Happy Holidays. Music: 12.25 – 12.31

It’s a bit quiet this week, except for that New Year’s thing, of which I’ve included two low-key ideas. The Artist’s Quarter is sold out, and I won’t be surprised if the Dakota sells out as well. There are plenty of options, including private parties, and going to sleep early. I hope that those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas have a good day, maybe with Asian take-out and a technicolor movie. I’m also including a link to a video animation of my favorite Christmas song – White Christmas. It always brings a smile to my face as I hope it will to yours. Thanks for your support.


The Quartet in action. Photo by Andrea Canter

The Quartet in action. Photo by Andrea Canter

Thursday, December 26

Phil Hey Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. ($5) Here is a quartet of musicians with both creative and technical skills. Since they’ve been playing a monthly gig at the AQ for about 13 years, they’ve developed the ability to communicate almost telepathically. Phil Hey, drums; Tom Lewis, bass; Dave Hagedorn, vibes, and Phil Aaron, piano; play complex, yet highly swingin’ tunes. In short, if you haven’t heard them, they will knock your socks off.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, December 26, 27, 28

Ethan Iverson, piano; Reid Kennedy, bass; Dave King, drums

Ethan Iverson, piano; Reid Kennedy, bass; Dave King, drums

The Bad Plus @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($40) The uncompromising trio of former/current Midwest talents are back for their annual Christmas visit to the Dakota. The Bad Plus has pretty much redefined what it means to be a bass-drums-piano trio, producing sophisticated, at times avant, jazz, for the masses. One might call their music jazz with a punk attitude, if a punk attitude is also polite.

Friday, December 27

Nichola Miller @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm (No Cover) The sassy lass isn’t singing out as much lately, what with motherhood as Nichola’s main focus, so catch her when you can, and prepare to want a cocktail and a cigarette when you hear her sing.

Friday, Saturday, December 27, 28

Final Weekend Jam @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. ($10) I believe New Year’s Eve is sold out, so this weekend will be your last chance to visit the AQ under the ownership of Kenny Horst. A person could be excused for going overboard with hyperbole, but if the musician turnout is anything like it was a few weeks ago for the benefit, this will be special occasion, both musically, and emotionally

Saturday, December 28

Lee Engele with Uptown Maxx @ Sawatdee, 13300 Technology Drive, Eden Priarie. 8pm – 10pm Laurie Melting, violin; Kirby Smith, keys. Engele swings so well she can confidently front a big band or sensitively front a guitar trio. Here, she’s joined by a duo.

Sunday, December 29

Bad Plus perform The Rite of Spring @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($40) Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring is audacious, thrilling, heavy, and a bit bombastic to my non-classical ears at least. Which is what makes this a perfect vehicle for the Bad Plus.

Zacc Harris Trio @ The Riverview Cafe, Minneapolis. 8pm (Tip Jar) Okay, so Minneapolis put the kibosh on trios at the Riverview, due to some archaic zoning laws. Then it seemed like they could book Zacc and the Trio again, but after one performance, found another odd regulation to keep them from performing. I’m told that all is now good. Let’s hope so, since it’s always a pleasure to sip wine and listen to Zacc on guitar, Matt Peterson, bass; and Pete Hennig on drums as they present originals and jazz standards.

Tuesday, December 31

Early New Year’s Eve @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 5pm – 8pm. (Tip Jar) Featuring Open Season, the 4th year –  with Todd Harper,(piano)Nathan Hanson, ( saxophones) Brian Roessler,( bass) & Pete Hennig. ( drums). Bubbles, appetizers, music, and you get to go home early, if you wish.

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, December 25

Christmas with The Steeles @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($30) The individual members of the Steele Family have brought their music to audiences throughout the world. They get together on Christmas night to bring us Soul-drenched Gospel and R&B.

Thursday, December 26

Maurice Jacox @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 10AM – 1PM (Tip Jar) So maybe you have the day off, but you’re not up for making breakfast. Check out the brunch at Hell’s Kitchen, where you can whet your appetite with the soulful and jazzy vocals of Jacox, accompanied by pianist Thom West. You may want to make reservations and ask to be seated near the stage.

Rockin’ Pinecones @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis ($5?, $10?) Nothin’ like a little Cajun & Zydeco dancing to work off excess calories from holiday dining. The Pinecones deliver some New Orleans R&B as well. They played for a few years in the late 80s, and reunited in 2004. Since then, Dan “Daddy Squeeze” Newton and his gang have audience spinning, twisting, and bouncing up and down to their infectious sounds.

Friday, December 27

Butanes Soul Revue @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10 advance/$12 door) It’s the 26th Anniversary of the Butanes, and they’re celebrating with a performance of the legendary Soul Revue. In addition to Curt Obeda, guitar; John Lindberg, bass; Virgil Nelson, B-3, and Robb Stupka, drums, you’ve got the horn section of Michael Nelson, trombone; Steve Strand, trumpet; and the highly talented Sue Orfield on sax, with backup singers Aisha Baker and Deb Brown. Dancing shoes are not optional when this crew takes to the stage.

John Primer @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Guitarist Primer is one of the few surviving musicians who’s life reflects the archetypal Chicago blues musician. Initially raised on a cotton farm in Mississippi, he moved to Chicago and played with Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, and Magic Slim. He’s been releasing his own records since 1995, and has earned a Blues Music Award and a Grammy nomination. It’s soul satisfying blues.

Saturday, December 28

Willie Murphy @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5?) There was a great turnout for Willie‘s birthday a month or so ago. Let’s hope most of those attending will again drop by to dance as this musical treasure sings rock n’ roll, blues, and rhythm and blues, all with his personal touch.

Sunday, December 29

The Guys All Star Shoe Band @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11AM (No Cover) The highly versatile band from Prairie Home Companion visits the Eat Street dining room and watering hole to entertain you during brunch.

The New Standards @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. ($30) This acoustic trio has made quite a name for itself reinterpreting the music of the eighties (Clash, Lou Reed, Mott the Hoople) for Gen Xers and Millenials. Pianist Chan Poling is a member of the Suburbs. Bassist John Munson is a founding member of Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic. Vibist Steve Roemer may not have been in a legendary rock band, but he’s found a couple of compadres in Poling and Munson.

Tuesday, December 31

Papa John Kolstad @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8pm (Tip Jar) If you’re looking for a New Year’s Eve gig that won’t be manic, but will still be entertaining, then Merlin’s Rest could be your choice. Papa John’s relaxed way will put you at ease. His dry, wry commentary will tickle your funnybone, and his music (along with his bandmates) will help you welcome the New Year in a festive, yet adult manner.

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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