One of the aerial rides at the Minnesota State Fair.
Where did the summer go? We’re looking at Labor Day this weekend. I hope you have been able to enjoy the summer. With the State Fair upon us, and school starting up, we’ll start to see fewer outdoor events, though a couple are on hand in the next week or two. in the meantime, we have some unique combinations of jazz players, a few significant birthday celebrations, and two blues acts from Texas hitting town.
Wednesday, August 20
Thomson, Johnson, & Ikeda @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7:30pm. That’s Chris Thomson, sax; Gordy Johnson, bass; and Alden Ikeda, drums, bringing jazz to the neighborhood bistro at 54th & Penn. It’s jazz that can stand up to careful listening as well as being in the background. If you go for the music, be sure to reserve a table near the band.
Thursday, August 30
Photo by Bruce Christianson
John Devine & Friends @ Loring Pasta Bar, Minneapolis. 6pm (No cover) Devine has been playing his saxophone at this venue for ohh, about twenty or more years. He’s a singular player, who has won awards, fellowships, and commissions from foundations, and has played with R&B bands and classical ensembles, in addition to improvisational groups. You can never tell who will show up to play with Devine, but rest assured, they will be among the most talented musicians in town.
Birthday Celebration for Jeanne Arland Peterson, Irv Williams, and Cliff Brunzell @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 7:30pm – 10:30pm. Here is a chance to honor and respect some of the musical elders in our midst. Peterson on piano, is 91, as is violinist Brunzell. Williams is 93. Each still plays with verve and imagination.
Friday, Saturday, August 31, September 1
Phil Hey Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Okay, so you’re staying in town for the Labor Day weekend, and you’ve exhausted your appreciation for the State Fair. Here’s an opportunity to hear some jazz from musicians that more than hold their own with any group in the nation. Hey is on drums, with Dave Hagedorn on Vibes, Tom Lewis on bass, and Phil Aaron on piano. They usually appear at the AQ on weeknights, so here’s a chance for those of you who have school, work, etc. during the week to see this great band.
Saturday, September 1
Steve Hobart’s Hot Club @ the Harriet Brewing Tap Room. 4:30pm – 6:30pm (Free) Here’s an afternoon stop that will pick you up. Steve Hobert is a pianist/accordionist about town who’s been perking up ears in various ensembles. He’s bringing some gypsy jazz to the Tap Room this afternoon. Sounds like a great destination for a bike ride. Music. Beer. And food from Potter’s Pasties
Sunday, September 2
Photo by Andrea Canter
Leigh Kamman’s 90th Birthday Celebration @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 6pm. Another nonagerian in the jazz community. Kammen set vivid scenes and regaled listeners with many stories on Saturday nights as he broadcast the Jazz Image on MPR for so many years. Musical guests include Pete Whitman’s X-Tet, Brad Bellows, Carole Martin and more.
Dean Harrington Trio @ The Red Stag, Minneapolis. 9pm (No cover) Harrington is a relatively unsung jazz guitarist who can swing standards and Django Rheinhardt tunes with equal aplomb. Tonight he’s joined by Dean “Many Notes” Mikkelson on guitar and Matt Senjem on bass.
Tuesday, September 4
Nichols, Peterson, & Horst @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) No, it’s not a law firm, but rather Bryan Nichols, piano; Billy Peterson, bass; and Kenny Horst, drums. A Tuesday night that promises moments of sublime taste as well as effortless flights of imagination.
A more comprehensive calendar for the Twin Cities can be found at Jazz Police. They feature jazz commentary as well, as do Bebopified, and Jazz Ink.
Roots, Blues, Other…
Wednesday, August 29
617 Band @ Groovin in the Garden, Como Park Conservatory, Saint Paul. 6pm (Free) The 617 Band creates highly danceable R&B, Latin, and rock grooves with creative covers and a few originals. Grab a blanket or camp chairs, bring a picnic and have a fun evening on the lawn of the conservatory. A cash bar and lawn games will be available.
Albert Lee @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30) Not to be confused with Alvin Lee of Ten Years After, Albert Lee is a revered guitarist with a country/rockabilly bent. He’s played with The Everly Brothers, Eric Clapton, Emmy Lou Harris, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joe Cocker, and BB King, to name a few. Considered by many (including Clapton) to be one of the finest guitarists on the planet. Here’s a video of Lee doing his thing.
Thursday, August 30
Andrew Jr. Boy Jones @ Famous Daves Uptown, Minneapolis. 9pm. (No Cover). Texas Guitarist Jones was a member of Freddy King’s band twice, in the 60s (when Jones was 16) and again in the 70s. He’s also worked with the Louisiana soul singer Bobby Patterson, as well as Johnny Taylor, appeared on Katie Webster’s album Swamp Boogie Queen, and recorded three albums with Charlie Musselwhite, winning a WC Handy Award in 1995. He’s recorded five of his own albums since then, getting a WC Handy nomination for Watch What You Say on Rounder. In other words, the deep voiced Mr. Jones is the real deal, and for fans of the blues, is well worth seeing.
Friday, August 31
Jeff Ray & Hurricane Harold @ the Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 6pm – 8pm (free) Jeff plays dynamite guitar, Harold blows a mean harp. Together they produce energetic acoustic blues. Freshly tapped beers and the Anchor Fish & Chips Food truck are a plus.
Mary Cutrufello @ Cajun Potuck, 5936 Lexington Ave, Shoreview. 7pm – 9pm. Cajun Potluck is an unassuming little cafe that specializes in one Louisiana dish each day, and sells all sorts of authentic ingredients for those who want to try their own hand at Cajun and Creole cooking. While I’ve recommended Mary Cutrufello in the recent past, a chance to hear her singing solo while having Jambalaya is unique, and worthy of your attention. Though no alcohol is served, you certainly don’t need it to enjoy Mary’s country-rock.
Carolyn Wonderland @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25) Wonderland is an Austin, Texas multi-instrumentalist and composer with a soulful voice that’s tough enough for the blues, and a guitar style to fit. She’s pretty good at singing country and gospel as well.
Sunday, Monday, September 2, 3
Big Sam’s Funky Nation and Bettye Lavette @ The Leinie Lodge Bandshell, MN State Fair, Saint Paul. 3:30 & 4:45 (Big Sam) 8:30pm (Bettye) (Free with $12 Admission to the Fair) Okay, arrive early in the day and catch New Orleans’ Big Sam who used to be top trombonist in the Dirty Dozen, and his brass heavy funk band. If you’re not familiar with them, check out the video, below. Have some dinner, check out the produce hall, or the sales pitches under the grandstand, and come back to see soul legend Bettye Lavette, a singer who gets inside a song like no one else. Her performances will wring the soul out of you – in the best way possible.
Monday, September 3
Laughing Waters Bluegrass Festival @ Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis. 1pm – 6:30pm. (Free) This is the 14th year for this family-friendly outdoor festival. Twin Cities bands Ivory Bridge, Sawtooth, The Platte Valley Boys, and the Middle Spunk Creek Boys, will be joined by up and coming guitarist/singer/composer Nora Jane Struthers will be providing the music. Nearby Sea Salt can provide food and drink, while there will no doubt be other vendors around as well. Stop by while traversing the bikeways, or make a day of it.
Duke Robillard and Davina & the Vagabonds @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20-$25) Here’s a two-fer that’s sure to be entertaining, not to mention a bargain. You’ve got vocal powerhouse Davina & the Vagabonds, who bring down the house whether playing a festival in the neighborhood or Switzerland. Robillard is the guitarist who started Roomful of Blues, and has played with folks ranging from Pinetop Perkins to Bob Dylan. His jump blues playing has always included some jazz elements, and in fact, he’s put out a few albums of very swinging standards and originals.
Tuesday, September 4
Jack Klatt @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7:30 pm (no cover) Klatt can co a Western swing number and turn around and play some bluegrass.
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.