where her lively approach to traditional New Orleans jazz and rhythm & blues is well appreciated. Her latest CD, “Black Cloud,” made one of the Strib’s Top Ten for 2011. The early show includes dinner, while the late show includes a champagne toast and $20 food & beverage credit. Check out one of her originals with this video.

Hipshaker @ The Kitty Kat Club, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) For this special 45RPM rare funk n’ soul dance party, the Hipshaker guys will be joined by the Hot Pants crew for an evening of soul shakin, hip gyratin, dancing. This goes until 2am, for the party animals out there.

Sunday, January 1

Beverly McLellan CD Release @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm. ($25 – $40) McLellan was one of four finalists on the smash tv show, “The Voice.” A powerful, soulful  singer and multi-instrumentalist, who sing originals, and well as songs from singers that range from Ani DeFranco to Etta James. McLellan has the smarts and ability to keep her power in check, and then unleashes it to great effect. The new CD is produced by multi-platinum winner David Z, who has worked with Johnny Lang, the Time, and Prince, among others.

Monday, January 2

GrossMan Draper @ Barbette, Minneapolis. 10pm (No Cover) Liz Draper on upright bass (Black Blondie, Cactus Blossoms, Niki & the Rue-mates), and Cory Groossman on cello & percussion. Improvised chamber music.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues events, see the Minnesota Blues Society calendar.

Musical Traditions and Irreverence for Dec 21 – 27

December 21, 2011

Whatever tradition you follow  –  Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Solstice, or even that snarky Festivus for the rest of us – it’s getting to be crunch time for holiday shoppers in the Twin Cities. However, there are lots of opportunities to unwind with good music –  some of which will relax, some of which will recharge.  There’s a limited amount of jazz on Christmas night, but you still have two very good options. There’s also a third Christmas Night music option for those who really want to let their hair down. Whether your holiday tradition includes toy trains, ice skates, or going to the movies, here’s a wish for a good one.


Wednesday, Dec 21

Nick Haas Trio @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm. (No cover) Nick is a pretty versatile guitar player, who uses clean lines and an active imagination to create music that ranges from ethereal to earthy.

George Maurer Big Band Celebration @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($12) From the Grinch to Linus & Lucy, Louis Armstrong, and Eartha Kitt, pianist Maurer, with the help of his nine piece group, swings the holidays with both verve, and just a bit of irreverence. The show is sold out, but seats often open after the first set at the Dakota.

Friday, Dec 23

Artists Quarter Holiday Bash w/Phil Aaron Trio @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Special guest. Free CD with paid admission. Phil’s taste and grace on the piano make him a vocalist’s favorite. It’s also why he’s so good as a leader. It’s the night before the night before Christmas. Isn’t that a good reason to get out and celebrate the season?

Friday, Sun, Mon, Dec 23, 25, 26

Bad Plus @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm & 9pm ($40) The audacious trio is back for their holiday appearance at the Dakota. This New York by way of Minneconsin group (one of drummer Dave King’s many) has garnered fans around the world with their seemingly irreverent approach to jazz. Some might call it chamber jazz. Others say it’s jazz with a rock attitude, and though they are fond of covering post-punk rock tunes, their inventiveness and compositional skills are a larger part of their appeal. Check out their music with this video.

Fri, Sat, December 24

Benny Weinbeck Trio @ D’Amico Kitchen, Chambers Hotel, downtown Minneapolis. 7:30 (No Cover) Treat yourself to a frothy cocktail from the bar. Then listen to music with substance from pianist Weinbeck, bassist Gordy Johnson, and drummer Phil Hey.

Sunday, Dec 25

Zacc Harris Trio @ The Riverview Wine Bar, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (No cover) Harris is a busy guitar player who is not only a fine player but can market himself, and surround himself with equally talented players, such as Matt Peterson on bass and Pete Hennig on drums. They are a regular feature of Sunday nights at the Riverview, and provide a graceful end to the day.

Tuesday, December 27

Vicky Mountain @ The Nicollet, Minneapolis. 7pm. If it’s Tuesday, it must be Jazz at the Nicollet. Vicky can scat with the best of them, and perform tongue-twistin vocal bebop with elan. And let’s not forget that the vocal instructor can handle ballads with grace, and a bit of old school R&B with good humor. And there’s a good dance floor, often filled with swing dancers and others.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz in the Twin Cities, go to the KBEM Calendar, here. For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz check out the blogs Jazz PoliceBebopified, and Jazz Ink.

Roots, Blues, Other…

Thursday, December 22

Nikki, sans Rue-Mates

Nikki & the Rue-mates @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall, 6th & Wabasha, Saint Paul. 5pm. A Happy Hour appearance by Nikki & the crew only a few blocks from where I live? I’m on it. You should be too, if you like country blues, psychedelic folk-rock, and reduced prices on Heineken beer and Belgian Frites.

Louisiana Music Christmas Show @ The Eagles Club #34, 25th & 25th, Minneapolis. 8pm. ($TBD) Ho, Ho, Ho, Beaudreaux, It’s Christmas time, doncha know, and down in the bayou, Santa uses Alligators to pull his bateaux. This is billed has having special guests all night, so I guess that means various and sundry from the area’s Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop bands will be on hand. If you’re a fan, you’ll have fun. Heck you’ll have fun even if you no nothing about the music.

Alexander O’Neal @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm & 9pm ($35) Called “one of the great singers in pop” by the NY Times, O’Neal was the original singer in Flyte Time (before Morris Day). After seducing the audience with his soulful crooning and funky tunes last year, he returns for another Christmas show.

Dee Miller @ Hollihans Pub, White Bear Lake. 8pm (No Cover) Miller doesn’t play out a whole lot, and that’s a shame, because she has pipes that can grab you by your collar and shake the blues from your bones. She’s got a tight band that’s just right for her brand of barrelhouse-shoutin’ blues.

Friday, Dec 23

The Ghost of a Trashy X-mas past. Photo from HowWasTheShow.com

Trashy Little X-Mas @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($12) For the eve of Christmas Eve, check out your last chance to catch the 2011 edition of Trailer Trash’s fun, danceable, off-kilter paen to the holiday. It’s a tradition.

Worldwide DiscoTech @ Club Jager, Minneapolis. 10pm. Grab the out-of-towners and dance to funk and boogie from around the world, as Brian Engel (Hipshaker, Hotpants) and DJ Steely (Kinda Cloudy Radio) spin vinyl on the wheels of steel.

Sunday, Dec 25

Cadillac Kolstad & The Flats @ The Nomad, Minneapolis.  8:30 (Free) It’s the Sunday Night Dance Party! Calamity and the Owl come on at 8:30pm, followed by The Union Suits at 9:30, and for the late night crowd that probably has Monday off, the hip-shakin, hair tossin, piano poundin’ talent – Cadillac Kolstad & the Flats. Cadillac plays piano-fied rockabilly on steroids, and entertaining as can be.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues events, see the Minnesota Blues Society calendar.

Music Ideas for December 14 – 20

December 13, 2011

We have a weekend of adventurous jazz in the Lowertown portion of downtown Saint Paul, a bevy of vocalists appearing in the area, and some fine blues and roots music for your listening (and maybe dancing) pleasure. Not to forget a couple of holiday specials. The weather has been mild, so that’s not an excuse to stay home, though I understand that holiday activities can be tiring. Choose from this weeks artists to either relax or recharge. Fact is. it’s all good.


Wednesday, Dec 14

Jose James @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm & 9pm ($20) Now based in London, James returns home for the holidays and a chance to show why the jazz world has embraced his inventive vocals. He’s got a smooth baritone that can caress a ballad, yet he’s adventurous enough for some serious scatting, and fearless in taking on a John Coltrane tune.

Friday, Dec 16

Todd Clouser’s Love Electric @ Studio Z, 275 East 4th St. Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Former Minneapolitan Clouser and his band have been steadily touring the US, Spain, and Mexico, with occasional stops back here in the Twin Cities. His guitar playing draws on Hendrix and Curtis Mayfield, among others, and brings an electric intensity to classic jazz (i.e., Gillespie’s Manteca) as well as originals. Tonight’s performance includes live painting to the group’s music by Tim Nyberg. Clouser, guitar; Adam Meckler, trumpet; Chris Bates, bass; Jaxon Craft, B3, and Greg Schutte, drums.

Brad Bellows/Donald Washington Quartet @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar) Bellows on valve trombone, and Washington on sax, together with Brian Roessler, bass, and Pete Hennig, drums. This quartet is fearless in playing and faultless in technique. What with Clouser (above) and Nichols (below) appearing at Studio Z this weekend, Lowertown may well be the hippest couple of square blocks in the nation this weekend.

Friday, Saturday, Dec 16, 17

Debbie Duncan @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm The Twin Cities First Lady of Song is equally at home with a ballad, scat singing, or a slightly bawdy blues. She’s released five CDs, and has thrilled audiences from here to Italy, Russia, and back. On the slight chance you’ve not heard her, here’s a videio.

Saturday, Dec 17

Bryan Nichols’ We Are Many @ Studio Z, 275 Ease 4th St, Saint Paul. 7pm. ($10) Pianist Nichols leads a nine piece group, including Mike Lewis, Brandon Wozniak, Erik Fratzke, Jeremy Ylvisaker, JT Bates, and more. Wow. This is part of the Jazz at Studio Z series.

Sunday, December 18

Lee Engele Christmas CD Release @ The Aster Cafe at Saint Anthony Main, Minneapolis. 6pm ($tbd) The CD is called “A Hot Christmas.” As might be expected, it’s a swingin’ little affair, with help from Reynold Philipsek and Gary Shultte, among others.

A Peterson Family Christmas @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 4pm & 7pm. ($23) Seven of the fabled music clan join matriarch Jeanne Arland Peterson to present Christmas favorites and more.

Tuesday, December 20

Rhonda Laurie and Maryann Sullivan @ The Nicollet Cafe, Franklin & Nicollet, Minneapols. 7pm (tip jar) The two singers that are curating Tuesday Night Jazz at the Nicollet join forces. Given their lovely voices, and ability to tease the rhythm from a song, this should be a delightful evening.

Blues, Roots, Other….

Wednesday, Dec 14

Dean Harrington Hot Club and Jake Manders and Alyssa Bicking @ the 331 Club, NE Minneapolis. 7pm (Harrington) 9:30 pm (Manders/Bicking). Guitarist Harrington has a new CD out, with a Hot Club Quintet performing acoustic swing. He’s got taste, technique, and verve, all of which are needed for the Django Rheinhardt-inspired music. He’ll be on the House Party (KFAI – 90.3 or 106.7FM) during the 5pm hour and start at the 331 at 7pm. Then, stick around for the folk/roots sound of Jake Manders and Alyssa Bicking. Jake is known for his work with the Pistol Whippin’ Party Penguins, and he’s found a complementary voice in Alyssa.

The Soulman & the Storytellerl

Paul Metsa & Willie Walker @ Nye’s, NE Minneapolis. 9pm. Paul & Willie work well together, with Paul’s guitar providing sympathetic backing to the slightly raspy, urbane voice of soulman Willie Walker. They’re in the old bar tonight.

The Lucy & Charlie Show @ Barbette, Uptown Minneapolis. 10pm. Jazz and old country standards from Lucy Michelle, of the Velvet Lapelles, along with her friend Charlie and others. Lucy has an alto voice that’s perfectly suited to songs of loss and regret, many of which can be found in the genres she’s exploring tonight.

Thursday, Dec 15

Benefit for Lynwood Slim @ Whiskey Junction, West Bank, Minneapolis. 7pm – Close ($10). Blues harpist and former Twin Citizen Lynwood Slim needs help with medical expenses, and as per usual, the music community is closing ranks to help out. Pat Hayes, Cool Breeze, Big Walter Smith, Big Bob Scoggin, JImi “Prime Time” Smith and more will be on hand to play as a means of raising funds.

Friday, Dec 16

Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 8pm. ($10) For all the prominence of the saxophone as a symbol of the blues, there are very few of its players who have risen above anonymity as sidemen. Shaw is one of them. The Chicagoan played in Howlin’ Wolf’s last band, doing arranging and generally keeping things under control, and took over the band upon the Wolf’s passing. He’s become a star in his own right, with a sound on the saxophone that’s as raspy as his own voice. With the recent transition of Hubert Sumlin, Shaw remains among the few who go back to the fifties and sixties. If you want to hear what he sounds like, click here.

Singer/Songwriter Series @ Patrick’s Cabaret, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) Drew Peterson is serving as host tonight, with a sterling bunch of bluesy/rootsy folks as his guests, including legendary pianoman Cornbread Harris, Kim & Quillan Roe (of the Roe Family singers), Nick “The Feelin'” Mrozinski, and high-energy one-man band, Crankshaft.

Saturday, Dec 17

Papa John & the Cool Club @ Merlin’s Rest, East Lake St, Minneapolis. 8pm. (tip jar). Part of the charm of this fairly regular gig for Papa John is the semi-revolving cast of musicians that are part of the Cool Club. Sam Fiske on trumpet, and the guitar Deans – Mikkelson and Harrington, on guitars, of course. But then the bass player might be Tom Lewis, or Liz Draper, or someone of equal skill, and there may or may not be a drummer. Other musicians will sit in, or sing a song or two. Carrying it all is Papa John himself, a product of the West Bank 60s. John is equally at home with the blues as he is with the acoustic swing of the Cool Club. Then there’s his sly, politically oriented humor. And did I mention Merlins has a good beer selection and  no TVs?  It all makes for a fun evening. Listen to Papa John play some blues here.

Jennifer Markey & the Tennesee Snowpants @ The Driftwood Char Bar, 44th & Nicollet, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip jar) If you have ever wondered what country music would be like today if it hadn’t been “cosmopolitaned” wonder no more. Check out Jennifer Markey, who creates perfect country/Americana tunes. She’s got a band, including tasteful guitar slinger  Clay Williams, that perfectly complements her style. Check out her MySpace to hear some of her music.

Kelley Hunt – Born To Be A Musician

December 12, 2011

Phone Interview – November 30, 2011

Sing Out, Sister

Kelley Hunt is a piano player from Kansas City who has been gaining fans the hard way, through touring. Her piano playing is out of boogie woogie by way of rhythm and blues, with a touch of blues bravado. Her singing is charged with the fervor of gospel (a nod to her gospel singing grandmother), and more than a match to her ferocious piano playing. As a songwriter, Hunt eschews victimhood and addresses social issues, the need for independence and being true to one’s calling. She has earned praise from daily papers and musician’s mags, and has been on Prairie Home Companion a number of times. All in all, the combination of her talents has helped her build a strong fan base in the Twin Cities, where she’s been a regular visitor for the last few years.

Hunt was in town recently to play at The Dakota Jazz Club, her second appearance there in as many years. As a prelude to her appearance, she kept busy calling the blues-oriented program hosts at KFAI. Though I normally host a jazz show, I happened to be subbing for Harold Tremblay, a long time Hunt supporter, on his House Party show, and was fortunate to talk with her. This is a slightly edited version of that talk.

LE: How are you doing this afternoon?

KH:  I’m doing really well. I’m happy to be on the planet, looking forward to coming to Minneapolis, and really enjoying my day.

LE:  You’ve developed a large fan base here in the Twin Cities. I would bet the KFAI phone number is on your speed dial.

KH:  (Laughs). Fortunately, for me. I love KFAI. You guys play such cool, eclectic, interesting music, and I’m honored you play my music. I really appreciate that.

LE:  Well, we’re excited that you’re coming to town and are going to be at the Dakota this coming Friday and Saturday. I’m sure you’re planning a great show for us.

KH:  I sure am. I’m flying my whole band in from LA and Nashville. We had such a great time last time, we could hardly wait to get back. It’s perfect timing for me. I’m excited to be there.

LE:  Before we get into the new album, just to give folks a bit of your background, what was the earliest memories of music for you, especially those that got you interested in a career in music?

KH:  Well my earliest memory of music is hearing my mother’s voice. Besides the fact that my mom used to be a singer at one point in her life, she sang to us a lot when we were kids. I mean, this woman can sing. It wasn’t just humming little tunes.

The hub of Kansas City Jazz Photo by Diallo French

The other thing was, all of the music that my parents and my older brother and sister played in the house.Everything from Kansas City Jazz to blues, to New Orleans music, which is part of my family heritage, to things that my siblings brought home. – Motown, Howlin’ Wolf, great songwriters, Bob Dylan, juicy stuff like Ray Charles… I just was steeped in that from the moment I hit the planet.

LE:  And at what point did you decide that this was something you were going to do for a living, as a profession?

KH:  I feel as though I was born a musician. There was never a time in my memory, as far back as I can remember, when I was really little, that I wasn’t drawn to music, that I wasn’t singing. I started playing piano by ear when I was three. And I started composing my own little songs when I was in kindergarten. It was never a question in my mind. I felt like that’s who I showed up as. It brings me so much joy, and always has that I was fortunate to live in an environment where I was supported in that train of thought.

LE:  What a blessing.

KH:  Completely

The New CD

LE:  Over the course of your last few albums you have become more and more focused on your songwriting. In the new one, Gravity Loves You, you talked about the idea that whatever direction people feel pulled in, that’s what they should do. That sounds a little like what you’ve experienced.

KH:  It’s exactly… It’s exactly what I’ve experienced, and I think that all of us have that pull. It’s just a matter of being aware of it, and also, taking that leap of faith, and jumping into what makes your heart beat the wildest. I think you’re absolutely right. It’s part of who I am, but I think it’s part of who we all are, really.

LE:  It seems that sometimes society puts barriers in the way of jumping towards the things that give us the most passion.

KH:  it can, it can. I think we have to be brave, and we have to be very strong in our convictions, and be able to focus on what it is we want, and to make the best life for ourselves that we can because, I don’t know about you, but I really love to see someone who’s passionate about the way they spend their time, whether they’re a doctor, or a sculptor, or someone who plays music on the radio. I mean it just lifts me up as a human being to witness that in someone else, and I think everybody benefits when we’re living out dreams.

LE:  Certainly, the way you’re living your dream comes out in the joy of your performance. Let’s talk a bit about Gravity Loves You. This one, as you’ve done with a number of your CDs is recorded in analog, not digital.

KH:  Correct. There’s really only one CD that wasn’t done completely in analog, and that was the live CD, Inspiration, that came out in 2000. I’ve always been drawn to that sound, using two inch tape. Not only warmth in the sound of it, but the immediacy of the performance. I love live performance, and when I go into the studio to record, I love to have all my musicians there at the same time. As much as possible, and play that song together, and feel it, and feel the pulse of it. I sit at a piano and I sing at the same time, while I’m playing, because I think that gets to the root of the song. For me, I’m certainly not against recording digitally, and I think it makes a lot of sense when it’s appropriate to do so, but I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to tape. I just like the kind of delicious, rich quality – the sound quality of it. I’ve done both and I think good music is good music no matter how you record it, but I’m so happy that I’ve had the opportunity to do that.

LE:  What can we expect from your show this weekend?

Like an enthusiastic audience

KH:  Well, you can expect that my full band will be there, and we’ll be playing songs, no only off of Gravity Loves You, but some selected songs off of the previous four CDs. The thing that I most love about playing Minneapolis are the audiences is they’re such great music audiences, you know what I mean, and it kind of brings us to life as performers. I mean, we’re going to be there 110% no matter what, but it just gives us that extra layer of… chocolate (chuckles). Jump up there and really go all out for people. They can expect, hopefully, a great time and the goal is for people to leave feeling great – better than when they got there.

LE:  Sounds like it’s going to be great fun. I know you have many fans here. Harold often gets requests for your music when he’s doing his show – even when you’re not in town

KH:   That’s wonderful, I’m thrilled

LE:  It’s so terrific that you support KFAI and recognize the passion that everyone has. It’s a mutual admiration society. Thank you so very much for calling in.

KH:  Thanks so much. Thanks to your listeners, and thanks to KFAI.

Let the Holiday Shows Begin – 12.7 – 12.13

December 7, 2011

Well, the special shows for the holiday season are ramping up. We’ve got a jazzy Nutcracker, the White Christmas movie with a jazz vocalist and piano duo as well, the John Lennon tribute show, and Robby Vee’s Christmas show. Specials aside, there is simply plenty of music to be excited about, including the debut of a couple of exciting new jazz groups, and performances by proven artists.


Wednesday, December 7

Jon Pemberton Trio @ The Red Stag, NE Minneapolis. 10pm. Pemberton is a triple threat musician, hailed as a trumpeter, pianist, and composer. He leads a couple of quintets, has played with diverse musicians, and released a critically acclaimed CD, “On the Edge,” in 2010. Tonight he’ll be joined by Gary Raynor, bass, and Jay Epstein, drums.

Friday, December 9

A Jazz Nutcracker Suite & Holiday Swing Dance @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 6pm – 10pm. ($25, Free to All Students) Saxophonist David Milne leads the Jazz Ensemble from UW – River Falls in a performance of the Ellington/Strayhorn version of Nutcracker Suite. Milne is a member of the JazZax Saxophone Quartet and Pete Whitman’s X-Tet, to which he’s contributed some terrific arrangements. He’s also Professor of Music and Chair of Music Programs at UW – River Falls. Nutcracker Suite will be performed at 7pm, followed by a swing dance, complete with lessons. Sounds like lots of fun, and hopefully could become a new tradition.

Friday, Saturday, December 9,10

Red Planet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Dean Magraw, guitar, Chris Bates, bass, and Jay Epstein, drums, create music that swoops, glides, and often rocks. I suppose you could call it fusion, since it has the melodic surprise of jazz and the energy of rock, but thanks to the tasty rhythm section of Bates and Epstein, Red Planet swings. You can listen to them here.

Saturday, December 10

Nachito Herrera @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($15) Followed by Malamanya, 11pm ($5) Whether playing Rachmaninoff, Earth, Wind, & Fire, or the melodies of his home country Cuba, Herrera is a fire-wielding pianist whose technique is matched by his passion. He’ll be joined tonight by his daughter, Mirdalys, who is making her own name for herself. Afterwards, stick around for the acoustic sounds of Malamanya, who use Cuban son, salsa, and other Latin sounds to satisfy dancers.

Teresa Manzalla @ The Hat Trick Lounge, Saint Paul. 9pm. ($5) Vocalist Manzalla singing jazz standards, accompanied by a guitarist. Perfect for the intimate Hat Trick listening room.

Saturday, Sunday, December 10, 11

White Christmas with Maude Hixson and Rick Carlson @ The Historic Heights Theater, Columbia Heights. 2pm Saturday and Sunday, and 7pm Sunday ($10) A big screen presentation of the classic movie in a classic movie house, along with some gaily wrapped Christmas songs by silky-voiced Hixson and Carlson, the understated piano man. This has been selling out every year for 12 years, so reservations are recommended. (763-788-9079, or online)

Monday, December 12

Adam Meckler: Music for Large Ensembles @ O’Gara’s, Snelling & Selby, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5). This is an exciting new project, featuring some of the Twin Cities, hip younger talent. Adam Meckler is a fine trumpet player, and a regular with Pete Whitman’s X-Tet, the Jack Brass Band, and Todd Clouser’s Love Electric. U of M music educator Dean Sorenson will be directing, while the band will include the likes of Pete Hennig, Evan Montgomery, Bryan Nichols, Chris Bates, and Zack Lozier, Nelson Devereaus, Ben Doherty, Sten Johnson, Keith Hison, and others.

Tuesday, December 13

Box Car @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm. Pianist and former Twin Citizen, now New Yorker, Jeremy Walker has pulled together a quartet of adventurous musicians in saxophonist Wessell “Warm Daddy” Anderson (NY): Anthony Cox, bass (Twin Cites/NY/Twin Cities): and  JT Bates, drums (Twin Cities) to hit the road with original music. Tonight’s their debut, and well worth checking out.

For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out Jazz Ink, Jazz Police, and Bebopified, listed at right. For a comprehensive listing of Jazz in the Twin Cities, go to the KBEM calendar, here.

Roots, Blues, Other…

Thursday, December 8

32nd Annual John Lennon Tribute Show @ First Avenue, Minneapolis. 9pm. ($15) Thirty-two years? How can it be so long? Don’t know which era of John Lennon Curtis A. will be channeling tonight, but this event is always fun. Also includes the release of the Minnesota Beatle Project, Vol 3, and openers Nona Marie & Her Choir, White Light Riot, and Me and My Arrow. The sound in this video from last year isn’t great, but  gives you a good idea of what to expect.

Doug Otto & the Getaways @ Mayslack’s Bar, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (free). Doug Otto has a voice that sounds as if he grew up in the Depression and traveled the country, looking for work. The Getaways provide a rootsy, sympathetic backing.

Hipshaker @ The Kitty Kat Club, Dinkytown, Minneapolis. 9pm. If its the first Thursday of the month, that means a couple of hundred folks are getting out their dancing shoes to bop, swing, and shake that thing to the soul & funk 45s of the Hipshaker crew. This month they’re joined by genial record store owner Mark Trehus, of Treehouse Records, who’ll bring his collection of hip-shakin southern soul to the proceedings, I’m sure.

 Friday, December 9

Robby Vee’s Rock n’ Roll Christmas Show @ Withrow Ballroom, 2169 Keystone Ave. N., Hugo. 8pm ($15) Slick back your hair, get out those bowling shirts, put on your dancing shoes and prepare to go “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” This second generation rock n’ roller, son of Bobby Vee, has toured and played with many of the genre’s originals, earning praise from Carl Perkins, Dion, Ron Wood, and Robert Plant, among others.


Saturday, December 10

First Annual Lowertown Art Show w/Jeff Ray & Hurricane Harold and The Red Dog Band @ AZ Gallery and The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm – 10pm. (No cover) Jeff & Harold are in the AZ Gallery and the Red Dog is in the Black Dog – apropo – no?

Sunday, December 11

Mojo Buford Benefit/Tribute @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 2pm – 7pm. Though Buford has made the transition, tragically, he didn’t have enough money to pay funeral expenses.  Hence, this benefit to help his family defray expenses and to pay tribute to the harp player who taught many Twin Cities musicians how to play the blues. Expect appearances from Curt Obeda, Willie Murphy, Dan Schwalbe, John Franken, Mick McCormick, Bill Black, “Hurricane” Harold Tremblay. Maurice Jaycox, and more….

Tuesday, December 13

Paul Mayasich & the RAMM Band @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 8pm – 11pm (No Cover)  Paul has a new Tuesday night residency at the MMC, giving city-dwellers a chance to hear his stellar guitar playing without going to the suburbs.

For a more complete listing of blues in the Twin Cities, check out the Minnesota Blues Society calendar here.

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