Music Not for Fools: 3.30 – 4.5

imagesFriday is April Fools Day, with a couple of appropriate shows, but for the most part there is nothing foolish about our music scene, which is so rich in talent over a variety of genres. We even have some outstanding visiting artists this week. With the weather approaching real Spring temps, it’s a good time to get out and hear some music, which will undoubtedly lift your spirits.


Wednesday, March 30

Steve Kimmel, Gary Byers, & Gary Shulte @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10) Wednesdays are a bit more experimental than other nights at this basement studio/performance space. Tonight features Steve Kimmel, a long time veteran of the Twin Cities music community, on piano and percussion; versatile violinist Gary Shulte; and cellist Greg Byers. Here’s Kimmel having some fun on vibes.

Byron Johnson-Blanchard Trio @ Barbette, Minneapolis. 10pm (No Cover) Johnson-Blanchard is a drummer with a number of funk/R&B bands in town, but for the past year or so he’s led this trio with the ever inventive Park Evans on guitar and Josh Granowski on bass. So you have some fine jazz to listen to during Barbette’s great lat night happy hour. You can hear songs by the trio here.

Thursday, March 31

McNally Smith Singer Showcase @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10) The best and brightest young vocal students from McNally Smith.

Potash Twins @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($12) NPR called them the “Twin Horns of Joy.” The trombone/trumpet duo have caught the ears of such notables as Wynton Marsalis, and Jon Faddis, Chris Botti, and Gregory Porter, among others, and have played at Birdland, SXSW, and Warren Buffet’s Annual Shareholder meeting! As young as they are (early 20s), their music nods towards pop, but is at its heart, jazz, plain and simple. Here’s an example:

Friday, April 1

Paul Harper’s Chordless Quartet @ Public Kitchen, Saint Paul. 9pm (Tip Jar) Friday Night at the Reverie in Minneapolis is on hiatus as it moves to Thursday nights in May. In the meantime, bands that were scheduled are being moved to different venues, including the Public, across the street from Mears Park in Lowertown. Saxophonist Harper  along with Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Tom Lewis, bass; and Matt Buckner on drums will explore originals by Harper and Kenny, as well as music by Joe Henderson, Thelonious Monk, and more. Here are Harper and Kenny performing with the Illicit Sextet, which does have chorded instruments.

Friday, Saturday, April 1, 2

Dave King Trio @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) King is the genre-crossing drummer best known for stints with avant jazz, pop, and Americana groups. Tonight he takes the stage with Bill Carrothers  piano; and Billy Peterson  bass; to play jazz standards, though the combination of these three outstanding musicians may take the songs slightly beyond “standard.”  Here’s an extended clip from a performance in Italy a couple of years ago.

Saturday, April 2

Sophia Shorai @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) The Friday evening crowds at Crooners are looking for a good time. Ms Shorai, with her sweet voice, sharp emotive instincts, and talented band, should make it easy for the crowd to enjoy themselves.

Maud Hixon: What Would Doris Do? @ Bloomington Center for the Arts, Bloomington. 7:30pm  ($27 Adults; $24 Seniors; $20 Students) Ms Hixson has impeccable phrasing and very good taste in the songs she presents. Tonight she examines the music of Doris Day, who started with big bands, and had a successful solo and movie career. With the ever swinging Wolverines Trio. Here she is with piano accompaniment by Rick Carlson, of the Wolverines.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Curator Steve Kenny often has a young group to start out this Saturday Night tradition, and tonight is no exception. Opening act is The Dark Blue Quartet, with Thomas Strommen, saxes; Dylan Nelson, guitar; Jason McLean, bass; and Alex Burgess, drums.  Both Burgess and Strommen have proven themselves in Kenny’s Group 47, so it will be interesting to catch them in another setting. Headliner at 8:30pm is Courageous Endeavors, a young-ish group that achieved some local popularity until leader/bassist Brian Courage left for NYC. He’s back visiting and will be perfuming with Nelson Devereaux, sax; Joe Strachan, Fender Rhodes; and Miguel Hurtado, drums. Listen to their music here.

Sunday, April 3

Jazz Lunch with the Century Jazz Ensemble @ Jethro’s Char House & Pub, 3140 Century Ave, Mahtomedi. 2-4pm (no cover) While away a Sunday afternoon having lunch while listening to some swinging music from the Ensemble.

Sunday, Monday, April 3,4

SF Jazz Collective: the Music of Michael Jackson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 – $45), 9pm ($25 – $35)  This is an All-Star octet  in the best sense of the word, brought together each year to explore the music of a particular composer, from John Coltrane, to Ornette Coleman, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Stevie Wonder. This year’s group includes Miguel Zenon, alto; David Sanchez, tenor; Avishai Cohen, trumpet; Robin Eubanks, trombone; Warren Wolf, vibes; Edward Simon, piano; Matt Penmanm, bass; and Obed Calvaire, drums. Their interpretations have proven to be illuminating in the past, and I’m excited to hear what they’ll do with the music of Michael Jackson. Here’s an example.

Monday, April 4

Riley Helgeson @ Jazz Central, Minneapols. 8:30pm ($10) Trumpeter Riley Helgeson takes a night off from the McNasty Brass Band to stretch out. As usual, there’ll be a jam session after Helgeson’s set. Examples of his work can be found here.

For more listings, KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and roots music.   For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs, Jazz PoliceJazz Ink, and Bebopified.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, March 30

Javier & The Way Back @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) Javier Matos, guitar, vocals, harmonica; Michael Carvale, upright bass; Grant Wibben, drums. This trio explores all kinds of music from the cultures around this nation: blues, swing, Americana, and more. Here’s Javier with his more well known band – the Innocent Sons.

Wednesday, March 30 – Sunday, April 3

A Night With Janis Joplin @ The Ordway Theater, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($34 – $101), 2pm Saturday and Sunday ($34 – $110) Mary Bridget Davies does an excellent job of conveying the power and emotion of Janis Joplin’s singing in this jukebox musical. There’s no plot, just Davies as Joplin singing and talking a little bit about her early life and the power of the blues. She’s given outstanding help from the band as well as four exceptional female singers who portray some of her inspirations, including Bessie Smith, Odetta, Etta James, and the Chantels. Listen for yourself.

Thursday, March 31

Shannon Mac Band @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) The guys in the Mystic Order of Reverb and Twang were looking around for a new spark to their music and found it in Shannon Mac  She’s a firecracker of a singer, whether attacking Rockabilly, foot stomping R& B, or good ol’ Rock & Roll.

Doug MacLeod @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($20) This blues troubadour is a singer/songwriter/guitarist with great chops who writes about life experiences that relate to many of us. MacLeod has won both the 2014 Blues Music Awards as Acoustic Artist of the Year and for Acoustic Album of the year. He was nominated again in 2015, and his latest release “Exactly Like This” has received glowing reviews.

Friday, April 1

Local Hermits and Papa John Kolstad @ Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5?) Things get off to a rockin’ start with the garage rock of the Local Hermits: music by T Rex, The Stones, The Flaming Groovies and more. Then at 9pm, the wry, former mayoral candidate, Papa John Kolstad steps up to entertain with some blues, jazz, and occasional stories.

Momentary Lapse of Floyd @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 9pm ($12advance/$15 Door) It’s music for Sci-Fi Fans and others, as The Dark Side of the Moon meets 2001: A Space Odyssey. A live band will perform the Pink Floyd album in its entirety while syncing the music to a screening of the 1968 classic movie. There will be two sets of Dark Side material as well as other songs from Pink Floyd’s catalog. The band includes musicians from The Big Wu, Kung Fu Hippies, the Last Waltz; and Nicholas David. Here’s the band doing a Pink Floyd song from Wish You Were Here.

Dap Squad @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) Here’s a funky variety band that can go from the Doobie Brothers to Daft Punk.  Each member of this ensemble has toured with or shared the stage with such artists as Prince, the Commodores, Pearl Jam, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, to Harry Connick Jr and Wynton Marsalis. Here’s a promo video

April Fools on April Fools @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7) Rock, twangy country, pop, and blues from Brian Drake, lead vocals and guitar; Clay Williams, guitar; Ben Kaplan, drums; and Scott Hreha, bass.

Saturday, April 2

Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7 – includes a free beverage) If you’re looking for a rompin’ stompin’ evening of take-no-prisoners blues, then Famous Dave’s is the place to be tonight. Lil’ Ed plays slide guitar with a ferocity that’s hard to match, no less beat.

Sunday, April 3

Taiko Lab @ Bedlam Theater Lowertown, Saint Paul. 2pm, 7pm ($10) Like the sound of big drums? You may want to explore the drumming and theater of the Taiko Lab, featuring the drummers Mu Daiko. They will present the evolution of ideas presented in last year’s lab, as well as a host of brand new pieces. Their work uses fue melodies, Japanese folk dance, tai-chi movement and heart pounding rhythms to stretch the melodic and choreographic elements of taiko.

Tuesday, April 5

Acoustic Africa featuring Habib Koite, and Vusi Mahlasela @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($35) The Cedar continues to prove that when it comes to world musics, it’s unmatched. Tonight the rich traditions of African Voice and Song will be explored by two beloved singers: Habib Koite  and Vusi Mahlasela  Koite is a Malian guitarist and composer named by Rolling Stone was the biggest pop star of the region,selling over 250,000 albums worldwide.  Mahlasela, from South Africa, has appeared in town a couple of times, to the delight of his audiences. He played at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, and has served as an official ambassador to Mandela’s HIV/AIDS initiative. Mahlasela’s voice at times recalls Sam Cooke, but it’s his message of hope for his apartheid-scarred country that resonates around the world.

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.

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