Summer in the City. It’s hard to beat, what with lakes and trees to help us keep cool, and hot music all about town. And hey, we’ve even got a crawfish (crayfish?) festival with finger-lickin’ music to lift our spirits and help us dance.
Wednesday, August 13
Vicky Mountain @ The Piazza on the Mall, Minneapolis. 5pm – 6:15pm (Free) Here’s an after-work treat for downtowners. The Piazza is set up in front of Westminster Church on 12th & Nicollet. There you’ll get to hear the wonderfully assured and melodic voice of Vicky Mountain, accompanied by James Allen on guitar and Jim Chenoweth on bass.
Larry McDonough Quartet Anniversary of Simple Gifts @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm ($5) It’s been ten years since pianist McDonogh released his album Simple Gifts. He’s celebrating with a full length performance of the album tonight.
Hedenstrom/Claxton Quintet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) For those of you who didn’t stay up late to catch them at the Icehouse. See last week’s entry for Monday.
Thursday, August 14
Sheridan Zuther @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Each Thursday you can find a vocalist performing at Jazz Central. Sometimes it’s someone who is established on the scene. Other times you can be delightfully surprised at a newcomer to the Twin Cities jazz scene. Zuther is one such singer. She has sung a range of music from opera to country to jazz, appearing with variety bands in the Midwest and in musical theater here in town. She’s an alumna of the Cabaret Conference at Yale and is a founder of the Twin Cities Cabaret Artists Network.
Chris Lomheim Trio @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) The Bill Evans-inspired pianist and his fine trio (which includes Gordy Johnson and Phil Hey) take their place in the series that features groups playing original compositions. Here’s a cut from this CD.
Friday, August 15
Axis Mundi @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (No Cover) Glen Helgeson, guitrar; Dave Stanoch, drums; Gary Schulte, violin, and Chris Bates, bass. Worldbeats combined with elements of modern and traditional jazz.
Illicit Sextet @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm (Tip Jar) The first jazz composer’s collective, or perhaps the one that we remember. Dave Roos, guitar; Chris Lomheim, piano; Paul Harper, tenor; Steve Kenny, trumpet; Tom Pieper, bass; and Nathan Norman, drums.
Keith Karns Big Band @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) A 17 piece band led by trumpeter-arranger-composer Karns, whose arrangements are called dense but also rhythmic by the noted jazz critic Scott Yanow. The band includes Aaron Hedenstrom on sax and Brian Claxton on drums, both of whom performed earlier in the week with their own quintet. Here’s an example of them at work.
Saturday, August 16
Sublime Curve @ the Normandy Kitchen, Minneapolis. 7pm – 10pm (No Cover) This tiny bar feels a bit like a NYC bar in the 60s. It’s got good cocktails, a decent wine list and an award winning kitchen. There’s about 15 places at the bar, and 6-8 high top tables, so reservations are recommended. Anyway, Sublime Curve has been appearing hear every other month or so. The band includes: Jim ‘Tice, keys; Stevie D, percussion; Jeff Moe, bass; Marc Partridge, guitar; and Tom Church on sax. It’s not quite chamber jazz, but it’s far from raucous. Simply good music in a fine setting.
Monday, August 18
Fantastic Merlins @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. (Tip Jar) Brain Roessler, bass; Nathan Hanson, sax; and Pete Hennig, drums explore the sonic possibilities of original compositions, free improvisation, and reworking the occasional jazz standard.
Evan Montgomery Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Guitarist Montgomery has been off studying in California since last Fall. It’s good to have him back, even if for a little while, to see what he’s added to his clean technique.
Phil Hey Quartet @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10pm ($8) Jazz doesn’t get much more sophisticated, or well played, than what is offered by this long-working group: Phil Hey, drums, Tom Lewis, bass; Dave Hagedorn, vibes, and Phil Aaron on piano. You can expect tunes from Bill Evans, Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Miles Davis, and others of that standing.
Tuesday, August 19
River City Jazz Orchestra @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 7pm (No Cover) Seems like Tuesday has become Big Band Night in the Twin Cities. The kind folks at MMC are showcasing big bands for those who like an early show. Tonight, the River City Jazz Orchestra will play from a book that includes tunes by Basie, Dorsy, Ellington, Miller, and more.
Explosion Big Band @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested donation) Meanwhile, over in Mill City, The Explosion Big Bandm, led by Doug Haining, sax; and Scott Agster, trombone, will fill the intimate space at Jazz Central. When they recently played outdoors at the MN History Center, the Center reported they had the largest crowd, and largest number of dancers of any band that’s ever played there during their summertime series.
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, August 13
Tim Sparks on KFAI and at The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 and 106.7FM) and 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) He’s a fingerpicking ace, with the awards and credentials to back up that sobriquet. Sparks‘ latest album, Chasin’ The Boogie, re-imagines songs from the Beatles, Roy Orbison, and Joni Mitchell, as well as gold standards and some gritty blues. Here he is doing I’ll Fly Away.”
The Holmes Brothers @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($30) By the time they were “discovered” in the late 80s, the Holmes Brothers already had years and years of experience, often backing singers ranging from Jerry Butler and John Lee Hooker to Jimmy Jones, originator of Handyman, not to mention playing blues in bars on Saturday nights and Gospel in churches on Sunday morning. All of which gives some insight into the winning way they can incorporate country, blue, doo-wop, gospel, and more into their act. It’s good to have them back after a long absence from our stages.
Thursday, August 14
Rosie Flores @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) If you didn’t catch Flores at the Guitar Festival last weekend, you still have a chance to get your “Rockabilly Jones” met. I don’t count you’ll be moving, so you may as well wear dancing shoes. Sweet Mama J opens at 9pm, Rosie Flores at 10:15pm
Friday, August 15
Candye Kane @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) Kane’s story is unbelievable. She has been called a survivor, a superhero, and the toughest girl alive. The jump blues singer is a mother of two and has been a pin up cover girl, and had sung punk rock, hillbilly music and blues by the time she was 21. Known for shows that are often a celebration of sexuality, Kane was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about seven years ago, and has undergone two surgeries since then. In spite of the fact that such cancer has poor survival rates, she’s still on the road, and still a dynamic performer. Ross Kleiner & the Thrill open. Candye Kane at 10:45pm. Here’s an example of what she’s been up to in the past year.
Jack Klatt & Charlie Parr @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm ($8) In 2012 guitarist/singer Klatt recorded Mississippi Roll with Charlie Parr. This is their first chance to play together onstage. This is roots music that is authentic as can be.
Saturday, August 16
Crayfish Festival @ the Smack Shack, 6th & Washington, Minneapolis. Noon until… ($40Advance/$50Door) Okay, so it’s not a free street festival, but it is a Louisiana-styled Crayfish Boil featuring a 1/2 dozen bands, all-yoou-can-eat Minnesota mudbugs, and all the Hurricanes and Beer you can drink. Work off that gluttony dancing to The Droppers, Butanes, Wayne McFarlane & Zydeco Blue and the headliners – Davina & the Vagabonds. As they say in the Big Easy: We Be Partyannnnn!Global Rhythm Festival @ Franconia Sculpture Park, 29836 St.Croix Trail. Noon – 5pm ($5 Parking) Pack a picnic, some blankets or chairs, and take a pleasant drive to the Franconia Sculpture Park, just SE of Taylors Falls, right off Highway 8. There you’ll find acres of sculptures of all types and sizes in a sunny setting. On-site vendors will have some food and beverages. You can take part in a guided tour during band breaks, and even meet some of the artists-in-residence. Pan Dimensions Steel Drums open at 12:30, followed at 2:15 by guitarist Greg Herriges with percussionist Michael Bissonnette playing a mix of international music. Finally, at 4pm, the Duniya Drum and Dance troupe will take the stage, dancing and moving to traditional West African rhythms.
Guitar Shorty @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7) Bluesman Guitar Shorty has quite the resume. At 16, he toured with Ray Charles. At 17 he recorded a single supervised by Willie Dixon. He led the house band at New Orleans’ legendary Dew Drop Inn for a couple of years and then took a job with Sam Cooke. By the way, Jimi Hendrix was his brother-in-law. He’s been living in L.A. since 1971, playing the blues, recording, jamming, and rocking out around the world. His latest, Watch Your Back, for Alligator Records, was nominated for two Blues Music Awards.
Sunday, Monday, August 17, 18
The Combo @ Bunker’s, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) They play every Sunday and Monday night, bringing out dancers and fellow musicians (some of whom sit in). After 20-some years, they’re as tight as can be, performing some classic soul and funk, and newer tunes as well.
Monday, Tuesday, August 18, 19
Davell Crawford @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) Pianist Crawford is known as the “Crown Prince of New Orleans,’ a well deserved title, since he incorporates all elements of New Orleans’ music into his own compositions. He is also comes from one of the “royal” lines of N’Awlins’ musical families: his grandfather was James Sugar Boy Crawford, who penned the iconic “Jock-A-Mo” way back in the 50s. He’s been a favorite of the New Orleans Jazz Festival for a number of years now.
For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the MN Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar. Dancers might want to check out the U Wanna Dance Calendar.