To paraphrase a well-known storyteller, it’s a quiet week here in the Twin Cities, what with Christmas on Tuesday. No matter what your tradition, or what you celebrate, or even if you don’t celebrate at all, I hope this finds you in good spirits. Unfortunately, we’ve been soundly reminded that this season isn’t always a happy one for many. Keep your heart open, and your thoughts and actions kind. And let music move your spirits.
Thursday, December 19
Maude Hixson & French 75 @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm (No cover) Continental jazz with the ever-so-cool vocals of Ms Hixson. Continental jazz as in songs from the Great American Songbook that actually have pedigrees from Britain, France, and other countries. Since it’s foodie night at the Dakota, you can be sure both performers and the restaurant will be working to make things tres chic. Eh, what.
Maryann Sullivan & Tanner Taylor @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm (Donation) Charming vocals from Ms Sullivan, who recently celebrated the release of her CD Coffee Time, and tasteful, and often exciting, accompaniment by Taylor.
Laura Underwood @ The 3rd Floor, 579 Selby, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5?) Underwood is a vocalist who can put a fine interpretation on a much recorded jazz song, and turn around and give new life to a blues standard.
Friday, December 21
Irv Williams and Peter Schimke @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 4pm – 6pm (Free) Once you’re through with some of your last minute shopping on Nicollet Mall, head over to the Dakota for the often soothing, but always imaginative sounds of 93 year old Irv Williams on saxophone, accompanied by the younger, but equally talented Peter Schimke on piano.
Friday, Saturday, December 21, 22
Lee Engele’s Hot Christmas @ The Black Box Theater, Bloomington Center for the Arts. 7:30pm Friday, 2:00pm Saturday ($20) Vocalist Engele gathers Reynold Philipsek and Joan Griffith on guitar, along with Gary Schulte on violin, to create a program of jazz and holiday standards using jazz, Latin, and gypsy jazz rhythms.
Dave Karr Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Whether he’s playing tenor, flute, or baritone, the octogenarian Karr shows no sign of slowing down. He can always be depended upon to pull a bebop gem out of his axe.
Saturday, December 22
Deck the Halls with JoAnn Funk @ The Saint Paul Hotel Lobby Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm – 11pm (Free) JoAnn Funk (vocals, piano) and Jeff Brueske (bass) are joined by Gary Shulte (violin) and baritone Steve Marking, who will be singing O Holy Night and some other carols. JoAnn will stick to the lighter side of Christmas songs, and some gems from her usual repertoire of jazz standards, Blossom Dearie, and a few surprise choices.
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, December 19
Graham Parker & Rumour @ Fitzgerald Theater, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($37) The pub rocker from the 70s returns with his original group and their first album in 31 years – Three Chord Good. Parker was always a snarling singer, but one who knew how to craft melodies that would grab you, and a good ear for a soulful cover like “Hold Back the Night.” He plays himself in “This is 40,” Judd Aptow’s new move, where he sings a duet and with his group. The movie is being released Friday.
Thursday, December 20
Fathom Lane, Bethany Larson & the Bees Knees, and Actual Wolf @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 advance/$15 door) A trio of country-rockish performers. Bethany Larson’s gorgeous voice and directness in songwriting power her country/folk-rock quartet. Actual Wolf is appearing solo, singing his songs that evoke early Dylan and 70s country rock. Fathom Lane is the creation of Michael Ferrier, formerly of the electro-jazz group Electropolis. With the help of Ashleigh Still (vocals, keys), Brian Roessler (bass), and Pete Hennig (drums) among others, he’s created a album of haunting tunes.
Friday, December 21
Chicago Afrobeat Project & Malamanya @ 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis. 9pm ($12) An evening of outstanding music. The Chicago Afrobeat Project is an 8 piece group that melds the dense sound of Afrobeat with its own take on the Chicago music scene. Opener Malamanya has set many a feet to dancing with its take on Cuban dance beats.
Cool Disposition’s Final Gig @ Neumann’s, North Saint Paul. 9pm After thirteen years, three CDs, a trip to the International Blues Challenge, and numerous bar and festival appearances, this is the last time you’ll get to hear the Dispos. Mickey Bauer, vocals; Hurricane Harold Tremblay, harmonica; Greg Beach, bass, Dan Scwalbe, guitar; and Marty Bryduck drums; have provided the Twin Cities with some jumpin’ and swingin’ blues over the years, and this is where it happened most. The fact that it’s the end of the Mayan calendar has nothing to do with this being their last gig.
Saturday, December 22
Dee Miller Band w/Jimi Primetime Smith @ Holihans Pub, White Bear Lake. 7pm (No Cover) The room is small, the bar is full, but it’s worth a crowd to hear Ms. Miller belt the blues, especially when the talented Mr. Smith is providing guitar fills and solos.
King Baron @ The Red Stag, Minneapolis. 10:30pm (No Cover) Take a couple of guys from the Brass Messengers (Paul Fonfara and Scotty Anderson), and add Andy Hakala from the Southside Aces, and you get some Dixielandish street music.