Well, the late summer heat wave may be keeping some folks from the State Fair, but those who are going will still have plenty of opportunity to hear some terrific music. Blues lovers should check out the calendar of the Minnesota Blues Society (link below) to see the daily line-up of talent at the Fair. Jazz lovers may also find the occasional gig, though that may be a bit harder to find. Note Radio Joe, listed below. At any rate, once the sun and the temps go down, there are opportunities galore for music in the Twin Cities. Here are but a few.
Wednesday, August 28
Mountain King @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Donation) Three bassists, Graydon Peterson, Brian Courage, and Jeremy Boettcher, play together, creating memorable music.
Lucia Newell @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) When Lucia wraps her voice around a song, you know your listening to a jazz singer. She’s showing some fine talent as a songwriter as well. This is a great chance to hear her in her natural habitat, as you can see in this video.
Thursday, August 29
Nichola Miller & Tanner Taylor @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30 pm (Donation) The vivacious vocalist and sophisticated piano player go together like two straws in a coke. Parenthood has made it a bit more difficult for them to perform together, so take advantage of this opportunity while you can.
Ben Sidran @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) His latest CD, Don’t Cry for No Hipster, is full of Sidran‘s wry commentary, rhythmic playing, and groove-centered jazz. One cut, Back Nine, is getting lots of play on Sirius radio. Here’s the video for the title tune of his latest CD.
Phil Hey Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) This quartet makes jazz look easy, even when they’re performing songs by Ornette Coleman or Charles Mingus. Of course, they’ve all been playing a long time, and playing together a long time as well. Phil Hey, drums; Dave Hagedorn, vibes; Tom Lewis, bass; and Phil Aaron, piano. If you haven’t seen them, go. If you have, go again. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, August 29, 30, 31
Radio Joe & the Jazzbos @ The State Fair, Saint Paul. (Free with Admission). Guitarist Joe Demko brings his swinging little group to the AFL-CIO Pavillion from 4-6pm Thursday, and to the Ramberg Stage Friday at 10:30am, 11:45am, and 1:00pm, and Saturday at 3:15pm, 4:30pm, and 5:45pm. There will be swing dance demos at the Ramberg Stage performances.
Friday, August 30
Arne Fogel @ Parma 8200, Bloomington. 7:30 – 10:30pm (No Cover) The swingin’ Mr. Fogel is an expert on both Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, and he wears their influences well when he sings. This intimate lounge in a large restaurant is just right for his interpretations of the Great American Songbook.
Kevin Washington Quintet @ Dakota Late Night, Minneapolis. 11:30pm ($5) Washington is a drummer who is master of a number of world rhythms. For instance, listen to him play with Nachito Herrera to see how well he handles a variety of Cuban rhythms. As for his jazz bonafides, well, he did study with Max Roach.
Friday, Saturday, Aug 30, 31
JazzMN Big Band @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($20) This is a rare opportunity to see this 17-piece big band in a club, since they usually appear in big auditoriums. It’s a stellar group of seasoned musicians from the area, and they’ll knock your socks off, as the saying goes, in the relatively small confines of the AQ. Here they are with a James Bond Medley.
Blues, Roots, Other
Wednesday, August 28
Doug Otto & the Getaways @ KFAI and the 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (KFAI), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Otto’s melancholy voice is perfect for the blues and classic country of this group. Tune in to KFAI (90.3FM & 106.7FM) at 5pm to hear them and then head over to the 331 Club. Here they are doing a CCR tune at the Fine Line.
Thursday, August 29
Prophets of Peace @ Palmers, Minneapolis. 10pm ($5) With the help of Hotpants Deejays, the folks at Secret Stash Records struck gold when they released a compilation of Twin Cities funk from the 60s and early 70s. Their Soul Revue has been playing to packed houses, and now the Prophets of Peace, one of the bands from the compilation, is back and playing with a vengeance. Hear them at one of the best dive bars in town, with Ben Mena and Dale Burback, two of the deejays that led the rediscovery of these guys, spinning between sets. Here’s an example of their old school sound.
Friday, August 30
Butanes 30th Anniversary @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7) Often named the Best Blues Band in the Cities, the Butanes have played at birthday parties, anniversaries, and other life-changing events for blues lovers in town. They’ve also backed Earl King at the Jazz Festival, played the Mother-in-law lounge, toured and recorded with Zydeco’s great Al Rapone, and currently hold down a weekly gig at Shaw’s, where folks like Davina Sowers, Jellybean Johnson, and others have dropped in. Led by the irascible, opinionated, and very funny Curt Obeda on guitar, the rest of the band includes Virgil Nelson on Hammond B-3, Rob Stupka on drums, and John Lindberg on bass.
Friday, Saturday, August 30, 31
Rosie Flores, Kenny Neal, Robert Randolph & the Family Band @ The State Fair Leinie Stage, Saint Paul. (Free w/Cover) It seems to be roots day at the Leinie Stage and if you can stand the heat, you can get to see the rockabilly and rockin’ country of Rosie Flores during the day, followed by guitarist Kenny Neal playing swamp blues. At night, Robert Randolph and the Family Band bring the sounds of sacred steel to the Fair. For times, etc., go here.
Saturday, August 31
Janiva Magness @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25) Magness has been cultivating a loyal fan base in the Twin Cities for a few years now. She’s had a turbulent life, and is Stronger For It, as her album from last year proved. “I Wont’ Cry,” from that album, was awarded Song of the Year and she also won her fourth award as Contemporary Female Blues Artist. Check out her singing on this video.
John Nemeth @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm Nemeth is an up and coming bluesman with a penchant for soul. This year he was nominated by Living Blues Magazine as Most Outstanding Blues Singer, and by Blues Blast for Male Blues Artist of the Year. He’s entertaining and definitely soulful on stage.
Sunday, September 1
Oliver Mtukudzi & The Black Spirits @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:20pm (Free, while tickets last) Here’s a chance to broaden your appreciation of world music for free, or at least while tickets last. Mtukudzi is a guitarist, vocalist, and composer from Zimbabwe. His music is inspired by the rhythms of the thumb piano, and he uses South African, Zimbabwe pop, and traditional drumming in his performances, and he has a big fan in Bonnie Raitt, who recorded one of his songs.
Monday, September 2
15th Annual Laughing Waters Bluegrass Festival @ Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis. 1pm – 6:30 pm (Free) Spend Labor Day enjoying the Falls and the music of The Pride of the Prairie, Copper Creek, The Middle Spunk Creek boys, Platte Valley Boys, Sawtooth Bluegrass, and Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands.