Maceo, I Want You To Blow

May 28, 2011

An Interview with Maceo Parker

Maceo Parker, From the Cover of is 2007 CD, Roots and Grooves

When James Brown said the above words during the song I Got You (I Feel Good), Maceo Parker became a famous sideman. Famous enough that his name became synonymous with funky saxophone. Famous enough that a few years later he left Brown and started Maceo and the King’s Men. Famous enough that he eventually would play with George Clinton, Prince, and other funksters, not to mention folks like Ray Charles, James Taylor, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Since the early 90s, he’s been leading his own group and recording well-received albums, such as Roots Revisited (1990), Life on Planet Groove (1992), and most recently, Roots and Grooves (2007), recorded with the WDR Big Band of Germany. In person, his band reflects the tightness of the original James Brown band, as well as its adherence to “stage uniforms.” Maceo’s group is an eight-piece band that executes precision stops and starts, yet the individual members blow plenty funky. I had the opportunity to interview him by phone about 10 days before his appearance at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, on May 22, 2011. I recorded the interview and aired it on Rhythm and Grooves on May 21. I’ve done some slight editing for clarity.

LE: You come from a musical family. Your dad played the drums, your dad and mom both sang in church, your brother played the drums. How did you gravitate to the saxophone?

MP: As far back as I can remember, there was a piano around. As a child, you see an adult play, or you realize that you put your fingers on a key and with a little pressure you get a note or sound. It was interesting, or entertaining, to key it, so I would play in passing. I’d just play and bang, bang, bang. But as I got older, I really noticed how to actually play it, not just how to play it by ear. That was that, then I got really excited about my first parade, you know, a marching band parade? I still remember being really, really excited about that, and I had to choose, like my mom said, a marching band instrument, and as we were speaking, the saxophone line was passing, and I thought, well maybe I can play one of those things, and that was it.

LE: You joined James Brown in 1964 when he wanted your brother to be his drummer, and Mr. Brown said he’d bring you along.

MP: Yeah, right. Well he had met by brother Melvin about a year earlier. He happened to come by where Melvin was playing. We were college students at the time, but we had two different groups, and he (James Brown) thought Melvin was of a caliber to work with him when he first heard him.

One thing you have to remember is we started trying to do, you know, dot dot dadot, dah, and come up with our own individual styles, what we thought funky music should be. We started very, very young. I think my trombone-playing brother was in the sixth grade. I was in the fifth. Melvin was in the fourth. But we had rehearsed and rehearsed til we had gotten a couple of tunes down. We were listening to my uncle’s band [Ed note: The Blue Notes] and been at his rehearsals, being in the corner trying to learn, to imitate what they did. Pretty soon we got pretty good at it, and he would take us to the nightclub while we were at an early age, and have us play during the breaks. [Ed note: They performed as the Junior Blue Notes] To make a long story short, we just kept trying, kept trying, from elementary school right through high school. By the time we graduated, when Melvin first met James Brown, he was a freshman in college and I was a sophomore.

Then about a year after he met him, we decided to get out of school and seek that job with James Brown. We met him and Melvin said, Mr. Brown do you remember me, I’m Melvin Parker, the drummer. Mr. Brown said, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.” He was still excited about my brother. They went through the whole thing about did you bring your clothes, and where they’d be going for the next two or three days and stuff. And then my brother cleared his throat, and I cleared my throat, and Melvin said, “Oh yeah, Mr. Brown, this is my brother, he’s a saxophone player. He needs a job too.” He asked me some questions about playing saxophone, if I played baritone saxophone. I told him I played a little baritone, but I didn’t have a baritone. He said, “Okay, I’ll give you a chance. Take two weeks, three weeks, to get a baritone and you can have a job too.” It was exciting. Having two brothers in the same household being hired by James Brown at the same time. It was really exciting for us.

LE: I’m sure it was. After you joined James Brown what was the first important lesson that you learned?

MP: Punctuality, I think was the first thing I learned. Well, he used to teach pride, stage decorum, and punctuality. Not in that order, but at the same time. The one that came to mind first is punctuality. The bus would leave at a certain time, and if you’re not there, maybe five minutes within leaving time, they’re gone. And then there’d be like a fine, and if you weren’t there, you’d get fifty dollars taken from you. You learn really quickly you gotta be on time for stuff. I think that’s the first thing I learned. We knew about punctuality anyway, but that was a big thing with Mr. Brown. Along with stage decorum, the way your uniform looked, you gotta be pressed, just having pride in being a man, to respect women and kids. He preached that really, really well.

LE: You mentioned being in a marching band, and I noticed that on Funky Music Machine, one of your albums with the Kings Men, that you do a tune that’s a tribute to the Tennessee State University Marching Band. What was it about that band that made you want to do a tribute song  to them?

MP: Well, it was not my idea, I went along with it. That whole idea was from my trumpet player at the time, Richard Griffin. We called him Cush. We had a couple of friends that had joined James’ band, the James Brown Band, from Nashville, and I guess it inspired him to write that little thing. The whistle part, and the “pick up your feet” part, what was it, “pick up your feet, play your part, drive, drive, drive” came from the school that Melvin and I were at, which was North Carolina E&T in Greensboro. That’s something we used to sing. We incorporated that because it was like a march.

LE: You’ve served as a sideman to James Brown, Parliament/Funkadelic, and Prince. You’ve worked with artists like Kenny Neal, Candy Dulfer, Ani DiFranco. Do you approach your playing any differently when you are not the leader of the group, as opposed to when you’re the leader?

MP: No. I just dig down within my soul and within myself to try to come up with something funky. I always try anyway. People say, wouldn’t it be nice to have that guy that worked with James Brown come up with something (for a track). They’ve come up with something that reminds them of, or sounds like, something James Brown would do or something funky in the same kind of vein, and my name comes up. So I figure that’s what they want, something I would do if I’m working with him. It’s very easy and natural for me. I just realize that the funky style is natural for me, just as some guys can pitch a baseball, or hit a baseball, throw a football. It’s just something natural I could do from birth I guess.

LE: How did this current appearance with Christian McBride come about?

MP: I don’t know, but I’m excited about it. We’ve worked together. We were on the same stage a while back, some festival, or something where we’ve collaborated. Either we’re on the same stage doing a couple of tunes together or he’s with a group and I’m with a group. These things happen in this business. You follow your schedule, your itinerary, and however it turns out, it’s fun, it’s okay. That’s what makes it exciting as you tour month after month, and year after year. You get to the point where you start looking forward to things like this where you cross-breed with other musicians.

LE: I believe you’re doing an appearance with the African tribute to James Brown.

MP: Well, there’s some stuff coming up, I think they call it, Still Black, Still Proud. I’m doing stuff like that too. [Ed note: Coming to the Ordway Theater in Saint Paul on November 22, 2011]

LE: We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, May 22nd.

MP: Thank you, and like we say all the time when I perform, on behalf of all of us, we love you.



Back in the Saddle: 6.14 – 6.20

June 14, 2017

Taken on a different vacation by Andrea Hjelm. The first time on horseback in 30 years.

Well, I’m back in the saddle again, so to speak, after a brief interruption in posting when my vacation was involuntarily extended. All is good, and I’m looking forward to a week of great music from both visiting and resident artists. This Sunday is Father’s Day and that means that the Stone Arch Festival will be taking place all weekend. Besides booths of art, crafts, and food, there are plenty of artists performing, in genres ranging from classic rock and punk, to Americana and C&W, to even a bit of jazz, but I have to admit I know only a few. A schedule of performers can be found here. Have a great week. Remember music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, June 14

Candy Dulfer @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40, $45), 9pm ($30, $35, $40) This Dutch saxophonist has played with Maceo Parker, Aretha Franklin, Lionel Richie, mavis Staples, Beyonce, Van Morrison and more, and has been name-checked by Prince. She’s had several number 1 hits in the US, and is a big draw at festivals around the world.

Gary LaRue & the Rat Pack Band @ Mancini’s, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (No Cover) If ever there was a great spot to hear the music of Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, and other swinging cats from the 50s, it’s the lounge at Mancini’s.

Thursday, June 15

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Tonight it’s the Wayne Horvitz Group: Horvitz, keys; Josh Granowski, bass; Davu Seru, drums, a combination of musicians who celebrate adventurous music making.

Lucia Newell & The Wolverines Trio @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) Newell is a wonderful singer who is conversant in all manner of jazz and Brazilian music (she spent two years singing there). She only plays selected dates each year, so this is a perfect opportunity to hear her, especially since she’ll be backed by the swinging Wolverines Trio. Here she is in her Brazilian mode.

Friday, June 16

Adam Booker @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Bassist Booker put out a fine recording, Unraveled Rival, on Shifting Paradigm records in 2015.  He has an extensive history with Duluth groups such as The New Orleans Hot Club, the Jazz Pharaohs, the Asylum Street Spankers, and others. This is his last Twin Cities appearance. After teaching at UMN- Duluth for many years, he heading to Appalachian State University where he’ll be Assistant Professor of Double Bass at the Hayes School of Music. Joining him are Levi Schwarzberg, vibes; and Ben Baldwin, drums.

Kevin Washington Quintet @ Rice Park, Saint Paul. 6pm (Free) Drummer Washington is a master of rhythms, whether playing with Nachito Herrera, Viva Brazil or any of a number of jazz luminaries, such as Anthony Cox, Roscoe Mitchell, James Carter, Fred Wesley or the David Murray Big Band. He’ll undoubtedly have some Twin Cities luminaries in his quintet. Pippi Ardennia and the PipJazz All Stars open this summertime outdoor event.

Saturday, June 17

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) As is often the case, the evening starts with a young group. Drummer Simon Petrick, who is a member of this year’s Dakota Combo will be leading a group at 7pm. Then at 8:30pm it’s How Birds Work, a quartet started during the heyday of the Artists’ Quarter and featuring Dean Granros, guitar; Peter Schimke, keyboards, Chris Bates, bass, and Kenny Horst, drums. They play high-quality, demanding jazz from the likes of Coltrane, Shorter, Hancock, and more.

Joel Shapira CD Release @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (No Cover) Guitarist Shapira has had an every other week solo early gig at the Vieux for almost two years now, and has developed a bit of a following there, members of whom have asked for a solo CD. Well, he’s delivered. The CD, In Essence, contains some gems from the Great American Songbook as well as modern jazz classics by Coltrane, Miles, and Monk, including his third recording of Bemsha Swing. In a recent interview with Tom Surowicz for the Highland Villager, Shapira said, “It’s a challenge, reducing piano music to the guitar.” Shapira is more than up to it.

Sunday, June 18

Nancy Harms @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($20, 425; $40, $50 Dinner Show) Though not exposed to jazz until she attended college, Ms Harms, a Clara City, MN native performs as if born to the role of jazz singer. She has an innate sense of time and phrasing and an ability to imbue songs with just the right amount of humanity to fully tell each song’s story. She is a uniquely gifted performer who has established herself in NYC and Europe. Her shows here in town are always well-attended, if not sold out, so be forewarned that the Dunsmore Room only seats 80.

Regina Marie Williams @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm )$17 – $22) You may have seen Williams in any number of roles at the Guthrie, Penumbra, Park Square, and Mixed Blood theaters. She’s a fine actress – she’s won an Ivey Award, was named City Pages Best Actress of 2016, and received the McKnight Theater Artist Award. She is also a great songstress, who can whisper as well as soar, as attested by roles where she’s played Dinah Washington and Nina Simone.

Monday, June 19

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $35) Canadian saxophonist Jane Bunnett has been nominated twice for a Grammy and received a number of Canada’s music awards. She went to Cuba back in 1982 and fell in love with the sensual, yet intricate rhythms of the island. She’d often use them with her contemporary jazz performances, and recently assembled an all-star cast of female Cuban musicians to form Maqueque. Their second album, Odara, was released last fall.

Adam Astrup @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (!0, $5 w/Student ID)Though newly graduated from high school, guitarist Astrup as been impressing audiences in various groups for a couple of years now, including the Dakota Combo and two or three groups of his own. Tonight he and members of his quintet will be playing originals. Members include: Nick Benish, bass; Andrew Tomten, Sax; Patrick Adkins, keys; and Simon Petrick, drums. Here he is in a trio setting.

JT’s Jazz Implosion @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm. ($8) This long running weekly event, curated by drummer JT Bates, always features forward thinking artists, whether from the Twin Cities or beyond. Tonight features The Jon Davis Quartet for set one: Davis, bass & woodwinds; Chuck Love trumpet, flute, melodica, & percussion, Bryan Nichols, keys; and Greg Schutte, drums. Performing set two is The George Marich Trio; Marich, drums, George Cartwright, saxes; and Josh Granowski, bass.

Tuesday, June 20

Jordan Anderson Group @ Walker West, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (free) This dazzling young pianist was a member of the Dakota Combo prior to attending the University of Michigan, where he was recruited by, and studies with, none other than Benny Green. I believe he’ll have talented contemporaries with him: Peter Goggin, saxophone; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Edmund Catlin, drums. Here he is while still a HS student, with a different group

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

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, June 14

Crankshaft & the Gear Grinders @ Como Park Conservatory, Saint Paul. 6pm (Free) Pack up a picnic and head out the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory to  boogie down to the amped up blues, country, and roots music from the guitarist/songwriter who’s the pride of Anoka  Plus there’s a climbing wall, bouncy tent and other distractions for the wee ones.

The Dollys on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) The Dollys are Joanna Jahn, Kari Shaw, and Megan Shaw, or are all enamored of the three-part harmonies of EmmyLou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt. They also perform songs by other female country artists as well as their own versions of folk and Americana hits. Tune in to Harold’s House Party at 5pm, and if you like what you hear, head over to the 331 Club to see them in person.

Butch Thompson & Pat Donahue @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15; $40 for Dinner Show) A creative pairing of legendary, excellent musicians. Pianist Thompson and Fingerstyle Guitarist Donahue mine classic blues and jazz, that is from the 20s and 30s, with an occasional original that fits the style. The Dunsmore Room provides a quiet, intimate space to fully appreciate their musicianship, craftsmanship, and easy-going banter. Here’s a track from the album the duo made, featuring Thompson on clarinet.

Robert Earl Keen @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($40 Advance, $45 Door) Regular listeners of Jackson Buck’s Freewheelin’ show know that every Christmas he plays Keen’s Merry Christmas from the Family, a description of a blended family at Christmas time. No matter what your background, this tale of a family gathering will include something that’s funny and familiar. It’s a perfect example of his wit and powers of observation, as his his take on modern life called Wireless in Heaven. He’s been writing songs for over three decades and continues to sharpen his wit and entertain folk, and was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012, while a couple of years ago he became the first recipient of BMI’s Troubadour Award. Keen takes a few minutes to introduce the band before singing on this video.

Thursday, June 15

Doug Little’s Seven Steps to Havana @ Arlington Hills Library, Saint Paul. 7pm – 8:30pm (Free) This septet led by flutist/saxophonist Doug Little features musicians from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Ethiopia, and the US. Their hip-swaying music uses the fiery rhythms of salsa and the rich harmonies of jazz.

Mikkel Beckmen w/Martin Devaney @ The Dubliner Pub, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) Percussionist Mikkel Beckmen’s weekly residency is always a great place to stop after work and down a pint in a friendly setting while Beckmen invites guests to share the stage. This week he has Martin Devaney, hard working guitarist and prolific songwriter working on his seventh full length album. Here’s Devaney.

Steve Clarke Quartet w/Patty Peterson @ Seven Steak House, Minneapolis. 7pm (No cover?) It seems that Seven Steak House at 7th & Hennepin has new management, and has decided to bring in music on Thursdays. Tonight Steve Clarke brings his swinging saxophone to the venue, along with guest vocalist Patty Peterson, who is equally at home in jazz and R&B. Not sure if you have to order a meal or can hang at the bar, so you may want to call to get particulars.

Friday, June 16

Garland Jeffreys @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $35) Brooklyn native Jeffreys has been creating urban rock since the 60s, first hitting with Wild in the Streets back in the 70s. His songs have been covered by punkers and neo-folkies, and he’s worked with folks ranging from John Cale, Lou Reed, U2,  and Dr. John to Stan Getz and Sonmny Rollins. Jeffrey’s latest two albums, The King of In Between from 2011, and Truth Serum in 2013 received great reviews and his latest, the newly-released 14 Steps to Harlem, is sure to bring him new fans, at least based on the three songs I’ve heard.

Celtic Rock Night @ Celtic Junction, Saint Paul. 8pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) These days Celtic music is more than fiddles and whistles, and tonight in an event sponsored by the MN Music Coalition, will certainly prove that out. Performing are The Sweet Colleens, a quintet of multi-instrumentalists playing high-energy fiddle and accordion-driven Celtic Americana who just released their 5th album; Belfast-born Leslie Rich a guitarist singer who has played with The Hounds of Finn and Leslie Rich & the Rocket Soul Choir since emigrating to the US, and The Tim Malloys, who fuse traditional Irish music with pub rock and the sensibility (and sound) of Minneapolis punk rock.

Lowland Lakers @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 8pm ($7 Advance, $10 Door) It’s a seated show of Americana as this trio, with roots in Duluth, play their last gig with Dr. Matt Donoghue on bass – he’s taking a position as Emergency Medicine Resident. Opening is the talented Rachel Hanson, who’s a north country artist herself. Then the Last Jackson will close out the evening.

Paul Cebar @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($12) Milwaukee native Paul Cebar has been at this songwriting/singing/playing thing for decades, always finding ways to incorporate irresistible rhythms into his songs that provide a modern touch to old R&B ideas. For instance, you’ll be dancing along to something funky, when all of a sudden there’s a calypso break. No wonder legions of dancers come out for every performance.

Malamanya @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm ($10 advance, $15 Door) Late night salsa dancing to this Twin Cities band that with the bona fides to perform classic Cuban music.

Saturday, June 17

Class Action @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($25) For three years in the late 70s and early 80s, Class Action was just about the most popular dance band in the Twin Cities. No wonder – look at their talented members: Rockie Robbins, who later had seven charting singles as a solo artist; Patty Peterson, who continues to sparkle as a jazz/R&B singer here in town; Ricky Perterson, the wizard keyboard player who played with David Sanborn for 20 years and countless other artiits; Candy Anderson Cretoekos, who started singing in church, and worked with Wayne Cochran & the CC Riders throughout the nation. She moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis and returned to her church roots, performing throughout California; Stephen Faison, performer for hundreds of jingles and soundtracks and staff writer for recording studios, who worked withThe Coasters, Drifters, Walter Trout and Aretha Franklin and teaches here in town; Rick Cornish, who performed with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and who had one of his compositions premiered by the LA Philharmonic, and winner of numerous national and international awards; Rick Houle, who played in Passage and the Doug Maynard Band before moving to Seattle in 1984. Since then he’s worked with Ernestine Anderson, and is currently a member of a 12 piece group that plays the music of Steely Dan; finally there Glenn Swanson, who was a staff drummer at Creation Audio, who after Class Action went on to work with Sheila Raye Charles (daughter of Ray), including serving as emcee for a Japanese tour, and more recently produced vocalist Pippi Ardennia. Wow!

International Reggae All Stars @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($??) Here’s a chance for east-siders to hear the reggae sound of the All Stars outside of their weekly gig at Bunkers.

Rena Haus Trio @ Dusty’s, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Dusty’s is tiny, though a more upscale description would say intimate. Nevertheless it provides a great setting as guitarist/songwriter Rena Haus, her bassist brother Bob, and under-appreciated guitarist Ed Petsche will regale you with Rena’s original song stories and great covers of blues songs. Here she is solo.

Monday, June 19

Frankie Lee & Friends @ The Turf Club’s Clown Lounge, Saint Paul. 7pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) Lee has the June residency for Monday nights at the rec room inspired Clown Lounge. He’s a country/folk singer whose debut album American Dreamer, was released in 2015 on London’s Loose Records. It promptly became well played on Europe’s radio stations, making many “best of” lists from the continent. It was released in America in the summer of 2016, earning him more praise from NPR, among others. Don’t know which friends will show up, but they include Michael Lewis bass, sax; Jeremy Ylvisaker, guitar; and JT Bates, drums, who appeared on his first EP.

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.

Lovers and Music: 2.8 – 2.15

February 8, 2017
Clearly thinking: Valentines Day - Meh!

Clearly thinking: Valentines Day – Meh!

Well, Valentine’s Day is upon us, and I only have a few things for those of you who have yet to make reservations for the evening. Of course, maybe, like a grumpy cat, you’re not celebrating this year, which is fine. Anyhow, we still have good music to enjoy during the week. Music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, February 8

Schmidt, Magraw & Nichols @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40 w/Dinner) Though Claudia Schmidt has amassed a great following during her four decades as a singer/songwriter, and charming storyteller, she has primarily worked as a folk singer. However, she would often include a standard or two in her concerts, and has successfully stepped out as a jazz singer on a number of occasions. She’s worked with guitarist Dean Magraw many times, but this is the first time in over ten years that she has worked with pianist Bryan Nichols as well as Magraw. Here are Claudia and Dean doing a folky number.

Bates, Nordlund, & Sanborn @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) It’s another evening where bassist Chris Bates brings together some musicians for a night of fine jazz, including both originals from the group, and jazz standards. JT Bates may add his drums to the mix.

Thursday, February 9

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Tonight’s featured act is the Phil Hey Quartet, with Hey on drums; and Phil Aaron, piano; Dave Hagedorn, vibes: and Chris Bates, bass. This is a swinging group of veterans who have played together for years, attacking the music of Ornette Coleman, Chick Corea, and others with verve and panache.

Rachel Holder & The Wolverines @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30 (No Cover) Vocalist Holder was studying classical music at the U when she heard a jazz performance and switched to McNally Smith, where she studied with Judi Donaghy Vinar, Debbie Duncan, and Pete Whitman, among others. About ten years later, she now teaches at McNally as well as at Macalester, and gigs around town, as a soloist and featured singer with folks like Bruce Henry, the George Mauer Group, Vital Organ, The Girls, and others. With a supple voice that’s a bit throaty and sensuous, she’ll be accompanied by the always swinging Wolverines Trio: Rick Carlson, piano; Steve Pikal, bass; and Jendeen Forburg, drums. Here she is with George Mauer.

Katia Cardenas @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Cardenas is an energetic, hard working vocalist whose debut CD, I’ll Be Seeing You, has been well-received, with much airplay on KBEM. She has a natural, soulful sound, that she uses to great affect on jazz standards and the occasional pop/R&B number by Amy Winehouse or Beyonce.

Friday, February 10

Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35) This isn’t your father’s (or grandfather’s) big band experience. Johnson creates modern day mixes that cross genres. Johnson attended Saint John’s University and settled in Saint Cloud, where he started his career with Tonic Sol-fa, the vocal quintet that’s sold two million records. He’s still an active member of that group, but decided to bring a new approach to big band music, honoring folks like Frank Sinatra, while acknowledging Michael Buble, and performing songs from across the music spectrum. Here’s an example.

Saturday, February 11

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) It’s UW Eau Claire Jazz night, with an opening set at 7pm by the UW Eau Claire Jazz Combo 1, and the Michael Shults Quintet at 8:30pm. Shults, a saxophonist who teaches at Eau Claire, will be joined by Aaron Hedenstrom, sax, who did his undergraduate work at Eau Claire; as well as  Chris Bates, bass; Javier Santiago, piano, and a drummer TBA.  Here’s a slightly different version of the quintet.

Sunday, February 12

Cole Mahlum Jam @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 4pm – 6pm ($5) Get your dose of Hammond B3 music as guitarist Cole Mahlum leads a jam session.

Monday, February 13

Acme Jazz Company @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) It’s the Acme Company’s monthly gig, bringing you big band music and the vocals of Arne Fogel.

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

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, February 8

Doug Otto & the Getaways on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Mournful, down home sounds from Doug and the guys, performing music that ranges from originals, to Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Buddy Guy, and Robert Johnson. Here’s a video from their residency at the late Nyes.

Thursday, February 9

Anda Union @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20 Advance/$25 Door) Formed in 2000, Anda Union is a ten-piece band of Mongolians who come from differing ethnic nomadic cultures of Mongolia. They bring together a wide range of musical instruments and vocal styles (including throat singing) from tribal and music traditions throughout Inner Mongolia, finding their inspiration in old and almost forgotten songs.

Quirkestra @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul 8pm (Tip Jar)  A five-piece band playing a blend of Americana, 60s R&B, Reggae, Swing, & Jazz.

Lonesome Dan Case @ the 331 Club, Minneapolis. 9:30pm (Tip Jar) Ahh, with his trademark fedora and fleet guitar, Lonesome Dan is a man who evokes the blues of the 30s blues and wraps them in the trials and tribulations of modern day society.

Friday, February 10

Paul Cebar & Tomorrow Sound @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 6pm – 10pm ($10??) Gifted songwriting, rhythms that span New Orleans, Chicago, Africa, and the Caribbean, and a rhythm section that will have the soles of your dancing shoes light up from friction. Milwaukee guitarist/songwriter/singer Paul Cebar has not only earned a rabid following, but has managed to keep it over the last three decades.

The Pachanga Society, with Dan Newton @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($18 Advance/$20 Door) The Pachanga Society  alls from the Saint Cloud area, and has been in existence for 15 years. Tonight, they present “Crossing Borders: An (im)migration story in words, images, and Woody Guthrie songs.” Using searing guitar, haunting wooden flute and pan-flutes, charango, Cuban tres, keyboards, bass and tight, world-beat percussion, they have built a repertoire that includes classic songs from all over the Caribbean and Latin America, new arrangements of some Rock and Country standards, and a good, steady dose of original compositions.

Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials @ Famous Daves, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) Lil’ Ed  s an electrifying, raucous slide guitarist who learned from one of the best – his uncle Homesick James. You’ll be hard pressed to find any blues guitarist who will fire you up so much with his stage presence.

Joyann Parker & Annie Mack @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) So, we’ve got Joyann Parker and Annie Mack on the bill. They are two of the area’s fine female blues performers for one night. Both are equally at home writing their own material as they are singing classic blues and R&B.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, February 10, 11, 12

Be My Nasty Valentine @ Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10 Advance, $15 Door) Here’s a non-traditional look at Valentine’s Day, as this show is subtitled Songs of Love and Liberation. As described, Mistress Ginger is “gonna sing and dance her way into your hears and inter your pant, saving the world while she’s at it.” Mistress Ginger will be accompanied by Lori Dokken, piano; Dustin Jensen, drums; and Noah Welter, on bass. Here is Mistress Ginger with the Wolverines Trio.

Saturday, February 11

Cate Fierro Sings Sade @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 8pm ($15 Advance, $20 Door) The show is actually titled “Stronger Than Pride: The Passionate Songs of Sade.” It was about a year ago that Fierro, an in-demand soul singer around town, debuted her tribute to Nigerian-born English singer Sade to much acclaim. She’ll be doing 22 songs from Sade’s catalog, spanning the albums Diamond Life (1984) to Lover’s Rock (2000), and using her soulful voice to good effect on the slow-burn intensity of Sade’s numbers. Here she is, tackling a standard.

Soul Tight Committee @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7, includes a free drink) Old, Old School R&B from a ten-piece horn band for those who simply want to dance.

The Eddies @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 7:30 – 10:30pm (Tip Jar) The weather on Saturday is supposed to be relatively mild, just right for getting out to hear songs of life, love, death, and work. Now a quartet, the Eddies are a friendly, charming group of men who sing songs they remember, from old ballads of walking among cemeteries, to Bob Marley, and Sympathy for the Devil. Sometimes they even change up a word or two in order to make a mild political statement, but whatever they sing, they end the night walking through the bar and toasting all who are present.

Sunday, February 12

35th Annual Battle of the Jug Bands @ The Cabooze, Minneapolis. Doors: 12:30pm. Ends 8pm ($5 Suggested Donation) It’s the annual battle for the coveted Holliwood Waffle and Pancake Irons, that is, if they don’t get hijacked by dastardly losers. The rules are plain. Kitchen instruments, so to speak, and no rehearsals. An intriguing or funny name helps, but is no guarantee.  Proceeds are donated to the Dave Ray/Bill Hinkley Memroial Fund. Though it’s not a very good video, this 2013 performance will give you an idea of what occurs.

Kelly Hunt @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25 – $30) It would be easy to call Kelly Hunt a boogie-woogie piano player, but that wouldn’t begin to encompass her gifts. Even the record charts list her in multiple genres – blues, Americana, and Adult Alternative, among others. Hunt is a piano-pounder, for sure, but this powerful singer will entrance and delight with her stories, all the while keeping your kiester moving as she lays out a ferocious beat with her left hand.

Monday, February 13

Maceo Parker @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 – $50), 9pm ($25 – $40) Saxophonist Maceo Parke  was just another hard-working sideman in James Brown’s band until Brown said “Maceo, I Want You to Blow” during I Got You (I Feel Good). Since then, his name has become synonymous with funk, though he is also a skilled jazzman. Back in 2011 I managed to get an interview with him which you can read here.

Tuesday, February 14

Michael Monroe @ The 318 Cafe, Excelsior. 7pm ($20)  Monroe is a charming singer/songwriter who has been performing for forty years, charming audiences with his wit and songwriting. He’s a self-taught musician who plays guitar, ukelele, and glass bamboo flutes who can be as romantic as necessary for this day.

Third Annual Valentine’s Day Variety Show @ O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, Saint Paul. 7pm ($29 – w/various discounts) Storyteller extraordinaire Kevin Kling, brings together some musical friends for an evening of “dynamic duos, tender trios, and oh solo-me-ohs” on love. Musical friends include Dan Chouinard, Bradley Greenwald, Prudence Johnson, Simone Perrin, Claudia Schmidt and Dane Stauffer, along with special guest writer/director Ali Selim, known for the movie Sweet Land.  Here’s an example of Kling’s storytelling abilities.

Music for Lovers @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm ($25, $65 Dinner Show) This annual event put together by Lisa Wenger and Billy Larson has been presented at a number of venues around town, though I don’t think the option of a 3-Course Dinner has been offered before. Celebrate the date with Lisa Wenger + Billy Larsobn; Deb Brown + Brian Z; Sena Ehrhardt + Cole Allen; Jennifer Grimm + Joe Cruz; and Tamara Barnett + Phil Barnett. Don’t have any videos of the couples, but here’s one of Lisa Wenger.

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.

May and Music are Upon Us: 5.5 – 5.10

May 5, 2016
Trees are flowering. Photo from Bill Lindeke's blog

Trees are flowering. Photo from Bill Lindeke’s blog

I’m a day late in posting this. Sometimes life gets in the way of what we’re doing. Anyway, we have a week filled with music coming up, only a portion of which I’ve listed. We have visiting artists from Malaysia, Atlanta, and Chicago, in addition to shows by a number of our own outstanding resident artists. Music lifts the spirit.


Thursday, May 5

Dorothy Doring @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10, $5 w/studentID) Versatile vocalist Doring will be performing various jazz favorites, including, I imagine, some from her 3 excellent albums. She’ll be accompanied by pianist March Ziegenhangen on piano.

Friday, May 6

Rio Nido @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35), 9pm ($25) It may be nigh unto impossible to score tickets to see this beloved vocal trio  They rose out of the West Bank music scene in the 70s to become Twin Cities favorites through the mid-eighties by performing classic jazz from the 30s and 40s. After successful solo careers, Prudence Johnson, Tim Sparks, and Tom Lieberman had successful solo careers, and recently rediscovered the joys of performing together again. Here’s what they sound like.

Peter Kogan’s Monsterful Wonderband @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Kogan  former tympanist with the Minnesota Orchestra, has been bringing his jazz chops to the fore since his retirement last year. He’s already released two fine albums, with music that touches on many aspects of the jazz continuum. The drummer’s band includes: Goeff Senn, Trumpet; Pete Whitman, Sax; Scott Agster, Trombone; Chris Olson, Guitar; Sean Turner, Piano; Graydon Peterson, Bass


Saturday, May 7

The MN Hard Bop Collective @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) Saxophonist Andrew Schwandt is relocating from the Twin Cities, so this group is playing a farewell concert for him. Besides Schwandt, members include: Ryan Nyther, trumpet; Javier Santiago, piano; Graydon Peterson, bass; and Jesse Simon, drums. They’ll be playing a classic hard bop repertoire, that music popularized by Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, and Lee Morgan, among others. It’s a style that has both gospel and R&B influences, yet never strays from jazz.

Sophia Shorai @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley 7:30pm (No Cover) Here’s a date night opportunity if their ever was one. Shorai  s a singer who can go from sweet to heartbroken with ease. She has been performing in the area for over 10 years, producing five self-released albums covering bossa nova, the Great American Songbook, some modern classics, and her own compositions. She has a knack for picking stellar sidemen as well. Here’s a clip that showcases her way with a ballad.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Tonight’s opening act is the Plus One Trio, with Anthony Bloch, drums; Nate Baumeister, saxophones; Benjamin Allen, trombone; and Jason Mclean, bass. At 8:30, it’s Witch Hunt, a tribute to Wayne Shorter’s Speak No Evil album. Members include: Adam Nussbaum, drums; Joy Mayo, saxophones; Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Ted Godbout, piano; and Ted Olsen, bass.

Phillip Greenlief @ Jazz at Studio Z, Saint Paul. ($10 Advance, $15 Door) The San Francisco-based saxophonist comes to town to play with Nathan Hanson, sax; Chis Bates, bass; and Davu Seru, drums. Greenlief has been making a name for himself since the 1970s, performing and playing with a varied group of musicians in the post jazz, improvisational community, including Fred Firth, Meredith Monk, and They Might be Giants. As always, there is a free master class at 6pm. Those who come for the master class and stay for the concert only pay $10. Here’s an example of his approach to playing.

Sunday, May 8

Hanging Hearts – Chris Weller @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/student ID) This Chicago based trio integrates jazz, rock, and experimental music into their performances. They’ve toured internationally, appeared at the Chicago Jazz Festival, and will be heading into the studio in June with Dave King producing. Chris Weller, tenor; Cole DeGenova, keys; Devin Drobka, drums & percussion. Here they are performing in Slovakia.

Monday, May 9

Joe Mayo & Dave Brattain @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w./student ID) Two heavy hitting saxophonists in town get together to play music they don’t usually play in big bands.

Jazz Implosion @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) 1st set – JT Bates,  2nd set – Hanging Hearts (Chicago). If you didn’t get to see them yesterday at Jazz Central, here’s another chance:  Chris Weller, sax; Devin Drobka, drunms; Cole DeGenova, keys.  While Chris and Cole grew up in Chicago, playing professionally in jazz and blues clubs by the age of 15, the trio was completed at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where all three members graduated. The trio’s repertoire consists of their original compositions.

Tuesday, May 10

Stu Katz and Friends @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($10, $35 Dinner) 1st set solo, 2nd set with son Steven, bass & vocals; Jay Epstein, drums. Over his long career, Chicagoan Stu Katz has performed in numerous public venues with young and old bebop luminaries including Gene Ammons, Kenny Burrell, Joey DeFrancesco, Dexter Gordon, Bunky Green, Roy Haynes, Milt Jackson, “Philly” Joe Jones, Clifford Jordan, Russell Malone, James Moody, Zoot Sims, Sonny Stitt, Ira Sullivan and Phil Woods. Here he is back in 1985 at the Chicago Jazz Festival with Doc Cheatham.

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…

Thursday, May 5

Rare Medium @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($8) Is it jazzy funk or funky jazz? I’m never quite sure where to list this six-piece band that crosses genres to get people shaking their booty while using appealing jazz harmonies.

Walter Trout @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 7pm ($15) As fans of this master of rockin’ blues guitar know, Trout was diagnosed with life-threatening liver failure and hepatitis C in 2013, and received a liver transplant in 2014. His last album, Battle Scars, was filled with stories of his fight to stay alive, while the soon-to-be-released Alive in Amsterdam, is a celebration of his return. Expect some blues-filled fireworks. The under-appreciated guitarist Ken Valdez, who has played with everyone from Dr. John and Michael Franti to The Wallflowers, Marshall Crenshaw, and Maceo Parker, opens at 7pm.

Friday, May 6

Bruce Hamm & Marcus Wise @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/student ID) Hmm, we have here the first presentation of North Indian classical music at this jazz venue. Many in the Twin Cities know tabla player Marcus Wise for his work with the likes of Dean Magraw, Anthony Cox, and Peter Schimke. He’s also worked with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, John Densmore of the Doors, and Steve Tibbets. Tonight he’s working with Hamm, one of America’s top sarod players, with whom he’s performed many times. Here’s a short video of the two of them in a trio setting.

The Butanes @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm – 10:30pm (No Cover) Often named the Best Blues Band in the Twin Cities, this four-piece tears it up, and will no doubt create a lively scene in the supper club’s lounge. Check out their instrumental chops.

Crankshaft & the Gear Grinders @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) With a style that heavily rooted in blues, country, and soul, and propelled by the energy of early rock n’ roll, Alex “Crankshaft” Larson and his band deliver hard driving deep blues and roots music.

Boom Boom Stevie V & the Knockouts @ Schooner’s Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Boom Boom delivers emotion-fueled harmonica blues, and with the Knockouts, provides an evening of fun.

Saturday, May 7

Hurricane Harold Duo and Lisa Wenger @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 6pm (Hurricane – No Cover), 9pm (Wenger – $8) It’s a double dose of bluesy roots at the Vieux tonight. Harmonica whiz Hurricane Harold Trembley always has interesting partners in his duos, and will provide great music while you dine on the room’s New Orleans-inspired food. Then at 9pm Blueswoman Lisa Wenger will bring her gritty-yet-sweet soulfully inspired vocals to the room.

Classic country, classic duds

Classic country, classic duds

Saddle Sores @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5?, $10?) Classic country from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The Saddle Sores are: Jenny Russ, vocals; Jimmy Kennedy, guitar & vocals; Randy Venaas, bass; Mo Engel, drums; and Tyler Christenson on pedal steel guitar.


The awkwardness of finding a date for the prom

The awkwardness of finding a date for the prom

Opening: A Night in Olympus @ Illusion Theater, Cowles Center for the Arts, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25 – $42) Runs through June 4 (Sundays at 7pm) After their success with the musical Glensheen, Chan Poling is once again partnering with playwright Jeffrey Hatcher and writer Bill Corbett for A Night in Olympus, a musical about an awkward teenager who gets her wish to become so beautiful that she scores a date with the hottest guy in school. As might be expected, things don’t work out as planned in what promises to be a musical evening filled with silliness, though rest assured, there’s a happy ending. Poling is a founding member of the Suburbs and tours with The New Standards. Hatcher’s plays have been seen on Broadway and he’s done the screenwriting for Mr. Holmes, the Duchess, and Casanova. Corbett is one of the writers and performers of Mystery Science Theater 3000.   BTW, I’ll have Chan Poling as my guest on Rhythm and Grooves on Saturday, May 7. The show runs from 10:30am – Noon. Poling will be out in the latter part of the 11am hour. Find out more about the production here.

Joey Ryan & the Inks CD Release @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 9pm ($8) Ryan crafts pop songs that recall the “sunshine pop” of California, though he leavens his music with a bit of sadness. The new CD, Young Afternoon, was crafted during a period when all members of the band welcomed additions to their family, and the songs reflect that new responsibility. Opening acts are BBGun, with Al Church, Neal Perbix, and drummer Jeremy Hanson, and solo singer/songwriter Eric Mayson.

Sunday, May 8

Yuna, with BOSCO @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7pm ($18 Advance/$20 Door) Yuna is an R&B singer from Malaysia, whose 2012 breakthrough hit, “Live Your Life” was produced by Pharrell Williams, the guy behind “Happy” and Daft Punk’s last album. Her new album, “Nocturnal” is being released on Verve Records. Opening is Atlanta’s BOSCO, another up and coming female R&B artist.

Monday, May 9

Paul Mayasich & The RAMM Band @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) Get a dose of Real American Made Music, i.e., Motown, rock n’ roll, R&B, funk, and more from Mayasich and his bandmates. Here they are in an acoustic setting.

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.


It’s All Good Music: 4.20 – 4.26

April 20, 2016

Unknown-1It’s another good week to be an ominiverous music fan. We have a few highly anticipated jazz artists in town, as well as some great blues and a battle of the blues bands, and some fine resident artists at work. Music lifts the spirit. Have a great week.


Wednesday, April 20

Nathan Hanson @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10) Saxophonist Hanson leads Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, Cornet; Erik Fratzke, electric bass; and Davu Seru, drums and percussion; through a program of Nathan’s originals, as well as tunes from Carla Bley, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and some spontaneously composed works.

Bernstein, Goldings, & Stewart Organ Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($22 – $30) This isn’t your father’s classic organ trio, though it’s a hard-charging group that’s taking the format in new directions. Guitarist Peter Bernstein has been a NYC institution since 1989, playing with legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb, Joshua Redman’s band, Diana Krall, Tomn Harrell, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Sonny Rollins, and more. Larry Goldings is the organ player in the group, though he’s equally at home with other keyboards, enough so that’ he’s been nominated for a Grammy and has playd with folks like Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux, Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, and Elton John. He’s got 18 albums as a leader, and hundreds more as a sideman. Drummer Bill Steward is another versatile veteran, having performed with Maceo Parker, John Scofield, Joe Lovano, james Brown, and Pat Metheny.

Thursday, April 21

Andrew Walesch Big Band: The Sounds of Sinatra @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) If you want to see this group I recommend getting there early, as pianist/vocalist Walesch has certainly hit on a popular concept. Though it’s not exactly a big band, the group does have ten members, giving it significant heft to support Walesch’s vocals.

Thursday, Friday, Sunday, April 21, 22, 24

Davina & The Vagabonds CD Release @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($15) The hardest working musician in the Twin Cities is releasing a live album entitled Nicollet & 10th. She and the band (trumpet, trombone, upright bass and drums) will soon be heading to the San Francisco Jazz Festival, then out East for a plethora of appearances, including a couple of blues festivals, before returning to the Monterrey Jazz Festival once again, where they’ll perform on two different stages. Later this summer they head to Europe. If you’ve never seen her and wonder what it’s all about, the best I can say is that Davina has a powerful voice, and a kick-*ss band, which does not include a guitar. Her music straddles lines between New Orleans R&B, traditional jazz, blues, and the occasional standard. The high-energy combination works, as she gains new and rabid fans wherever she plays.

Friday, April 22

Father & Son Pancake Breakfast @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) Not what you think, but rather a trio featuring the father/son team of Javi Santiago on piano and Mac Santiago on drums, joined by Anthony Cox on bass. No word on whether Vanessa will be selling pancakes.

Saturday, April 23

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) 7pm: Steve Kimmel Trio w/Steve Kimmel, piano; Margo Beivik, bass; and Trevor Haining, drums. 8pm Javi Santiago Trio: Miguel Hurtado, drums; Dan Carpel, bass;  and Santiago on piano. Here’s Javi in a solo piece.

Adam Meckler Quintet CD Release @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) opening is Jack Lion, electronic modern Jazz from Iowa. Then its’ tha AMQ: Meckler, trumpet; Graydon Peterson, bass; Zacc Harris, guitar; Greg Shulte, drums, Joe Mayo, sax. Here they are at the Black Dog.

Andy Martin & Bob McChesney w/the JazzMN Orchestra @ Hopkins High School, 2400 Lindberg Dr, Hopkins. 7:30pm ($$10 – $33) The show is called Slide by Slide, since both Martin and McChesney are veteran trombonists – both have appeared on hundreds of soundtracks and TV scores. They’ve also been featured performers with the likes of Natalie Cole, Michael Buble, and Gordon Goodwin. Here they are with the Carl Saunders band.

Superstitious Thriller: A Tribute to Stevie Wonder & Michael Jackson @ The Capri Theater, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) Jay Young and his Lyric Factory have been presenting some of the music of Wonder and Jackson as part of larger shows over the last few years. Now he just concentrates on the two Motown Stars, bringing jazz arrangements to their songs. Though groups are always a bit flexible, past versions of the Lyric Factory have included Jay on piccolo bass; his son Ian on regular bass; Kevin Washington, on drums, and Thom West on keys. Various and sundry singers take over the vocal duties.

Sunday, April 24

The Elders @ Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Paul. 2pm ($20 Adults, $16 MNHS members, $10 5-7 yrs old) Patty Peterson host this event, which includes live music and conversation with jazz elders from the area. Guests include gospel singer Tom Tipton, and saxophonist/composer/arranger Dave Karr.


Superstitious Thriller: A Tribute to Stevie Wonder & Michael Jackson @ The Capri Theater, Minneapolis. 3pm ($25) Jay Young and his Lyric Factory have been presenting some of the music of Wonder and Jackson as part of larger shows over the last few years. Now he just concentrates on the two Motown Stars, bringing jazz arrangements to their songs. Though groups are always a bit flexible, past versions of the Lyric Factory have included Jay on piccolo bass; his son Ian on regular bass; Kevin Washington, on drums, and Thom West on keys. Various and sundry singers take over the vocal duties.

Lucia Newell & Phil Aaron @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm – 9pm ($8, $35 Dinner) Ms Newell is a chanteuse whose knowledge of Brazilian songs comes from having lived there some years (decades?) back. She and Phil Aaron on piano will be performing some new material along with the Brazilian and American jazz standards that she favors. There will likely be some songs of spring as well for this intimate show.

Monday, April 25

Nancy Harms @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($20, $40 Dinner), 9pm ($15) NYC-based, Minnesota-native Nancy Harms reruns to the Twin Cities for the local release of her highly anticipated album “Ellington at Night”. Judging from the videos released in anticipation of the album, Harms continues to find new emotion and strength in well known standards, this time from the Ellington songbook. Nancy will be appear with pianist Jeremy Siskind, a frequent collaborator with a light touch; as well as bassist Gordy Johnson and drummer Jay Epstein. Noted jazz writer Will Friedwald says of her  “…What makes ‘Ellington at Night’ so remarkable is the way that Nancy Harms and chief collaborator Jeremy Siskind have found a whole new way to sing Ellington, one that’s perfectly in keeping with the Ellington tradition, yet, at the same time, fresh and original.”

JAWS @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10) I doubt you’ll hear the scary music from the movie, but one never can tell. This is a young outfit, co-led by pianist Jordan Anderson and guitarist Will Schmid, with Drew Stinson on bass, and Ben Beyene on drums. Anderson is now in his second year on the Dakota Combo, and was recently accepted into the jazz program at the University of Michigan, where he’ll study with Beeny Green. Schmid plays with the Minnesota Youth Jazz Band, and leads his own groups, in addition to playing in a guitar duo with Adam Astrup – the two got a warm reception at the Winter Jazz Fest.

Jazz Implosion @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) The first set is guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker & drummer JT Bates performing  “A Musical Tribute to US Bank Stadium,” which sounds like it could be anything. The second set feature – Mancrush – Lars-Erik Larson, Brandon Wozniak, sax; Zacc Harris, guitar; and Bryan Nichols, keyboards. Here are Jeremy and JT playing in Alpha Consumer.

Tuesday, April 26

John Raymond Quartet @ Crooners Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40 Dinner) Young trumpet ace John Raymond is back in town and appearing with Bryan Nichols, piano; Graydon Peterson, bass; and JT Bates, drums at the Dunsmore Room Crooner’s listening room, where people keep quiet in order to fully appreciate the music being presented. The quartet will be doing Raymond’s original music from his two albums.

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, April 20

Joe T. Cook on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (KFAI – 90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Though he moved to the Pacific Northwest 10 years ago, Joe is fondly remembered around here, as well he should be. A winner of multiple blues awards and accolades from our own Blues Society, this harmonica player/vocalist/composer is in town for only two shows. He’ll be joined by Joe Franken on guitar and what is promised as a “killer rhythm section.” Tune in and get to the 331 Club for the show.

Malamanya @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) The Icehouse will become a veritable whirlpool of salsa dancers who enjoy the Cuban sons and other latin dance music of Malamanya.

Thursday, April 21

Papa John Kolstad and the Perfect Phits @ Vine Arts Center, 2637 27th Ave So, Minneapolis 6pm – 9pm (Free) Well, here’s Papa John in a place you don’t normally associate with the blues or acoustic swing – an art gallery. But then, John’s wife Susan Horns Kolstad is one of the artists whose work is on display, along with the work of C. Kim Pickering and Cecilia Schiller. Don’t know anything about the Perfect Philts, but since tonight’s event is sponsored by KBEM as part of its Gallery Grooves series, I trust they’ll play some great music.

Orkestar Bez Ime @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7:30pm – 9:30pm (tip Jar) The raucous sounds of this Balkan party band will reverberate through the Northern Warehouse as dancers set aside tables and grab partners. If you’re lucky, some choral singers will show up to add another dimension to the music.

Thursday, Friday, April 21, 22

Music in Movies @ MStP International Film Festival, Saint Anthony Main Theater, Minneapolis. Various prices, and times. During this week there are a few music films being shown during the Festival. On Thursday, cellist Yo Yo Ma is the subject of a film at 7:15, while Twin Cities rapper Eyedea is featured at a 9:20 screening, both at Saint Anthony Main Theater. On Friday, the film about Gypsy will be shown at 9:20 at the same theater.

Friday, April 22

XTC: An All Star Tribute @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 9pm ($20) This tribute to the British Pop giants XTC will feature a cast of dozens of regional stars, including Leslie Ball, Chris Beaty, Paul Boblett, Al Church, Adam Levy, John Munson, and many more. It’s a benefit for the Pay It Forward Cancer Fund at the Ridgeview Medical Center, which helps breast and women’s cancer patients pay basic living expenses while undergoing treatment.

Hipshaker Dance Party @ The Kitty Cat Club, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Brian, Greg, and George get out the little records with the big holes and spin them in a dance-inducing way.

Saturday, April 23

Willie Walker & We “R” @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) As the summer sneaks up on us Willie Walker is preparing to travel to Brazil, Argentina, and northern Europe. His recent album, “If Nothing Ever Changes” is a solid slab of soul singing for the 21st Century. In fact, Walker has received three nominations from the Blues Foundation: Album of the Year, Soul Blues Album, and Soul Blues Artist. Well deserved, and we are lucky enough to be able to see him up close in the large room at Crooners. Here’s Walker in Brazil.

Graham Parker/Brinsley Schwarz Duo @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($40 – $45) Parker came to the fore as a punkish soul singer with sharp writing skills from Britain during the late 70s and early 80s, when he led Rumour. Schwarz was in the Rumour and also led his own aggregation. Schwarz has often played with Parker on post-Rumour records, and recently the two have been selling out theaters around Europe playing some of Parker’s more recent music as well as some well-known “hits.”

Sunday, April 24

Road to Memphis Band Competition @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 3pm ($10) So the solo/duo competition was a couple of weeks ago, and now it’s time to choose a band to represent Minnesota at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next January. Today’s challengers include The Mark Cameron Band, The Lisa Wenger Band, The Gopher Tones, and Harrison Street. It’s a great way to get a sampling of some of the best blues around.

Tuesday, April 16

Paul Mayasich @ The Station, White Bear Lake. 9pm (No Cover) Mayasich has a weekly gig at the Station, bringing in guests each week for a different take on guitar based rock, blues, and who knows what else. Tonight you can experience Mayasich Mayhem (according to his website) as Paul brings in Mark and Greg Mayasich to help him and listeners have fun.

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.

Back to School: 9.9 – 9.15

September 9, 2015

UnknownAs the summer draws to a close and school begins (at many levels), we can look forward to another week of terrific music here in the Twin Cities, from a bluegrass festival in an art park, to a community jazz festival and a couple of visiting artists of note. Music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, September 9

Dean Magraw @ The American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) As part of the American Swedish Institute’s salute to the Hagström guitar (“Amp Up!, The Hagström Guitar Sensation), ASI is bringing the Hagström guitar to Minneapolis and putting it in the hands some of the Twin Cities’ best players as part of their “2015 Ballroom Music Series.” Tonight, the always versatile Dean Magraw will be putting it to the test, with, I am sure, great results.

Good Vibes Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Anytime I see this group, they generate such joy playing together that the audience becomes part of their fun. Chris Bates, bass; Phil Hey, drums; and Dave Hagedorn, vibes.

Friday, September 11

Michael O’Brien & Jeremy Walker @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 6pm – 8pm (No cover) Bassist Michael O’Brien is back in town from his current base in NYC for a few days, picking up a number of gigs. Tonight he joins with pianist Jeremy Walker for a fine early evening show.

Christian Scott @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30), 9pm, ($20) Scott is a New Orleans raised trumpeter who now makes NYC his home. He’s been turning heads in the jazz world for his forthright attitude about social ills and his ability to engage modern rhythms and genres into his own sound called Stretch Music.

Sophia Shorai @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm – 11:55pm ($8) The intimate space of the Vieux will be warmed by the vocals of Ms Shorai  Whether performing standard chestnuts or her original music, she can communicate both heartbreak and joy with the slightest inflection of her honey-sweet voice.

Michael O’Brien Trio @ Nicollet Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm, (Tip Jar – $10 Suggested Donation) Michael O’Brien and Jeremy Walker head to the Nicollet after finishing up at the Vieux Carre earlier this evening. At the Nicollet they’ll be joined by drummer Tim Zhorne. Tomorrow O’Brien will  be conducting a class at Jazz Central from noon – 2pm ($25)

Saturday, September 12

Selby Avenue Jazz Festival @ Selby & Milton, Saint Paul. Noon – 8pm (Free) It’s the 14th Annual community celebration, this year including Dick and Jane’s Brass Band, leading a parade through the area to start the day off, as well as The Lex-Hamm Community Band, the Urban Legends of Walker West, and Salsa del Soul. The Jazz Heritage Showcase will once again feature music from jazz’s great golden age, performed by area artists in period costume. Eric Kamau Gravatt and Source Code will be playing as well. Headlining is saxman Walter Chancellor, Jr, who has played on records by Prince, Chaka Khan, Maceo Parker, Candi Dulfer, and Bobby Lyle, among others. There will be food stands, food trucks, and vendors and organizations from the community.

JoAnn Funk @ The Saint Paul Hotel Lobby Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm – 11pm (No Cover) Well, one good thing about the end of summer is that we get to hear JoAnn Funk sing and play at the Lobby Bar. Funk’s most recent CD, Jazz in the Lobby Bar, has been getting great reviews and has become a favorite of jazz lovers in Japan.

Peterson Family Tribute @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm – 11pm. The Peterson Family pays tribute to their late matriarch, Jeanne Arland Peterson. Linda Peterson, piano, vocals; Patty Peterson, vocals; Paul Peterson, bass, piano, vocals; Jason Peterson DeLaire, sax, piano, vocals, and Very Special Guest, Kenny Horst, on drums. All proceeds will be donated to the Jeanne Arland Peterson Scholarship for Jazz Studies at the U of MN.

Mr. Pemberton on trumpet

Mr. Pemberton on trumpet

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Blackdog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. ($10 Suggested Donation) 7pm. First up is the Post Atomic Trio, with David Hamilton, piano; Ademola Adegun, bass; and Derrin Pinto, drums. Then at 8:30pm it’s time for trumpeter Jon Pemberton’s Tribute to Lee Morgan, with Dave Brattain, sax; Mikkel Romstad, piano; Tom Lewis, bass; and Cory Healey, drums.

Sunday, September 13

Paul Renz Quartet @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) Guitarist Paul Renz is a well-honed craftsman who, though based in the Twin Cities, performs here only occasionally. He does do an extensive tour of the East Coast every year. For this performance of original music he’ll be joined by Wes Ruelle, piano; Jonathan Thams, bass; and Jessie Lesmeister, drums.

Sunday, Monday, September 13, 14

Bill Carrothers Trio @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm – 9pm Sunday, 7pm – 10pm Monday (No Cover) The Saint Paul native and Michigan-based pianist returns to the Twin Cities, and jazz fans couldn’t be happier, especially since there is no cover charge. He’s worked with the likes of Lee Konitz and Dewey Redman, and has recorded 17 albums as a leader. These two evenings will be full of sublime, inventive music, with many surprising twists and turns.

Tuesday, September 15

Tommy O’Donnell Trio @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) The veteran pianist leads a trio for jazz listening in the restaurant’s music room, a place just made for his Errol Garner-ish playing.

Dean Magraw & Butch Thompson @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) Guitarist Magraw and pianist/clarinetist Thompson are both long time members of the Twin Cities music scene, going back to the late seventies or earlier. I don’t know if they’ve played together before, but both are consummate musicians with an affinity for the blues and jazz. Of course, in Magraw’s case, he has an affinity for many kinds of music, so there could be some real surprises tonight.

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 PoliceJazz Ink, and Bebopified.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, September 9

Crankshaft on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Tune in during the 5 o’clock hour to hear Crankshaft’s adrenaline-fueled blues, then head over to the 331 club, where  a celebration of Kathy Schwalbe’s Birthday will be taking place while Crankshaft amps up the atmosphere. I’m fairly certain members of the Blues Society and various bands will be in attendance to cheer him on and wish Kathy a happy birthday.

Hula Peppers @ The Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) This could be the low-key gig of the week. The Peppers play Tin Pan Alley jazz from the 20s and 30s. It’s old time, as opposed to old-timey, music, and it’s delightful.

Lee “Scratch” Perry @ The Cedar Culutral Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($25) Here is a musical maven who is so offbeat that some call him a genius while others call him insane. Perry’  approach to production and dub defined reggae music, and his work with Bob Marley and the Wailers, the Upsetters, and the Congos certainly helped their rise to success, while his more recent work under his own name has been mystifying, to say the least. He’ll be performing the legendary Super Ape album in its entirety. Subatomic Sound System opens.

La Santa Cecilia @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) This Los Angeles band of Latino rockers was last in town to celebrate the opening of the new theater at the Ordway. There infectious mix of cumbers, Tex-Mex, and rock n’ roll had the audience jumping in their seats. We’ll see if they can get a Dakota crowd up and dancing.

Thursday, September 10

Chuck Prophet @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) Singer/Songwriter Chuck Prophet first came to attention as a member of the 80s psychedelic band Green on Red. He released his first solo album, Brother Aldo, in 1990, and started to be compared to folks like Ray Davies, Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty, and Alex Chilton. He’s collaborated with a wide range of folks, from Warren Zevon to Jim Dickinson and Lucinda Williams. Opening is Holly Hansen, of the Twin Cities own Zoo Animal.

Friday, September 11

RAMM Band @ The Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Paul Mayasich brings the Real American Made Music trio to the modest south side dive bar. Expect fleet fingering from guitarist Mayasich, backed by the solid foundation of John Iden, bass; and Hye Pockets, drums, playing a mix of Motown, R&B, Blues, and Rock n’ Roll.

Saturday, September 12

Summit Backyard Bash @ Summit Brewing, 910 Montreal Circle, Saint Paul. Noon – 7pm ($20) Once again, Summit Brewing opens up their “back yard” to a big party featuring many of the area’s most exciting acts. Performers include Hotpants DJs, Blackmarket Brass, Al Church, Toki Wright, Gramma’s Boyfriend, and headliners the Suburbs.

Shangoya Reunion @ The Cabooze, Minneapolis. 10pm ($13) Shangoya was the first reggae band in the Twin Cities. Back in the early 80s their combination of reggae and calypso filled clubs, ballrooms, and street festivals with riotous dancers, and quite a few musicians came up through their ranks. Tonight many of those musicians will perform, as  a Tribute to the band’s founder Peter Nelson, who died some years back. Opening: Socaholix.

Sunday, September 13

Bluegrass Festival @ The Caponi Art Park, 1220 Diffey Road, Eagan. Noon – 6pm. ($20) Listen to a variety of bluegrass(y) sounds amongst the trees of the park’s amphitheater Theater in the Woods. things start out with a jam session until 2pm, when the Sawtooth Brothers perform, followed by the jug band and rag-timey bluegrass of Jack Norton and the Mullet River Boys at 3pm. The Wild Goose Chase Cloggers then take the stage at 4pm, to show off their foot-stomping dance moves accompanied by Rooster Riot, and a 5pm Monroe Crossing, inductees of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, close things out.

DVRG Redefined @ The Icehouse, Minnapolis. 5pm ($8) Devon R Gray is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, and composer who is perhaps best known as dVRG in the live rap/hip hop band Heiruspecs. He’s done many cross-genre collaborations and his influences range from classical music to the R&B of Shuggie Otis. Tonight he’ll be singing, and joined by James Everest, guitar; and Davu Seru on drums.

Jack Klatt @ The Como Dockside Pavillion, Saint Paul. 5:30pm (Free) Klatt is a singer/songwriter and finger-picking guitarist who draws inspiration from the hokum blues of the 1920s, the Appalachian sounds of country music’s roots, and acoustic swing. Just the thing for a late summer outdoor gig.

Monday, September 14

Maurice Jacox @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) Regular readers may gather that I really like vocalist/saxophonist/flautist Jacox, and that would be true. He’s a versatile singer, equally at home with blues, jazz, Motown, and Tin Pan Alley. Consequently, I want let readers know whenever he’s performing in a new situation, as with foodie night at the Dakota, where there’s no cover, menu specials, and $10 bottles of wine.

Tuesday, September 15

Kate Davis @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) This young multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter has been gaining critical attention since she moved to NYC from her native Portland Oregon in 2009. Davis‘ lyrics are in turn heartfelt, witty, perceptive, and cliche-free.

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.

Inside. Outside. Music: 6.11 – 6.17

June 12, 2014
The Green Line of the LRT begins running this weekend.

The Green Line of the LRT begins running this weekend. There will be music galore.

It’s a big weekend for festivals, what with the annual Stone Arch Bridge Festival, music events at many of the stations along the Green Line LRT, the Loring Park Acoustic Music Festival on Saturday, and a few nearby-but-out-of town events. Don’t forget those day-to-day events featuring some of the very talented individual artists and groups in our fair cities, as well as the occasional visitors.


Thursday, June 12 Melody Mendis Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) It’s the vocal showcase at Jazz Central, tonight featuring Mendis, a Detroit vocalist who has been calling Minneapolis home for a few years now. She’s sung in a Parisian cabaret, and has toured England and throughout North America, bringing her own interpretation to originals, standards, and some pop/rock fare.

Kinghorn/Baldwin, Inc. @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) This should be especially interesting for those who appreciate the intersection of jazz and soul music. A quintet of some of the area’s busiest young musicians will be interpreting jazz and soul standards, as well as songbook tunes and the occasional original. Cameron Kinghorn, vocals; Jake Baldwin, trumpet & trombone; Ted Godbout, piano; Matt Peterson, bass; and Andres Crovetti, drums.

Adam Linz/Paul Metzger Duo @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Grand at Snelling, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Emil Sherzad is host of Radio Duende on KFAI, a show that features much freely improvised music. As the owner of the Khyber Pass Cafe, he’s now providing a new venue for adventurous improvised music every Thursday. The initial show features bassist Adam Linz and guitarist/banjoist Paul Metzger in and evening of improvised music based on a set of African field recordings. Wine, beer, and small plates will be available.

Friday, June 13

Rhonda Laurie Trio @ Parma 8200, Bloomington. 7:30 – 10:30pm (No Cover) This New York City native can sing gypsy jazz, as well as swing some standards and the occasional pop fare. The lounge at Parma 8200 has good cocktails and great bar fare. A fine combination.

Saturday, June 14

Jazz at Studio Z: NextGen Showcase @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10) This is the last show of the season for this series, and they’re closing out with some bands featuring young players. At 7pm it’s the No Coast Quintet, with Nelson Devereaux, sax; Jake Baldwin, trumpet; Zacc Harris, guitar; Brian Courage, bass, and drummer Lars Larson. At 8pm The Kevin Gastonguay Trio takes to the stage, followed at 9pm by Steve Kenny and Group 47, celebrating the digital release of their new album. Led, more or less, by trumpeter Steve Kennyu, the band features saxophonist Thomas Strommen, bassist Adam Tucker, drummer Alex Burgess, and 17 year old piano phenom Will Kjeer.

Down in New Orleans

Down in New Orleans

Jack Brass Band @ Sibley House Lawn, Mendota. 7pm – 9pm. ($10/$7 for MNMHS members)This traditional/contemporary brass brand will be celebrating Mendota’s rich jazz history by playing the New Orleans jazz that filled the clubs in Mendota from the 60s through the 80s. Bring a blanket or chair and soak in the music. If the weather isn’t cooperating, it will be moved into the Mendota VFW, where seating is limited, so reservations are recommended at 651-3452-1596.

Sunday, June 15 Unknown-2Maud Hixson & Rick Carlson: Cole Slaw @ Saint Albert The Great, E. 29th & 32nd Av S, Minneapolis. 1pm – 2:30pm ($15) It’s 123 years since the birth of Cole Porter (June 9, 1891) and Ms Hixson and Mr Carlson are presenting a An Afternoon Picnic of Porter, celebrating his music.

Capri Big Band @ The Como Lakeside Pavillion, Como Park, Saint Paul. 3pm (Free) An inter-generational big band, 25 pieces strong, directed by Faye Washington. They bring a hefty dose of soulfulness and brio to the big band sound.

Billy Hart Quartet featuring Ethan Iverson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) Drummer Hart has played with Otis Redding, Jimmy Smith, The Montgomery Brothers, Eddie Harris, Pharoah Sanders, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter Stan Getz, and Miles Davis, to name a few. He teaches at Oberlin Conservatory, the New England Conservatory, and Western Michigan University. In short, he’s got the chops and he knows how to use them. His quartet includes pianist Ethan Iverson, known around here for his work with the Bad Plus, Mark Turner on sax; and Ben Street on bass. If you want to know jazz, this is the gig to attend.

Monday, June 16

Peter Enblom @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm – 11pm ($10 Suggested Donation) This should be fun for those fans of the sometimes maligned trombone, as Enblom has been playing the instrument, in all genres, for over 40 years. He’s played for such legendary performers as Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, and Harry Connick, Jr., and is currently the lead trombonist with the Brian Setzer Orchestra. He performs as well with the JazzMN Orchestra, the Explosion Big Band, and the Bill Simonsen Orchestra, as well as with numerous other groups.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz, go to the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar. For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs Jazz PoliceBebopified, and Jazz Ink.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Thursday, June 12

John Gorka and Michael Johnson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35) A night of singer/songwriting without peer. Both Gorka and Johnson have been at it since the 70s. Gorka has recorded eleven albums, including a 2010 album with Red House label-mates Lucy Kaplansky and Eliza Gilkyson which was one of the most played folk albums of the year. Johnson scored a top ten hit with Bluer Than Blue in 1978 and since then has had four tunes on the Hot 100 and nine on the country charts. He spent 20 years living here, doing annual Christmas shows at the Guthrie, though he now lives in Nashville, where he continues to write.

Friday, June 13

Booker T. Jones @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($42), 9pm ($35) That’s Booker T as in Booker T and the MGs. The MGs may be no more, but Booker T plays on, recording his latest album, Sound the Alarm, with a number of contemporary R&B voices, and . Before that, his album Potato Hole, with the Drive-By Truckers received an Grammy for the Best Pop Instrumental album. I expect he’ll be playing some old favorites, like Green Onions and Time is Tight in addition to newer tunes.

New Sound Underground @ Dakota Late Night, Minneapolis. 11:30pm ($5) Here’s a funk-laden group whose inspiration draws from genre-crossing jazz like RH Factor, Weather Report, and Soulive. Member include: Kevin Gastonguay, Keys; Trent Jacob Baarspul, Electric Guitar; Christopher Ray Hunnicutt, Electric Bass; Kenyari Steele-Jackson, Drums; Sten Johnson, tpt, Flugelhorn, & Trombone; and Nelson Devereaux on Saxophones.

Left Lane Cruiser w/Sex Rays @ Bayport BBQ & Nashville Hot Chicken, Bayport. 8pm ($12) Left Lane Cruiser has been a favorite of Bayport BBQ owner Chris Johnson since before Johnson started the Deep Blues Festivals some years ago. LLC is a duo that plays raw, bluesy rock, and is heavily influence by musicians from North Mississippi Hill Country. Sex Rays open, with a sound that combines the Sex Pistols and Link Ray. Get there early for some fine BBQ and maybe a few tastes of “white lightnin”.

images-4Friday, Saturday, June 13, 14

5th Annual Howlin’ Wolf Tribute @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 each night, $15 for both nights) Friday line-up: Chris Holm, Tonny Manno (Chicago), Rev. KM Williams (Dallas, TX), Black Diet, The Fattenin’ Frogs. Saturday line-up: Minke Munson, The Crooked Saws, The Flood Brothers, Ross Kleiner & the Thrill, Javier & the Innocent Sons

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, June 13, 14, 15

Stone Arch Bridge Festival @ St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis. 6pm-10pm Fri, 10am – 7pm Sat, 10am – 5pm Sun. This annual festival is an art show and music festival, along with a car show and motorcycle showcase (To attract Dads on Father’s Day), and of course, food. It’s held across the river from downtown Minneapolis and will feature many singer/songwriters in a variety of styles that encompass folk, indie rock, Americana, and roots music. You can go to the website to find out schedules.

Saturday, June 14

Lowertown’s End of the Line Block Party @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 2pm – 9pm (Free) The Green Line LRT opens for business today, and to celebrate, Lowertown businesses and artists are joining together to present art, food, henna painting, and more, including music by The Brass Messengers, Zacc Harris Group, The Person and The People, Orkestar Bez Ime, The Pete Hennig Group, and The Maurice Jacox Band. Hosted by Hot Date.

Monday, June 16

The Fairlanes @ Rice Park, Saint Paul. Noon (Free) An afternoon delight as four guys harmonize to songs from the 50s to the present. It’s acapella doo-wop, for want of a better term.

Monday, Tuesday, June 16, 17

Maceo Parker @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45, $55), 9pm ($35, $45) The embodiment of funk. Maceo was a sideman who was immortalized in 1965 when James Brown said “Maceo, I want you to blow” during the recording of I Got You (I Feel Good). Since then he’s been in and out of the JBs, had his own hit as Maceo and His Men with Soul Power, recorded with Parliament/Funkadelic, Keith Richards, 10,000 Maniacs, Ani DeFranco, Prince, and others, as well as recording his own albums of funk and jazz. You can read an interview I did with him a few years ago here.

Tuesday, June 17

Rich Lewis Band @ Mears Park, Saint Paul. Noon (Free) Some more noon-time fun in the summertime, this time from the New Orleans-ish, Motown-ish R&B band led by Mr. Lewis.


For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the Minnesota Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.

Music ideas for the week of November 16 – 22

November 16, 2011

A varied bit of music here in the Twin Cities this week, ranging from straight ahead jazz, to swinging vocalists, to zydeco, rockabilly, and more, including a film about four jazz albums released in 1959.


Wednesday, November 16

Gary Berg Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10). I first heard Gary many years ago, when he was playing with a Brazilian group. I was impressed by his warm tone on the tenor sax, and his facility at improvising. I later found out he’s a bit of a bebopper as well. Well, he still has a warm tone. Still is a great improviser. He’s appeared on a number of albums by Twin Cities artists, and has been known to pull out a chromatic harmonica and apply his considerable chops to that instrument as well. To see a video of him at the Artists’ Quarter, go here.

Small City Trio @ Red Stag, NE Minneapolis. 10pm. (no cover). Jeremy Walker is back and town for a while, and the talented pianist/composer has been busy playing with Jeff Brueske, bass, and Tim Zhone, drums. His compositions have been called quirky, and compared to Monk and Mingus. Decide for yourself in a new venue for them.

Thursday, November 17

REEL Jazz presents “1959: The Year That Changed Jazz” @ The Trylon Microcinema, Minneapolis. 7pm & 9:30pm ($10). The year 1959 saw the release of four albums that changed the way many people thought about Jazz: Time Out by Dave Brubeck; Mingus Ah Um, by Charles Mingus; the Shape of Jazz to Come, by Ornette Coleman; and Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. This film examines the impact of those albums and their creators. Don’t bother with the 7pm show – it’s sold out. There are seats available in the small (50 seats) theater for the second screening, however.

Friday, November 18

Community Pool @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Lowertown Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar). Every other week Brian Roessler (bass) and Nathan Hanson (tenor sax) host adventurous musicians. Tonight they’ll be joined by Pat O’Keefe (Zeitgeist) on clarinet and visual artist Ta Cumba Aiken on percussion and vocals. There’s no telling where their music will take us, but the journey will be memorable and fun.

Saturday, November 19

Regina Marie Williams Sings Nina Simone @ The Capri Theater, 2027 West Broadway, Minneapolis 7pm – 8:30pm ($25). Williams was outstanding in her role as Dinah Washington (Dinah Was) at the Ordway. Tonight she takes on the music of Simone, a force of nature. Williams will be accompanied by Sanford Moore, piano; Jay Young, bass; and Kevin Washington, drums.

Emily Green @ Eagles Club #34, 25th & 25th, , Minneapolis. 7:30pm – Midnight ($10) It’s swing dance night at the Eagles Club, with lessons at 7:30 and music beginning at 8:30. Emily Green is a fine singer, with great phrasing, who doesn’t play out enough. She’ll have a kickin’ rhythm section backing her. The Eagle’s great wooden dance floor responds nicely to the pounding of many shoes, and drink prices are very, very reasonable.

Zacc Harris Group @ Studio Z, 275 East 4th Street, Saint Paul. (free open rehearsal – 1pm)  7pm performance ($10). Zacc Harris has been curating this monthly series, Jazz at Studio Z,  featuring a lively mixture of jazz from today’s players. This time he’s leading his own group, which is preparing to record an album. Besides Harris on guitar, the group includes Bryan Nichols, piano; the Bates brothers on bass and drums, and special guest Brandon Wozniak on sax. A special feature of this series are the open rehearsals on the day of the performance, where anyone can see what goes into preparing for a performance and ask questions.

Monday, November 20

Always and Forever CD Release @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($7). In 1996, the Illusion Theater presented this musical revue about the male side of relationships, and ended up with a sold-out show for three months. It was revived in 2020 with original cast members T. Michael Rambo, Dennis Spears, and Julius Collins III, along with newcomer Jackson Hurst. The directors and producers decided to record a CD featuring songs from the Revue, and tonight they are celebrating it’s release.

Tuesday, November 22

“Autumn –  and Change” @ The Nicollet Coffee House, Minneapolis. With Vicky Mountain, Teresa Manzella, Karen Quroz, and Maggie Diebel. The little coffeehouse on the corner of Franklin & Nicollet continues its jazz programming with a quartet of stellar singers, all from the Jazz Vocalists of Minnesota. There’ll likely be some bebop, swing, and Brazilian tunes. The owners have applied for a beer and wine license, but even without one, it’s still a swinging venue.

For a comprehensive listing of jazz events, go to:

Roots, Blues, Other

Thursday, November 17

Taylor Baggot EP  Release Party @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5) I first came across Taylor Baggott when he sang at the Landmark Center last center, and subsequently saw him opening for Bettye Lavette. He’s an engaging singer-songwriter who mines old school soul for inspiration. Though Taylor’s singing might be called “blue-eyed soul” that doesn’t do him justice. He’s managed to get Michael Bland (Prince, Mambo’s combo) and Ryan Liesman (Jonas Bros) as producers for this effort, which includes musical contributions from other Twin Cities veterans. I like him well enough to have booked him as a guest when I host Harold’s House Party on Kfai on November 30.

The "Rockabilly Filly"

Rosie Flores @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 11pm. ($8). With the Reckless Ones (9pm), and Adam Lee & The Dead Horse Sound (10pm). Slick up your pompadours and get your cat clothes out. It’s rockabilly time! Rosie has been at it now for 20 years or so, and is an exciting performer. As are the Reckless Ones, local boys who’ve actually done quite well for themselves in Europe, though they remain relatively unknown here in town.

Friday, November 18

Up From the Delta @ The Ritz Theater, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10)  Fattenin’ Frogs and Boys in the Barrels celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the movie soundtrack for “O Brother Where Art Thou.” They’ll be joined by Javier Matos, of the Innocent Sons, and others for an evening of songs inspired by and from the soundtrack. Lotsa Americana. Originally scheduled for the Loring, this has been moved.

Saturday, November 19

Joe Hall & the Louisiana Kane Cutters @ the Knights of Columbus, 1114 West American Blvd, Bloomington. 7pm ($12). The Krewe de Walleye are having another event featuring a Louisiana band. Hall and his crew play insistent, sweat-inducing zydeco with verve and panache. Lessons at 7pm, for those who want to learn the slip/slide shuffle to go with the music.

Paul Cebar @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9:30pm. ($10) Another chance to get out your dancing shoes, as Milwaukee’s charming and rhythmful Cebar brings his infectious blend of R&B, New Orleans, and Caribbean music to Lee’s. Get there early to get a table.

Phil Heywood @ Riverview Wine Bar, Minneapolis. 8pm ($13) Here’s a chance to hear renowned fingerstyle guitarist Heywood in his hometown. He’s toured with Leo Kottke, played with Chet Atkins on Prairie Home Companion, recorded five CDs, and has won two different national fingerstyle championships.  If you like your fingerstyle playing with a soupçon of Leadbelly, this is the place to be tonight.  Here is a video of him performing.

Tuesday, November 22

Still Black, Still Proud, An African Tribute to James Brown @ The Ordway, Saint Paul. 7:30 ($20 – $38 + fees). Back in 1973, James Brown toured Africa as part of the build-up to the Foreman-Ali “Rumble in the Jungle.” He was already a worldwide star, and the tour only solidified his influence on the continent. This show pairs former Brown sidemen Pee Wee Ellis and Maceo Parker with Vusi Mahlasela, a soulful singer, and Cheikh Lo, among others, to present a “pan-continental funk-soul super group.” When a slightly different version of this show was at the Dakota a year or so back it was a joyous, rhythmic affair that had people dancing in the aisles, between tables, and wherever they could find a spot. Should be lots of fun. Check out my interview with Maceo from last spring here.

For a more complete listing of blues events, go to:

About Larry

December 7, 2010

Still playing with records after all these years. Photo by Gustav Hoiland

I grew up in the Bronx, where I first learned to deejay at Friday night dances at a local church during the late 50s and early 60s. Since then I’ve held jobs ranging from cab driver and stock boy to social worker, ad salesman, and writer of technical articles, medical sales brochures, music reviews, and business stories. No matter what I did, music of all sorts would take up my free time. Like many teenagers, rock n’ roll was the first music that I actively sought out. Vocal group harmony was the hook, and I would often go to the fabled Times Square Records to get my fix. I still deejay, playing vinyl, with a weekly gig for Sunday Brunch at the Nightingale in Minneapolis, where I spin classic soul and funk, in addition to occasional gigs elsewhere.

I was first exposed to jazz in my late teens. Among the first jazz albums I bought were Things Are Getting Better, by Cannonball Adderley with Milt Jackson, Focus, by Stan Getz, Big Bags, by the Milt Jackson Orchestra, and Saturday Night/Sunday Night at the Blackhawk, by Cal Tjader. I didn’t stop listening to rock n’ roll, however. In fact, I broadened my musical palette with blues, New Orleans R&B, roots, and reggae (which led to other worldbeat music as time passed).

For about five years in the 80s, I was a free-lance music writer for City Pages, a Minneapolis weekly, interviewing artists like Bobby Blue Bland, James Brown, Claudia Schmidt, Nanci Griffith, The Persuasions, and Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I also reviewed albums, as well as performances by artists such as Sonny Rollins, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, the Neville Brothers, and Dr. John. Since about 2002, I’ve had the opportunity to interview many visiting as well as resident artists for Rhythm and Grooves (my radio show – see below). A number of those interviews, of people like George Duke, Maceo Parker, David Sanborn, Esperanza Spalding, and others, can be found on this blog. I also wrote quite a few stories about resident musicians for The Villager, as 60,000 – circulation neighborhood newspaper covering the Highland, Mac Groveland, West 7th, and downtown neighborhoods of Saint Paul, as well as the Longfellow neighborhood in Minneapolis.

I began broadcasting at KFAI in 1980, when I’d begin the stations’ broadcast day as a host of Shake Up Southside on Monday Mornings. I then moved to Wednesdays from Midnight to 2AM, with a show called Streetlight Serenade. I moved Streetlight to Saturday nights from 9PM – 11PM, before “retiring” to go back to school in 1989. I came back to the station in the last half of the 90s, and started Rhythm & Grooves in July of 2002. After more than 15 years of hosting the show, I stepped down on Dec 30, 2017. I was on from 10:30 AM to Noon (Central Time) each Saturday, and played all kinds of jazz, from the occasional Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, or Louis Armstrong, to Joe Lovano, John Scofield, and Charlie Hunter.

Though Rhythm & Grooves focused on jazz, my record collection (which actually includes vinyl as well as CDs, and electronic storage) encompasses rock n’ roll, pop, rhythm n’ blues, roots, and world music, with a special section for the music of New Orleans. This blog will feature interviews from the past as well as the present, along with an occasional review or two.

Photo courtesy of my nephew Gustav Hoiland, whose photoblog can be found here.

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