Here Comes Summer. Music for 5.30 – 6.5

May 30, 2012

Saint Paul at night. Photo by Steve C.

There are enough events going on in Saint Paul this week, that it seems appropriate to use a photo of the city. I like this one, taken from Indian Mound Park on the East Side and published in an intriguing blog,  Twin Cities Daily Photo.  Whether you live in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Maplewood, or Minnetonka, be sure to support our resident artists as well as those visiting our cities.


Wednesday, May 30

David Huckfelt & James Buckley @ The Nomad, Minneapolis. 9pm (No Cover) James Buckley is a bassist-about-town who is equally at home in pop and folk-rock as he is in jazz. He’s been doing a fine job of curating the Nomad’s Wednesday nigh Jazz Series, bringing in adventurous and accessible groups. Tonight features one of the founders of The Pines, an Americana group that’s been making national waves, playing with Buckley. Not for jazz purists, but sure to be interesting.

Thursday, May 31

Pete Whitman’s X-Tet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) If it seems that I’m often highlighting Whitman and this group, it’s because their monthly appearances at the AQ  are always high quality, always energizing, and always fun.

Friday, Saturday, June 1, 2

Benny Weinbeck Trio @ D’Amico Kitchen, Chambers Hotel, 901 Hennepin, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (No Cover) the music of Weinbeck on piano, along with Gordy Johnson, bass, and Phil Hey on drums, hardly seems to register with diners. However, you can sit on a couch right next to them in the lounge area, and have an adult beverage while enjoying their high-quality jazz. It’s only a few weeks before the restaurant gives them their summer hiatus, so catch them now.

Red Planet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Drummer Jay Epstein once played with a high profile rock group. Guitarist Dean Magraw has played funky rhythm and blues,  as well as a host of world musics. Chris Bates plays bass in a number of genres. Together they play music that might be called jazz fusion. Only it’s jazz fusion with taste, not bombast. Improvisations are cogent, and rhythmic underpinnings are solid.

Saturday, June 2

Charmin Michelle @ The Lexington, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (No Cover) Saturday night. Dinner in a clubby setting, a few classic cocktails, and the smoked honey voice of Ms Michelle, singing love songs. It’s a recipe for a date night, if I ever heard one. Afraid this gig was cancelled at the last minute.

Sunday, June 3

Sophie Milman @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30) & 9pm ($20). Miman is a charming performer, whose repertoire runs from Ellington to the Everlys and more. She’s a vocalist with a lush, sultry sound, the kind you think of when romanticizing cocktail lounges. The Dakota is just the kind of venue in which to hear her.

Monday, June 4

Adam Meckler Orchestra @ Rice Park, Saint Paul. Noon (Free) You’ll be seeing this young big band’s name all around town this summer. Among its members: Chris Bates, bass; Pete Hennig, drums; Zack Lozier, trumpet; Joe Strachan, piano; and Zacc Harris, guitar. Today you can see them right in the middle of downtown, surrounded by the James J Hill Library, the Ordway, the Landmark Center, and The Saint Paul Hotel. Grab something from a food truck and have a wonderful lunch.

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

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, May 30

Jon Rodine on the left, with Rusty Jones and Dave Babb, two of his many musical friends.

Jon Rodine & Friends on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, NE Minneapolis. 5pm (KFAI), 7pm (331 Club – tip jar) Rodine is one of the area’s finest purveyors of Americana. His songs are rooted in folk, R&B, and country soul. Tonight he’s bringing along Dan Gaardner and Dave Babb on guitars, Steve Murray on bass, and for the first hour at the 331, Dan Newton on the stomach Steinway.

Thursday, May 31

Josh Granowski & Patrick Harrison @ Barbette, Minneapolis. 10pm (No Cover) Granowski on bass and Harrison on accordion perform music from films and Broadway, including compositions by Lalo Schifrin, Danny Elfman, John Williams, and more.

Friday, June 1

Mary Cutrufello CD Release Party @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 10pm. (Tip Jar)   Cutrufello is celebrating a new release, “Fireflies Till They’re Gone.” She has appeared on the Tonight Show and Austin City Limits, toured with the Allman Brothers, performed at Farm Aid, and has been written up in both the New York Times and Rolling Stone. The new album is a bit quieter and more reflective than her previous efforts. It’s the kind of music you’ll put on late at night, while sipping some whiskey and wondering about the life choices you’ve made. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if she throws in some hard driving honky-tonk into the mix tonight.

Paul Cebar @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) After an appearance on a Milwaukee edition of Prairie Home Companion a few weeks ago, Paul brings his rhythmic, joyous music to Saint Paul. The Minnesota Music Cafe has a good sized dance floor, which will be filled, I’m sure, by twisting, gyrating, grooving folk of all ages.

Flatt Foot Rollers @ Mr. BBQ, 4621 Central Ave, Columbia Heights. 9pm (No Cover) I don’t know the venue, but a barbeque place, sounds like a great setting to hear the old school R&B of the Rollers. Dance to songs like Lowdown, Brick House, Ain’t No Stopping Us Now, and more. Listen to their music here.

Saturday, June 2

Swede Hollow. Photo from the MN Historical Society

Premiere of the Swede Hollow Opera @ Swede Hollow Park, Saint Paul. 4pm – 6pm (Free) This is a one-act opera by Ann Millikan, adventurous and award-winning composer. It features four vocalists and members of the Mankato Symphony Orchestra in a story that follows the lives of Swedish, Italian, and Mexican immigrants who made their homes in the Hollow. This is the climax to a day long festival of dance and music from various cultures. For more info:

Eddies @ the Farmers Market & The Hat Trick Lounge, Saint Paul. 9:30AM – 11AM (Farmer’s Market – Free), 8PM – 11PM (Hat Trick Lounge $7). Listen to some songs of Life, Love, and Death, by Saint Paul’s favorite almost-acapella group.

Butanes Soul Revue @ The MInnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) The dance floor at the MMC will be filled to capacity for two nights in a row, as the Butanes Soul Revue takes the stage tonight. It’s a ten-piece, high impact music machine. Killer guitar from Curt Obeda, full-on vocals from Maurice Jaycox and others, and Sue Orfield on hair-raising saxophone. Three  sets of smokin’ music.

Sunday, June 3

Jonathan Richman @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($15) Richman is an extraordinary songwriter, with the ability to capture humor, pathos, and everyday observations in deceptively simple songs. Some of those songs have been featured in movies, on Conan O’Brian’s Late Night, and on Sesame Street. Opening band is the Prizefighters, keepers of the flame for ska, rock steady, early reggae, and soul music.

Curtiss Marlatt Quartet w/Dorothy Doring @ Admiral D’s, 4420 Lake Ave, White Bear Lake. 4:30pm. (No Cover) This lakeside venue will be featuring music every day during the summer. Guitarist Marlatt, he of “Bourbon Smooth Blues” is also fond of jazz. Doring can scat and easily improvise on melodies, but is equally at home with the blues. This is a pretty inspired pairing, and you can expect a bluesy, jazzy, afternoon.

Wednesday, June 6

Papa John Kolstad @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. Noon (Free) An early alert, since I don’t always get my e-mails out on Wednesday mornings.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the Minnesota Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.

Memorial Weekend and More: 5.23 – 5.29

May 23, 2012

Well, here we are on the cusp of summer. Since 1968, we have reserved the last weekend in May to remember and honor those who have served our country. There will be some quiet moments, some high-flown speeches, and gatherings of friends and family in backyards, parks, and around outdoor grills. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy your time together as much as the folks at Renoir’s Luncheon, above. It’s also a weekend with a rich choice of musical options, including a New York sax player, two CD release parties, and some familiar, and entertaining friends. Take some time to recognize and remember those who have served. Then get out the barbeque, and don’t forget to enjoy and support the wonderful musicians in our area.


Wednesday, May 23

JBB in New Orleans

Jack Brass Band on KFAI’s House Party (5pm) and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm (tip jar) I’ve extolled the virtues of JBB before – the clarion trumpets of Zack Lozier and Adam Meckler, the supple trombone of Scott Agster, the booming bass drum of Mike Olander, and the pure musicianship of the other members of the band. Not to forget their material, which ranges from traditional New Orleans tunes to Mardis Gras favorites to funk n’ soul hits. Listen in to KFAI, 90.3 or 106.7 FM at 5pm and then head over to the 331 Club to hear them in person.

Dave Karr Quartet @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) It’s a monthly gig for Karr and his quartet, but that doesn’t mean they play the same ol’ same ol. Though in his 80s, Karr still brings fleet fingers and a vivid imagination to his sax solos. Always worth a listen. Here’s a sample:

Thursday, May 24

Santiago, Hurtado, & Smith @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) A new generation of jazzers is coming up, and they’re hot. Case in point: Javier Santiago, piano; Miguel Hurtado, drums, and Chris Smith, bass. I recall introducing them at the Hot Summer Jazz Festival when they were still in high school some years back. Now, they’ve completed study at some of the nations’ top music schools and each of them is making a name for himself. Santiago and Smith are both working with some of New York’s hot talents, with Hurtado has returned to the Twin Cities, where he’s been working with Davina and the Vagabonds and others.

Friday, May 25

Nichola Miller @ Hells’ Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm (No Cover) Begin your weekend with the sass and sophistication of Miller’s vocals, delivering standards with panache.

Saturday, May 26

Jazz Front @ The Nicollet, Minneapolis. 7pm – 8pm . Jeffrey Dunitz, drums, Vince Hyman, vibes, Eric Graham, bass. A quick set at the coffeehouse for this trio of talented players.

Young Lions Showcase @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10) This is final show of the season for Jazz at Studio Z, and it’s a showcase of three bands, which will assure you that the future of jazz in the Twin Cities is in good hands. Hear the Adam Meckler Quintet, the Miguel Hurtado Group, and the Max Corcoran Project.

Saturday, Sunday, May 26, 27

Eric Alexander @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($18) A Memorial weekend visit to the AQ is an annual event for Alexander, whose warm tone on his tenor saxophone has earned him praise and fans. Whether blowing as a sideman or a leader, Alexander’s hard bop approach to playing is always imaginative and melodic.

Sunday, May 27

Jazz Mass @ Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, Portland & Kent, Saint Paul. 10AM. Here’s a way to get a double dose of spirituality, at least if you consider listening to jazz a spiritual experience. Tanner Taylor, piano & keys; Mac Santiago, drums; Chris Bates, bass; and Evan Montgomery, guitar will be providing the music.

Zacc Harris Trio 5th Anniversary @ The Riverview Wine Bar, Minneapolis. (Tip Jar) if the weather is nice, you can bet this trio will be out on the patio. Harris, Matt Peterson (bass) and Pete Hennig (drums) create music that rewards the listener, even with the distractions of dog walkers, cyclists, and cars going by, not to mention folks chatting over their wine and tasty treats. They’ve been doing this weekly gig for five years now, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more perfect way to enjoy an early summer evening.

Paul Renz Quartet w/Anders Bostrum @ Brit’s Pub Long Room, Minneapolis. 7pm. ($15) Renz is a prolific recording artist whose way with a guitar has earned him fans both here and up and down the East Coast. Tonight, Renz is bringing in long-time friend and cohort, Anders Bostrum, an in-demand flute player on Broadway. They’ll be backed by Renz’s rhythm section of Andy Shuster on bass, and Nathan Fryett on drums.

Monday, May 28

Scott Agster @ Jazz Central, NE Minneapolis. 8:30pm. End your holiday weekend with trombonist-around-town Agster, the featured artist at the club that’s “for cats by cats.”

Tuesday, May 29

Vicky Mountain Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Vicky has the history and chops to successfully take on all manner of material, from bebop scatting, to Fats Waller, Ray Charles, and the Clovers. She’ll have Chris Lomheim on piano, Jim Chenoweth on bass and Kenny Horst on drums. Sure to be fun for both the audience and the musicians. Listen to her music here.

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

Roots, Blues, Other…

Wednesday, May 23

Anders Osborne @ The Varsity Theater, Minneapolis. 7pm. ($20) Originally from Sweden, Osborne has lived in New Orleans since 1985, soaking up in music and becoming a favorite around Town. He’s an accomplished composer, penning a #1 country hit for Tim McGraw, and a couple of tunes on a grammy winning album for Keb Mo. New Orleans’ Offbeat Magazine named the guitarist/composer/performer Best Guitar Player two years in a row, and featured him on its cover last year. “Black Eye Galaxy,” his latest on Alligator Records, ranges from raging to unabashedly confessional to hopeful. At times, it’s reminiscent of the best of 70s rock, with a bit of heavy metal (i.e., Black Tar) thrown in for good measure.

Thursday, May 24

Trio Bossa Nova @ The Red Stag, NE Minneapolis. 10pm (No cover) Three members of Ticket To Brazil deliver sensuous sounds for your late night.

Friday, May 25

Willie Murphy Solo @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm – 11pm. (Donation – $5 suggested) The highly talented, sometimes irascible, but always entertaining Murphy playing and singing songs he likes – rock n’ roll, R&B, blues, doo wop, standards, and originals. By the time he’s done, you’ll like them too.

Patty Peterson & Friends @ Bunkers, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) Patty is equally at home with jazz and R&B. Expect a bunch of the latter tonight as she’s joined by brother Ricky Peterson on Hammond B-3 and saxophonist Steve Cole, who’s played with Boz Scaggs and Larry Carlton, among others, and records for Universal. Patty’s usual cohorts include Paul Peterson on bass, Billy Franze on guitar and Bobby Vandell on drums.

Saturday, May 26

Papa John & the Cool Club of East Lake Street @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8pm (Tip Jar) Blues, Swing, Jazz, Standards. With Sam Fiske, trumpet, Tom Lewis, bass, Deano Mikkelson, guitar. Relaxed music doesn’t need to mean boring. Case in point: Papa John and his crew. They can swing a standard, have fun with gypsy jazz, and include friends who sit in, while still creating imaginative riffs, melodies, and solos. This neighborhood bar has no TVs, but you must bring an ID if you want alcohol.

Jack Klatt & the Cat Swingers CD Release @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($15)  Klatt and his band take  country blues, swing, and ragtime and creates a highly entertaining blend of traditional and original music. On the new CD, “Mississippi Roll,” Klatt pulls in an older generation of musicians – Cornbread Harris, Spider John Koerner, Dakota Dave Hull, and Charlie Parr – to collaborate on a few of the numbers. Cornbread and Dakota Dave will be making guest appearances tonight. The Cactus Blossoms open with their terrific take on classic country music.

Sunday, May 27

Grolar Bears Vinyl Release Party @ The Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis. 8pm  ($5) Interest in older musical forms continues with this Blaxploitation Funk Band, anchored by a trio, but ballooning at times to 19 people!. “Cos: The Original Motion Picture Score” is the product being released. It draws on early 70s Blaxploitation scores and soundtracks for inspiration. “Lucious Fox,” the radio single from the album, features all of the earmarks of the genre: funky drums n’ bass, hypnotic Rhodes electric piano, strings, and chorus. Perfect to run under a collage clip of some anti-hero’s day/night in the heart of the city. In fact, you can see a cheesy ten minute trailer for this imaginary film at:    The evening will be helped along by the Hipshaker deejays  spinning soul 45s in between opening acts The Max Corcoran Project and Saltee.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the Minnesota Blues Society  calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.

A Whirlwind of Music and More: 5.16 – 5.22

May 16, 2012

This weekend you can explore the art studios, bars, and restaurants of NE Minneapolis.

This week we have a couple of sidemen stepping out as leaders of their own groups, and a number of outstanding visiting artists in jazz, blues, and roots, not to mention an art crawl that’s crawling with music, and a play with music.


Wednesday, May 16

Babatunde Lea w/Zacc Harris @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7pm (No cover) Lea is an Afr0-Cuban and World percussionist of many instruments who has played with Harris in the past to great success. As usual at this neighborhood restaurant, reservations are recommended for dinner.

Graydon Peterson Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Peterson provides a steady bass for a variety of groups and singers around town, though lately he’s been coming up with his own compositions, many of which have odd time signatures and beautiful melodies. Consequently, to play his songs he’s put together a quartet which includes Adam Meckler on trumpet, Vinnie Rose on guitar, and Adam Suarez on drums.

Thursday, May 17

Snowblind @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Snowblind is a musical collective that works so well because they’re committed to rehearsing and common musical goals. Members include Scott Agster, trombone; Shihad Sen, sax; Adam Rosmiller, trumpet, Graydon Peterson, bass; and Reid Kennedy, drums. Expect standards from Ellington, Monk, and Blakey, as well as Afro-Cuban and groove-oriented material.

Friday, May 18

Fratzke, Hanson, Roessler, Hennig, & Leggett @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar) Though it’s not a law firm, expect this group to steadfastly defend the principles of improvisation and the use of imagination in music. Erik Fratzke plays bass with Happy Apple and guitar with Zebulon Pike. Hanson on sax and Roessler on bass are members of the Fantastic Merlins and curate the biweekly jazz series at the Black Dog. Peter Hennig is a Black Dog regular who also plays drums with the Atlantis Quartet and other bands around town, not to mention playing banjo with his own group. Peter Leggett drums with Heiruspecs and other bands about town.

Saturday, May 19

Rhonda Laurie @ Jazz at St. Barney’s, Plymouth. 7pm ($10, $7 – TCJS Members, $5 – Students) This is the last concert of this year’s series at St. Barnabas Church, 15600 Old Rockford Road in Plymouth. Rhonda will be accompanied by pianist Phil Mattson in a program called Uncommon Standards, featuring songs by Ellington, Gershwin, Arlen, Monk, Mandel, Mercer, Gillespie, Bart, LeGrand, Wilder, Ivan Lins and Blossom Dearie and others

Reynold Phillipsek “Last Summer” CD Release @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm – 11pm ($10 – includes a copy of the CD) Phillipsek continues his exploration of jazz and gypsy jazz styles. He can be subtle, as when accompanying vocalists, or he can be dazzling, though he doesn’t overdo it. Phillipsek will be accompanied by Matt Senjem on bass, and the outstanding violinist, Gary Schulte. Plus, you get a great view of downtown Minneapolis.

On a recent tour with Doc Severinson

Zack Lozier Quintet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Whether trumpeter Lozier is playing with the Jack Brass Band, the Southside Aces, Havana Hi-Fi, Doc Severinson, Deodatos or any other band, you can expect stellar playing that’s exciting and imaginative. He’s the leader tonight, exploring the music of Lee Morgan, among others, with Brandon Wozniak on sax; Bryan Nichols on piano; Billy Peterson on bass; and Kenny Horst on drums, all of whom are worthy of leading their own groups.

Sunday, Monday, May 20, 21

Ramsey Lewis Electric Band @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($65 – $40) The 77 year old NEA Jazz Master had his first hits with funky, hand clappin’ versions of the pop hits, “The In Crowd’ and “Hang on Sloopy” back in the mid-sixties. He’s received three Grammys and seven gold records since then, and had a monster hit with the album “Sun Goddess” in 1974. Lewis revisits some of the Sun Goddess tunes on his newest CD, and will be bringing a quintet to the Dakota to show us where he’s at these days.

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

Roots, Blues, Other

Wednesday, May 16

Paul Geremia on KFAI’s House Party (5pm) and @ The 331 Club, Minnneapolis.  331 Club – 7pm – 9pm. (tip jar). You probably know the drill by now. Tune in to 90.3 or 106.7 FM to hear the artist, then head over to the 331 Club for a 7pm performance. Geremia plays acoustic, mostly pre-war, blues, with the occasional well-crafted original. He’s been playing this stuff for so long, that he completely inhabits it. Geremia is and internationally acclaimed musician, with his most recent album out on Saint Paul’s Red House Records.  If you like the blues at all, or if you simply like honest performances, you will want to check him out. Here’s a video.

Friday, May 18

Scottie Miller Band @ School II Bistro, Chanhanssen. 8pm ($7) Scottie’s piano playing has jump-started many a party and night out. With his Professor Longhair licks and triplett pounding rock n’ roll, Scottie will have you moving and groovin’ as they say.

Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials @ Famous Dave’s BBQ & Blues, Minneapolis. 9pm ($6) Lil’ Ed comes by his high-energy slide guitar playing almost naturally – his uncle and mentor was JB Hutto, one of the first-generation slide players out of Chicago. Ed and his band of 20 years deliver full tilt, raucous bues. His playing is contagious, and his moves – from deep back bends to toe-walks, are hugely entertaining. Check out this video.

Saturday, May 19

Hurricane Harold’s All-Star Blues Revue @ The Blue Fox Bar & Grill, Arden Hills. 9pm (No cover) This a Minnesota Blues Society gig celebrating the Fox as a new society sponsor. Hurricane Harold got his nickname for his ferocious attack on harp. He’s joined by guitarists Dave “Cool Breeze” Brown and Mark “Good Time Willy” Williams, as well as the rhythm section of Alan Kirk, and Chris Johnson.

Hotpants 45rpm Dance Parties @ Art-A-Whirl and The Nomad, Minneapolis. 5-8pm (Art-A-Whirl: Free), 9pm – 2am (Nomad: $5) The Hotpants crew will be spinning rare soul & funk during Art-A-Whirl at the Hill Valley Boutique, 33rd & Central Ave NE, then move to their normal monthly throw-down at the Nomad.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, May 18, 19, 20

Northeast Minneapolis Art-A-Whirl. Art-A-Whirl  has nothing to do with Spin Art, and everything to do with actual artists who have studios throughout NE Minneapolis. The three day shopping/meandering spree also has many bands playing at the outdoor stages of The 331 Club, Psycho Suzi’s, Grumpy’s NE, Anchor Fish & Chips, the Sample room, and Stanley’s during the weekend. Expect a few food trucks and even a trolly for those who are using adult beverages to cool off. More information is available at: and at the websites for the individual music venues.

John Sayles’ Honeydripper @ Old Arizona Theatre, 2821 Nicollet Ave, Mpls. 7:30pm ($10/$15 suggested donation)  Twin Cities playwright Judy Cooper Lyle has adapted the John Sayles film to the stage for this theater presentation. While I haven’t seen it, the story of a failing blues club in the 50s pinning it’s hope on a young impersonator of a big star is intriguing, to say the least. And the premise rings true. Back then, it wasn’t unusual for two or three versions of Guitar Slim, for instance, to be playing at the same time in different parts of the South.

Sunday, May 20

Curtis Blake & Greazy Gravy @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 7pm. Harmonica Curtis Blake blows a mean harp in front of this down n’ dirty danceable blues band.

Spider John Koerner @ Palmer’s Bar, Minneapolis. 8pm. Catch a legend in his natural habitat – the last vestige of the legendary West Bank of old. Koerner’s disarming way with traditional folk tunes, together with his originals and groan-inducing jokes, are the perfect accompaniment to the bar’s strong drinks.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the Minnesota Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions… 5.9 – 5.15

May 9, 2012

Yeah, they don’t spend the weekend with the girls on Father’s Day.

Mother’s Day. Fishing opener. Music. Mother’s Day. Fishing Opener. Music. What a confluence of opportunities, at least one of which could produce domestic difficulties for some men. There is a cornucopia of music during the weekend, which only adds to the difficulty of making a choice.  Here’s Taj Mahal with the Fishin’ Blues


Thursday May 10

JoAnn Funk Trio @ The Lexington, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (No cover)  Jeff Brueske, bass;  & Gary Shulte, violin. The Lex continues to have some of the town’s best vocalists. This time it’s JoAnn Funk, who can be seen weekends at the Saint Paul Hotel with Jeff Brueske. Making this an extra special occasion is the addition of Gary Shulte on violin.

Money Jungle @ The Black Dog Coffeee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm (Tip Jar). Steve Hobert, piano, Josh Granowski, bass, and Chris Hepola, drums pay tribute to the Ellington/MIngus/Roach album.

Phil Mattson Singers @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 8pm – 11pm. ($10) Mattson has been the go-to guy for a number of national acts looking for something special in their vocal arrangements. (The Four Freshmen and Manhattan Transfer are but two.) This early show is a showcase for pianist/arranger/vocal coach Mattson and his group of six vocalists.

Dakota Combo @ MacPhail Center, Minneapolis. 8pm. (free) Each September, high school students audition for the Combo, and then work all year under the direction of bassist Adam Linz, Jazz Coordinator at MacPhail. It’s a formula that’s been turning out successful young musicians for a number of years now. Come hear this year’s edition of the combo as they approach the end of their time together.

Friday, Saturday, May 11, 12

The Garden

Zacc Harris Group CD Release Party @ The Artists’ Quarter. 9pm ($10) Though hard-working guitarist Zacc Harris has released two CDs with The Atlantis Quartet, and one with a trio, this is the first CD to have his own stamp on it. With the exception of “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise,” The Garden, as it’s titled features Harris’s own compositions. Members of the group include Bryan Nichols, keys, JT Bates, drums, Chris Bates, bass, and Brandon Wozniack, sax.

Dane Stauffer Mama I Can Scat CD Release @ Illusion Theater, Cowles Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($15) This Minnesotan/Los Angeleno promises an evening of  “jazzy-bossa nova 60s-guy group-girl group-jumpin’ blues and swinging-dinging tune-o-sity.” Though that sounds like over-the-top hype, Stauffer will be backed by Peter Schimke, piano; Graydon Peterson, bass; and Jay Epstein, drums, which gives plenty of swinging heft to the claim.

Saturday, May 12

Ellen Lease/Pat Moriarty Quintet @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm  ($10/$5 students) Ellen Lease, piano; Pat Moriarty, sax; Chris Bates, bass; Dave Stanoch, drums, and newcomer to the group Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, on trumpet. Lease and Moriary always make improvisational music of the most arresting kind – beautiful, emotional, and spirited. Trust them to lead this quintet down similar paths.

Photo by Jim McGuire

Evan Christopher’s Clarinet Road with vocalist Lee Engele @ The Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hopkins. 8pm ($24) New Orleans clarinetist Christopher puts a contemporary spin on early jazz, using his considerable chops, as well as a knowledge of the early forms. Twin Citizen Engele is well suited to swinging the vocal chores, and she’s put together a sterling group of area players to goose things along. Lee Engele will be my guest on Rhythm and Grooves Saturday morning (10:30AM – KFAI, 90.3FM and 106.7FM)

Sunday, May 13

PipJazz Sunday w/guest Debbie Duncan @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 5pm ($20) Vocalist Pippi Ardennia continues her monthly series featuring a guest artist and a guest youth performer. Debbie Duncan doesn’t need much of an introduction – she’s a superb vocalist who has sung everywhere in town. The idea of she and Ardennia doing a duet or two is thrilling. This month’s youth artist is Jack Breen.

Double Bass, Double Voice @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) This is an intriguing project from New York City, featuring erstwhile Minnesota singer Nancy Harms, as well as Emily Braden and the double bass of Steve Whipple. Ms Harms is always a paragon of taste and swing, and I expect this project will be likewise.

Monday, May 14

Irv Williams Retirement Party @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5) Well, it’s been announced before, but this just might be it for the 93-year old Williams. The notes that he coaxes from his saxophone are still smoother than the lines of a new Rolls Royce, and just as luxurious.

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

Blues, Roots, Other

Wednesday, May 9

Liminal Phase @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7pm (No cover) Liminal Phase is Adam Levy’s experimental group. You may know Adam from The Honeydogs and Hookers $ Blow, but here he goes in a very different direction, combining acoustic and electronic instrumentation to create music with jazz, psychedelic, and African influences. His bandmates come from groups like Heirospecs and Mystery Palace, as well as the DJ world. Reservations are always recommended for dinner, or else you’ll have to squeeze into space by the bar.

Friday, May 11

Grandmothers of Invention @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($30) Just in time for Mother’s Day. If you loved Frank Zappa’ Mothers of Invention, you may already know about this. The Grandmothers, with three original members of the group, keep his music alive, with three original members of a group fueled by Zappa’s brilliance. Though sometimes complex, Zappa’s music was earthbound enough to avoid the pretentiousness of the “art-rock” groups. Tonight, the Grandmothers will be performing the album, “Roxy & Elswhere” in its entirety for the first set, before returning to play other hits for the second set.

Martin Devaney @ The Dakota Late Night, Minneapolis. 11pm ($5) The multi-talented guitarist, composer, and sax player recently released his fifth CD. Check him out on the latenight stage.

Friday, Saturday, May 11, 12

Girls Got Rhythm Fest @ The Amsterdam Bar and Hall, Saint Paul. 7pm until..  ($65/2 day pass) For some women, this may be a Fishing Day alternative to sitting at home. It’s a two day celebration of Rockin’ Females with the great Ronnie Spector as the Saturday Headliner. These are women who embrace heavy drums, shredding guitars and have more energy than your local power plant. Pop, punk, rockabilly and more spanning five decades and three continents.

Saturday, May 12

Roots of the West Bank Festival @ Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 5pm  ($10) Yeah, the West Bank is still kickin. Case in point. Large Hall: Hye Pockets Robertson w/RAMM; Swamp Kings; Curtis and the Kicks; Swingin’ Liquor Pigs. Small Hall: Papa John Kolstad; Pop Wagner; Phil Heywood; Dakota Dave Hull;  Spider John Koerner. $1 dollar of every cover to West Bank School of Music.

Saltee CD Release, w/Steve Kaul & the Brass Kings, @ The Cedar, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) Jacqueline Ultan (cello), Mike Michel (guitar) and Carnage The Executioner (beatboxing), form this unique group. Each is a master musician, and the combination creates genre-bending music that will cause you to tap your feet and then listen in wonder. Kaul & the Brass Kings open with their combination of washtub bass, rubboard, and resonator guitar.

NRBQ @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis.  9pm ($20) Terry Adams has gathered up a new crew for America’s favorite bar band, and from all reports, they are living up to their legacy. You can never tell what will come out of Adam’s brain when it comes to a set list. Heck, he is likely to call an old Ellington chestnut, an obscure rockabilly gem, a paen to wrestler Captain Lou Albano, or a sweet original like “Riding in My Car.” He recently sat in with the percussion section of the Sun Ra Arkestra, whose “Planet Number 9” was on the first NRBQ record, and the latest CD includes a head boppin’ version of Sun Ra’s “We Travel The Spaceways.” Here’s a video of Terry and the new crew.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the Minnesota Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.

Mayday Music and More: 5.2 – 5.8

May 2, 2012

Wow, May already. This coming week brings the 38th Annual May Day Parade from the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater to South Minneapolis on Sunday. It’s a parade and festival full of dancing and music, from roots, to Ukrainian, and more. We also have a plethora of artists – both visiting and resident – performing around town. There are often evenings when it is hard to choose where to go, even if you have the stamina and time to squeeze in more than one show. These are but a few suggestions.


Wednesday, May 2

Carl Franzen with Rahita Ren and Jeff Carver @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm. (Tip Jar) An intriguing evening, as composer/lyricist Franzen is a songwriter who has written a number of notable and recognizable jingles, as well as introspective songs for you the listener. Tonight he’ll be joined by Rahita Ren on piano, and Jeff Carver on trumpet. Here’s what they sound like.

Michael Gold Quintet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Michael Gold, bass; Dave Graf, trombone; Don Stille, piano; Doug Haining, saxes; Nathan Norman, drums. Gold has worked with Lee Konitz, Al Cohen, and Sheila Jordan, among others. Given the other members of this quintet, I expect this will be a pretty swinging evening.

Thursday, May 3

Keith Karns Big Band @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30 – 10:30pm. This sounds very interesting, and should be cozy in the Jazz Central space.  Karns is a trumpeter who is a student of the music of Stan Kenton and Maria Schneider, among others. He’s just released a new CD, Thought and Memory, and is touring the Midwest in support of it. Here’s a recent video of the group.

Good Vibes Trio @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Having caught their last appearance at the AQ, I can say that Chris Bates, bass; Dave Hagedorn, vibes, and Phil Hey, drums, create music that’s complex, yet accessible. And why shouldn’t they, with their talent.

Friday, May 4

Charmin Michelle @ The Lexington, Saint Paul. 6:30pm. Classy room. Classy singer. Michelle is one of those singers who is so effortless when she sings, that you think you can do it. Mmm, no. Be aware, there may be a minimum if you sit at the tables.

Todd Clouser @ The Aster Cafe, St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) Guitarist Clouser is going beyond his Love Electric group with a couple of performances here in different settings. First set will be a duo with Trevor Elrod. Second set a Trio with Hope Tonic: Greg Schutte on drums, and Chris Bates on bass.

Friday, Saturday, May 4,5

Magraw, Nichols, Peterson, Horst @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10)  The guitar wizardry of Dean Magraw, and the imaginative piano of Bryan Nichols, combined with what is becoming the oh-so-versatile house rhythm section of Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst.

Saturday, May 5

Le Jazz Cool All-Stars @ Vincent A Restaurant, Minneapolis. 10:30 pm (no cover) Late night jazz at the tony French Restaurant, with Mary Louise Knutsen on piano, and three members of the Minnesota Orchestra: Peter Kogan, drums and leader; David Williamson, bass; Chuck Lazarus, trumpet.

Sunday, May 6

Pancho Sanchez & His Latin Jazz Band @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35), 9pm ($25) Sanchez is a master conga player who puts his stamp on jazz, soul, bebop, funk, and more. Here he is doing a salsa number.

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

Roots, Blues, Other

Wednesday, May 2

Carolina Chocolate Drops @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm. ($30) This African-American string band won a grammy in 2010 in the traditional folk category for their album Genuine Negro Jigs. They’re back with an expanded line-up, but still manage to easily convey their joy in playing old-time fiddle and banjo music. Canadian duo Po’ Girl opens.

Wax Museum @ Palmers, Minneapolis. 9:30pm (No cover) Open vinyl night. Deejays and vinyl lovers sign up for a 20 minute set to play whatever they want – reggae, film soundtracks, goth, soul, doo wop, psychedelic, early rock n’ roll, in any vinyl format – 12 inches remixes, LPs, 45s, eps, or even 78s (if you bring along your own turntable). Makes for an ear-opening evening at this West Bank institution.

Friday, May 4

Dred I Dred, Prizefighters, Upper Cuts @ Wild Thymes, Saint Paul. 80m (Tip Jar) Modern Reggae from PeeWee & Dred I Dred; Ska & Rocksteady and a little Soul from the 7-pice Prizefighters;  and Punk, Rock, n Roots from the Upper Cuts.

Papa John Kolstad @ The Bayport BBQ, Bayport. 8pm ($10)  Head east until you smell the great ‘que coming from this 2012 City Pages Best Blues Club for a somewhat rare occurrence. Papa John is getting out his 12 string to play some blues, accompanied by Bill Smith on harmonica and Scott Sansby on rubboard. The Bayport isn’t very large, so best to call ahead to see if it’s sold out. 651-955-6337

Big Villain CD Release @ The Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 9pm (Hall Stage – $10) This is an interesting project, crossing hip-hop and jazz. Big Villain uses clever, often humorous lyrics over tuneful melodies with catchy choruses, all backed by some well-traveled jazz musicians. Toussaint Morrison, vocals; Maria Stukey, backup vocals; Phil Aaron, keyboards; Zach Schmidt, keyboards; Vinnie Rose, guitar; Graydon Peterson, bass;  Reid Kennedy, drums. Opening acts include: Sheeped, and West of Aldine

Saturday May 5

James Loney CD Release, w/ Gini Dodds, & Curtiss A. @ Wild Thymes, Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar) A rockin’ night of music. Loney fronted the House of Mirrors in the 80s and quit in the 90s to concentrate on songwriting. That paid off with songs in a couple of hit movies. Now he’s back with a new CD filled with local luminaries like Scott Sansby, Gini Dodds, and Curtiss A. Gini Dodds & the Dahlias open at 8pm, followed by Curtiss A. and the Jerks of Fate at 9:30, and Loney at 11pm.

Malamanya & Radio Pocho DJs @ The Nomad, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Malamanya, that highly danceable acoustic Cuban ensemble. I know Cinco de Mayo is Mexican, not Cuban, but hey, there will be plenty of dancers, and the Radio Pocho DJs will help you get down and in the spirit.

Molly Maher & Her Disbelievers and Hookers & Blow Rock the Cure @ O’Gara’s, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) A chance to hear two fine bands and benefit research into Breast & Ovarian Cancer. Maher and her band rock out in a very rootsy manner, doing her originals and some choice covers. Hookers & Blow play highly danceable tunes from a “more permissive era”, i.e., the late 70s.

Monday, May 7

Al’s Rockabilly Quartet @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 8pm (No cover) On Mondays, the tables are moved ad chairs set up on each side of the expanded dance floor. Get to Dave’s at about 7:15 for a dance lesson from Bill & Shannon, and then practice your moves with the slap bass, surf, & rockabilly sounds of Al Subola and the boys.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the Minnesota Blues Society calendar.   For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.

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