Greetings and salutations;
For many, this is a hectic, if joyful, time of year, as families and friends gather to celebrate various, but mostly, Christmas traditions. I’ve been informed by Santa, aka Davis Wilson, that many of the world’s 5000 religions have celebrations of one sort or another during this season, as we go from Winter Solstice to ever-increasing days of light. Whether your celebrations include worship services, lighting candles, special food, storytelling, feats of strength, gathering outside, helping at homeless shelters, or even toy trains, accept my wish for a happy and fulfilling holiday. There are plenty of opportunities to relax and/or rejuvenate with music, which of course, lifts the spirit.
Wednesday, December 23
Retro Swing Sister @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm – 11pm ($5) Retro-Style Swing with a modern twist from Maryann Sullivan and Rhonda Laurie. There’ll be some dancing, oh yes, there will. Listen to some samples of their singing here.
George Maurer Group Holiday Show @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7 pm ($15) The Saint Cloud-based jazz pianist rightfully calls himself a collaborated, since he’s composed movie scores, and worked with Eric Clapton, and many Twin Cities vocalists, among others. His holiday show at the Dakota, which features a six piece band plus a second vocalist, is always a hit. Here’s some examples.
Cold Fusion @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation, students free with valid ID) This is a project from saxophonist Pete Whitman who’s recruited Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Chris Olson, guitars; Ron Evanuik, bass; and Reid Kennedy drums; to swing on originals and straight ahead compositions.
Thursday, December 24
Swingbeat Big Band @ Wabasha Caves, Saint Paul. 7pm – 11pm ($7 cash) There may not be much happening for music tonight, but don’t despair. If you’ve wrapped all your presents, prepped all your cooking, (even if you haven’t) and are ready to let off steam, the swing dance scene at Wabasha Caves has you covered, and the Swingbeat Big Band will set your toes tapping.
Friday – Monday, December 25 – 28
The Bad Plus @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($40) Though based in New York, this trio is originally from the Midwest. In fact, drummer Dave King still lives here in the Twin Cities. When they first did a show at the old Dakota, around the turn of the Century, King, along with pianist Ethan Iverson and bassist Reid Kennedy, had just recorded an album which subsequently received a rave review in the New York Times. Since that $5 show, booked because all three were home of the holidays, the Bad Plus has recorded ten CDs and traveled the world headlining major clubs and generally causing some jazz fans heads to explode while bringing a whole new audience to the genre. Two examples of what critics say. From Rolling Stone: “It’s about as badass as highbrow gets.” From The New York Times: “Better than anyone at mixing the sensibilities of post-60s jazz and indie rock…”
Saturday, December 26
Judi Vinar w/the Wolverines Quartet @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30 – 10:30pm. (No Cover) So, you’re stuffed with food and don’t want to cook. And, perhaps, you’re in need of some time outside the house. Here’s the answer, Vocalist Judi Vinar (Judi Donaghy) will sing for you, with the help of Jundeen Forberg, drums; Steve Pikal, bass; Rick Carlson, piano; and Doug Haining, sax. Here she is with a big band.
Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Opening set by Iron Chops: Jon Wood, guitar; Dave Brattain, saxes; Mac Santiago, drums; and Graydon Peterson, bass. Then a very special edition of FRAMEWORK: Chris Olson guitar; Chris Bates bass; Jay Epstein drums, will be playing their originals and selected covers with special guest Steve Kenny on Flumpet.
Monday, December 28
Edmund Caitlin Trio, featuring Levi Schwartzberg and Charlie Lincoln @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Here’s a trio of young players: Leader Edmund Caitlin, drums; Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; and Charlie Lincoln, bass. Despite (or due to) the fact that they aren’t old enough to drink yet, they can improvise, compose, and arrange with ease. Tonight they’re playing music from the universe of Thelonious Monk.
JT Bates Release Party @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) JT is releasing his long awaited solo project, “Open Relationships.” Though primarily a solo project, written and performed by JT, it has a few contributions from guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker and electronic/noise artist Mark McGee. 1st Set: Mankwe Ndosi + Davu Seru. 2nd Set: JT Bates Open Relationships. 3rd Set: Padhandlers (Ryan Olson and James Buckley)
Tuesday, December 29
Jake Baldwin Quartet @ The Dunsmore Room in Crooners, Fridley. 7pm ($15 Minimum p/p) The Dunsmore Room is proving to be an ideal place to listen to jazz. Baldwin is a young trumpet player who has been making a name for himself about town since graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music a couple of years ago. He plays in a variety of bands and combos, including R&B, Brass Bands, and the Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra. It’s in jazz, though, where he shines. Joining him tonight are three musicians with whom he’s worked a lot: Ted Godbout, piano; Ted Olsen, bass; and Andres Crovetti, drums. Here’s Jake in a recital when still in school.
For a comprehensive listing of Jazz go to the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar. KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and roots music. For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs, Jazz Police, Jazz Ink, and Bebopified.
Blues, Roots, Other…
Wednesday, December 23
The Social Animals on KFAI and at The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 and 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club, Tip Jar) This Portland quartet recently finished an album produced by Steve Berlin, of Los Lobos, a good choice for their indie/Americana sound. Their website bio abounds with funny sarcasm, though their lyrics more straight-forwardly address relationships and the vicissitudes of a relatively young life.
Katy Vernon’s Holiday Residency @ the Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. ($8) Tonight the charming singer/songwriter will feature Jake Rowan on uke and vocals. I had the two of them on my show this past Saturday, which you can hear by going here. They’ll be joined by a couple of more friends to play Christmas music, as well as some non-seasonal music, and conduct an Ugly Sweater Contest with the audience. Check out Katy’s simple, yet effective version of a Beatles song.
A Trashy Little Christmas @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20 Advance) After so many years at Lee’s Liquor Lounge, the honky tonkin’ Trailer Trash has had to move it’s weekly X-mas shows to a variety of venues. The Eagles Club should provide plenty of room for dancing and commandeering the Candy Cane. Advance tickets are available on the website.
Friday, December 25
Deano and the Dinosaurs @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8pm (Tip Jar) Cool out at the end of a hectic day with the solid stylings of under-appreciated guitarist Dean Mikkelson, who will be joined by drummer Dehl Gallagher, bassist Josh Granowski, and fellow plectorist Dean Harrington for an evening of blues and perhaps a bit of jazz standards. Bring your ID if you want adult beverages.
Mambo’s Combo @ Bunker’s, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) Dance off the food you’ve eaten early in the day with the solid Soul, Funk, and danceable rock from this long-lived band that always delivers, and always has guests get up and play.
Saturday, December 26
The Escape Claus @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Tip Jar) The colorful-sneaker-wearing Dean Mikkelson returns to Merlin’s for a second night, this time with a different group of musical treasures. I’ve listed a possible name for the group, but it could change. Nevertheless, it includes guitarist Bobby E, as well as Cody McKinney, bass; and Pete Hennig, on drums. With this much talent, you’re sure to have a good time, especially considering the wide variety of beers and Irish Whiskeys that Merlin carries. Be sure to have your ID.
Mick Sterling and the Stud Brothers @ Bunker’s, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) Mick Sterling and his ten-piece band present some blue-eyed soul that will have you dancing.
The Irish Brigade @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 9pm (Tip Jar) It’s less than three months to Saint Patrick’s Day. Start appreciating Irish music now in a venue that couldn’t be better suited to the sound of this duo.
Saturday, Sunday, December 26, 27
Victorian Christmas Carols @ The JJ Hill House, Saint Paul. 6pm – 8:30pm ($12) Costumed singers explore the rise of Christmas Carols during the 19th Century. There’s light refreshments and tours following the one-hour concert. You can find more information here.
Sunday, December 27
Gang of Mischief @ Neumann’s Bar, North Saint Paul. 4pm (tip jar) Papa John Kolstad, Harold Tremblay, and their bluesy, rootsy friends help you while away the afternoon at the oldest continually operating bar in the state.
Pat Donahue @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 8pm ($15) Donahue is a champion finger-picker whose tunes have been recorded by Chet Atkins, Suzy Boguss, and Kenny Rogers. He spent 20 years as the house guitarist on the Prairie Home Companion, and had Wynton Marsalis sit in with him and the Guys All Star Shoe Band in Berlin. More recently, he recorded a cool blues album with Butch Thompson. At any moment he might be playing blues, folk, or jazz, or some combination of the three.
Tuesday, Wednesday, December 29,30
The New Standards @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($30 – $40) This trio has really gained fans and raves since they debuted about ten years ago (their new CD is called Decade) and started playing acoustic/jazzy versions of hits from 80s, and now also breathe life into unexpectedly modern songs. Chan Poling, piano (Suburbs); John Munson, bass (Semisonic, and Trip Shakespeare); and Steve Roehm, vibes (Billygoat, Electropolis); found a winning formula. Their annual holiday shows with guests from throughout the music industry sell out at local concert halls sell out.
Wednesday, December 30
The Eddies on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 and 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club, Tip Jar) Perhaps the last tradition of the year. Saint Paul’s Eddies cross the river to appear on Harold Tremblay’s House Party and then head over to the 331 Club to sing 5 part a cappella harmonies on sea chanties, and easy-to-sing-along favorites, from the Rolling Stones to Billy Joe Royal, and Bob Marley.