The weather is warming and Saint Paul is about to celebrate Winter Carnival, with all the hoopla and shenanigans that entails, including a downhill ice-skating event (don’t ask). Whether you attend the Carnival festivities or not, there is still plenty of music for your enjoyment and participation this week. Music lifts the spirit.
Wednesday, January 21
McNally Smith College of Music Orchestra @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Pete Whitman directs this collection of about 16 musicians who are studying at McNally Smith. It’s an explosive group with outstanding musicians, including an African violinist, Brazilian bass player and some graduate level students. A very exciting group.
Thursday, January 22
David Berkman @ Jazz in the Target Atrium, Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis. 8pm – 11pm ($25) The Jazz in The Target Atrium is a new series by Orchestra Hall, pairing visiting musicians with an ensemble of resident musicians: Brandon Wozniak, sax; Anthony Cox, bass; and JT Bats, drums. Pianist/composer/bandleader Berkman is an award-winning musician whose recordings often end up on the best-of critics lists in Downbeat, The Village Voice and the NY Times.
Pavel Jany & Gary Schulte @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul 7:30pm ($5 – $20 Suggested donation) A special appearance by two members of the Talking Strings Trio Jany is an exceptional guitarist with a bent for Brazilian rhythms (he leads Ticket to Brasil) and international jazz. Schulte is a violinist who brilliantly plays in a number of genres, from Gypsy Jazz, to classical improvisation to poetry-jazz and Black Gospel music.
Friday, January 23
Maryann Sullivan & Andrea Canter Photo Reception @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 6pm – 8pm (Reception), 8pm – 11pm (Music – Tip Jar). The Black Dog is featuring the wonderful photography of Andrea Canter this week. Andrea is a constant presence on the jazz scene and has had a number of her jazz photos featured in Downbeat. This exhibit features photos of both resident and visiting musicians as well as some of Andrea’s landscapes and urban images. After the reception, vocalist Maryann Sullivan and Corner Jazz take the stage to deliver some swinging music. Don’t be surprised if some of the tables are moved to accommodate dancers.
Atlantis Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) 21st Century Jazz from a group that is slowly expanding its fan base beyond the Twin Cities, having recently performed in Chicago and points around the Midwest. They’ll be appearing at the Iowa City Jazz Festival in July.
Seven Steps to Havana @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) If you haven’t had a chance to travel south this winter, here’s an opportunity to experience the warmth of Latin America music with this band led by multi-reedman Doug Little, and including artists from Brazil, Africa, the Caribbean and North America. Expect salsas, rumbas, and bolero rhythms to get your heart pumping.
Saturday, January 24
Illicit Sextet @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm. Opening at 7 by the Dark Blue Quartet: Thomas Strommen, Dylan Nelson, Jason McLean, Alex Burges. Illicit Sextet: Chris Lomheim, piano; Paul Harper, sax; Nathan Norman, drums; David Roos, guitar; Tom Pieper, bass; Steve Kenny, trumpet.
Coloring Time with guest Steve Davis @ the Dakota Late Night, Minnepolis. 11:30pm ($5) Coloring Time is a group of Twin Cities musicians that come from Jazz and hip-hop backgrounds: Casey O’Brien, bass; Graham O’Brien drums; John Keston, keys; Robert Mulrennen, guitar; Jon Davis, reeds; and Zach Bagaason, sampler & keys, with Joe Horton, Kristoff Krane, and Adam Svec as vocalists/MCs. Special guest trombonist Steve Davis is playing couple of other gigs this weekend (see below), Here’s a Coloring Time video with a slightly different makeup.
Saturday, Sunday, January 24, 25
Century Jazz Ensemble w/Steve Davis @ Century College, White Bear Lake. 8pm Sat, 3pm Sun. ($?) The Century College Jazz Ensemble invites a guest every year. This year trombonist Steve Davis is on tap. He’s world in the bands of Art Blakey and Jackie McLean, as well as in two of Chick Corea’s sextets. He leads a quartet featuring pianist Larry Willis, and is a member of the collective One For All, with Eric Alexander, Jim Rotondi, David Hazeltine, John Webber, and Joe Farnsworth. In other words, Davis is a heavy hitter in the jazz world. Jana Nyberg plays the Pre-Concert Reception at 7pm Saturday and 2pm Sunday.
Sunday, January 24
Leigh Kammen Tribute @ The Saint Paul Hotel, Saint Paul. 4pm – 8pm ($20 Suggested Donation) Many area musicians, including Dean Magraw, Patty Peterson, Kenny Horst, Irv Williams, Conning Evingson and Butch Thompson, among others, will be performing at this tribute to a man who enriched the lives of many of us with his descriptions of places and events from so long ago. He was a jazz broadcaster for 60 years, starting in the Twin Cities, and moving to Duluth, Denver, and New York City before returning here in 1956. The jazz world is an emptier space without the voice of Leigh Kammen.
Monday, January 26
Fireside Five Jazz Quintet @ U of M Ultan Recital Hall, Minneapolis. 3:30pm – 5:00pm. ($?) If you can get the afternoon off, you can treat yourself to the sounds of a new quintet featuring Tom Ashworth, trombone & euphonious; Brian Grivna, flute & reeds; Phil Aaron, piano; Gordy Johnson, bass; and Phil Hey, drums. A top-notch group of musicians.
Fireside Five Quintet @ The Underground Music Cafe, 1579 Hamline, Saint Paul. 7:30pm – 10pm. Well, if you couldn’t get the afternoon off, you still have a chance to see this group.
Steve Davis @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) Trombonist Davis is in town as a guest of the Century Jazz Ensemble (see above) and has picked up a completely different kind of gig at the Icehouse. The first set will feature Davis with Bryan Nichols, piano; Jeff Bailey, bass; Brandon Wozniak, sax; and JT Bates, drums. For the second set, Steve and his cousin John Davis have a group called Bonkers Electrorchestra, which which sets up a groove while other players drop in and out.
Tuesday, Wednesday, January 27, 28
Diane Reeves @ the Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45 – $65), 9pm ($35 – $50) A headliner at last June’s Twin Cities Jazz Festival, vocalist Reeves was rained out of the main stage and played the Hall at the Amsterdam, where her exciting performance brought the packed house down. She’s a skilled interpreter of lyrics and a scat singer as well, with an attractive voice and personable on-stage presence. Her latest album, Beautiful Life, has been nominated for a 2015 Grammy.
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, January 21
Doug Otto & the Getaways @ Nye’s Polonaise Room, Minneapolis. The side bar at Nye’s has been hosting Wednesday night roots music for quite a while. Doug and his compatriots have been there a few years now, and often welcome guests onto the tiny, tiny stage. Doug has a voice that sounds lived in beyond his years. It’s perfect for 20s & 30s style blues, classic country, and their original tunes as well as some early rock n’ roll.
Steve Sullivan & The Factory @ Bunker’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Sullivan plays guitar and sings rhythm & blues, dirty swing, and other roots music, while the Factory, which includes a 3-piece horn section, provides the muscle and rhythm to get dancers on the floor.
Thursday, January 22
Rockin’ Pinecones @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm. ($5) Let les Bons Temps Rouler! If you’re familiar with Clarence Garlow, Dave Bartholemew, Professor Longhair, and Boozoo Chavis, then you’ll want to be hear as Dan Newton and his quintet play Southern Louisiana music designed to fill dance floors.
Friday, January 23
Dee Miller Band @ Wilebski’s Blues Saloon, Saint Paul. 6pm – 10pm. ($5) The folks at U Wanna Dance are putting on another dance-focused event, and they have the right band to help them out. Miller as leader of the band, is a powerhouse vocalist, which is what you need when you’re performing barrelhouse blues. Paul Mejia on harp, also takes lead on a tune or two. Jimi Primetime Smith provides scorching guitar, and everybody in the audience dances.
Front Porch Swinging Liquor Pigs & the Dead Pigeons @ Palmer’s, Minneapolis. (Tip Jar) Here’s a couple of long time denizen’s of the somewhat infamous bar. The Liquor Pigs have been holding down the 7pm Friday spot ever since the Viking closed down in 2006. You never know quite who will show up, but it will be fun as they mine a rootsy repertoire that ranges from Roger Miller to Elvis to originals. The Dead Pigeons come on at 10pm. They came together during a five year residency at Palmers, and feature Drew Peterson, on guitar, banjo, & vocals; Ryan Douglas Canyon on mandolin and backing vocals; Gretta Hunstiger, fiddle and backing vocals; Andy Caroll or John Reinhart, bass; and Daryn Christensen, drums. They can whip up a fast-paced banjo tune (see below) or sing a sweet ballad, and are just about ready to release a new album this spring.
The Dollys @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($6) This group features Joanna Joahn, Kari Shaw, and Megan Shaw doing the music of The Trio: EmmyLou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt, as well as other female country artists of the 70s through the 90s. They’er backed by a quartet of quality musicians whose collective resume runs from the Rocket Club, Honeydogs and Ashleigh Still to Mick Sterling, Percy Strother, and Chuck Suchy.
Mighty Diamonds @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25) Sweet, sweet harmonies from a vocal trio that was formed in Trenchtown Jamaica back in 1969, and inspired by Motown vocal groups. The Mighty Diamonds had a number of hits in Jamaica in the early 70s, but when Virgin Records signed them and released Right Time in 1975, they achieved international fame. Pass the Kouchie was a big hit for them in 1982, and once the drug references were expunged, became a hit for Musical Youth as Pass the Dutchie. Expect a crowd.
Saturday, January 24
Davina & the Vagabonds @ The Half Time Rec, Saint Paul. 8pm (No Cover) Wow! A new venue for Davina and the guys with a commodious dance floor. And, they’ve got a new kitchen, so you can fortify yourself for the energy you’ll need to dance to Davina. The Paddy Shack, features Fish & Chips, sandwiches, a variety of hot dogs, and the Butcher and The Boar’s Bangers and Mash.
Gospel Machine & Voice of Culture @ A Room With a Vieux, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10?) The pop-up events at what will become the Vieux Carre (Voo Caray) are being billed as A Room With A Vieux. Tonight features Gospel Machine, a quintet that does some “garage gospel” as well as original material in the vein of Sam Cooke, Nina Simone, and Otis Redding. Judging by the below video from their debut album, Gospel Machine will gain fans across generations. Vocals are handled by Jayanthi Kyle, of Black Audience, while group founder Wes Burdine is on guitars; Jimmy Osterholt, bass; Scott Munson, keys; and David Osborn, drums. Voice of Culture, a drumming and dance group led by Kenna Cottman., opens at 9pm.
Singer Songwriter XTRAV 10 @ the Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10pm ($10) This is the finale of 10 events during the past year featuring Twin Cities artists, giving attendees a chance to hear a wide variety of genres and artists. There are 10 acts tonight, including fiddler Jillian Rae, Jenny Dalton, battery boy, Phanton Tails, Courtney Yasmineh w/JJ Benson, and more.
Monday, January 26
DL Cajun Band @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($?) So, here you have five midwestern musicians who have developed a love for Cajun music, specifically the kind that was played before electricity came to the Bayous, when Saturday night dances were the main form of entertainment each week. Doug Lohman, guitar; John Terr, accordion; Mary DuShane, fiddle; Dawn Doering, triangle and snare; and Eric Paulson, bass. Each is a veteran of various bands, and can play in numerous acoustic genres, though the infectious rhythms of Cajun music have proven to be a uniting force.
Tuesday, January 27
Nikki & the RueMates @ Day Block Brewing, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (No Cover) Day Block Brewing is celebrating their one year anniversary with a week of events, and tonight they have Nikki & the RueMates You have Nikki’s marvelous voice, Rich Rue’s inventive guitar work, discounts on their brews, raffles, and food. What’s not to like?
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.