Winter Music: Jan 25 – Jan 31

January 25, 2012

Back when it was cold enough for ice sculptures and even an ice castle.

It’s time for the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, featuring parades, pageants, an art show, a cat show, a beer tasting, and more. What more proof do we need that Winter doesn’t keep us from going out, especially when it’s been so mild we don’t even have ice sculptures?

For music lovers, this week holds an embarrassment of riches, From elegant jazz to elegant blues, with some joyful noise for all. We’ve got jazz with African influences, Brazilian music with jazz influences, new compositions, and traditional tunes. Music for dancing, and music for listening. These suggestions are but a few ways you can take part, one way or another.


Wednesday, Jan 25

Babatunde Lea, Adam Linz, & Zacc Harris @ Cafe Maude, 54th & Penn, Minneapolis. 7pm. Lea brings a sense of joy to his African percussion, Linz holds down the groove, and Harris supplies some tasty licks. As usual at Cafe Maude, it’s a good idea to get reservations for dinner, and tell them if you want to sit near the band.

Friday, Jan 27

Merciless Ghost @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar). More adventurous music at the Dog, from Merciless Ghost, a jazz trio dedicated to group improvisation: George Cartwright, sax; Josh Granowski, bass; and Davu Seru, drums.

Friday, Saturday, Jan 27, 28

Bryan Nichols Quintet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($12) I know I wrote about Nichols‘ performance of the music of Keith Jarrett a couple of weeks ago, but this time they’ll be doing his originals. And what a band. If you want to know the Young Turks of the Twin Cities music scene, these are the guys: MIke Lewis & Brandon Wozniak, saxes, James Buckley, bass, and JT Bates, drums.

Saturday, Jan 28

Monk in Motian @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm. ($10) Bassist Matt Peterson will have his work cut out for him as he supports three drummers (Pete Hennig, Davu Seru, and JT Bates), two saxes (Scott Fultz, Brandon Wozniak), and two guitars (Zacc Harris, Park Evans). Inspired by drummer Paul Motian, they’re tackling the music of pianist Thelonious Monk, which is adventuresome to start with, and using a piano-less lineup to add their own doses of creativity to the mix. This is part of the Jazz @ Studio Z series. Here’s a video of an earlier version of the band.

Saturday, Sunday, Jan 28, 29

Great Guitars (Joan Griffith, Sam Miltich) w/ guest Connie Evingson @ Bloomington Center for Arts,  Bloomington. 7:30pm Saturday, 2pm Sunday ($18/$16)  Griffith is a master of Brazilian guitar styles.  Miltich is a fast rising star with an affinity for acoustic swing. They’ll be playing sambas, chorros, and other music from Brazil, with Griffith playing the mandolin and Brazilian cavaquinho as well. Throw in some tunes by Django Reinhardt and Cole Porter, an original or two, and Evingson on guest vocals and be prepared for a sublime evening of music

Monday, Jan 30

Moonlight Serenaders and Pippi Ardennia with Irv Williams on Saint Paul Live!, KBEM 88.5FM. 7pm – 8pm. The big band sound of the Serenaders at Wabasha Caves and Irv Williams delightedly playing with Pippi Ardennia at The Landmark Center. Both recorded live this past Summer and Fall.

Phil Aaron @ Jazz Central, 407 Central Av, NE Minneapolis. 8:30pm. (Donation) Elegant piano playing from Aaron as the featured player this week while house pianist Tanner Taylor takes a break. The basement recording studio/rehearsal space “by cats, for cats” is always fun. It’s BYOB. You can hear some of Phil’s music here.

Tuesday, Jan 31

Brassin' at the Driftwood

Jack Brass Band @ Driftwood Char Bar, 44th & Nicollet, Minneapolis. 9pm (tip jar) Alway fun, this New Orleans style brass band can strut the traditional stuff, but will throw in songs by Marvin Gaye, Hugh Masakela, the Tempts, and Dizzy Gillespie. The Driftwood is a beer & wine joint, with pretty good bar food.

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…

Wed, Jan 25

Nikki & The Rue-Mates @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm (tip jar) I know a number of my readers are big fans of this group, and would want to know of this appearance, which is in a relatively new place for them.  A little bit of psychedelic folk, a little bit of country blues, and a whole lot of terrific playing and singing.

Radio Joe & the JazzBos @ the Eagles Club #34, 25th & 25th, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5) Guitarist and vocalist Joe Demko (Willie & the Bees, Bruce Henry) leads this quartet in and evening of swing, boogie-woogie, and jump blues for your listening and dancing pleasure. Other members of the band include Bruce Wintervold, vibes, Keith Boyles, bass, and Tony Gusetti, drums. Twirl, jump, and dip to your hearts delight.

Wed, Thursday, Jan 25, 26

Nellie McKay @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35)  The always witty, always literate Ms McKay presents a new show, “I Want to Live” based on the story of Barbara Graham, the third woman to be executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin. Leave it to the irrepressible McKay to weave humor, pathos, and entertainment into such a story.

Friday, Jan 27

Lil’ Ed & Blues Imperials @ Famous Dave’s, Uptown Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) I wouldn’t be surprised if Calhoun Square begins to glow with the heat generated by this slide guitarist, who ably carries on the tradition of his uncle, JB Hutto.

Charlie Parr with The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank @ Bayport BBQ, Bayport   A two-fer of songwriting excellence that exemplifies the roots explosion here in Minnesota. The Nephews chuggin, folk rock approach contrasts nicely with the stark acoustic blues of Charlie Parr. Plus, you’ve got some pretty good que.

Sunday, Jan 29

Gang of Mischief @ Neumann’s, North Saint Paul. 4pm (tip jar)  It’s the last Sunday of the month, and harpmeister Hurricane Harold is gathering up a group of musical friends for an afternoon of playing. The Gang’s roster changes from time to time, but often includes folks like Papa John Kolstad, Mike Caravale, Dan Schwalbe, Good Time Willy, Steve Kaul… You get the idea.

Monday, Jan 30

Eric Bibb @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) If there is such a thing as elegant acoustic blues, then singer Bibb more than fits the bill. He’s a soulful performer and storyteller, and as a result has been nominated for a Grammy and five Blues Music awards.

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

Johnny Otis, Godfather of Rhythm and Blues

January 24, 2012

The Blues Saloon Interview– September 9, 1984

Johnny Otis, the bandleader, singer, drummer, vibraphonist, songwriter, talent scout, producer, club owner, disc jockey, preacher and impresario passed away last week at the age of 90. He was rightfully called the “Godfather of Rhythm and Blues.”

He was born Johnny Veliotes in 1921,  the son of Greek immigrants. His father was a grocer in the black community of Berkeley, California, and as a teenager, Otis decided he’d rather be black. In a 1991 interview with the Sand Diego Union-Tribune he explained his decision, “When I got near teen age, I was so happy with my friends and the African-American culture that I couldn’t imagine not being part of it.”

Otis’s first hit was a 1946 big band version of Harlem Nocturne, a moody number featuring a film-noirish saxophone. Here’s a YouTube recording.

The drummer/vibist was a big fan of the Basie sound, but discovered, like so many other big band leaders, that the market wasn’t supporting sixteen piece bands after World War II. He pared down the band, added electric guitar, hired some singers, and became a leading proponent of a new type of music – rhythm and blues.

Along the way he discovered an amazing number of performers, often through talent shows at the Barrelhouse Club. Artists like the Robins (who morphed into The Coasters), Esther Phillips, Big Mama Thornton, Big Jay McNeely, Etta James (who also passed away last week), and others owe a large part of their careers to working with Otis.

Otis was also a songwriter, with a number of hits on the R&B charts of the early 50s, including Every Beat of My Heart, which was originally recorded by the Royals (who became the Midnighters), and was later recorded by Gladys Knight and the Pips. His biggest hit was Willie and the Hand Jive the throbbing 1958 rock & roller. Here he is performing the tune on his TV show.

Otis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 as a producer and songwriter.

I was lucky enough to see Otis twice. The first time was at the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival in 1973, where his revue included Cleanhead Vinson and the great Joe Turner. Even from a far-off vantage point, his delight in showcasing the musicians was evident. In 1984, he brought the Johnny Otis Show to Wilebski’s Blues Saloon in Saint Paul, where I was able to get a short interview with him before doing my radio show later that night.

LE: How did you come up with the idea of presenting a revue, with a number of different acts?

An old poster, found on the blog Guitar Snob

JO: I was always impressed with the variety show method of presenting acts. That is like at the big Orpheum theater with a girl singer, and then a vocal group and a tumbling act. I liked that because of its variety. And then the minstrel shows had a lot of fun, and a lot of blues and a lot of boogie, and a lot of comedy. And when I got in a position, I got my first hit record, I said I’m gonna try that, cause I have a feeling that the public likes that, and I did it in a blues context, a blues jazz context.

LE:  That first hit, was that was Harlem Nocturne?

JO: Yeah

LE: Didn’t you have some of Count Basie’s people playing on the session?

JO: Basie was always paternal, and he knew how much I loved him and he always helped me. He gave me arrangements out of his book. He loaned me his men, like Preston (ed note: Preston Love, alto sax) and I were childhood buddies but he was playing with Basie at the time. Eli Robinson, the trombone player. Jimmy Rushing, the singer, he loaned them to me to make a record date. But you know I though all those elements were going to make me a hit, and they didn’t have a damn thing to do with it. It was Harlem Nocturne that made the hit.

LE: Wasn’t that was something that you had to pull out of the air, because you had extra time?

JO: You know, it was my first record date, and when we finished the three sides I had prepared I said, Hey, Rene (ed note: Otis Rene, label owner) we’re through and we have twenty whole minutes left. He said, “Wait a minute, what do ya mean.” I said we did three sides in quicker than four hours. He said, “No, it’s four sides in three hours, so hurry and get out there and do something else.” So we had that in the book, and we recorded it and it was just a happy accident.

LE: Your R&B revue has served as a proving ground for a lot of young artists and a lot of people who’ve become stars. How did you find the folks that you used in the revue?

JO: Oh, Little Esther (Phillips) I found in my back yard in Watts. I was the Chicken Man, and she used to come and help me catch chickens. One day we were laying under a tree sipping some lemonade, after she’d caught the chicken sfor me, and she started singing. It just shocked me, so I took her to my club, The Barrelhouse, that night, and she won first prize, and I wrote a song, we went to the studio and recorded it and she became a hit.

Etta James I found, my manager called me one afternoon. We were in San Francisco and he said there’s a girl down here wants to sing for you. I told him “Tell her to come tonight.” She grabbed the phone and said (imitating her), “I want to sing for you now.” She came up to the room with two other young ladies, and she sang and it was so pretty I took her home with me and we recorded Roll With Me Henry, it became Dance With Me Henry and was a great hit.

And then one afternoon in Detroit we did a talent show at the Paradise Theater, and during that show I found Jackie Wilson, Little Willie John, and the Midnighters (See previous post for a Hank Ballard interview), and a lot of other marvelous acts, but you couldn’t record them all. Big Mama Thornton I found in Texas, and Ernestine Anderson I found in Los Angeles, and Linda Hopkins I found in Oakland, California. I, I remember them pretty well right now, because we’re about to do a big reunion, a Johnny Otis Reunion at the Monterrey Jazz Festival this month, on the fifteenth. I had all these people signed and sadly, Esther Phillips and Big Mama Thornton both passed away. They won’t be with us, but all the rest of the people will be there.

LE: So you’re just continuing the process of keeping the traditions alive and finding new talent.

JO: I was involuntarily retired for ten years, because the music died out. That is, the music will never die out. The demand, the commercial demand for it dried up. And then, about a year and a half ago, it got good again, so we all got together, and we’re all traveling, and I’m really thankful to be back in the game.

LE: I’m aware, personally, I’m a little bit younger, of three, rather four phases in your career, I guess now. One was the hit of Willie and the Hand Jive.

JO: 1958

LE: And then there was the record of the Monterrey Jazz Festival

JO: 1970 – fourteen years ago

LE: And then there was the series of albums that you’ve done with people such as Big Joe Turner and Louis Jordan.

JO: Yeah, Louis Jordan, Cleanhead Vinson

LE: How did that come about?

JO: Well, I had a recording studio. I had just built a fine studio. In fact, Columbia built it for me, and I thought, “Look at my old partners, living here in LA, and nobody’s recording them.” So we made records and I’d supply them with records and they go out and sell them on their gigs. You know, records keep you alive, and it was thrilling for me to word with Cleanhead Vinson and all those great men.

LE: Well, it’s good to see you back recording again and on the road again.

JO: It’s good, I’ve got my son Shuggie Otis, and Nickey Otis with me, and Miles with the West Coast Drifters, and Preston Love and Charles Williams, and Barbara Morrison and Delmar Mighty Mouth Evans. We’re having some fun

New, Obscure, and Established venues – Music Suggestions for January 18th to the 24th

January 18, 2012

Rhythm and Roots will be heard at the James J. Hill Library this week.

It is heartening to see music being performed in venues that aren’t known for presenting music, like the James J. Hill Library (See Jan 19 listing under Roots). This week’s venues range from said historic  library, to a new club, small restaurants and coffee shops, a classic jazz joint, a classy restaurant/club, a high school, and a couple of small bars that feature a variety of musical genres.  We’ve a CD release by a jazz group and a vinyl LP re-release of a 60s soul singer. In between, you can hear from veteran musicians of all stripes as well as some talented musicians of high school age. Please support those who perform live music wherever they may appear.


Wednesday, January 18

Parker Paisley CD Release @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7pm – 10pm. (no cover) Park Evans, guitar; Brandon Wozniak, sax; Adam Wozniak, bass; Pete Hennig, drums. Quite the line-up here. Though Evans moved here to study classical guitar and composition, his musicality has landed him in about eight or nine different groups ranging from jazz to rock to world music. Expect modern jazz, with a bit of reggae, latin and other world  influences. Reservations are recommended if you want dinner.

Phil Hey, Tanner Taylor, James Buckley @ The Nomad World Pub, Minneapolis. 9pm – 11pm (No cover). Drummer Phil Hey is the veteran of the group, though pianist Tanner Taylor and bassist James Buckley both have impressive resumes of their own. I suspect that musical fireworks will ensue.

Thursday, Jan 19

7th Annual South High Singer Showcase @ South High School, 3131 19th Ave South, Minneapolis. 5pm dinner ($20 w/show) 7pm show ($8). South High has an excellent jazz program, though its vocal program usually concentrates on theatrical and pop singing. This year singer Rhonda Laurie has been working with some of the young performers as shown at left.  Tonight’s program will showcase 5 or 6 singers each performing a song with the Jazz Ensemble. Connie Evingson will then join the Ensemble and  sing a few songs as well.

Snowblind @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm. ($5) With a three-horn frontline of Shilad Sen, sax; Adam Rossmiller, trumpet; and Scott Agster, trombone; together with Graydon Peterson on bass, and Reid Kennedy on drums, Snowblind produces a sound as full-bodied as a California Cabernet, while their grooves, improvisation, and rhythmic excitement provide some memorable spice.

Friday, Jan  20

Katie Gearty & Nichola Miller @ The Crooked Pint Ale House, 501 Washington, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) It’s a two-chanteuse night at the spacious Crooked Pint (with room to dance) on Washington. As singers, Katie and Nichola are not your sweet naive things. They sing songs for grownups and have the chops to put most any song in its place. Plus, they’re backed by the Tanner Taylor Trio. A fun date. Here’s a video of Nichola at the Farmer’s Market last summer.

 Saturday, Jan 21

Kenny Lewis & the Barflyz @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) Guitarist/bassist/vocalist Kenny Lewis was a touring member, producer, and writer for the Steve Miller Band since 1982. Other credits include working with folks like BB King, Dave Mason, Boz Scaggs, and Brian Wilson, among others. Wouldn’t be surprised if former bandmate Billy Peterson is part of this group.

Sunday, Jan 22

No Room For Squares Benefit for Ann Cirelli @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 5pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Ann Cirelli (wife of drummer Bill Steiger) is recovering from Meningitis and facing a lifetime of disability. Hence this fundraiser to help with expenses. No Room for Squares is an impressive group, featuring the powerful Sue Orfield on sax; supreme bassist Billy Peterson; lyrical Chris Lomheim, piano; inventive Steve Kenny, trumpet; and Stieger on drums. You’ll have a fun evening and be helping someone out at the same time.

Tuesday, Jan 24

Maryann Sullivan @ The Nicollet Coffeehouse, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm. (tip jar). The swingin’ Ms Sullivan is host of a couple of shows on KBEM and a fine singer in her own right. No doubt she’ll be backed by a combo that makes it easy for dancers to take advantage of the roomy wooden floor of The Nicollet.

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

Roots, Blues, Other

Wednesday, January 18

Molly Maher & Erik Koskinen @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($4)  Moving a couple of blocks from Nye’s where she held down a residency for many years, Molly & Erik now perform in this intimate, comfortable space overlooking the downtown skyline. There is now a small cover charge. Well worth it to hear their soulful Americana.

Thursday, Jan 19

Paul Cebar and Dana Thompson @ The James J. Hill Library, downtown Saint Paul. 8pm. ($25) This is part of a roots music series put on by Real-Phonic Radio. It’s a great family-friendly event that’s broadcast live on the internet and then podcast. Cebar and his group are purveyors of genre-bending dance music, with influences from the Caribbean, Africa, 60s and 70s soul, and who knows what else. Singer/Songwriter Thompson has been in a number of bands, including the Strawdogs and Hot Head fiasco, been named Best Female Vocalist by City Pages, and has toured with her own band in support of her critically acclaimed album, Ox.

Friday, Jan 20

Mike Fugazzi & Friends @ The Hat Trick Lounge. 9pm ($7). Fugazzi is a rock harpist with a blues bent and a mission – to play hard, but with imagination. He’ll have you kicking up your heels. The intimate obscure Hat Trick is just the place for him to kick up the jams.

Saturday, Jan 21

Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20) Jump/Swing/Retro Blues from San Francisco. Though her album covers make good use of Smith‘s “charms” the fact is she has a good voice and a cookin’ seven-piece band backing her up. In fact, Smith’s last album, “Everybody’s Talkin’ Bout Miss Thing” received 4.5 stars in Downbeat.

Mickey Murray @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis 8pm ($15). A soul singer who had a million seller in 1968 with Otis Redding’s “Shout Bamalama,” Murray was signed to King Records, ostensibly to replace the departing James Brown. His debut LP, “People Are Together,” hardly made it to the shelves, as a result of King being sold, and the title track being deemed too racially sensitive by black deejays in the South. Now, local crate diggers Secret Stash Records are re-releasing the LP and celebrating with this show. Deejays Bill DeVille and Jim McGuinn from the Current will open.

Sunday, Jan 22

Get Out of Town Fundraiser @ the Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 3pm    Good Time Willy, Boom Boom Steve, John Franken, Davina & Vagabonds, Scottie Miller, Papa John Kolstad, Jeff Ray & Hurricane Harold, Javier & the Innocent Sons, Annie Mack, and more.  The Minnesota Blues Society has put together this show to raise funds to send bands to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Sunday, Monday, Jan 22, 23

Meshell Ndgeocello @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40) Meshells been nominated for a Grammy 10 times. Her bass playing and mix of jazz, funk, and African roots music, combined with personal and political lyrics is energetic, to say the least. She’s a musical explorer who can be in your face (If That’s Your Boyfriend, He Wasn’t Last Night), or take a quieter approach, as on her latest album, “Weather.” Give a listen.

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

The Past and the Present. Music Suggestions for January 11 – 17.

January 11, 2012

Something old, something, new, something Bach, and something blue. That more or less describes some music ideas for the coming week. From the 21st Century jazz of Schimke, Buckley, & Epstein, to interpretations of Bach and Bernstein, there is more jazz than a person can hopefully attend. The Sixties figure strongly in other offerings, from Martha & the Vandellas and Peter Asher,  to the 30s with a show about Noel Coward, and a nod to Brazil, with an afternoon performance.  All in all, a good week for live music.


Wednesday, Jan 11

Schimke, Buckley, & Epstein @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7pm. (No cover) Three of the many fine musicians in the area gather to improvise at Cafe Maude, an excellent neighborhood restaurant. Peter Schimke on piano, James Buckley on bass, and Jay Epstein on drums. Expect inventive, thoughtful, jazz. The cafe has a $20 prix fixe menu to go with the music. Reservations are encouraged.

Thursday, Jan 12

Robb Henry Trio @ Merlin’s Rest, East Lake Street, Minneapolis. 9pm. ($8) Guitarist Henry has come quite a ways from his days with local rockers Fingerprints. He heads up the Parisota Hot Club and also does occasional dates with a trio, as he does tonight, with Ben Kaplan on drums and Jim Chenoweth on string bass. Bring an ID if you want alcohol. Here’s a video of a November appearance at Merlin’s. The audience noise is loud but you get a good sense of Henry’s playing.

Friday, Jan 13

Jon Weber @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) The always-enjoyable Weber is a pianist with great technique, a vivid musical imagination, and a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of songs and styles. He’s been a featured artist at every Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and is host of “Piano Rising Stars” on NPR, which is beginning to be heard on KBEM on Saturday evenings.

Saturday, Jan 14

Framework + Baroque Trio @ Celtic Junction, 836 Prior Ave, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10, $15) Is there something in the air? Last weekend Laura Caviani performed Bach to Bop. Now we have a jazz trio and a baroque trio sharing a stage and compositions. Framework is Chris Olson, guitar; Chris Bates, bass, and Jay Epstein, drums. Paul Boehnke directs the baroque trio (harpsichord anyone?). Both groups will be playing the music of Bach (an early improviser) in both traditional and non-traditional ways. The jazz trio will also perform modern compositions inspired by classical composers, and the baroque trio will perform those new compositions in a traditional manner.

Richard Johnson Trio Performs the Music of West Side Story @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($12) Pianist Johnson has been a member of groups led by Russell Malone, Irvin Mayfield, and Wynton Marsalis. Johnson’s playing and Leonard Bernstein’s score should make a good combination. Sleeper gig of the week.

Sunday Jan 15

TCJS presents Bryan Nichols Quintet + 1: ” The Music of Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet” @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10) Don’t let the long title put you off. This will be a memorable performance, as pianist Nichols gathers MIke Lewis and Brandon Wozniak (saxes); James Buckley, bass, and JT Bates and Jay Epstein (drums) to play the music of what many consider the finest small group of the late 20th Century. Opening act is a trio of high school artists, Respective Sounds Convergence Summit, led by bassist Sam Wildenauer, with Henry Misa on Keys, and Will Nelson on guitar.

Monday, Jan 16

JoAnn Funk Trio & Dave Karr Trio on Saint Paul Live! – KBEM (88.5FM) 7pm – 8pm. Both trios recorded live this past Fall at the Saint Paul Hotel Lobby Bar and the Artists’ Quarter respectively.

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

Roots, Blues, Other….

Wednesday, Thursday, Jan 11, 12

Callin' Out Around the World...

Martha Reeves & The Vandellas @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40 – $65) Holy Moly Rocky! The secretary turned singer turned Detroit City Councilperson/Singer is coming to town to sing “Heat Wave,” “Dancing in the Streets,” and more. With a voice that was way more powerful than Diana Ross, Reeves should have ruled the roost at Motown. She and her cohorts were responsible for songs that clearly established the Motown sound. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003, Reeves will have many boomers (and a fair amount of younger fans) enjoying soul/pop of the highest order.

Friday, Jan 13

Hubert Sumlin Tribute w/Butanes & Tail Dragger @ Famous Dave’s, Uptown Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) If anyone can do a heartfelt and valid tribute to Sumlin, the Butanes can. Butanes leader Curt Obeda used to hang with Hubert when Curt was in Chicago. Sumlin was Howlin’ Wolf’s main guitar player, and was so good that Muddy Waters hired him away, though not for long. Not only was Sumlin a hell of a player (named to the top 100 of all time by Rolling Stone), but he was also very gracious, as I learned when I ran into him at the Newark Airport about 8 or 9 years ago. Tail Dragger is an added benefit.

Saturday, Jan 14

Mariameu @ Hosmer Public Library, 347 East 36th Street, Minneapolis. 1pm – 4pm (free). Brazilian music from Tim O’Keefe, hand drums; James, Allen, acoustic guitar; David Martin, guitar and bass, and Karen Quiroz, vocals. Quiroz is a fine interpreter of contemporary Brazilian music and uses excellent musicians. Both Allen and Martin are very talented guitarists who work with other vocalists as well. What a nice way to spend an afternoon.

String Theory @ The Coffee Grounds, 1579 Hamline, Saint Paul. 8pm – 11pm. A jazz/blues/world fusion trio from the Mankato area, String Theory is Eli Hoehn, banjo & vocals; Wayne Schmidt, guitar & vocals; and Jason Helder, guitar & vocals. I know Eli from his excellent work with One Fast Move. This sounds like a trio to catch.

The Persuasions @ The Hopkins Center for the Arts, 1111 Main Street, Hopkins. 8pm ($26) After 48 years, they “still ain’t got no band.” Theses acapella artists don’t need one, as their harmonies easily carry the day. They sing all kinds of music, from Sam Cooke and the Temptations, to Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, and the Grateful Dead.  Check this out.

Sunday, Jan 15

A Talent to Amuse: An Evening With Noel Coward @ Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 1pm. (Free) Gary Briggle has created this performance piece, appearing as the ever-witty Noel Coward. It features nearly 30 of his hilarious story songs, romantic ballads, jazzy dance tunes, and wry observations.

Monday, Tuesday, Jan 16, 17

Peter Asher @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40) So much more than half of Peter and Gordon, Asher has been a record executive at all levels, and was a regular Zelig of mod Britain: Paul McCartney dated his sister; he introduced Yoko to John; and Mick to Marianne Faithful, not to mention signing and producing James Taylor and a host of others. This multi-media performance is titled: A Musical Memoir of the 60s and Beyond.

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

Sadness and Celebration. Music: 1.4 – 1.10

January 4, 2012

Like many in the Twin Cities jazz community, I was shocked and saddened to hear of Christine Rosholt’s passing last week. I’ve posted a short remembrance of Christine below, and want to make extra note of the memorial and celebration taking place at The Dakota on Tuesday the 10th. Christine touched the lives of many, musicians and fans alike, so I am sure it will be packed, both on stage, and in the audience.

On a personal note, I want to tell everyone of the new radio series, Saint Paul Live! of which I am the producer. It airs on KBEM every Monday night at 7pm. You can read Pamela Espeland’s article about the show on Bebopified. There will be a reception at 7pm Thursday, January 5 at the Artists Quarter to celebrate the launch of the show. All are invited.

Now, on to this week’s suggestions.


Wednesday, Jan 4

Mark Vanderhyde’s Fuzzy Math CD Release @ The Red Stag, NE Minneapolis. 10pm. Pianist/composer Mark Vanderhyde has created a great little CD entitled “Fuzzy Math,” featuring original, contemporary material that swings quite nicely, with traces of Latin and world music. He’ll be accompanied by Jaxon Parvey, sax; Matt Peterson, bass; and Harald Bondaris, drums. If you’re up for a late night show, this will be the place to be.

Thursday, Jan 5

KBEM’s Saint Paul Live! Party @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 7pm (no cover). A gathering of musicians, friends and fans to celebrate the new radio series on KBEM that features two artists each week recorded live at venues around Saint Paul. The one hour show airs each Monday at 7pm. There’ll be excerpts from the series playing in the background.

David Brattain @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5). After the Saint Paul Live! party (above), stick around for saxman Brattain, a fluid player with a warm sound. He’s a 20 year veteran of the Cedar Avenue Big Band, and has played with the JazzMN Big Band, guitarist Paul Renz, and has been featured with Ben Sidran.

Friday, January 6

O’Keefe, Moriarty, Hansen & Seru @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar). Pat O’Keefe, (clarinet); Pat Moriarty, (sax); Nathan Hansen, (sax); and Davu Seru (drums & percussion) create improvisatory fireworks at the community centered coffeehouse.

Jake Baldwin Group @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 11pm ($5) Jake is a terrific trumpet player who is studying at the New England Conservatory after spending two years in the Dakota Combo. This young player was a finalist in the solo competition of the International Trumpet Guild. He’ll be joined by former classmates who are also home for the holidays from music school – Cory Grindberg on bass, Joe Strachan on piano (another Dakota Combo alum), and Rob Fletcher on drums.

Friday, Sat, Jan 6, 7

Laura Caviani Trio: From Bach to Bop @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm. Pianist Caviani, along with Chris Bates on bass, and Phil Hey on drums explore the jazz possibilities of Bach, Shubert, Debussy, and other long dead European composers. They’ll also play music by Monk, Mary Lou Williams (a Caviani favorite), and an original or two, I’m sure.

Saturday, January 7

Zacc Harris Trio featuring Debbie Duncan @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (no cover)  The Twin Cities’ First Lady of Song, sitting in with guitarist Harris and his trio.

Steve Kimmel @ The Hat Trick Lounge, Saint Paul. 9pm ($7) Steve Kimmel has been part of the Twin Cities jazz scene since at least the 70s, running the Rainbow Gallery, heading the Whole Earth Rainbow Band, composing for Nancy Hauser and working with Natural life. He plays piano, vibes, marimba and other instruments, and has recently begun to sing, with a penchant for Sinatra. The music room at the Hat Trick provides an intimate space for interacting with Steve and enjoying his music.

Monday, January 9

Butch Thompson & Spider John Koerner and the Jack Brass Band on Saint Paul Live! @ KBEM – 88.5FM. 7pm Butch & Spider recorded live in a rare appearance together, followed by the fun-filled music of the Jack Brass Band.

James Buckley Trio @ Barbette, Minneapolis 10pm (No Cover) Buckley is a bassist about town, playing in too many groups to mention, from pop to jazz to dub. Playing with Bryan Nichols on piano, and JT Bates on drums. Together, they create spacious jazz for the new century.

Tuesday, Jan 10

Celebration of Christine Rosholt @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm. (Donaton) The many friends (musical and otherwise) of the late Christine Rosholt gather to express their love for the vivacious singer who recently passed from this existence. Performers will include:  Tanner Taylor, Mac Santiago, Graydon Peterson, Dave Karr, Dave Jensen, Sophia Shorai, Nichola Miller, Arne Fogel, Katie Gearty, Kevin Hall’s Pazz Band, Five by Design, Maryann Sullivan with Doug Haining, Rhonda Laurie, Paula Lammers, and many more, I’m sure.

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

Blues, roots, other….

Wednesday, January 4

dVrg presents Sophia Shorai, Ashleigh Still, & Chastity Brown @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall, 6th & Wabasha, Saint Paul. 9pm (No cover) dVrg (Devon Gray) is a piano player who is not only comfortable, but quite good in a number of settings (the hip-hop of Heiruspecs, chamber improv of Liminal Phase, jazz of Supreme Privacy). Tonight he’s presenting (& playing for) three singers that he has collaborated with from time to time.  Sophia Shorai (jazz, pop, originals); Ashleigh Still (pop singer/songwriter); and Chastity Brown (acoustic soul/folk rock). Sounds like an imaginative, fun evening.

Thursday, Jan 5

Yemen Blues @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($25) A nine piece Sephardic ensemble co-founded by lauded jazz bassist Omer Avital, Yemen Blues melds traditional Yemenite melodies with blues, jazz, and funk. Using a variety of percussion and stringed instruments, along with a horn section, they create multilayered Middle Eastern grooves that have been bringing throngs to their feet from Berlin to Berkeley.  Here’s a video to give you an idea of their performance.

Friday, January 6

Malamanya w/Alma Andina @ the Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) HIghly danceable acoustic Cuban music from Malamanya, and the folk music of Nothern Chile from Andina. When Malamanya recently played a late night set at the Dakota, the staff was overwhelmed with the number of folks who came out. It was the first time I ever saw tables removed to allow the dancing at that venue. The Cedar, on the other hand, has plenty of room.

Johnny Rawls @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($?) Contemporary deep blues from the South. Rawls served as music director for both OV Wright and Little Johnny Taylor before heading out on his own. He has had a two top five hits on the Living Blues charts in recent years. In other words, he’s a true soul man.

Gary Burger of the Monks with the Spectors, @ The 331 Club, NE Minneapolis. 10pm (Tip Jar) Gary Burger was lead guitarist for the Monks a mid-60s s garage band made up of five GIs in Germany that played an explosive mixture of feedback, distortion, and dissonance long before Jimi Hendrix or English rockers discovered the wah wah pedal. Theses proto punks made one album, “Black Monk Time,” and have developed a cult following, including musicians like Jon Spencer, the White Stripes, and The Beastie Boys. Steve Kaul of the Brass Kings took lessons from Burger. Burger will be playing with The Spectors, while The Conquerers and Floorshakers will also play. Bring earplugs and prepare to rock. Here’s a video of the Monks. About a minute or so into it they begin a feedback extravaganza.

Saturday, January 7

Julie Johnson & the No-Accounts @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar) Julie Johnson plays flute. Doug Otto plays guitar and sings. Drew Druckery plays guitar, mandolin, and sings. Together, this trio creates a unique sound as they explore the historical folk songs of Minnesota. Otto’s warm, yet world-weary vocals can transport you back in time. Johnson expresses all kinds of emotions with her flute, whether playing a polka or a mournful tune about the death of a lumberjack. It’s not the folk music you may expect, but it’s definitely music you’ll remember.

Tuesday, Jan 10

Jeff Ray & Friends @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm. (No Cover) Jeff is a blues & slide guitarist, with a bottomless font of talent. He attracts an equally talented group of friends to play with him.

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

Remembering Christine Rosholt

January 2, 2012
Christine doing what she loved.  Andrea Canter photo.


The first time I saw Christine Rosholt, she wasn’t on stage. I didn’t even know who she was, yet I knew she was special. It was a drizzly afternoon at the Hot Summer Jazz Festival, some years ago. My wife and I were sitting in the lower portion of the Orchestra Hall Plaza when a couple went strolling by. She was wearing a white dress with red polka dots, and carried a red umbrella – a bright flower, if you will, radiating light where there had been none. Nothing about that impression changed when later I met her, and found out she was a singer of the Great American Songbook.

I had her on my show when her second album, Lipstick, came out. It was recorded live at The Dakota, and revealed Christine’s playful nature to any who hadn’t seen her perform. She loved interacting with the audience and with her fellow musicians.

Between sets Christine would work a room, greeting fans and friends with genuine enthusiasm. Whether performing at small clubs, libraries, theaters, or fundraisers, Christine was especially good at remembering the names of everyone she met. Her enthusiasm and friendliness wasn’t limited to her performances, as I discovered when running into her at other shows.

I saw Christine performing twice in the last two months. The December 1 CD release for PAZZ, her latest, was great fun, as she shared the stage with many of the musicians that helped her on the album. As a pop/jazz album (hence the name) it’s a change of pace, but highly successful. Her joy in recording the songs is palpable on record, as it was that night at The Dakota.

I also saw her on November 1, when she was singing with Beasley’s Big Band at O’Gara’s in Saint Paul. Despite the relatively small room and an out of tune piano, Christine was having a ball. At one point during an uptempo version of “Somebody Loves Me,” the piano player quoted “A Train.” Christine turned, and without dropping a beat, quipped, “You wanna go uptown?”

That moment was pure Christine – warm, witty, radiating light, and in her element. She will be missed.

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