Twin Cities Music: 10.17 – 10.23

October 17, 2018

Once again we’ve a nice mix of visiting, resident, emerging, and veteran artists to inspire us, entertain us, and lift us up. Whether you’re interested in any of the many styles of jazz, and roots, or even a hip-hop musical, this week you are bound to find some music to lift your spirits!

Jazz

Wednesday, October 17

The Three “Ds” @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($15) Here’s a trio of female jazz musicians who were kicking’ it for years before the formation of The Girls. Tonight, Debbie Duncan and Judy Donaghy Vinar, vocals, team up with Lori Dokken  piano, to deliver some old favorites, such as Sweet Inspirationand Steam Heat, and perhaps some soon-to-befavorites. Here are Dokken & Vinar, with another group.

The Vote Nov 6th Ensemble @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Vote for jazz tonight as Brandon Wozniak, saxes; Mike Wolter, guitar; and Pete Hennig, drums; play music to inspire you.

Thursday, October 18

Dan & Reuben Ristrom @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 5:30-8:30pm (Free) The Father/Son duo of Dan, bassist, vocalist, and leader of The Big Throwdown; and his father Reuben, a Twin Cities jazz guitarist about town for decades; makes for a fun and charming evening covering a variety of music styles.

Jiselle McCollam Jazz Cult @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5w/student ID) I believe this is a relatively new group, though McCollam has sung at Jazz Central with duo accompaniment before. Featuring McCollam, vocals; with Matt Calloipe, trumpet; Joe Twohy, piano; Shannon van der Reck, bass; and Robb Later, drums. They perform jazz standards, with the occasional contemporary tune.

Friday, October 19

Sinatra! @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm ($25, $30) Andrew Walesch brings his popular Sinatra show, complete with a big band, to the main stage at Crooners. Walesch croons in a way that evokes Sinatra without imitating him, aided and abetted by great charts from saxophonist Bob Parsons.

Ahmed & The Creators @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Straight-ahead and hard bop jazz from Ahmed AbdulKarim, trumpet; Dale Alexander, piano; James “Jimmyapolis” Wallace, tenor; Ted Olson, bass; and Pete James Johnson, drums.

Friday, Saturday, October 19, 20

David Sanborn Quintet @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40, $50, $60), 9pm ($30, $40, $50) Saxophonist Sanborn has led on 24 albums and played with countless musicians.  He was the host of the very hip TV show called Night Music, played with the Butterfield Blues Band, toured with Stevie Wonder and David Bowie, and has collaborated with Bill Frisell, Charlie Hayden, Christian McBride, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton, among others. He’s garnered six Grammys, eight gold albums and one platinum. Along with an early influence, the late alto sax player Hank Crawford, Sanborn has won fans for both his jazz and R&B work. He’ll be accompanied by the cream of today’s players: Michael Deese, trombone; Geoffrey Keezer, piano; James Genus, bass; and Billy Killson, drums.

Saturday, October 20

Benny Weinbeck Trio @ Normandy Kitchen and Bar, Minneapolis. 7pm – 10pm (No Cover) Its well over a year since Weinbeck  piano; Gordy Johnson, bass; and Phil Hey, drums; played as a trio with any regularity, so this is a welcome opportunity toner these outstanding artists.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) 7:00 Opening Set by The Sarah Greer QuartetSarah Greer  vocals; with Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; Chris Bates, bass;  and Davu Seru, percussion. At 8:30pm it’s Tall Tales, with two of the more inventive and versatile guitarists in town backed by a crisp rhythm section:  ​Dean Granros &  Zacc Harris; Guitars; Jay Epstein, Drums; and Chris Bates, Bass.

Sunday, October 21

2018 Cabaret Fest @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 5pm ($15), 7:30pm ($15) The intimate Dunsmore Room is a terrific setting for this festival, featuring over twenty vocalists from the Twin Cities Cabaret Artists Network (TCCAN) with experience on the Twin Cities’ jazz, pop, musical theatre and concert stages. The first set features Joey Babay, Sara Truesdale, and Rikki Gee, among others, while some of the performers in the second set include Les Block, Dorothy Doring, Jennifer Eckes, and Vicky Mountain. This will certainly be an eclectic mix of tales and tunes.

Monday, October 22

JazzMN & Stigers: Sinatra & Basie @ The Chanhassen Dinner Theater, Chanhassen. 5:30 Dinner, 7:30 Show ($35 – $50) It was about a year ago that vocalist and saxophonist Curtis Stigers had the JazzMN Orchestra back him up at the Dakota for an evening of songs by Sinatra and Basie. Tonight they’re taking the concept a bit farther, playing the music from the Sinatra/Basie classic, Live at the Sands.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, October 17

Pine Hearts on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3FM),7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Three part harmonies on top of guitar, mandolin, and bass from this Olympia WA trio that plays bluegrass and country classics.

Border CrosSing: 500 Years of Latin American Music @ the Landmark Center’s Weyerhauser Auditorium, Saint Paul. 7pm – 8pm ($10, $5 Students & children) Border CrosSing is a vocal ensemble that presents educational concerts in classrooms throughout Minnesota. This family concert (children under 5 are free) brings music and stories from the last 500 years of Latin American music into the 21st century.

Thursday, October 18

Rebecca Hass CD Release Party @ MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) Pianist/composer Rebecca Hass has had a decades-long infatuation with Brazilian music. In fact, she joined the Brazilian percussion group Batucada do Norte in 2006, and her years as a percussionist have helped inform her compositions. She’s celebrating the release of her debut album, Florescer, which includes original compositions and arrangements in Brazilian styles such as sambas, choros, baiãos, and maracatus. Tonight’s show features guest musicians Tim O’Keefe, percussion; Jenny Klukken, marimba; and Laura Harada, violin.

Left Lane Cruiser, Dustin Arbuckle & The Damnations, Fret Rattles @ The Hook & Ladder, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($12 Advance/$15 Door) It’s a night of Deep Blues and raw rock n’ roll, with each band being recorded live for an album release. Left Lane Cruiser first caught the ears of area blues and punk fans during Deep Blues Festivals of yore. Dustin Arbuckle was half of Moreland and Arbuckle, but now has a full band to explorers interests in early blues, the Americana of The Band, and Stax-influenced soul. The Twin Cities’ Fret Rattles take a stripped-down approach to rock n’ roll.

Friday October 19

BeauSoleil @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 7pm ($30, $40), 9pm ($25, $35) BeauSoleil may have just been the spark that created interest in Cajun music 40 years ago. Driven by bandleader Michael Doucet’s vision and extraordinary fiddle playing, not to forget his heartfelt vocals, BeauSoleil has always managed to bring staid Minnesota audiences to an exuberant frenzy, what with their ability to distill elements of blues, rock, Swamp Pop, Zydeco, and more into their sound. This is a rare opportunity to see them isn a small club, while having some Cajun and New Orleans food at the same time.

American Housewife @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 8pm ($20) Female harmonies, crunchy guitars, and hooks-a-plenty make for a 21st century take on 60s pop and it’s descendent, 80s power pop. American Housewife is: Stephanie Paquin, bass & lead vocals; Maureen Rudd, guitar & blacking vocals; Geoff Schodde, guitar; and Reese Kling, drums. Belfast-born, Minnesota-based guitarist/songwriter Leslie Rich opens, with a cocktail hour starting at 7pm.

Blue Yodel No. 9 @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 8pm (Tip Jar) With a name that comes from the classic Jimmie Rogbers tune from 1930, this trio draws from artists like the Delmore Brothers, Jimmy Reed, Bob Willis, and Hank Williams. The Blue Yodelers are: John Whitehead, guitar, mandolin, banjo, & vocals; John, bass, vocals; and Ross Johnson, guitars, harmonica, and vocals.

Saturday, October 20

Rena Haus @ Dusty’s, NE Minneapolis. 9:30pm (Tip Jar) Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter/Farmer Rena Haus can roll off double entendres about fixing a car as well as protest songs, classic blues, and occasional rock classics, not to mention a surprise jazz tune or two. She’s ably abetted by brother Bob on bass, and unsung guitar hero Ed Petsche.

Bound for Glory Anniversary Celebration @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 6pm ($25) It’s still the 75th Anniversary of the publication of Woody Guthrie’s book, Bound for Glory, and if you didn’t catch any of the previous sold-out show, hurry for tickets to hear veteran West bank stalwarts, Charlie MaguirePop Wagner, and Tony Glover.

Monday, October 22

Hooked on Hamilton @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $35, $40) Now that the mega-hit Hamilton has come and gone to our fair cities, here’s a chance to hear some of that musical’s biggest hits, performed by the inestimable T. Michael Rambo and a dozen or so of emerging and established vocal artists from the area. Here’s hoping they perform My Shot, Wait For It, You’ll Be Back, and Helpless.

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.


The Nayo Jones Interview

October 11, 2018

Nayo Jones at the 2018 Twin Cities Jazz Festival.

Nayo Jones is a Chicago- born vocalist who grew up in a musical family and is now based in New Orleans. She performs with her own group, “The Nayo Jones Experience,” in addition to touring with Kermit Ruffins as a featured vocalist. Twin Cities audiences were first exposed to Ms Jones at the 2018 Twin Cities Jazz Festival. Her dynamic, soul-filled performance of standards like Saint James Infirmary and My Favorite Thingsearned her four standing ovations from thousands of people who had never heard of her. At one emotional point, a gust of wind caused the sleeves of her flowing dress to spread out like wings to the delight of the crowd. Jones will be returning to the Twin Cities for an appearance at the Fall Jazz Festivalbeing held at Crooners Lounge and Supper Club in Fridley on Sunday, October 14th. She’ll perform at 2:30 in the large Lounge, and 7:30 in the intimate Dunsmore Room. The following interview took place after her June performance.

I understand you grew up listening to a lot of jazz because your dad is jazz a jazz player. Were there any artists in particular that caught your ear that made you say that’s what I want to do?

Dinah Washington – Nayo’s favorite

I want to say none in particular –  not until I began singing, and that wasn’t until many years later, because I played flute, and I would play jazz but I never sang. And so the first voice I had listened to several – my dad told me to listen to this and this and that. And then Dinah Washington  – her voice just resonated with me when I started really studying female jazz vocalists and to this day she probably is my favorite.

So when you choose songs for your repertoire what do you look for? 

Lyrics mean a lot to me so that every song that I shared today, every song that I ever share, whenever I perform, the song does something for me, it moves me, I believe that if I can feel a song and if the song moves me than I have the ability to move the crowd.

That’s certainly apparent. You did a couple of originals what are the names of those?

One is Imagine, which I wrote several years ago. It’s never been done, at least produced properly so I think we’re going to go in the studio on record that.  There was really a good reception for that song and it came back to me because you know it’s a lot of negative things going on in the world today and I just believe in the power of dreaming, loving, and imagination and that song means a lot to me. Product of the Mind, the second one, also came back for the same reasoning: we can change the world. There’s a co-writer on Product of the Mind Her name is Naomi Imeke. 

You did a good job of firing up the audience today. How do you figure out how and when to do that?

Thank you. This is going to sound very, very quirky but I can feel the energy. I really can. I can kind of tell if they need me to ease them into it, or if I can come out guns blazing and I did that today. I knew that I would be able to do that because of seeing how the crowd just responded to the music last night . Sometimes I can’t see faces and I can’t see exactly what’s happening in as far as people smiling, but I could see smiles on there tonight, and I could see people swaying, and crying and that let me know how far I could go. 

You have recordings?

I have several actually on ITunes. I have a Christmas album of which I’m still very, very proud. It’s one of my older projects but I’m still certainly proud of that project. Product of the Mind is actually on My Name is Nayo. That’s an R&B album.  OK You would never know it’s me because it’s a totally different energy than what I do on stage now because it’s an older album also. OK But yeah you can find me on ITunes

What are your future plans? Any CDs in the offering?

Yes we are going to start recording more original music. I’m very excited about the future. as I just started collaborating with The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. I’ve done a few shows with them, t.hat’s a twenty-piece band. Working with them and to have that opportunity come my way has been a dream come true.  So you’ll see more with me with the New Orleans Jazz. Orchestra in the future.. 

Finally, what would what do you think is the most important lesson you learned from your dad? 

The first thing, and I always tell people, when I started singing and when he realized that “I think she’s going to do this for real,” he said, “Always do it because you love it, don’t do it for the money. And to this day that’s why I do it. He said, “The money will come. Just do it because you love it.” It’s a labor of love. 

Thank you for your time.

 THANK YOU SO MUCH.


Indoor Music: 10.10 – 10.16

October 10, 2018

Well Fall is surely here with temps in the 50s and lots of dreary days, so our thoughts turn to indoor events such as the Fall Jazz Fest and a Women’s Composers Festival, both of which are on Sunday afternoon. We’ve some notable visiting artists in jazz and roots music, and of course, great resident artists to see and hear. Music Lifts the Spirit!

Jazz

Wednesday, October 10

Russell Malone @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm $30, $35), 9pm ($25) Chicago guitarist Malone can swing like crazy or caress a ballad. You can read an interview I did with him a few years ago here.

House on Fire @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Here’s an intriguing evening featuring a collection of songs inspired by these times and written by Chris Hepola, keys; with Paul Fonfara, clarinets; Spencer Roth, trumpet; and Eric Shruve, bass.

Thursday, October 11

Joey Alexander Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40, $45, $50), 9pm ($35, $40, $45) You may have seen this young piano player a few years ago at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, but he’s now 15, and still the brightest star in the jazz firmament.

Fat Kid Wednesdays @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul.11:30pm – 1am ($20) FKW  as been together for almost twenty years, but don’t play too often these days. The 9pm show is sold out, and this show may be sold out by the time you get this, but is a rare chance to hear the trio of: JT Bates, drums; Adam Linz, bass; and Michael Lewis, sax. You can read a New Yorker review of their show from a few years ago here.

Friday, October 12

Miss Myra & the Moonshiners @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm ($10) Traditional jazz and blues still has the power to uplift folks, at least as practiced by vocalist/guitarist Miss Myra and her merry band of Moonshiners. Sure to be a hit with the Friday night crowd at Crooners.

Tribute to Bird & Dizzy @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID)  Saxophonist Aaron Hedenstrom & trumpeter  Omar Abdulkarim bring Dizzy & Bird into the 21st Century.

Saturday, October 13

Saturday Night Jazz @ the Blackdog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) 7pm: JazzInk Showcase with the Eli Zukor-Zimmerman Quartet.  At 8:30pm, the Ted Olsen Quartet headlines, with Ted Olsen, bass; Aaron Hedenstrom, saxes; and others TBD.

Steve Hobert & Marcus Wise @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm – 9:30pm. ($10, $5w/Student ID) Pianist Hobert  as been playing to his strengths in collaborations that often have world music influences. Tonight he teams up with veteran tabla player Marcus Wise.

Sunday, October 14

Twin Cities Fall Jazz Festival @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 1pm – 8:30pm ($35 – $90) It’s eight shows on two stages. Vocalist Nayo Jones was a sensation at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival last June, receiving five standing ovations during the course of her show. She’s the headliner today, appearing from 2:30 – 4pm in Crooners’ Lounge and then from 7:30 – 8:30 in the Dunsmore Room. Also on the bill are the Southside Aces w/Butch Thompson, The Acme Jazz Company featuring Butch Miles, The TannerTaylor Trio, Connie Evingson and Debbie Duncan with Dave Karr, Butch Miles, and Andrew Walesch, and Lucia Newell’s Brazilian Trio.

Monday, October 15

Thomasina Petrus Sings Lady Day @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. ($25) Petrus channels Holiday like no one else.

For more listings, KBEM has a calendar of jazz and roots events, while the Jazz Police features commentary, reviews, and previews of jazz in the Twin cities and beyond.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, October 10

Ian Alexi and the Deserters on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Longtime listeners of Harold’s House Party will recall Ian Alexi from his days with the Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, and other visits to the House Party. Now, however, Alexi’s music has taken a turn from the bluegrass/Americana Nephews to a more rockin’ style. He still writes about misfit characters, but the music was inspired by vinyl recordings of folks like the Pretenders, Thin Lizzy, and Tom Petty. Tune in, and head to the 331 if you’re inspired by what you hear.

Dee Miller Band @ Mancini’s, Saint Paul. 7pm – 10pm (No Cover) The old-school lounge of Mancini’s has been rockin’ on Wednesdays this fall. Tonight they feature the Dee Miller Band  which has been raising the roof themselves since vocalist Miller was recently named Performer of the Year by the MN Blues Society, and the whole band was chosen to represent MN at the International Blues Challenge in January.

Amy Helm @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($20 Advance/$25 Door) The daughter of The Band’s Levon Helm is making her own musical way quite nicely, singing Americana, gospel, and blues. Helm just released This Too Shall Light, on Yep Roc Records.  It was produced by Grammy-winning Joe Henry, and features a wide variety of songs, from Rod Stewart’s Mandolin Wind, to Allen Toussaint’s Freedom for the Stallion, a pre-Band song of her father’s, and a reflection on Blossom Dearie.

Thursday, October 11

RAMM Band @ Moe’s, Moundsview. 6:30pm – 10pm (No Cover) Every Thursday night is BBQ & Blues night at Moe’s. Tonight its The RAMM Band: Real, American Made Music f(Motown, Blues, R&B) from guitar master Paul Mayasich; John Iden, bass; and Donald “Hye Pockets” Robertson.

Forro Night w/Samba Meu @ Can Can Wonderland, Saint Paul. 6pm – 8pm  ($2) Brazilian country dancing is easy enough if you can do a two-step or are willing to take part in a multi-culti square dance. Dance instructors will be on hand and Samba Meu will provide the music. Afterwards you can take part in the many diversions at Can Can Wonderland, including mini-golf.

Saturday, October 13

Craig Clark Band @ Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Tip Jar) Blues guitarist Clark grew up singing gospel music and listening to groups like the Mighty Clouds of Joy, which undoubtedly influences to his soulful singing. He’s a spark plug, whether playing in the Dee Miller Band or heading his own group, as he does tonight.

R-Factor’s Prince Tribute @ Birch’s Brewhouse, Long Lake. 8pm – 11:30 (No Cover) With six singers and eight musicians and a repertoire that makes them a popular wedding band, the R-Factor has both the vocal chops and musicianship to do right by Prince songs. Birch’s is a bit West, but for those of you in the Western ‘burbs, and others wailing to make the drive, this will be a fun evening.

Sunday, October 14

Women Composers Festival @ The Black Forest Inn, Minneapolis. 3pm-4:30pm ($?) An afternoon of music by women composers, including Maura Bosch, Kari Tweiten, Sarah Houle, Missy Mizzoli, Shulamit Ran, & Julie Sweet. Flutist Julie Johnson will be performing an excerpt from  her composition “Crocus Hill Ghost Story,” with narration by KrisAnne Weiss.

Eric Gales Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40) When guitarist Gales released his first album at the age of 16, he was  already being compared to Hendrix. That was in 1991, and since then he’s released 15 albums. Though often called an average singer, he more than makes up for that with electrifying playing, drawing on influences from the psychedelic blues-rock of the 70s, while staying grounded in modern times.

Monday, October 15

Steve Clarke & The Working Stiffs @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) It’s Monday, so its another swing dance night at Famous Dave’s. Tonight saxophonist about town Steve Clarke brings hard charging Working Stiffs to the stage to inspire dancers, so of whom showed ups forth swing dance lesson at 7pm.

Tuesday, October 16

Lindsay Beaver @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 7pm Free Dance lesson, 8pm show. ($10) If ducktails, ponytails, Betty Page dresses, & leather jackets are your idea of dressing up for a night out, then you’ll likely get crazy, man, crazy over stand-up drummer/vocalist Lindsay Beaver and her band. Heck, even if you aren’t a 50s fashionista, you may appreciate the way Beaver and her band mine old school rock n’ roll and R&B with the fire and fury that brings dancers to Lee’s dance floor.

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.


The Lowdown Brass Band Interview

October 4, 2018

The Chicago-based Lowdown Brass Band, like many other brass bands, often looks to contemporary music for inspiration. After three albums, two EPs, and a couple of singles (one of which is a 45), it’s clear that their influences now include hip-hop, reggae, ska, and Afrobeat music. Yet, throughout their latest, Lowdown Breaks, second line rhythms aren’t very far. A tight horn line and a commitment to fun are at the heart of their music. I had a chance to talk by phone with Lance Loiselle, founder, producer, and sousaphone player with the band, prior to their October 15 debut at The Dakota in Minneapolis. I’ve edited the interview slightly for length and clarity.

You’ve been a band around for what about fifteen or sixteen years.

It’s our 15thAnniversary this year. We had our 15thanniversary show 2 weekends ago.

Are you the founder or one of the founders?

One of the founders. There are four of us originals. For the first four or five years we had a rotating cast of characters to go through when people have moved on. We’ve had a pretty solid lineup for six or seven years.

What was it about brass band music that made you decide “I want to start a brass band?”

I played in high school band. One of my friends introduced me to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and I was instantly in love with their music. So I listened to those guys through high school and college and fell in love with the music of New Orleans. Then when I went to DuPaul, I met all the guys that were original members (of Lowdown Brass Band). Some guys that were not original members also attended DuPaul with us.

When we graduated we were just sitting around after a rehearsal for another band and we were just talking about the music of New Orleans and just looked around – that guy plays the sousaphone, that guy plays the drums, (I play the sousaphone myself), he plays trumpet, and then you know we had all the pieces available and we all love the music of New Orleans. So we started out as a cover band with some originals and as time passed we started writing more and incorporating more styles into the music. Basically that’s it.

Besides the Dirty Dozen were there some other bands that you looked at as you were developing your sound?

You have the Rebirth Brass Band, another big New Orleans band that we’ve covered with a couple of songs over the years. And then as we became a little bit more modern, Youngblood Brass Band has always been a favorite of ours and. A lot of the guys we know personally – some of their band lived in at Chicago for a while. Then there’s like all other kind of horn bands. Chicago’s got a real rich history of horn bands. Chicago is one, Earth, Wind, & Fire is another. There’s a real deep history of horn bands.

Chicago also has a lot of other great sounds – vocal groups and of course the blues is an important part of the city’s history, as well as jazz, and hip-hop. Do you incorporate some of those sounds into your repertoire?

The last couple years we’ve been working with an MC, Billa Camp. Chicago’s got a good hip-hop scene with Common, Kanye West. So we’ve incorporated Chicago hip-hop, and New York hip-hop too, because Billa is originally from New York. We incorporate the funky sounds of Earth, Wind, & Fire in what we do. We’ve also been using some Latin flair. Chicago has a real big salsa scene, so we do a couple Latin tunes. Tower of Power is another big inspiration for us. There are so many writers and arrangers in the band, it really depends on who’s writing the song.  Someone will bring in a tune, but then it becomes really collaborative. So there are all these different musical leanings, and then everybody gets to put in their own two cents to the final product.

With Billa, you’ve got hip-hop going on. You also have some reggae toasting going on as well. What is it about brass band music that helps make that kind of thing work and how do you incorporate that?

Man, that’s a good question because it seems like it wouldn’t work.  You need the scratching, and the keyboard, but basically we just think anything that we transfer over, like a rhythm instrument, we just write for brass. The scratching and off-beat rhythms we would write for trumpet, and then the trombones would fill in the guitar line. Then the sousaphone becomes then becomes the bass. One thing that I’ve been incorporating a lot through the sousaphone is a lot of delay, which is another characteristic of reggae.

There are two reggae bands that have influenced us a bit. One is called The Drastics and the other one is called Akasha. They’re both Chicago reggae bands that a couple of our guys also play in, so that influence is brought to us as well, just from cross pollination of playing in other  bands and absorbing influences.

On the last album, Lowdown Breaks, you’ve got some Afro Beat sounds and you’re not afraid to take on an iconic rock song – Walk on the Wild Side.

So yeah we actually kind of ripped that off from A Tribe Called Quest(Note: Can I Kick It), who ripped off the bass line from Lou Reed. We took the hook and the bass line and made our own arrangement of it. Then Billa wrote some new verses for it, and it really has a nice flavor. It was a truly collaborative effort.

In terms of future directions for the band what do you see going on?

We’ve got a lot of plans through the end of the year. We just released a single of We Just Want to Be. It was written by our sax player, then we gave it to our buddy Nick the Graduate, a reggae producer in town, and he put a dub mix on it. He also worked with another guy, an emcee and reggae toaster called Illuminati Congo. They worked with Billa, and they made this truly dub version, reminiscent of Peter Tosh and guys like that.

So we put it on a 45. There’s a reggae label in town called Happy As A Lark, and so he’s putting that out. So that was part of our release show. We have a fall tour that we’re doing. The first leg of it is this weekend. We’re going to play Minneapolis. We’re playing at Green Bay Saturday and then we play Chicago on Sunday, then we’re going out to L.A. at the end of the month for a four-day trip. and they were going to play. We’re playing at the Lagunitas Beer Circus, which is a really big thing out there. And then And then second weekend of November we’re going to play in New Orleans for three night and hitting Memphis on the way down and Nashville on the way out.

We made a video for Don’t Wait Right Now, the Afrobeat song, so we’re going to be releasing that in the middle of the tour. And then we’re going to be laying low for the next three months. We just got a new recording spot. We’ll set that up and record a new album and hopefully have it out by next summer.

Well I sure do appreciate you taking the time and look forward to seeing you.

Cool. I appreciate the call. Take care.

 


Choices, Choices: 10.3 – 10.9

October 3, 2018

So… this week we have quite a few visiting musicians, a CD release party and some special appearances by resident musicians. It all makes for a hard week of decisions on where to spend your entertainment dollars. I just spent a weekend in Las Vegas, and outside of the casinos, where even impersonator shows start at $50, there’s only about 20 venues that present resident and lesser-known visiting musicians. To put that in context, I‘ve 13 different venues listed here, and a list of over 50 Twin Cities music venues on my blog. We’re lucky to have so many choices. Music Lifts the Spirit!

Jazz

Wednesday, October 3

Sammy Miller & The Congregation @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20, $25) Drummer Sammy Miller put this group together after getting his Master’s at Julliard. Members have played with such musical luminaries as Wynton Marsalis, Lady Gaga, and Queen Latifah. Reviews include terms like “feel-good party jazz” and “joyful jazz.”

Wednesday, Thursday, October 3,4

David Murray Trio feat: Kahil El’Zabar@ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 7pm ($30, $35), 9pm ($25, $30) Since 1975, tenor saxophonist David Murray has been stretching the idea of jazz, working in an avant-garde tradition, founding the World Saxophone Quartet and the Black Saint Quartet, exploring the music of Africa, the Caribbean, and South America, as well as reworking Duke Ellington and the Cuban recordings of Nat King Cole. He’s played with Jerry Garcia, among other non-jazz artists, and had Macy Gray front his Big Band. Tonight he’s joined by another avant giant, Chicago percussionist Kahil El’Zabar as well as versatile resident bassist James Buckley. Here’s Murray with a different group.

Thursday, October 4

Greer & Magraw @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Sarah M. Greer’s vocals & Dean Magraw’s guitar colorings seem to fit hand in glove.

Friday, Oct 5

Talking Strings Trio @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 8pm – 10pm (Tip Jar) Hot Club Jazz, including standards, Django Rheinhardt numbers, and originals, from Pavel Jany, guitar; Gary Schultz, violin; and Dan Weston, bass.

Byerself @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis.8:30pm ($10) Cellos are popping up quite a bit in jazz these days. Here’s a hometown example: Greg Byers, cello; Javi Santiago, piano; LA Buckner, drums.

Lowdown Brass Band @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 10pm ($15) The Chicago-based Lowdown Brass Band started out about 15 years ago, simply covering the songs of other brass bands, such as the Dirty Dozen and Rebirth. They soon began writing their own songs, and of late, have been integrating hip-hop, African, and Caribbean rhythms to their repertoire, as well as rappers and toasters, making for exciting, and crowd-pleasing evenings.

Tina Schlieske: Sinatra to Simone @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 10pm ($20, $25 -Advance/$25, $30 Door) Here’s a chance to see the leader of Tina & the B-Sides in crooning mood. When Ms Schlieske first performed her show of Torch and Swing at the Dakota a couple of months ago, she clearly had a good time singing standards by Billie Holiday, Tony Bennett, Sinatra, and Simone, among others. If her Dakota show is any indication, she’ll be backed by a stellar group of resident jazz musicians.

Saturday, Oct 6

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) 7pm: Cody Steinman Sightless Quartet: Cody Steinman, guitar; Joe Strachan, keys; Graydon Peterson, bass; Miguel Hurtado, drums. 8:30pm: Steve Kenny Quartet – Steve Kenny, trumpet; Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; Ted Olsen bass; Miguel Hurtado, drums.

Monday, October 8

Peter Kogan’s Monsterful Wonderband @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Drummer Kogan has shown that he and his A-list band members can go from bebop to swing to 21st Century jazz with ease and panache. They have been working on a soon to be released CD, which they are previewing tonight.

Evil Genius @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($12) This experimental jazz-rock group from Los Angeles consist of Max Kutner, guitar; Stefan Kac, tuba; and Mike Lockwood, drums. Avant Music News said of the band, “they seem to be blissfully unaware of any of the (largely artificial) lines drawn between genres.”

Tuesday, October 9

Red Planet w/Bill Carrothers @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($15) Dean Magraw, Chris Bates, and Jay Epstein communicate so well, it’s sometimes hard to envision anyone else joining them, but pianist Carrothers, with his empathetic playing and imaginative improvising, fits right in with Magraw’s coloring and the rhythm section’s pocket. The result is energetic, often dreamy, and wholly satisfying.

Josh Granowski’s Special Music @ The Hook & Ladder, Minneapolis. 6pm (No Cover) The Hook is presenting jazz every 2nd Tuesday this Fall. Tonight it’s a group of relatively younger, very accomplished musicians: Josh Granowski, bass; Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, Cornet; Jake Baldwin, trumpet; and Davu Seru, drums.

For more listings, KBEM has a calendar of jazz and roots events, while the Jazz Police features commentary, reviews, and previews of jazz in the Twin cities and beyond.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, October 3

Ben Eaton Band on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Guitarist Eaton is Iowa-born and spent years playing and touring around the state both as a solo artist, and with The Dirt Cheap Band. He moved to Minneapolis in 2009, and though he’s spent time raising his son, he’s also managed to record 3 EPs, the latest of which is just being released. He’ll be joined by Andrew Brockman and Atom Robinson.

Dieselfitters @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5) Looking for a little Twang in your life? The Dieselfitters (Clay Williams, guitar & vocals; Richard Gunderson, bass; and Steve Everett, drums) can help, bringing rockabilly, honky-tonk, and good ol’ roots rock n’ roll right to Lee’s tonight.

Thursday, October 4

Boiled in Lead @ The 318 Cafe, Excelsior. 8pm – 10pm ($10) Todd Menton, vocals and guitar; David Stenshoel, violin, Drew Miller, bass; and Michael Bissonette, percussion; have been performing as Boiled in Lead, playing rockin’ versions of Irish tunes as well as their originals for about 35 years now. They’ll be at the 318 Cafe on the 1st Thursday of the month through December.

Friday, October 5

Reverend Raven & The Chain Smoking’ Alter Boys @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 6pm -10pm ($10?) Though based in Milwaukee, Reverend Raven was born and raised in Chicago, so that city’s blues style of blues permeates his music. He plays guitar as if the blues-rock explosion of the late 60s and early 70s never happened, though he also brings that tradition forward. His dedication to the sound has resulted in numerous awards, a Grammy nomination, and the 2016 Blues Blast Music Award for best live CD.

John Primer @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Here’s some blues you can use for dancing or crying in your beer. Primer is a Chicago bluesman who was bandleader and lead guitarist for Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and Magic Slim & the Teardrops before going solo. He’s a 2018 nominee for the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards, and has received two Grammy nominations. Hard to beat those credentials.

High & Mighty @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10?) With a commodious dance floor, the MMC is a good place to hear this 10-piece band that mines R&B hits from the 60s until now.

Saturday, October 6

Lucy Kaplansky Album Release @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25 Advance/$30) Folk/pop singer Kaplansky is a Billboard charting singer and one of the best-selling artists on Red House Records. She started out in her hometown of Chicago and moved to NYC in 1978 where she joined the burgeoning folk scene and formed a duo w/Shawn Colvin. She dropped out of music to pursue a PhD in psychology, and returned in the 90s, signing with Red House and releasing seven albums with them. Tonight, she’s celebrating her just released Everyday Street.

Sunday, Oct 7

2018 Uke Fest @ The Hook & Ladder, Minneapolis. 6-10pm ($12 Advance/$15 Door) It’s the annual celebration of the little instrument with a growing following. All proceeds benefit Arc Minnesota. Hear YouTube star Zachary Scot Johnson, as well as the phenomenal Marlowe (an ambassador for Kala Ukeleles), and our very own John Munson, Jake Rowan, and others, including that ukulele canary Katy Vernon, who has put together this event every year.

Monday, October 8

Elvin Bishop @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40, $45, $50), 9pm ($35, $40, $45) A Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer, guitarist Bishop came onto the scene in the trailblazing Paul Butterfield Blues Band back in 1965.  In 1976, he had a huge hit with Fooled Around and Fell in Love. Since then he’s put out a series of satisfying albums, often featuring his humorous takes on life. It makes sense then, that his latest group, with guitarist/pianist Bob Welsh, and percussionist/vocalist Willy Jordan, is called the Big Fun Trio. Their music is rootsy, spirited, and, as expected, makes for a good time. Here’s the title cut from their latest album.

Ann Reed w/Joan Griffith & Special Guest Leslie Ball @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($20) Singer/songwriter/guitarist Reed has been performing for 35 years, a storyteller of the human experience. Tonight she joins with guitarist/bassist/composer Joan Griffith, who’s recorded with Lucia Newell, Prudence Johnson, and Laura Caviani, in addition to recording with Reed. Special guest Leslie Ball is a singer, producer, and writer whose songs have been recorded by the likes of Helen Reddy and Nick Lowe. In 1991, she started the BALLS Cabaret, which still runs weekly at The Southern Theater.

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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