This week’s jazz scene is dominated by resident musicians, including a few with well-deserved national reputations. The blues and roots calendar features some legendary visiting musicians as well as outstanding resident musicians. All in all, it’s another week of tough decisions about who to see. The one decision that isn’t tough is to get out and enjoy some music. It lifts your spirit, which can certainly help when fighting crowds while looking for those perfect gifts.
Wednesday, December 3
Travis Anderson Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) Anderson is a talented, swingin’ pianist, ably abetted by Steve Pikal, bass; and Nathan Norman, drums.
Parisota Hot Club @ The Tangiers, Minneapolis. 8pm – 10pm (No Cover) Robb Henry, guitar; Matt Senjem, bass; and Jay Epstein, drums, are the perfect trio for this faux-fancy club witharge booths, leather couches, and flocked wallpaper.
Riotus N @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Anthony Cox bass; John Penne, guitar; and Davu Seru, drums & percussion. A great combination of veteran players who continue to explore musical boundaries with taste and imagination. During these first Wednesday performances Cox likes to interact with the audience and talk about the music.
Thursday, December 4
Phil Mattson Singers @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Pianist Mattson is an award-winning vocal arranger who has worked with the Manhattan Transfer, among others. He’s gathered six talented singers to perform his arrangements for sextets and various combinations of soloists and small groups.
Davu Seru @ The Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) A rare opportunity to see drummer/percussionist Davu Seru performing solo in this small space with wine, beer, and a few small bites. Here is Davu with a couple of adventurous French musicians.
Friday, December 5
Dave Karr & Chris Lomheim @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 6:30pm – 9:30pm (No cover) Karr on Sax and Lomheim on piano may be one of the nicest pairings you’ll ever hear when it comes to jazz. Octogenarian Karr can bop things up quite handily while stll retaining a mellow sound. Lomheim is a sensitive pianist whose ethereal sounds often have more heft than is immediately apparent.
Kenny Horst & Friends @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Drummer Kenny Horst, erstwhile owner of the late, lamented Artists’ Quarter, brings a quartet to Jazz Central: Brandon Wozniak, sax; Zacc Harris, guitar; and Chris Bates, bass. The combination of a seasoned Horst with a younger generation of players (veterans in their own right) should make for compelling jazz. Here’s a video of Horst with a few different groups.
Saturday, December 6
Babatunde Lea Quintet @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10) Drummer/congeuro Lea is a nationally recognized performer who happens to live here in the Twin Cities. He draws much of his inspiration and rhythmic inventiveness from African culture. Past groups have included Richard Johnson on piano; Anthony Cox, on bass; and Solomon Parham on trumpet, but no matter who is in the group, be assured that it will be a stellar performance. He will be conducting a free workshop at 6pm.
Atlantis Quartet @ the Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm ($5 – $20 Suggested Donation) Fresh off a live recording date at the Icehouse, the AQ is sure to perform new compositions, as well as a favorite or two. Zacc Harris, guitar; Brandon Wozniak, sax; Chris Bates, bass; Peter Hennig, drums. With opening set by Central Standard Time
Mama Digdowns Brass Band & Soutside Aces @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 7pm ($15) It’s a brass bash at the Parkway, headlined by Madison Wisconisn’s Mama Digdown, an 8-pice brass band. They’ve toured the world (even recording in Switzerland), and will likely preview some tunes from their soon to be released album of Michael Jackson tunes. Opening is our own Southside Aces, a sextet that gooses up traditional New Orleans jazz tunes.
Monday, December 8
Jana Nyberg Group @ the Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) What with her teaching gig and hubby Adam Meckler touring Europe, vocalist Nyberg hasn’t performed a lot lately, so here is your chance to hear her and her excellent group during one of the Dakota’s Foodie Nights. Expect to hear some of the seasonal songs from last year’s very fine CD, Winter Song.
Thomas Strommen @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Tenor sax player Strommen has become familiar to the area’s jazz community as part of Steve Kenny’s Group 47, where the young Strommen (a student at UW River Falls) displays his composing skills as well as an ability to blow with skill and imagination.
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, December 3
The Beavers on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pmn (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Okay, this is going to be an estrogen-filled evening as the Beavers are (ahem) an all-female band. They are a light-hearted group of musicians straight out of NordEast Minneapolis, playing folk, country, and Americana music with style and verve. You can expect originals and interpretations of such artists as John Prine. Tune in to KFAI and then, when you realize how much fun they can be, head over to the 331 Club. The Beavers are: Kendra G. Baillie, Bass & Vocals; Jen Bluth, Guitar & Vocals; Sarah Esther, Banjo & Vocals; Julie King, Washboard; Nikki Nefstead, Mandolin & Vocals; Missi Sommers, Percussion.
Nick Lowe’s Quality Holiday Revue @ First Avenue, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20) With Ian McLaglan (Small Faces) Last year, Lowe released Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family, one of the best holiday offerings in years. It’s blend of originals and forgotten gems provide a knowing, adult view of the holiday season, acclaimed by almost everyone who has listened to it.
Thursday, December 4
Sonny Landreth & Cindy Cashdollar @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30-$38) It’s a rare booking and guitar nirvana, featuring a couple of artists who are well known for their chops. Landreth is a slide guitar wizard from Louisiana. He’s released eleven albums, and produces a sound that’s informed by the Delta and the swamp. Cashdollar from Austin, Texas, plays a vintage dobro, resonator guitar, or a triple-neck 8-string steel guitar, and is equally at home with the blues, bluegrass, swampy R&B, and Western Swing. Here’s a taste of Landreth.
Jack Klatt & Javior Matos @ Palmers, Minneapolis. 10pm ($??) If you didn’t get enough with Landreth and Cashdollar, or simply didn’t make the show, you can still get a heaping dose of fine Americana guitar from Klatt and Matos, appearing down the block from the Cedar.
Friday, December 5
Pat Donahue & Daddy Squeeze, w/Lonsesome Dan Case opening @ Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 7pm ($6) It’s another Freewheelin’ First Friday, this time featuring Grammy nominatred ace fingerpicker Pat Donahue, of Prairie Home Companion and some very fine CDs. He’s got that wizard of the accordion, Dan “Daddy Squeeze” Newton with him to help things swing right along, and will have some very special guests. Opening is Lonesome Dan Case, whose plaintive blues seem straight out of the 30s and 40s. The Tap Room only holds about 80 people during the winter, so you may want to get there early to get your seat.
Omar Souleyman @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25 advance, $30 Door) Imagine the minor key melodies of the Mid-East, combine them with electronic music, synthesizers, and trance-inducing frenetic rhythms, and you may get an idea of the music of Souleyman, a Syrian who first made an international name for himself by remixing Bjork’s Biophillia tracks. Opening is Vacation Dad, a DIY artist who has graduated from basement drone music to bars, playing a mix of psychedelic funk, Afrobeat, and exotica. DJ Don Cuco will be spinning from 7-8pm and between sets.
Hamilton Loomis @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) Texas guitarist Loomis was a protégé of Bo Diddley, whom Loomis met at the age of 16. While you may hear the occasional Bo Diddley beat, Loomis has his own, crowd pleasing style that makes use of fat chords, butt-shakin rhythms, and well written songs. It’s earned him fans across the nation and throughout Europe.
Saturday, December 6
Vinyl Voices @ The Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 1:30pm – 4:30pm (Free) Featuring David Cummings and Danny Siegelman. A couple of KFAI Deejays take over the turntables for the afternoon, spinning cool tunes while you get to taste the various brews from the Tap Room. A food truck will be parked outside to help you fill your stomach.
David Grisman & Del McCoury @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($50 – $60), 9:30pm ($35 – $45) Acoustic music fans are salivating over this show. McCoury is a bluegrass legend. He joined Bill Monroe’s band as a singer and guitarist in 1963. Since then he’s established himself with his own band and has won numerous awards, including multiple Grammys, has jammed with Allison Kraus, recorded with Steve Earle and brought bluegrass to a new generation by touring with Phish and playing at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. Mandolinist Grisman started out during the Greenwich Village folk revival of the 60s. He’s got a musical range that encompasses a number of styles and traditions, and has created his own genre – a mix of jazz, bluegrass, and world music that’s known as “Dawg” music, as Jerry Garcia called it. Along the way he’s recorded with a plethora of notable artists and has won five Grammys.
The Skruffians @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:00pm ($10 Suggested Donation) This octet will have Jazz Central jumping as they celebrate the playful sounds of ska, that Jamaican predecessor of Reggae. They’re particularly enamored of the Skatalites, the legendary band that used jazzy horns, a B-3 organ, and hard-to-resist rhythms to back early recordings by Bob Marley, the Maytals and other early Jamaican artists.
Jeff Ray & Hurricane Harold @ The Bayport BBQ, Bayport. 8pm ($10 music, $15 with buffet from 5pm – 8pm) Jeff is a regular guitar master, while Harold blows a mean harp. Together they perform lively originals and unique covers. Here they are at the BBQ.
Bobby E. @ Dusty’s, NE Minneapolis. 9:30pm (Tip Jar) Bobby Eckstrand is one of these town’s underrated guitarists, with a penchant for single note lines, and a wide variety of music. It’s always a treat to have him perform, whether leading his own groups or as a sideman. I’ve no doubt he’ll be joined by a few friends at this NE hole in the wall with a booth for a performing area.
Monday, December 8
35th Annual John Lennon Tribute @ First Avenue, Minneapolis. 9pm ($15) Curtiss A gets by with a little help from his friends, for this 35th Annual performance of the most heartfelt, emotional tribute you can imagine (no pun intended). First Avenue is always packed to the rafters for this event. The questions are: what songs will be played, from what albums, and with what era costumes (if any) will be worn. this video will give you an idea of what to expect.
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.