Music for a Winter Wonderland 12.12 – 12.18

The Brass Messengers will lead Santacon participants throughout Lowertown

The Brass Messengers will lead Santacon participants throughout Lowertown

Well, we finally have some weather to match our reputation. Don’t let that stop you from going out, however. There is too much good music out there to stay home. Simply make sure you have more time for travel. After all, we’re all getting used to driving in snow and ice again. Have a good week.


imagesWednesday, Thursday, December 12, 13

John Pizzarelli @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45), 9pm ($35) Though Pizzarelli is sometimes touted for his vocals on the Great American Songbook, it’s his guitar playing that stands out. He’s also a charming conversationalist, as anyone who has listened to his NPR show will attest.

Thursday, December 13

Ahmed & the Creators @ The 3rd Floor, 579 Selby, Saint Paul. 7:30pm – 9:30pm ($?) It’s true, you have to climb stairs to get to this inviting venue, but when you do, you’ll be treated to the hard bop/mainstream sounds of this classic sextet.

Friday, December 14

Fratzke, Hanson, Roessler, Hennig & Legget @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar) It’s a “Not so Silent Night” at the Black Dog, as Eric Fratzke, guitar; Brian Roessler, bass; Nathan Hanson, sax; and Pete Hennig and Pete Legget, drums, create improvisational music.

Friday, Saturday, December 14, 15

Laura Caviani Holiday Show @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul.  9pm ($10) Caviani will be performing music from her cool album of holiday songs, Music We Have Heard On High, with Lucia Newell on vocals, Jay Young on bass, Dave Schmalenberger on drums, and Saturday only, Pete Whitman on sax. Though it’s not holiday music, here’s a video of Laura.

Saturday, December 15

University of Manitoba Jazz Studies Faculty Master Class @ Walker West Academy, Saint Paul.11am (Free with Pre-Registration)  Here’s a chance for aspiring young musicians to take a free master class with six internationally known musicians who teach at the University of Manitoba. This event, and their performance later in the day (see below) are part of an effort to recruit young musicians to their program in Winnipeg. If you know someone who might benefit from the class, register them at 651-224-2929.

Jazz Studies Faculty @ Progressive Baptist Church, 1505 Burns Ave, Saint Paul. 7:00pm (Free)  Steve Kirby, bass; Anna-Lisa Kirby, voice; Quincy Davis, drums; Will Bonness, paino; Laurent Roy, guitar; Derrick Gardner, trumpet; and Craig Bailey, sax, will be performing. These are nationally recognized musicians who have played with Basie; Ellington; Cyrus Chestnut, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, and Wynton Marsalis, among others.

imagesJef Lee Johnson, Yohannes Tona, & Michael Bland @ Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10pm ($12) Johnson  plays jazz, funk, and blues-rock, with an individual style that has Hendrix influences. He’s worked with, and earned praises from, folks like Chaka Khan (who called him a “gift from God”), as well as Esperanza Spalding, George Duke, Christian McBride, and McCoy Tyner. His cohorts tonight are Ethiopian-born Twin Cities bassist Yohannes Tona (Nachito Herrera and Stokely Williams), and drummer Michael Bland (Prince, Soul Asylum, Mambo’s Combo). Should be an evening of exciting music.

Monday, December 17

Pete Hennig & Jazz Central All-Stars @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (donation) Drummer Hennig is versatile enough to play   stripped down blues with Crankshaft & the Gear Grinders, 21st Century jazz with the Atlantis Quartet, and provide the drum chair for Adam Meckler’s big band. He also plays the banjo, though I don’t think he’ll playing that percussive instrument tonight. Here’s a video of Pete with Nathan Hanson on sax at the Black Dog.

Charlie Christiansen Trio @ The Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 9pm (No cover) Christiansen is a vocalist and piano player who heads up the vocal department at MacNally Smith. He’ll be joined by trumpeter Adam Meckler for an evening of standards and original Christmas and Holiday music.

More listings for Twin Cities jazz can be found at KBEM and at Jazz Police. Jazz Police also features jazz commentary as well, as do Bebopified, and Jazz Ink.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, December 12

imagesTim Sparks and Dean Magraw @ The Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio, Minneapolis. 7:30pm – doors at 6:30 ($25) Sparks is a finger-picking monster, who will be playing selections from his revolutionary “Nutcracker Suite.” It’s the 20th Anniversary of the recording, which has been hailed as a significant contribution to the existing body of guitar literature. He’ll also be doing his rendition of East European dance tunes found in his latest work, Balkan Dreams. Dean Magraw, another terrific player opens. Tim came by my show and played a few tunes this past Saturday, the 8th. Go here to listen. The interview and songs start about 30 minutes into the show.

Thursday, December 13

Dale Watson @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm  ($15) Some call Watson alt-country, but he sure sounds like a traditional honky-tonker to me. Traditional as in Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and Hank Thompson. This Texas Troubadour simply doesn’t go along with country cliches or current “Gnashville” approaches to the industry. Local faves The Cactus Blossoms open. Here’s a video.

Southside Aces Christmas CD Release Party @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm – 11pm ($5) The Aces perform traditional New Orleans jazz, which they’re applying to some Christmas tunes in the form of a CD called “Santaphone.” They’ll be joined by some special guests, as they are on the CD, including Charlie DeVore, Rick Rexroth, Nadine DuBois, Maude Hixon, and the Beaujolais Sisters. Let the dancing begin.

Friday, December 14

4th Annual Holiday Shindig @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) A collection of some of the best songwriters in the Twin Cities, including Martin Devaney, Steve kaul, Alison Rae, and Dan Gaardner. They’ll be doing seasonal originals and holiday favorites, and it will all culminate in a sing-a-long and free raffle. All ticket proceeds go to Open Arms of MN to cook and deliver meals to folks with life-threatening diseases. It’s a small club, so table reservations are recommended.

Lamont Cranston Band w/Bruce McCabe @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 6pm  – 9pm ($?) This is the Cranston’s first album of all new studio material in 15 years for this veteran blues and boogie outfit. If you’ve never heard the Cranstons, especially with pianoman McCabe goosing the energy, you deserve to check them out.

Saturday, December 15

Just follow the tuba.

Follow the tuba.

Lowertown Santacon V @ Lowertown venues, Saint Paul. 5:30pm (Free) This is the fifth year for this rambling convocation of folks dressed as Santa’s, Mrs Santa, elves, and other Christmas beings. It starts at the Black Dog Cafe, where kids are welcome, but after that, it’s strolling to various venues throughout the neighborhood, led by the Brass Messengers, and singing songs and having a few adult beverages. Don’t overdo it, though. No one likes an inebriated elf.

Booker T and the MGs & The Ventures Cover Band @ Cafe Maude at Loring, Minneapolis. 10pm. I’m not sure who is in this band, but it sounds intriguing and fun. The two bands created some of the most memorable instrumentals of the 60s, which should sound just fine in the cozy comfines of the downtown Maude.

Hot Pants Dance Party @ The Nomad, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Time for the Holiday edition of dancing to rare soul and funk 45s. Their poster promises a Love Potion Voodoo Dance. Don’t know if that’s Love Potion #9, or another batch.

Monday, Tues, Wednesday, December 17, 18, 19

ToP Funkifying the Zoo last summer

Funkifying the Zoo last summer

Tower of Power @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($70, $55), 9pm ($60, $45) The funkiest band from Oakland/San Francisco is still a powerhouse of butt-moving rhythms and horn licks. Though they’ve been going for 44 years, the band had 1400 people movin’ and groovin’ when they played the Zoo last summer. No doubt they will have folks shakin’ it and jumpin’ out of their seats at the Dakota.

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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