Mayday and More: 5.3 – 5.9

May 3, 2017

The Tree of Life Ceremony at Powederhorn Park

It’s May and we have a weekend of Cinco de Mayo Festivals (Saturday on the West Side of Saint Paul and Sunday around 27th and East Lake) as well as the 43rd Annual Mayday Parade and Celebration in South Minneapolis (see below), all of which will feature music and performers. This week’s indoor events don’t necessarily coincide with the festivals, but provide other opportunities for uplifting experiences, with a number of visiting artists coming to town and a plethora of veteran and emerging Twin Cities artists. Music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, May 3

Regina Carter: Simply Ella @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30 – $40), 9pm ($25 – $35) April 25th marked the100th Anniversary of the birth of Ella Fitzgerald, and violinist Regina Carter is releasing an album entitled Ella: Accentuate the Positive. We are lucky enough to be a stop on her tour promoting the album. Carter is among the finest, if not the finest, jazz violinist practicing today. She’s tasteful, melodic, and swinging, whether she’s interpreting folk music of the South, Cajun fiddle music, the songs her mother loved, or something classical. Carter has been the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (The “Genius Grant”), and numerous awards. You can read an interview I did with her a couple of years ago by going here.

Michael O’Brien @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Bassist O’Brien is in town visiting and he’s brought together some of the best Twin Cities musicians to join him for this gig, which will feature Latin music in addition to O’Brien’s facility on the bass: Pete Whitman, sax; Steven Hobert, piano; and Mac Santiago, drums.

Wednesday, Thursday, May 3, 4

Randy Brecker Quartet @ Crooners’ Dunmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($20 – $30, $60w/Dinner) 9pm ($15, $20) Brecker is a multiple Grammy Award winner, who got his start with the big bands of Clark Terry, Duke Pearson, and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. He was in the original version of Blood Sweat and Tears, leaving them to join the Horace Silver Quintet. Since then, he’s recorded with a wide range of musicians, from Frank Zappa, James Brown, and Parliament/Funkadelic to Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorious, and Frank Sinatra. If you need another reason to see him, consider the fact that his quartet will feature Tanner Taylor on piano, as well as the crack rhythm section of Gordy Johnson and Phil Hey.

Thursday, May 4

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Ruckus Hip Hop Jazz: Drummer Rodney Ruckus may have moved to the West Coast, but he’s got plenty of gigs bringing him back to town. Tonight’s show is a double billing with two drum sets on stage, while Ruckus and LA Buckner lead and co-lead different ensembles that fuse jazz and hip hop.

Joel Shapira/Bryan Nichols Trio @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Shapira, no cover), 8pm (Nichols, $5) the first of two nights of double jazz at the Vieux. Guitarist Joel Shapira will help you while away a pleasant dinner hour before pianist Bryan Nichols and his trio (Jeff Bailey, bass; JT Bates, drums) entertain you with originals and jazz standards.

Friday, May 5

Jon Pemberton/Debbie Duncan @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (Pemberton, no cover), 9pm (Duncan, $12) Jon Pemberton kicks off the dinner hour with his inventive and melodic piano playing, after which vocalist Debbie Duncan will take the stage to deliver her sassy brand of jazz.

Fuzzy Math @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) This quintet  eatures original, if eclectic jazz originals and creative renditions of pop songs. Back in 2012 they were named “the best jazz act for people bored with jazz” by the wags at City Pages. They are, after all, a fun group with the goal of creating “serious music that doesn’t take itself too seriously.” This will be the Jazz Central debut for mark Vandermyde, keys/compositions; Curtis Lucky, trumpet; Scott Fultz, sax; Eric Graham, bass; and Haralds Bondaris, drums.

Saturday, May 6

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Opening tonight are The D’Sievers, with John Sievers, trombone; Remi Moulder guitar; Steve Sawyer, bass; and Garrtett Kolb, drums. At 8:30 or so it’s the powerful Eric Kamau Gravatt & Source Code: Gravatt, drums; Solomon Parham, trumpet; Ron Evaniuk, bass; Dean Magraw, guitar; and Dave Graf, trombone. Here is Gravatt playing with McCoy Tyner and Bill Frisell.

Mama Digdown’s Brass Band @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15)  Mama Digdown has been around for about twenty years, spreading worldwide joy with the creativity of their streetwise brass band music. You can expect traditional New Orleans tunes like Jocomo, and Gloryland, as well as their own version of pop songs like the Jackson 5’s I Want You Back. Since the Madison, WI based group is sometimes supplemented with Twin Cities musicians, there may be guests during the course of the evening.

Sunday, May 7

Bob DeFlores Films: The Big Bands, 1923 – 1950s @ Chanhassen Dinner Theater, Chanhassen. 3pm ($12) Even if you don’t live in the southern ‘burbs, it’s worth the drive to see films from the collection of Bob DeFlores, whose archive of music shorts and “soundies” encompasses all manner of jazz. Today he presents a rich palette of Big Bands, from Rudy Vallee and the Dorsey Brosters, to Woody Herman, Ozzie Nelson, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Ray Anthony, Artie Shaw, and much, much more.

Dan Chouinard and Lucia Newell @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley, 7pm ($10, $35 w/Dinner) Pianist Chouinard and vocalist Newell get together for a special Birthday Club. Not only will they be celebrating the music of composers born during May, but all revenue will go to Global Rights for Women, an organization working to end violence against women worldwide! Here’s Newell performing a Brazilian song.

Dakota Combo Spring Concert @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10) The Dakota Combo is a group of very talented high school students selected each September by open audition to study with bassist Adam Linz for the school year. It’s a program of MacPhail Center for music, supported by the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education. This year’s combo is a quintet: Adam Astrup, guitar; Ivan Cunningham, alto; Riley Swain, baritone; Max Voda, bass; and Simon Petrick, drums. They’ve been hard at it and have already performed at a couple of area schools. It’s safe to say you will likely be blown away by their talent. (Full disclosure: I’m on the board of the Dakota Foundation, which provides the support for this program.)

Monday, May 10

Glenn Zaleski @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40 w/Dinner) Twenty-nine-year old pianist Zaleski has been a first-call sideman in NYC ever since moving there nine years ago. He’s performed and recorded with such stellar performers as Ravi Coltrane and trombonist Michael Dease, among others. He’s featured in the latest issue of DownBeat, where he’s described as someone who is not a traditionalist, but to whom “melody still matters.” The writer goes on to say, “His solos hinge on acute, often linear lines that find their counterweight in subsequent measures, cresting the tension and suspense of a well-wrought story.” This is a solo performance, so you’ve got a chance to see and hear his talent in the comfy, intimate confines of the Dunsmore Room.

Jazz Implosion @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) It’s an exciting double bill this evening the Levi Schwartzberg Quartet and Barnacle. Schwartzberg’s young group starts the evening: Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; Patrick Adkins, piano; Drew Stinson, bass; and Tarek Abdelqader, on drums. Then, it’s the return of Barnacle, a two guitar group that was around at the turn of the century, featuring guitarists Jason Goessl, now of Seattle, and Jacob Park Evans, backed by Chris Bates, bass; and Greg Schutte drums.

Tuesday, May 9

Chris Lomheim/Sophia Shorai @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Lomheim, no cover), 8pm (Shorai, $5) Yet another double dose of jazz, with pianist Chris Lomheim supplying airy, melodic improvisation during the dinner hour, and vocalist Shorai singing in her distinctively vulnerable yet sweet voice.

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, May 3

Gentlemen’s Anti-Temperance League on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) So today, Harold’s House Party features this string quartet (plus vocalist) that specializes in Prohibition-era swing. Tune in at 5pm to hear a sample of their music and go to the 331 for a two hour taste of their tunes. I’d say to bring dancing shoes, but it becomes quite crowded in between the tables of the small club.

Kinky Friedman @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 7pm ($30 Advance, $35 Door) Those of you of a certain age may remember Kinky Friedman as a legendary outlaw country singer/songwriter, satirist, novelist, and onetime gubernatorial candidate for Texas. He calls himself the Texas Jewboy, and is currently on the Resurrected Tour, as he calls it, in support of his latest CD, the Loneliest Man I Ever Met. Brian Molnar, of The Naked Hearts, opens. Here’s Kinky, but her aware, he’s not politically correct.

Thursday, May 4

Edgar Winter Band @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45, $65, $75) Since his debut album in 1970, pianist Edgar Winter has always received accolades for his playing, whether it was rock, jazz, blues, or pop. His 1971 album with his horn band White Trash had liner notes by poet/rocker Patti Smith, and enjoyed huge success, as did it’s live follow-up. He then formed the Edgar Winter Group which had the number one Frankenstein, and another chart buster, Free Ride. The album they appeared on, They Only Come Out at Night, peaked at number 3 and was on the charts for 80 weeks. He’s got over 20 albums and collaborative efforts to his credits, and still rocks out as hard as possible.

Paul Thorne @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($30 Advance, $35 Door) Thorne is a former prizefighter, and quite literally, the son of a preacher man which, taken with his Southern upbringing, has given him a unique perspective on life. He’s lived a life that give him plenty of material for songs and often humorous stories, such as I Backslide on Friday, and Mediocrity is King, both of which can be found on his latest album, Too Blessed to Be Stressed.

Swamp Poppas @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($?) While the Poppas can always be depended upon to deliver smart, danceable renditions of songs from New Orleans and South Louisiana, tonight they’re bringing in vocalist Lucinda Plaisance to help deliver some new songs in the repertoire, including Clifton Chenier’s Zydeco Cha Cha, Gene Delafose’s Bou Pon Pon, Irma Thomas’ Ruler of My Heart, Lou Ann Barton’s version of Shake Your Hips, and more.

Friday, May 5

Eilen Jewell @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35) Singer/songwriter Eilen Jewell is a bit hard to categorize. She’s got a sweet voice, with smoky undertones, and an instinctive way with phrasing, which she uses well, whether celebrating the music of Loretta Lynn, rocking out with Shakin’ All Over, or putting a rockabilly twist to some of her own reflective originals.

Suicide Commandos Listening Party @ the Turf Club’s Clown Lounge, Saint Paul. 7pm (No Cover) Back in 1975 a trio of lads decided they didn’t want to play in a cover band, which was what most of the area’s clubs were hiring. Chris Osgood, Dave Ahl, and Steve Almaas were itching with the raw energy of youth, and wanted to play short, loud, original songs. The old Blitz Bar was willing to hire them, and after that, things changed in the Twin Cities music scene. The Suicide Commandos, as the trio named themselves, laid the foundation for groups like the Suburbs, The Replacements, Husker Du, and other groups. Well, it’s forty-two years later. They had long broken up, developed other music and performing careers, and then started reuniting on a sporadic basis over the last couple of decades. Importantly, they recently recorded their second studio album, Time Bomb. The guys will be hosting this listening party, and selling and signing copies of the album. In addition, Cyn Collins will be selling and signing her new book, entitled Complicated Fun, named after a Commandos song. It’s an oral history of Minneapolis punk and indie rock from 1974 – 1984.

Erik Brandt and the Urban Hillbilly Quartet @ The Underground Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm (Free) Twenty-two years after forming, the Urban Hillbilly Quartet still delivers original Americana and roots rock inspired by folks like David Grisman, Bruce Cockburn, the Jayhawks and The Grateful Dead. The core of the band is Erik Brandt, guitar, accordion, piano, lead vocals; Jeremy Szopinski, electric guitar; Dave Strahan, electric guitar, banjo, & vocals; Mike Schultz, bass; and Jim Orvis, drums.

Saturday, May 6

Saturday Salon @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 3pm ($20) This weeks program of chamber music in a cabaret setting is entitled Lonely Hearts: Music Made in Minnesota. It features two Saint Olaf grads who are active in the Twin Cities choral scene, but who also perform solo. Baritone Harrison Hintzsche and soprano Anna Christofaro will be joined by Matt Harikian on piano to perform acerbic, touching, and sometimes lustful songs by Libby Larsen, David Evans, among others. Small plates and bar service are available during the show, with full dinner available at 4:30pm, for those of us who may not want to go home and cook.

Fourth Annual Minnesota Salsa Fiesta @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20 Advance, $25 Door) It will be an explosion of hip-shaking Latin rhythms as Charanga Tropical hosts guests from throughout the Twin Cities Latin Music scene. Charanga Tropical will play, of course, along with Cuban-style percussion ensemble Rumba del Norte. Then it will be La Gran Charanga, and 18-piece all star group featuring 6 horns, 5 violins, 4 singers, and a full Latin rhythm section. When doors open at 7pm DJ Prieto from Chicago will spin salsa hits mixed with rare videos. A salsa lesson from Cuban-born instructor Rene Thompson will follow, to help folks dance to the pulsating rhythms produced by the bands.

Denny Laine @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40, $45) Laine was an original member of the Moody Blues, and sang lead on their first hit, Go Now back in 1964. He left the Moody Blues to have his own band, joined Ginger Baker’s Air Force for a bit, and then, with Paul and Linda McCartney, was a founder of Wings, which had 24 hits on the charts in the 70s and received a Grammy for Band on the Run. He co-wrote Mull of McIntyre with Paul and it subsequently became the biggest selling hit of all time in the UK. Tonight he’ll play Band on the Run in its entirety, as well as some other tunes, I presume.

Sunday, May 7

Mayday Festival @ Powderhorn Park, Minneapolis. Noon – 7pm (Free) If you want to see a friend you haven’t seen in a while, they will probably be at the community celebration which is taking place for the 43rd year in a row. The day begins with a parade that travels south on Bloomington Avenue from 25th street and turns to Powderhorn Park on 34th Street. The parade features various community groups as well as giant puppets from Heart of the Beast, all marching to the 2017 MayDay theme: Imagine, Resist, Heal.  The Tree of Life Ceremony occurs at 3pm, when the Sun Flotilla paddles the Sun across the park’s lake. There will be music and dancing throughout the day, with entertainment ranging from Morris Dancers and a Women’s Drum Circle, to Savage Aural Hotbed, Prairie Fire Lady Choir and Machinery Hill. Food and merchandise will be available from a plethora of vendors.  Here’s a short clip of what you might see in the parade.

Tuesday, May 9

The Blasters @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 7pm ($20 Advance, $25 Door) Back in 1978, as the Punk movement was gaining steam around the country, a group of guys in Los Angeles named themselves the Blasters and combined that energy with rhythm and blues, early rock n’ roll, and rockabilly in an album called American Music. Funding members Phil Alvin, vocals, guitar; John Bass, bass; and Bill Bateman drums, along with guitarist Keith Wyatt, are still rocking audiences into gleeful pools of sweat.

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.

Spring in Your Step: 3.29 – 4.4

March 29, 2017

Greetings music lovers;

It’s another week with a wide variety of choices for those of us who like to go out and hear music. We have a number of visiting artists from NYC, Ukraine, and points in between, as well as a Brazilian dance night, a Latin music matinee, some chamber music, and more… Lots of opportunities to let music lift our spirits.


Wednesday, March 29

Jeremy Walker Songtet @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($6) Pianist/composer/arranger Jeremy Walker has a penchant for creating interesting musical projects, whether it’s the nine-piece NowNet, the choral/jazz combo piece 7 Psalms, or his own compositions for small groups. Now he has The Songtet, dedicated to performing great songs, whether written by Ellingotn, Dylan, The Gershwins, Cole Porter, or walker himself. Tonight, Walker is adding vocalist Jason Harms to his  trio with Tim Zhorne, drums; and Chris Bates, bass. Harms, incidentally, took part in the performances of 7 Psalms.

Vanessa Trouble w/Charlie Caranicas @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm, 9pm ($20, $45 w/Dinner) NYC-based, Winona-raoised vocalist Vanessa Trouble is visiting, along with trumpeter Charlie Caranicas  another MN native now living in NYC. Trouble’s voice is airy and supple, just right for vintage swing and jazz, as she performs songs like I’m Beginning to See the Light, That Old Devil Moon, and Mambo Italiano. She and Caranicas, who plays with her regularly, will be joined by NYC guitarist Steve Salermo, and the Twin Cities’ own Graydon Peterson on bass.

Steven Hobert Solo Piano @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Pianist Hobert has really been coming into his own lately, finding like-minded musicians that complement his ethereal, often beautiful, spontaneous, and searching style. Tonight that style comes into full play as he performs solo, drawing on works by Mingus, Coltrane, Stevie Wonder, and Eddie Harris in addition to his own work.

Thursday, March 30

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Tonights show features a number of well-traveled Twin Cities musicians performing as Collosus: Park Evans  guitar; Clay Pufahl, saxes; Chris Bates, bass; and Joey Van Phillips, drums.

Dorothy Doring @ The Mudd Room, 1352 Sibley Memorial Hwy, Mendota Heights. 7pm (No Cover) The Mudd Room is a new venue for weekend music, located in the basement of Lucky 13. The soulful and engaging Ms Doring is there tonight.

Friday, March 31

Patty Peterson & Andrew Walesch @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover, $10 reserved table) The most visible member of the Peterson Family musical clan brings her mix of jazz and R&B to the big room at Crooners, where Patty and her band be joined by special guest Andrew Walesch on piano and vocals.

Graydon Peterson Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:00pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Bassist Peterson is an A-list player here in the Twin Cities, just as likely to be accompanying a vocalist as playing with a Latin Band, Big Band, or combo. Tonight he’ll be featuring his own compositions as he is joined by Adam Meckler, trumpet; Joe Strachan, piano; and Adrian Suarez, drums.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, March 31, April 1,2

Fogel, Eckes, & Hixson @ Bloomington Center for the Arts, Bloomington. 7:30 (Fri, Sat), 2pm (Sun) The Show is called Teamwork: Great Songwriting Teams of Broadway and Hollywood. Arne Fogel and Maud Hixson  along with special guest Jennifer Eckes  explore the songs from Broadway and the movies, with an emphasis on legendary songwriting duos to guide them. Think Rodgers & Hammerstein, Cahn & Van Heusen, Sondheim and Styne, and more…

Saturday, April 1

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar)  7:00pm Opening Set : Common Space – Eric Graham Organ/keys, Dylan Nelson – Guitar, Thomas Strommen – Saxophone, Alex Burgess – Drums. 8:30pm ATLANTIS QUARTET – Zacc Harris – Guitar, Chris Bates – Bass, Brandon Wozniak – Saxophones, Pete Hennig – Drums

Monday, April 3

Acme Jazz Company @ Crooner’s Lounge & Restaurant, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover, $10 reserved tables) Though it has a somewhat generic name, this 19-piece big band is anything but generic, with a big repertoire of original arrangements and songs, and crack musicians, including vocalist Arne Fogel.

Greg Ward Quintet + ReichFest @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($12) When Steve Reich, the 80 year old minimalist, died last October, quite a few celebrations of his music were held around the world. Now it’s time for the Twin Cities to celebrate. Cody McKinney and JT Bates have put together a program of Steve Reich’s music featuring Twin Cities musicians for every Monday night in April. Things will start off tonight with the Greg Ward Quintet, then Pete Hennig and Cody McKinney will perform Clapping Music, from 1972, followed by Pat O’Keefe performing New York Counterpoint from 1985.

Tuesday, April 4

Rio Nido @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($25, $50w/Dinner) Prudence Johnson, Tim Sparks, and Tom Lieberman first formed Rio Nido in the 70s, put out a few albums, and then developed their own separate careers. They recently reunited and are doing a few shows a year. I believe this might be their first time in the Dunsmore Room, a perfect place to hear their harmonies.

Freddy Cole @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $40) Having Nat King Cole as an older brother can make it difficult to escape his shadow, especially when voices have the same timbre. Nevertheless, Freddy Cole has found his own voice: elegant, but deeper, and with a rasp that sets him apart. Cole is a master vocalist and fine piano player, and among the top tier of male jazz singers in this country.

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, March 29

Dan Israel, Mikkel Beckmen on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Singer/songwriter Dan Israel has been plying his craft for over two decades, using sharp, incisive writing to comment on his own foibles and insecurities, including the breakup of his 16 year marriage. His writing has wide appeal, with his albums gaining fans throughout the States and in Europe. Tonight he’s accompanied by that percussionist-about-town Mikkel Beckmen. Tune it at about 5pm and then head over to the 331 Club.

Loudon Wainwright III @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40) Younger readers may only know Wainwright as the father of acclaimed singer songwriters Rufus and Martha Wainright, but the older folk among us remember him as an early recipient of the title of “the next Bob Dylan.” He likely didn’t appreciate the title, which was somewhat misleading, as Wainwrights broad humor didn’t exactly fit that mold. His humor did win him a best selling song with Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road back in 1972. Since then he’s kept churning out well-received albums, and spread his wings to acting, with a recurring role in TVs Mash, and appearances in films and other TV shows. He’s also been writing for a number of film scores, including the hit movie Knocked Up.

Dieselfitters @ Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) Get yer honky-tonk and rockabilly fix right here, with this group led by the imaginative and fleet fingered guitarist Clay Williams.

Thursday, March 30

Battle of the Blues Bands @ Famous Daves, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) This week’s battle pits Paul Barry & the Acetones; The Blues Driver Band; The Assumptions; and the Harrison Street Band against each other. Listeners win.

Superfriends of Soul @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover, $10 reserved table) Cate Fiero leads a varied cast of singers and musicians through the Great American Soulbook.

Nip n’ Tuck & the Sleepers @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) Formed back in 1976, this trio was influenced by artists like Todd Rundgren and the Raspberries, gaining much love from area critics and fans. Gary Rue, guitar, vocals; Jeff Willkomm, bass, vocals; and Tilly, drums, vocals; have played with many original rock n’ rollers from the 50s and 60s from Gene Pitney and Lou Christy to the Coasters and Marvelettes. Nip n’ Tuck was among bands that were “this close” but didn’t close the deal for one music industry reason or another. Now they’ve dusted off old tunes and are back. The Sleepers play British Invasion music from the likes of the Animals, Zombies, and Yardbirds, as well as a few things from the Fab Four.

Claudettes @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10)  Pull Closer to Me: The Claudettes, Live in the Piano Room, is the first release documenting the band’s new lineup (pianist/founder Johnny Iguana, singer Berit Ulseth, drummer Matt Torre and bassist/singer Zach Verdoorn). You’ll hear material from the 7-song EP, as well as other tunes that reflect the bands absorption of piano based Chicago blues, burlesque, 60s pop-soul, and vaudeville.

Thursday – Sunday, March 30 – April 2

Merce Cunningham’s Common Time @ Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Thursday: 5:30 and 8pm, Fri-Sun: 1:30 and 4pm (Free) Here’s a unique dance experience, as Walker’s Perlman Gallery is filled with movement and sound as dancers from the final Merce Cunningham Dance Company perform Events. Cunningham’s unique choreographic form is made for performances in unconventional spaces. These 30-minute sequences provide the audience with a rare opportunity to see Cunningham’s choreography exploring space, time, and movement. Arranged and staged by former MCDC dancer Andrea Weber, these 30-minute sequences drawn from four decades of Cunningham’s work offer a rare chance to experience firsthand his signature explorations of space, time, and movement. Dancers from the Final Merce Cunningham Company will perform to music by a fantastic line up of local artists including folks like Douglas Ewart, Michelle Kinney, Joe Strachan and Noah Ophoven-Baldwin will perform their own compositions to accompany this program, based on John Cage’s improvisational parameters for Cunningham Events. Capacity is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Friday, March 31

Adam Levy’s Joga Bola & Friends @ the Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7 Advance/$10 Door) Joga Bola is a new Brazilian project led by Adam Levy, featuring musicians from the Afro-Cuban, jazz, Brazilian, and R&B scenes in town:  Mina Moore, Karen Quiroz, Lucia Sarmiento, Andrew Gillespie, Tim O’Keefe, Jeff Bailey, Charlie Peterson. Their sound is inspired by 1960’s & 1970’s samba, funk, soul, and psychedelia from Brazil.Their debut at Cedar Cultural Center some weeks back was great fun. The Guayaba All Stars Orchestra was created and founded by Master Peruvian Percussionist/Drummer Chico Chavez. They are the first local band to perform psychedelic Peruvian cumbia (a.k.a. chicha). Guayaba is a totally fresh dancing music experience featuring authentic Latino Dance flavors – psychedelic cumbia chicha, salsa, cumbia, bachata, merengue, and tropical grooves from all LatinAmerica. Angie Citlali is a passionate singer-songwriter, often writing social and political lyrics. Being from Chicago and Mexico, she often fuses these two worlds into her empowering music.

Coco Montoya @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $30), 9:30pm ($20, $25) The reviews for shows by Coco Montoya inevitably include adjectives like “blistering,” “hot,” “fiery,” “passionate,” and similar terms. The man is a monster player on the blues-rock scene, having learned to play from his mentor Albert Collins. Like Albert King, the southpaw plays left-handed and upside down. Five years with Collins was followed by ten years with John Mayall, after which Montoya went solo in 1993. He’s been a road warrior ever since, with numerous Blues Award nominations, and a strong following around the world.

Saturday, April 1

Saturday Salon: April Foolery @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 3pm ($20) With an easygoing air and a quick wit, soprano Maria Jette hosts a different combination of performers and repertoire each Saturday afternoon in the Dunsmore Room, giving listeners a chance to hear chamber music in a delightful setting with only 80 seats. Today, to celebrate April 1st, she’s presenting James Ramlet, bass vocals; and Mary Jo Gothmann, piano; performing Songs for the Cruelest Month.

April Fools @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7) Of course, this band has to play on April 1st. This talented group plays a wide spectrum of music, from straight-up country to Brit-pop, blue-eyed soul, and more. Besides Drake, the band includes Clay Williams, guitar; Scott Hreha, bass; and Ben Kaplan, drums.

Sunday, April 2

Charanga Tropical @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 3pm – 5pm (No Cover) Charanga Tropical is one of the few U.S., groups working in the danzon style, though they incorporate salsa and their own compositions as well. They are the only U.S. group to play at the Danzon festival in Havana. This matinee performance is just right for folks who want to practice their salsa dancing and charangas, while being early enough to get sufficient rest for working on Monday morning.

Dakhabraka @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40, $45) It is very difficult to describe the wonderful weirdness of this world music quartet from Ukraine. Yes, they sing in Ukrainian and Russian, but their songs at times sound like Frank Zappa, and at other times have hints of Smokey Robinson, using an accordion, cello, and variety of percussion instruments, not to forget their vocal harmonies, on-stage presence, and costumes,

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.

Variety and Quality: 3.8 – 3.15

March 8, 2017

We’ve some wonderful visiting artists, and a surfeit of outstanding resident artists this week, giving us many opportunities to share a communal moment around music. Remember, the audience is as much a part of the performance as those who are on stage. We all gain energy from each other. And of course, it remains true that such an experience lifts our spirit.


Wednesday, March 8

Monty Alexander Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40), 9pm ($30, $35) Jamaica-born pianist Monty Alexander  began playing at age six, and by the time he was a teenager, had a popular band called Monty and the Cyclones. He moved to NYC in 1962 and began playing with folks like bassist Ray Brown and vibist Milt Jackson, and recorded his first album in 1964, when he was 20. With a soulful approach, some hints of Oscar Peterson, and a hard swinging style. He’s recorded over seventy albums since 64, but aside from occasionally using calypso rhythms, didn’t embrace his Jamaican heritage on record until the 90s. Since then he’s recorded a half-dozen or so albums using Jamaican musicians to record reggae, rock steady, and calypso tunes. He’ll be appearing with a trio tonight, which lately has included JJ Wiggins on bass, and Jason Brown on drums, so you can expect that he’ll be drawing on all parts of his vast repertoire.

Chris Bates’ Trio Explorations @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Hard-working bassist Chris Bates will be joined by Nathan Hanson, sax; and Pete Hennig, drums. They’ve played with each other in a number of different contexts, and now will use that experience to find new ways to express their respective musical ideas.

Thursday, March 9

Joel Shapira, Paul Renz Trio @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Shapira – No Cover) 9pm (Renz-$5) It’s a night of double guitar gigs at the Vieux. Joel Shapira will play acoustic guitar during the dinner hour from 6:30 – 8:30pm. Then guitarist Paul Renz and his trio take the stage. Renz graduated from Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory, where he studied with jazz greats Herb Pomeroy and George Russell. Though his Twin Cities activities revolve mainly around teaching, he’s recorded a half dozen well received, chart-topping albums and has built a fan base on the East Coast where he tours every once in a while.

Gypsy Mania @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm (Tip Jar) This is definitely Hot Club music – acoustic, swinging jazz, under the direction of bandleader and world-beat guitarist Glen Helgeson. Other members of Gypsy Mania include additional outstanding musicians: Gary Schulte, violin; Steve Pikal, bass; and Jay Epstein, drums. Be sure to sit relatively close to the stage, as the noise level can be quite high at Hell’s Kitchen.

Sarah M. Greer & Dean Magraw @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Greer is an under-appreciated vocalist who has the chops and skill to teach others, yet is not as well known as some of her contemporaries and students. Magraw, as those of you who have received this newsletter for a while know, is a versatile guitar player who is equally at home in a fusion trio, world music group, or accompanying a singer such as Ms Greer.

Thursday, Friday, March 9,10

Victor Wooten Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $42), 9pm ($25, $32) Bassist Victor Wooten has won five Grammys, and every major award given to a bass guitarist. He’s a member of the pioneering bluegrass/jazz fusion group Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, but regularly puts out his own solo recordings. For these two nights of appearances, he’ll lead a trio with Bob Franceschini on sax; and Dennis Chambers on drums.

Friday, March 10

Cannonball Collective @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Even with so many colleges featuring jazz programs, when it comes down to it, graduates of such programs should also embrace the “old school” form of learning – playing with older, established musicians. The Cannonball Collective brings several generations of Twin Cities musicians together to celebrate the music of Cannonball Adderley. The last time they performed, the group included:  Mac Santiago, drums; Zack Lozier, trumpet; Joe Strachan, piano; Keith Boyles, bass; and Doug Haining, sax. This will definitely be a fun gig.

Friday, Saturday, March 10, 11

Dave King’s Vector Families @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) Vector Families is one of a dozen or so projects that drummer Dave King is part of, including the Bad Plus, and Dave King’s Trucking Company. For this group, he’s joined by Brandon Wozniak, sax; Dean Granros, guitar; and Anthony Cox, bass/cello. This is a group that can swing while still exploring the outer reaches of chord changes and melodies. I believe they are celebrating the release of a new album.

Saturday, March 11

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Opening set: Post Atomic Trio, with David Hamilton, piano; John Croarkin, sax; and Derrin Pinto, drums.  8:30pm, Central Standard Time; Javi Santiago – Piano, Dave Brattain – Saxophones, Steve Kenny – FLUMPET, Ted Olsen – Bass, Eric Kamau Grávátt – Drums

Davu Seru’s No Territory Band @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 6pm Master Class, 7pm Concert ($10 Advance/$15 Door) This is another in the very excellent Jazz at Studio Z series. Tonight drummer/percussionist Davu Seru is featured, along with the band, featuring Jake Baldwin, trumpet; Pat O’Keefe, clarinets; Nathan Hanson & Scott Fultz, saxes; and Levi Schwartzberg, vibes. There will be a master class at 6pm, and two sets of music.

Kate Lynch & Her Most Excellent Fellows @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) Bassist/Vocalist Kate Lynch always delivers a bit of history with the songs she and Her Most Excellent Fellows perform. Not so much about the song itself, but about the era in which it was popular. She says that about 1/5 of the presentation is about history, which is about right, from what I can tell. The rest is swinging, danceable music, from early to mid 20th Century.

Monday, March 13

Andrew Tomten Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Tomtem is a young saxophonist who’ll be leading a trio tonight, playing mostly his own compositions.

Tuesday, March 14

Chris Lomheim @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (No Cover) Pianist Lomheim has been inspired by Bill Evans, but has his own sound – one that is imaginative and often contemplative, yet he can swing mightily, and serve as the foundation for larger groups. Tonight he’s by himself, providing first class music for diners.

Sam Miltich & Charmin Michelle @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($10, $35/Dinner) This is a very promising combination, one that will work well in Crooners’ listening room. Sam Miltich is an extraordinary jazz guitarist who comes from the northern woods of Minnesota. He plays gypsy jazz with the Clearwater Hot Club, but is also enamored of traditional jazz, Brazilian fork music, French Musettes and other world musics. He’ll be playing with Charmin Michelle, whose creamy dreamy voice, perfect diction, and great sense of time have made her popular both here and in Europe (especially Spain), and its jazz musicians. They’ll have added help from bassist Chris Bates, and drummer Jay Epstein.

Explosion Big Band @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Dough Haining, sax; and Scott Agster, trombone, lead this 17 piece aggregation in the classic sounds of Ellington and Basie, as well as Thad Jones, Clare Fischer, and others.


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, March 8

Rockin’ Johnny Burgin @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 7pm (Tip Jar) though Rockin’ is part of his name, don’t be fooled. Guitarist Johnny Burgin is no blues rocker, but rather an effective acolyte of traditional Chicago blues. He grew up in Mississippi and South Carolina, but got his start in Chicago playing with Taildragger, and touring with folks like Pinetop Perkins and drummer Sam Lay. He’s doing a mini-tour of the Twin Cities, playing in Holihans’ The Schooner, and Shaw’s over the next few days. Usually, he would appear on Harold’s House Party first, but the show is pre-empted today for International Women’s Day programming.

David Lindley @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($20 Advance, $25 Door) During his time as featured accompanist with Jackson Browne and leader of his own band El Ray-X, multi-instrumentalist David Lindley often drew inspiration from, and played, music from around the world. He often includes elements of African, Arabic, Asian, Turkish, and Malagasy music, and, when combined with his many stringed instruments, colorful outfits, unique sense of humor, and elfin looks, creates a wholly satisfying and enjoyable music experience for listeners.

Thursday, March 9

Jeff Ray & the Stakes @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (Tip Jar) Ace bottleneck guitar player Jeff Ray can be depended upon to take traditional or well-known songs, and recast them, sometimes with Eastern influences, sometimes creating an old-timey song out of a rock n’ roller. The Stakes are usually Mikkel Beckman  on percussion and Hurricane Harold Tremblay on harmonica. Though this video is titled as Hurricane Harold, it’s essentially Jeff & the Stakes.

Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($25 Advance, $30 door) Thanks to help from many volunteers, The Cedar Cultural Center can keep expenses low enough to bring in a wide variety of music from around the world. Tonight they are featuring the duo of Ballake Sissoko, a Malian master of the traditional 21-stringed kora, a harp-like instrument, and French cellist Vincent Segal, who has a background in trip-hop. Their collaboration results in hauntingly beautiful chamber music, which, by the way, is the name of their album.

Friday, March 10

Willie Walker @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover, $10 reserved table) Walker’s regular appearances at Crooners are always happy affairs, with a full house, and people finding space to dance amongst the tables. Walker is an original soul man, who recorded for both Goldwax in Memphis, and Chess records in Chicago. His latest recording, If Nothing Ever Changes, won a Blues Music Award as Best Blues Album of 2015 in the New Recordings/Southern Soul Category. He also won an award as Comeback Artist of the Year.

Grant Hart’s Birthday @ Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7 Advance, $10 Door) Grant Hart was a founding member of the influential post-punk band Hüsker Dü. In fact, this year marks the 30th Anniversary of their album Warehouse Songs and Stories. Hart is turning 56, and he’s celebrating at the Hook, along with his friends The Fury Things, a trio that plays fast, loud songs, much in the spirit of Hüsker Dü, and The Rank Strangers, a band that has won numerous awards over its 27 year history.

Saturday, March 11

Cajun Cats @ Como Dockside, Saint Paul. Noon – 2pm (No Cover) Get yourself some lunch from the Cajun/Creole menu at Como Dockside and listen to music from Southern Louisiana, as performed by Shawn Gidden, Gary Powell, and John Terr on violin, button accordion, and guitar.

Saturday Salon: Bach to Bruch @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley 3pm ($20) Here’s another performance in Crooner’s Saturday afternoon series of chamber music, curated and hosted by Maria Jette. Today, Mark Mazullo (piano), Tom Rosenberg (cello), Rena Kraut (clarinet), perform pieces by Bach, Schumann, Beethoven, and Max Bruch.

Hurricane Harold @ Vieux Carré,  Saint Paul. 6:30pm (No Cover) Harpmaster Hurricane Harold is joined by guitarist/vocalist Doug Otto for some dinnertime blues.

SubDudes @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40, $50, $60) This New Orleans group has released ten albums over the course of 25 years, drawing on the roots of R&B, gospel, jazz, and rock n’ roll that exemplify so much of the music coming out of the Big Easy. They are led by Tommy Malone on guitar; and John Magnie on accordion; and include Steve Amendee on tambourine and Tim Cook on bass.

Malamanya @ The Uptown VFW, 2916 Lyndale Ave So. Minneapolis. 8pm ($8 Advance, $10 Door) Here’s a group that mines vintage Cuban music as well as current salsa, to create music that will have folks getting out their dancing shoes. The Uptown VFW has plenty of space to twirl and spin.

Prohibition Swing Night @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10 advance/$12 Door) It’s a celebration of old time swing music, featuring the Mississippi Hot Club and the Gentlemen’s Anti-Temperance League. The Mississippi Hot Club will draw their performance from the hot club sound of the 30s, while incorporating romantic ballads, European folk music, and American jazz into their set. The Gentlemen’s Anti-Temperance League draws their inspiration from the early 20th Century, but adds a modern sensibility to their compositions. Swing era costumes are encouraged and swing dance lessons will be provided at 8:30pm.

Sunday, March 12

Charanga Tropical @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 3pm (No cover) Charanga Tropical was founded in 2006 by saxophonist/flautist Doug Little, who, in the course of a decade, studied for about a year with master musicians and musicologists in Cuba. This is a traditional Charanga group, with a vocalist, violins, flute and full Latin percussion. The play danzons, that stately dance created in Cuba when French immigrants from Louisiana and Haiti settled in Cuba. Their latest album, In Cuba, was recorded in the legendary Egram Studios in Havana. They also play salsas and other Cuban music as well, so dancers will be out in force for this Sunday matinee.

Eric Gales @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) This blues rock guitarist has been called “the best guitarist in the world today” by none other than Joe Bonamassa. Gales grew up in a musical family and released his first album to raves in 1991, when he was only 16. Three years later he played with Carlos Santana at 1994’s Woodstock. Gales has released 17 albums, and has performed as a sideman on dozens of others. Though right-handed, he was taught to play a right-handed guitar upside down by his left-handed older brother. He’s fleet-fingered, tasty, and just as likely to play something by Cream, Hendrix, or Stevie Wonder as he is to play straight blues. Here’s a song from his latest album, to be released March 24th.

Monday, Tuesday, March 12, 13

Judy Collins @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($60 – $75) The New York Times calls her a “Folk Goddess,” but folk music is only one part of her repertoire, which has included art songs since she began recording. Collin’s crystalline voice helped bring Steven Sondheims Send in the Clowns to the masses, and introduced many fans to the main song from the musical Marat/Sade. She was one of the first singers to record songs by Leonard Cohen, and had a huge hit with Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. Her appearance at the Dakota a few years back was absolutely charming. Given that she has a new album coming out called A Love Letter to Steven Sondheim, this show has been dubbed Sondheim and Hits. Special guest Kenny White opens.

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.

Visitors and Special Events: 2.15 – 2.21

February 15, 2017

unknown-1There are lots of interesting gigs this week, some of which required a long explanation, while I’ve covered others with just a few sentences. We’ve a couple of high-profile visitors and a few special events to pique our interests and bring us musical pleasure. Whatever you choose, just remember that music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, February 15

Ambrose Akinmusire and Kool A.D. @ The Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul 7:30pm ($20) The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series commissions new projects presented in unique venues. Such is the case tonight, when young jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire partners with rapper Kool create a brand new chamber music work. Akinmusire won both the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competiton and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition back in 2007, when he was 25. He has since put out three albums and was a sideman on about 25 albums, including CDs by Vijay Iyer, Esperanza Spalding, Roy Hargrove Big Band, Jack DeJohnette, and Steve Coleman, among others. Kool A.D. is the nom de rap of Victor Vasquez. The rapper’s work was described by Mother Jones magazine as:  “a thoughtful effort to deconstruct and rearrange cultural objects in ways that challenge our deepest assumptions.” Special guests include The Mivos String Quartet along with pianist Sam Harris and drummer Justin Brown

Jeremy Walker Songtet, featuring Jason Harms @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($6 Cash only) Pianist Jeremy Walker is a musical explorer, who delves into musical styles and creates haunting compositions. This new group is about great songs. He’s enlisted Jason Harms, who was heard in Walker’s epic 7 Psalms, to work with the Songtet interpreting great songs, whether Walker originals, or from Dylan, Ellington, or the Great American Songbook. Joining Walker and Harms are two other frequent collaborators: Jeff Brueske, bass; and Tim Zhorne, drums.

Thursday, February 16

Adam Meckler Orchestra @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10, $5 w/MMEA Badge) Meckler is a trumpeter-about-town who is a gifted composer and teacher. He’ll be doing a workshop at the MMEA conference Friday afternoon, working with the band from Spring Lake Park High School. He’s bringing his 18 piece orchestra to the Dakota to provide MMEA participants and others with a preview of his work.

Maria Schneider Orchestra @ O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($35 – $65; Discounts for students, seniors, military, MPR) Five-time Grammy winner Maria Schneider grew up in Windom, attended the U and essentially redefined the sound of a jazz orchestra. Schneider is one of the leading lights of jazz these days, and was recently on the cover of Downbeat, when her album The Thompson Fields was named the best of the year in the magazine’s Readers Poll. The evocative, gorgeous album, named for the fields near her Windom home, won the 2016 Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble. Students can get a 2-4-1 discount by using the code WWMA.

David Rempis @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Rempis is a free jazz saxophonist who isn’t afraid to do solo performances. With a background that includes studying African music in Ghana, years with Chicago’s Vandermark Sound, numerous collaborations, and as an organizer of Chicago’s indie-rock Pitchfork Festival, Rempis will be performing one set solo tonight, as well as a set with Levi Schwartzberg, vibes and piano; and Davu Seru, drums and percussion.

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) The Ruckus Trio spent most of January touring, so tonight’s show should be quite tight, featuring Ruckus on drums; Javi Santiago on piano; and Greg Byers on bass and cello. Though this video from just a few weeks ago is dark, the sound is good.

Friday, February 17

The Jazz Bridge Project @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 8pm ($7 suggested donation) Here’s a relatively new project featuring the father-son team of Roger Johnson, guitar; and Rajah Johnson on flute; as well as Ron Evanuik, bass; Eric Kamau Gravatt, drums; and Abebi Stafford, keys.

Jay Young & the Lyric Factory @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:00[pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Bassist Jay Young brings his funky, jazzy R&B to the basement club, featuring music from Blondie, Tina Tuner, Steely Dan, and Bobby Brown. The band consists of Jay Young, piccolo bass; Ian Young, bass; Theo Harris, drums; Tom West, keys; Ernest Bisong, violin; Haylee Dee, vocals; and Caitlynn Daniels, vocals.

Saturday, February 18

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) JazzINK once again presents an young opening act for this series: Liquid Vinyl, led by Nick Adams. Headliners are What Would Monk Do? with Peter Schimke, piano; Ted Olsen, bass; Steve Kenny, Flumpet; and Kenny Horst on drums.

Sunday, February 19

Kaki King @ the Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $42) It’s difficult to slot guitarist Kaki King into any genre, or even describe her music. She’s worked with bands like the Foo Fighters and Timbaland, contributed to film and TV soundtracks, and sometimes performs with a NYC-based string quartet ETHEL. She also performed a Carnegie Hall premiere of a classical pice commissioned by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang. Tonight, she’s presenting “The Neck is a Bridge to the Body” in a multi-media performance.

Patty Peterson @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40 Dinner Show) Singer Patty Peterson is celebrating the anniversary of the aortic tear which almost ended her life about ten years ago. Thankfully, she’s still with us, and still sounding great, as she proved at the Winter Jazz Fest a couple of weeks ago. She’ll be performing songs that celebrate life and love. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Minneapolis Heart Institute.

Monday, February 20

MVP Quartet @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20, $30), 9pm ($25) Bobby Watson  sax; Donald Brown, piano; Ray Drummond, bass; and Marvin “Smitty” Smith, drums; are the MVP Quartet. They have played together in various combinations and bands since these veterans were young. Both Watson and Brown were in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, though at different times. Drummond and Smith both have extensive resumes. Here’s Watson with a standard.

Mary Louise Knutson Trio @ Crooners Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($10, $35 Dinner Show) I suspect that I mention Mary Louise quite a bit, but she’s such a great pianist, I feel more folks should know about her. After all, she’s the first call pianist for Doc Severensen when he tours the Midwest. She’ll be joined by Chris Bates, bass; and Phil Hey, drums, in Crooners’ listening room. Here’s what she sounds like.

Tuesday, February 21

UW Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble w/Michael Davis @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (No Cover) The Jazz Studies program at UW Eau Claire has been doing a great job of turning out musicians. Tonight they’ve invited NYC-based trombonist Michael Davis to sit in with their Jazz Ensemble. The bone-man is widely known as the trombonist for the Rolling Stones since 1994. He toured and recorded with Frank Sinatra from 1988 to 1994, released 9 solo CDs, composed over 150 works, authored 10 books and appeared on over 500 CDs and motion picture soundtracks. He’s worked with scores of high-profile musicians, including Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Aerosmith, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Sting, Branford Marsalis, David Sanborn, Terence Blanchard and others.

MVP Quartet @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($30) After playing at the Dakota lat night (see above), this all-star quartet is moving over to the Vieux.

Tuesday, Wednesday, February 21, 22

Aaron Diehl Presents Jelly & George @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm  ($40 – $55), 9pm ($24 – $45) Pianist Aaron Diehl turns the spotlight on the music of rag time pianist Jelly Roll Morton, and popular composer George Gershwin. There is certainly plenty of wonderful material to explore, and Diehl has picked out both classic tunes as well as little-known gems for further exploration. He’ll be joined by  pianist Adam Birnmaum, who has played with Al Foster, Wallace Roney, Eddie Gomez, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra as well as young contemporary artists. Vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant is the icing on the cake, so to speak, with her ability to unearth new interpretations of standards and long-forgotten, yet worthwhile tunes.

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 15

Joe & Vicki Price on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Joe and Vicki have such a fan base here in the Twin Cities that they could almost move here from their Decorah, Iowa home. Listen in during the 5 o’clock hour to catch their spare, but effective blues.

Masters of Hawaiian Music @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 – $42) Here we have three masters of slack key guitar – a distinctly Hawaiian style of open tunings. George Kahumoku Jr, Kawika Kahiapo, & Nathan Aweau are masters of the instrument who have produced four Grammy-winning CDs.

Maurice Jacox @ The Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) Here’s a chance to hear a vocal master of R&B, soul, blues, and even some crooning in the comfy confines of this “dive-ish” bar with friendly staff.

Aaron Kerr’s Dissonant Creatures @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 7:30pm – 9:30pm (Tip Jar) Original compositions from electric cellist Aaron Kerr  along with Jeff Crandall, guitar; Toni Tinetti, cello; Justin DeLeon, drums; Matt Kanive, bass; Mike Nordgy, mandolin & percussion; and Brett Hansen, guitar.

Thursday, February 16

International Novelty Gamelan @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) A gamelan is a traditional music ensemble from Indonesia that typically uses bronze percussive instruments. The ING may not be Indonesian, but it’s six members have taken the music of that far-off land to heart, and learned to create their own songs as well. Their music is drone-like, and can be very abstract, which makes it perfect for the cauldron of progressive music presented at Khyber Pass.

Friday, February 17

Dee Miller Band @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 6pm – 10pm ($??) The Duchess of the Blues, singing and playing for your early evening dancing pleasure.

Dobet Gnahoré @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40) 9pm ($25, $30) This singer, dancer, and percussionist from the Ivory Coast is likely to stun you with the sheer physicality of her dancing, though her singing (in a variety of African languages) and time-keeping are nothing to sneeze at. Gnahoré has a warm, powerful voice, and a commanding stage presence, sure to hold you in wonder.

Slimabration @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20 Advance, Donation at Door) It’s been five years since Bob “Slim” Dunlap experienced the stroke that sidelined him from playing music, and racked up some significant medical expenses. Slim’s friends and family decided to mark the occasion with a celebration of Bob and his music, featuring solo and band performances from the likes of Dan Baird, of the Georgia Satellites; John Eller & Friends; Curtiss A, Frankie Lee, Whale in the Thames, and many more. There will be craft food and beverages available.

John Primer @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7, includes a free beverage) Primer served as bandleader and lead guitarist for Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon and Magic Slim and the Teardrops. He’s received two Grammy nominations, including a 2017 nomination as Best Traditional Blues Artist (Male). In other words, when it comes to the blues, Primer is the real deal.

Saturday, February 18

Ling-Ju Lai: The Saturday Salon @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 3pm ($20) Host Maria Jette has lined up an impressive array of artists to perform for the somewhat informal Saturday Salon series. Though Ms Jette’s commentary and quick wit keep things light, the audience is as rapt as possible in this listening room. Today features pianist Ling-Ju Lai  a native of Taiwan who has gained an international reputation for her creative interpretations of Baroque music. From the venue’s description: “Highlights of the 2016-17 season include appearances in notable concert series such as the Aula de Música at the University of Alcalá in Spain, the PianoForte Foundation Salon Series in Chicago, and Brookline Library Music Association Concert Series in Massachusetts presenting The Goldberg Variations by J. S. Bach.”

Freaker’s Ball 2017 @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 8pm ($12 Advance/$15 Door) Let your Freak Flag Fly as the White Iron BandKung Fu Hippies, and trumpeter Willie Waldman take you on a trip through various stomp-your-feet permutations of roots, jam band, psychedelic, and free form music.

Silvertones @ The Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) The Silvertones are a cover band that features rock and R&B from the sixties, for that evening when you just want to sing along and (for older folks) perhaps relive your youth.

Sunday, February 19

Bad Companions @ The Como Zoo Conservatory, Saint Paul. 4:30pm – 6:30pm (Free) Two guitars, a stand-up bass, and drums are just what is needed to play roots-rock that encompasses Rockabilly, R&B, Country, and the Blues. Al Subola (Vibro Champs), guitar; Dan Gaarder (Trailer Trash), guitar; W.E. Keefe (Vibro Champs), bass; and Hayden Grooms (Hillions) are the Bad Companions  providing the sounds in the Sunken Garden of the Margorie McNeely Conservatory. Beer and wine is available and the music is piped into the North Garden and Palm Dome so you can keep up with the music as you enjoy the plants and humidity of the Conservatory. Here they are with the addition of a saxophonist.

Tuesday, February 21

Charanga Tropical @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($7) Latin sounds by the first American Group to be invited and appear at the International Danzon Festival in Havana. Leader Doug Little will have just returned from Cuba, so I imagine he will be pumped.

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.


Lift Your Spirits: 4.27 – 5.3

April 27, 2016


One of the many purple lighted tributes to Prince last Thursday

One of the many purple lit-up tributes to Prince last Thursday

Well, it’s a sad week for music lovers, especially here in the Twin Cities, where there’s been wall-to-wall coverage and tributes to Prince. It’s not surprising, since almost everyone in town has a Prince story, or knows someone with a Prince story. I got to see him perform only a few times: at a “surprise” concert at First Avenue in the early 80s, his Civic Center Concert in 1990, and most recently, during his three-night run at the Dakota a couple of years ago. I only got to the first night, an all-instrumental show, which I nevertheless found exhilarating, and reviewed here. Like so many other Twin Citizens, I also had a couple of Prince sightings over the years, at First Avenue, and the Dakota, including last Tuesday night, when I saw him going to the Green Room to talk with Lizz Wright.

Jazz fans will be interested to know that Jimmy Scott recorded a Prince song, which you can listen to here, and that Miles Davis played onstage with him, which you can see here, and our own Adam Meckler Quintet performed Sometimes It Snows In April at their CD release party this past Saturday. There have also been performance tributes by Bruce Springsteen, The Dixie Chicks, and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, and the casts of Hamilton and The Color Purple. I’m sure there will be many tribute events in the coming months, the first of which I’ve listed below for Sunday. In the meantime, we have a full week of great music to lift our spirits.


Wednesday, April 27

O’Brien, Gadbout, Hennig @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10) Casey O’Brien  bass; Ted Gadbout, piano; and Peter Hennig, drums, are fine musicians and good representatives of the “middle” generation of jazz players in town. O’Brien is a well-regarded bassist about town, having released some well-reviewed jazz albums, in addition to playing with such local luminaries as PaviElle and  Sonny Knight & the Lakers.   It’s O’Brien’s gig, and as per usual, they will probably be presenting some of his originals, though Gadbout and Hennig have their own songs as well. You can listen to songs from Ghost Dance, his album from 2014 with Nathan Hanson and Davu Seru here.

Aurora Club Jazz Quartet @ Tattersall Distillery Cocktail Room, 1620 Central Ave NE, #150, Minneapolis. 8pm – 10pm ($??) I don’t know this group, though it may contain some familiar names. At any rate, since distilleries seem to be popping up around town here’s a chance to check one out. They distill several types of gin and liqueurs, as well as vodka, bourbon, aqavit, and white whiskey. Plus you can listen to  some music and make use of a food truck at the same time.

Arne Fogel @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) The foremost crooner of our area will sing at what should be his natural habitat. Fogel will be joined by the Wolverines Trio: Jendeen for berg, drums; Keith Thomas Boyles, bass; and Rick Carlson, piano. They’ll be in the big room, and will undoubtedly generate the energy that room deserves.

Thursday, April 28

Improv on the Plaza @ Ecolab Plaza, Saint Paul. Noon (Free) Drummer Pete Hennig and friends will perform. His friends include: Brandon Wozniak, sax; Cody McKinney, electric bass; and Brian Zeimnak, electric piano. Here’s Hennig playing with the Brian Gallagher Quartet.

Some sass from some brass

Some sass from some brass

BrassZilla @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (No Cover) This quartet features three brass and a drum. I’m sure they’ll be able to get your attention and keep it despite the general noise level of this hopping’ restaurant.


Songs from the Silo @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10) Vocalist Sheridan Zuther grew up on a farm and spent hours singing in an empty one on her farm. Tonight she celebrates life on a family farm, singing songs from Dolly Parton, Cole Porter, Stevie Wonder, and more – songs that she sang as a child in the silo, and that inspired her to become a singer. She’ll be accompanied by pianist Steve Hobert, whose light, fanciful touch seems just right for such a project.

Friday, April 29

Guitar Night featuring Julian Lage Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30 – $42)  While Grammy-nominated Lage and his modern jazz trio, which just released an excellent album, are the headliners, this evening also features Twin Cites guitar wizard Peter Lang, along with the Takoma guitar masters: Toulouse Engelhart and Rick Ruskin. Those of you of a certain age may remember Takoma Records as the recording home of Lang, as well as John Fahey and Leo Kottke. Engelhardt is known as the “Segovia of Surf” due to his stylings, lighting fast playing and colorful melodies, while Ruskin learned his craft from the Reverend Gary Davis.

Saturday, 30

Brian Lynch w/The Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra @ The A-Mill Artist Lofts, 315 SE Main Street, Minneapolis. 1pm – 6pm ($25, $35, $50) This is a benefit for Jazz Central, the little jazz venue that could. Things start off at 1pm with the Doug Haining/Dave Graf Quintet, with guest vocalists Debbie Duncan, Andrew Walesch, and Sara Greer. At 2:15 it’s the Javier Santiago Trio with Dan Carpel, bass; and Miguel Hurtado, drums. At 3:30, the Vinson Valega Group performs and agh 4:30 it’s Grammy winning trumpeter/bandleader Brian Lynch  who has been part of august bands led by Horace Silver, Art Blakey, and Phil Woods, as well as becoming an in demand musician for work with Latin bands, such as those of Eddie Palmieri and the legendary Hector LaVoe. Today he’ll be showing off his Latin chops with the Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra.  Here’s Lynch with some students.

How Birds Work, with original bassist Billy Peterson

How Birds Work, with original bassist Billy Peterson

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Tonight features the Growlers at 7pm: Joel Shapira guitar; Dave Martin, bass; and Peter Hennig, drums. Headliner tonight is How Birds Work, a quartet that thrilled Artist Quarter customers for years: Peter Schimke, piano; Dean Granros, guitar; Ted Olson, bass; and the indefatigable Kenny Horst on drums.

Boom Room Jazz @ Boom Island Brewing Tap Room, 2014 N Washington Avenue, #300, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm (Free) This is the second installment of Jazz at the Boom Room. Valve trombonist Brad Bellows brings another group of fine musicians to play while you check out Boom Island’s Belgian-inspired brews. Tonight Brad is joined by Larry Hillman, tenor sax; Steve Kimmel, marimba; Ron Evaniuk, bass; and Mike Croy, drums.

Sunday, May 1

Solomon’s Sessions @ The Bedlam Lowertown, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) This is the last of a grant-sponsored series led by trumpeter Solomon Parham, who just received his Masters in Performance from MacNally Smith. It’s essentially a jam session with a high bar for performance, which results in some terrific music. Here’s a brief idea of what happens.

Monday, May 2

Tom Kliphuis and Sam Miltich @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) For those who appreciate the acoustic swing of Gypsy Jazz, this will be a must-see gig. Classicly trained violinist Tim Kliphuis trained at the Amsterdam Conservatoire and is regarded as Stephane Grappelli’s heir. Though Sam Miltich was born and raised in the woods of northern Minnesota, he somehow gravitated towards Gypsy Jazz as well as Brazilian choros and French musettes, thrilling audiences with his solo performances as well as with his band the Clearwater Hot Club. Here’s a video of Kliphuis in performance.

Joel Shapira & The Growlers @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10) If you didn’t catch them in the opening slot at the Black Dog on Saturday night, you can catch them tonight, and stick around for a jam session afterwards. Here’s Shapira in a solo piece.

Jazz Implosion @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) This late night Monday night series always has the best in regional and visiting musicians who aren’t afraid to stretch boundaries. Tonight it’s The Regional Jazz Trio – Anthony Cox, bass; JT Bates, drums; and  Michael Lewis, sax.

Tuesday, May 3

Mississippi, featuring Andres Prado @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm If you haven’t seen Peruvian guitarist Prado yet, here’s your chance. He’s visiting for a few weeks after returning to Peru a few years ago. His work with Mississippi can range from acoustic Afro-Peruvian Landos to mostly jazz fusion. Other members of Mississippi are: Pete Whitman, saxes; Peter Schimke, piano; Jeff Bailey, bass; and Kevin Washington, drums.

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 27

Jillian Rae Duo on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 and 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Rae is a talented violinist, vocalist, and songwriter who can throw down a Led Zeppelin song, follow it with a country hoedown, and then perform a hook-laden original. Tonight she’ll be appearing with her husband Eric. They’ll be followed at the 331 Club by an Americana/newgrass group with members of Pet Near Sandstone, the Sans Souci Quartet, The Farmhouse Band and Row of Ducks.

Judy Collins and Ari Hest @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($60 – $75) An evening of compelling folk music from a couple of veterans. Collins may have created a new genre, art-folk, when she recorded the songs of Leonard Cohen, Stephen Sonheim, and Joni Mitchell, as well as the title song from Marat/Sade back in the 60s. She may be best known for her hits with Both Sides Now, Someday Soon, Who Knows Where The Time Goes, and Amazing Grace in the late 60s. Previous appearances at the Dakota have revealed a talent for storytelling as well. Heist has recorded eight albums, three EPS, and in 2008 recorded and released a new song every Monday for a full year.

Thursday, April 28

Courtney Yasmineh Goes Solo @ Reverie Cafe + Bar, Minneapolis. 9pm. (Tip Jar) Rocker/songerwriter Courtney Yasmineh will soon take off on an East Coast tour, where she’s been acquiring fans, and she’s warming up with this show.  Actually,m Ms Yasmineh will be one of four artists featured at the old Nicollet Cafe. Alicia Kay (of the Changeups) will start at 9pm; Andriana Lehr is on at 9:45, followed by Ms Yasmineh at 10:30. I’m afraid I don’t know the closing artist. This video with her band will give you an example of Yasmineh’s songwriting.

Rockin’ Pinecones @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($5) Cajun, Zydeco, and perhaps some swamp pop from accordionist Dan “Daddy Squeeze” Newton and his compadres. Dancing shoes are de rigueur.

Friday, April 29

Philip Nusbaum and Sherry Minnick @ Duluono’s Pizza, Minneapolis. 8pm – 10pm (Tip Jar?) Classic Country, banjo originals, and maybe a bit of classic bluegrass from Nusbaum  who hosts Bluegrass Saturday Morning on KBEM, and Ms Minnick  who has been in a number of old-time and bluegrass band, several musical plays at the History Theater, and has taught children’s choirs for 16 years. Here’s a long clip of the two of them.

Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) Oh my! This is definitely the gathering place for blues lovers tonight. Thackery  earned his craft performing with Muddy Waters, then went on to be a co-founder of The Nighthawks, with whom he performed for fifteen years. He left them in 1987 and has become the definition of a road warrior, playing nearly 300 shows a year. He loves the guitar stylings found in surf and spy music, but at his heart is a blues guy, through and through.

Saturday, April 30

One Night in Cuba @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) Charanga Tropical is heading up this fiesta and dance party, since they are celebrating the release of the CD they recorded in Havana last year. The evening will feature an all-star lineup of musicians from Charanga Tropical, Malamanya, Salsa Del Soul, QBand, and Salsabrosa. Other guests will include Cuban pianist Viviana Pintado, Chicago Salsa singers Franklin Paz and Juan Castro, and more, including dance showcases. Whew! Bring your dancing shoes and take part in a salsa dance lesson.

Complicated Fun Opening Night @ The Minnesota History Theater, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($25 – $45) If you remember the exploding music scene from First Avenue in the 80s, you’ll want to see this show, which runs through May 29. It’s a story of a couple of misfits who discover themselves thanks to the sounds coming from the club that Prince made famous. Though there are no songs from “His Royal Badness,” as writer Martin Keller dubbed him, there many songs from the punk/funk scene at the time, including music from The Suicide Commandos, The Replacements, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the Suburbs, and more. If you can’t make it tonight, the show runs through May 29. Ticket information here. Watch the Suicide Commandos perform the title song.

High & Mighty @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10?) This party-hearty horn band will have the commodious dance floor at the MMC filled with revelers.

Get out the dancing shoes

Get out the dancing shoes

The Good, Bad, & the Funky @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. ($7) Meanwhile, this 10-piece horn band will be laying down R&B dance rhythms for Minneapolis funksters.

Sunday, May 1

Let the Festivities begin

Let the Festivities begin

Mayday Parade and Festival, South Minneapolis. Noon – dusk. The 42nd Annual Mayday Parade and Festival begins at noon, when the parade starts at 25th & Bloomington, going south and to Powderhorn Park The Tree of Life Ceremony takes place at the park at 3pm, while the Festival is open throughout the day. The Festival features music, dancing, poetry, food, canoe rides, and who knows what else. the entertainment runs from The Roe Family Singers to Savage Aural Hotbed, Firefly Forest, Prairie Fire Lady Choir, and the Maroons (Now called Positive Vibrations). Entertainment schedule can be found here.

NE Love Prince Dance Party @ East Side Neighborhood Services, 1700 2nd Street NE, Minneapolis. 3pm – 6pm (Free) This family-friendly party is sure to be one of many that will occur in the coming weeks. There will be a couple of food trucks, a purple art project, and music from Deejay That Dude Trey, spinning Prince, Prince-sampled hip-hop, and Prince influenced artists. Be aware that though this is a family-friendly event, the songs will not be edited. It may be outside, but that is dependent on details like tents, permits, and of course, the weather.

David Lindley @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $35) If you think you’ve heard eclectic musicians before, be prepared to be knocked out by Lindley  whose electro-acoustic performances incorporate American folk and blues, as well as bluegrass, African, Arabic, Asian, and Malagasy traditions. He’s a highly talented multi-instrumentalist with a wide array of stringed instruments, with a sly sense of humor.

Sunday, Monday, May 1,2

The Combo at work

The Combo at work

Mambo’s Combo @ Bunkers, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) The band, also known as The Combo contains a number of artists who have been associated with Prince, including drummer Michael Bland, bassist Sonny Thompson, vocalist Margaret Cox, and guitarist Billy Franze. I’m not sure about the Prince association for other members, but he used to come by every once in a while and sit in the corner, often bringing new or potential band members to help them learn. JellyBean Johnson is a sure bet as a guest, and you can never tell when a visiting musician will sit in. Last Sunday they opened the third set with a rousing Prince medley that went on for 15 or 20 minutes. Since this band has been performing weekly for almost three decades, they are incredibly tight, and will have you dancing in no time.

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

Resident and Visiting Artists: 4.29 – 5.5

April 29, 2015

Unknown-1Spring is finally busting out with buds on the trees, and grass getting greener. With the weather getting nicer, it will be easier to get out in the evenings to continue Spring Rejuvenation with some music. this week I’m highlighting eight visiting artists in both jazz and roots/blues, as well as a talented bunch of resident artists, including a few with national reputations. Have a good week. Music lifts your spirits.


Wednesday, April 29

Ben Abrahamson Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) With apologies to Paul Mayasich, Jazz Central seems to be having a Guitar-a-thon this evening as features two other guitarists in his trio: Nich Champeau and Jacob Park Evans. Abramason can be seen around town playing with Lulu’s Playground and the Thomas Nordlund Quintet.

Andrew Walesch Quartet @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) Today is the anniversary of Duke Ellington’s Birthday and is also Andrew Walesch’s birthday, so to celebrate, vocalist/pianist Walesch is performing the songs of Ellington. He’ll be ably supported by Dave Graf, trombone, Bob Parsons, woodwinds; Mac Santiago, drums, and Gary Raynor, bass. Here’s Walesch doing a solo number

Wednesday, Thursday, April 29, May 30

Madeline Peyroux @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40 – $60), 9pm ($30 – $50) Hard to believe that it’s almost 20 years since this boho-jazz chanteuse released her first album in 1996. Peyroux retreated from her original success by returning to busking in the streets of Paris, nor releasing her second album until 2004. Now she’s touring behind a greatest hits collection on Saint Paul’s Red House Records, which includes the title song “Keep Me in Your Heart” includes the previously unreleased title track from the movie Union Square. Her somewhat small, Billie Holiday-like voice, combined with unique interpretations from songs across genres, makes her an audience favorite.

Thursday, April 30

Debbie Duncan: International Jazz Day @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Ahh, it’s a celebration of jazz that takes place all around the world, and Ms Duncan and the folks at Jazz Central are doing their part.

Friday, May 1

Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra & the Anoka Ramsey College Jazz Ensemble @ the Performing Arts Center, Anoka Rmsey Comm College, Coon Rapids. 7pm (Free) Here’s a chance to hear a hot big band that specializes in Latin Rhythms as well as a student ensemble. And it’s free!

Framework @ The Nicollet Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm (tip jar) Chris Olson, guitar; Chris Bates  bass; and Jay Epstein, drums, are each worthy of leading their own groups, and they sometimes do, but tonight they collaborate, to create 21st Century jazz.

Saturday, May 2

Andrew Kolker w/Chris Bates’ Good Vibes Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Kolker is a saxophonist/composer/arranger who has 7 CDs as a leader and has worked with Ray Barretto, Maria Schneider, Billy Hart and others. He’ll be playing with Chris Bates, bass; Phil Hey, drums; and Dave Hagedorn, vibes. Considering the close communication and interplay of the trio, this should be a killer of a show.

Jason Moran and Rober Glasper @ The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. 8pm (Sold Out), 10:30pm ($28) These two contemporary pianists are not only helping to define jazz piano for the 21st Century, but are friends from high school in Houston. They’ll be mixing classic boogie boogie, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, and hip-hop tunes in duets such as those that were ecstatically received at the 75th anniversary of Blue Note Records.

Unknown-2Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm. ($5-$20 Suggested Donation) Dave Brattain Group w/Mac Santigo on drums opening at 7pm. Featured artist is Anthony Cox’s DD7, featuring Cox on bass, JT Bates on drums, Brandon Wozniak on sax, and Steve Kenny on trumpet/flumpet.

James Buckley Trio @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8:30pm ($5-$20 suggested Donation) Buckley is the bassist who works with a variety of jazz, indie-rock, and folk-rock groups. Working with Bryan Nichols on keys and JT Bates on drums, Buckley and his bandmates create modern, original, sometimes ethereal, and always accessible jazz. Here they are with the title song from their last CD.

Sunday, May 3

University of MN Jazz Ensemble I & II @ Ted Mann Concert Hall, Minneapolis. 7:30pm – 9:30pm (Free) The ensembles will be playing the music of Woody Herman and Count Basie.

Monday, May 4

Scott Agster @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) The trombone player cooks, whether he’s in a salsa band, or co-leading the Explosion Big Band. Thought the lighting is bad, here’s a video of a previous Jazz Central performance.

Tuesday, May 5

Bill Evans New Orleans Jazz Band @ Bennett’s Chops and Railhouse, Saint Paul. 7pm (No Cover) Here’s the place to go when you’re looking for traditional New Orleans Jazz. Don’t be surprised if one of the older listeners starts a parade around the small chophouse.

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, April 29

Jake Manders on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip jar) Singer/songwriter/guitarist Manders just released his second acoustic/rootsy album, Acousitc Frequency. Whether performing under his own name (often with fiddler Greta Huntstiger) or with the alt-blugerass Pistol Whippin’ Party Penguins, Manders’ songs reveal an undercurrent of hope even in the most mournful times. Tune in at 5pm and head over to the 331 Club at 7.

Charanga Tropical @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (Free, Donations Accepted) The Charanga is an elegant dance from Cuba, always played with a small violin section. This group  led by saxophonist Doug Little, also plays lively salsas. They are the first American group to be invited to the Danzon Festival in Cuba, which takes place at the end of June, and are now working to raise the money for the trip. They’ve got a Kickstarter program, and are performing a series of concerts to publicize the program and raise funds.

Thursday, April 30

American Pleasure Dome @ Grumpy’s NE, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm (No Cover) This indie-rock quartet caught my attention in part because of the presence of guitarist Park Evans, who also plays with the New Primitives and a score of area jazz groups, and bassist/vocalist Brenda Shepard of the Rebel Queens. The group is led by songwriter Hans Schumacher, and also features Joel Arlpin on drums.

Friday, May 1

Charlie Parr Jumpstumper Release @ The Varsity Theater, Minneapolis. 7pm ($18) The unassuming, simple living Parr has amassed a great deal of fans over the course of 12 albums of old-sounding blues and roots music. Jumpstumper is his latest album, and his debut on Red House Records. It’s also the first solo album in which he has a backing band, and they serve him well, proving an effective foil to his declamatory songs and stories. Hear cuts from the new album here.

Joe Louis Walker @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25) Bluesman Walker grew up in the Bay area and at a young age had already played with John Lee Hooker, Thelonious Monk, and Steve Miller. He was a roommate to Mike Bloomfield for a few years, whose death prompted Walker to change his lifestyle, enroll in college and perform with a gospel group. In 1985 he returned to the Blues, and has been hard at it ever since. The sharp guitar lines of this Blues Hall of Fame inductee (2013) can range from rockin’ to soulful.

Saturday, May 2

The Pines EP Release @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25 – $30), 9pm ($20-$25) The Pines are another roots music act that has been steadily increasing their fan base through steady touring. Though David Huckfeldt and Benson Ramsey are both natives of Iowa, they met in a Mexican barrio in Arizona, relocated to Minneapolis, and released their first album in 2004. Since then they’ve managed to blend roots and blues with indie-rock proclivities to national acclaim while remaining true to an acoustic aesthetic. Here’s a performance from about 18 months ago.

Davina & the Vagabonds @ The Crooked Pint Ale House, Minneapolis. 9pm (No Cover?) This is one of Davina’s dance gigs, and though the dance floor isn’t very big, it will undoubtedly be filled.

home-image-3High & Mighty @ Narrows Blues Saloon, Navarre. 9pm ($?) This ten-piece horn band has three vocalists and a repertoire that ranges from Lady Gaga and Mayer Hawthorne to the Ohio Players, Aretha Franklin, and Kool & the Gang. In other words, they’ve got your dancing jones covered.

Sunday, May 3

Paul Thorn @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($36) Thorn is an entertaining roots-rock storyteller and songwriter whose life has had enough twists and turns to provide provide endless fodder for his songwriting. While previous albums have featured stories drawn from his life, his latest CD, Too Blessed to be Stressed is an intentional effort to write songs that not only have universal truths, but make people feel good. Once you get through the introduction to this video, you’ll get a taste of his outlook and his new music.

Tuesday, May 5

Salsabrosa and Alma Andina @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($15) It’s Cinco de Mayo and some salsa dancing is in order. Alma Andina opens with some Andean-inspired folkloric music, followed by a couple of dance lessons and the sounds of Salsabrosa with special guest Esti Price singing some Mexican classics.

Tuesday, Wednesday, May 5, 6

The English Beat @ The Dakota, Minneapolis ($35-$40) The English Beat were one of the pillars of the  British Two-Tone ska movement in the early eighties, with their message of love, unity, inclusion and dancing. After disbanding in ’83, members went on to form General Public, International Beat, and Fine Young Cannibals. A reunion in 2003 reinvigorated the group, and they’ve remastering their old albums and rereleasing them with bonus tracks and DVDs, the latex of which is Special Beat Service. I’d be might surprised if some Gen Xers don’t find room to dance.

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. Dancers might want to check out the calendar for U Wanna Dance.

A Change Is Gonna Come. Music: 10.3 – 10.9

October 3, 2012

In spite of the high temps today (Wednesday), a change is coming, as mother nature is pointing out with the change in foliage. There will undoubtedly be more indoor events, thought there’s at least one more outdoor festival to check out. With a couple of CD release parties, visits from well-known touring artists, a few Latin shows, and a Fall Festival that gives you an extra reason to travel to Stillwater, this week is shaping up quite nicely.

On a personal note, thanks to those of you who became listener-members at KFAI, especially those who pledged during my show this past Saturday. There is still time to pledge at You can even specify my show (Rhythm and Grooves) as one of the reasons you joined.


Thursday, October 4

Medicinal Jazz Band @ the Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm (tip jar)  The duo of Noah Strom on accordion, concertina, or piano and Sam Ryan on guitar and vocals explore jazz, klezmer, and Dixieland music, along with some Americana from the turn of the last century.

Larry McDonough & Richard Terrill CD Release @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Pianist McDonough and saxophone player Terrill are releasing a charming, inventive CD, filled with surprises. McDonough convincingly takes on vocal chores on a couple of numbers. Terrill recites poetry. McDonough composed one number using melody fragments written by children with disabilities. Though this is their first effort as a duet, the two have worked together in various ensembles since 2001, and their easy communication shows. Here’s mcDonough doing one of the songs on the new CD with a quartet.

Friday, October 5

Hollywood Jazz: the JazzMN Orchestra with Wayne Bergeron and Connie Evingson @ Hopkins HS Performing Arts Center. 7:30pm ($29/$33) The JazzMN Orchestra are starting their season with a bang. Bergeron landed the lead trumpet chair in Maynard Ferguson’s band at 18, and has worked with an outstanding list of performers, from Ray Charles and Lou Rawls to Tito Puente, Barry Manilow, and the Pussy Cat Dolls. Extra added attraction: Connie Evingson on guest vocals. He’s played in the big bands of Quincy Jones and Arturo Sandoval, and got a Grammy nomination for his own big band. BTW, he’s also featured on over 300 TV and film soundtracks.

Babatunde Lea Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) with Richard Johnson, piano; Zacc Harris, guitar, Chris Bates, bass. Drummer/Percussionist Babatunde Lea and Richard Johnson are well-known on the national jazz scene, and have recently settled in the area. In fact, Johnson has been touring with Delfeayo Marsalis. Zacc Harris and Chris Bates are easily up to the task of playing with both. Expect some fire from this group, as well as the occasional moment of sublime beauty.

Firebell @ Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Park Evans, guitar, Graydon Peterson, bass, and Jay Epstein, drums. All three of these musicians play in (and sometimes lead) numerous bands. Each is also capable of playing a myriad of styles. Tasty, yet invigorating jazz in a small room with a view of downtown Minneapolis. Sounds pretty sweet.

Saturday, October 6

Lucia Newell, Laura Caviani, and Jeff Bailey @ Parma 8200, Bloomington. 7:30 – 10:30pm (No cover) Located in the rabbit warren of office buildings, hotels, and parking ramps immediately Southeast of the 100/494 intersection, Parma 8200 is having jazz on Saturday nights, featuring a singer and small backup. Tonight, enjoy the great vocals of Newell, the tasty piano of Caviani, and Bailey’s steady bass as you drink cocktails and have appetizers in the bar. It can get noisy, so you may want to sit close.

Monday, October 8

Steve Hobert Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis 8:30pm (Donation) I know I’ve written about Hobert, a talented pianist, recently, but hey, this time he’s at Jazz Central, which is about a good a “hang” as you can find for jazz musicians and fans. Cozy couches, chairs and tables, and a BYO atmosphere make for a relaxed evening. If you’ve not been there, look for the glass doors at 407 E. Central, directly across from the Aveda school. Walk down the hall, turn left and go down some stairs, and left at the bottom of the stairs. Tell them Larry sent you – just kidding, but that’s what it feels like.

John Devine @ Barbette, Minneapolis. 10pm (Free) Devine is an imaginative saxophonist, often surrounded with equally talented friends. Don’t know who will be with him this evening, but even if he’s alone, you can be sure he’ll transport you into moments of sheer happiness, especially if you’re enjoying the happy hour offerings at Barbette.

More listings for Twin Cities jazz can be found at Jazz Police. It also features jazz commentary as well, as do Bebopified, and Jazz Ink.

 Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, Thursday, October 3, 4

Junior Brown @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35-$40) Rockin’ honky-tonk from guit-steel player Brown. The guit-steel is a double-necked instrument combining guitar and lap steel guitar. Brown uses it well as he plays originals, classic country, and surprising covers of surf songs. It’s country for folks who don’t like country.  Here’s a video of him in action.

Charanga Tropical @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10:30pm ($6) The folks at this hot new spot will be moving tables and chairs to create room to Get your Latin Dancing on. With violins and a flute in their arsenal, Charanga Tropical will have the Salsa Dancers out en masse.

Thursday, October 4

Jake Manders Trio @ Cause Spirits & Sound Bar, Minneapolis. 9:30pm 9No cover) An evening of roots music as Jillian Rae and Caitlin Robinson open. Manders writes original music that’s informed by country and folk styles of the past, and sings them with voice that sounds like he’s hobo-ed around the country.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, October 4,5,6

Zeitgeist’s New Music Harvest @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($3.50 Thurs, $10, Fri, Sat) It’s the 35th season of playing new chamber music for Zeitgeist, and to celebrate, they’re only charging $3.50 for Thursday’s opener of the season. They’ll have guest artists Kyle Hutchins on soprano sax, and Kirsten Whitson on cello.

Friday, October 5

Willie Murphy Solo @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm – 11pm (Donation – $5 suggested) The sometimes irascible, but often romantic Murphy sits in front of a piano and sings songs of love and politics in his slightly jazzy, always R&B-ish way.

House of Mercy Showcase @ Gingko Coffeehouse, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm (no cover) Jon Rodine, Brett Larson, and the Wilkinson/James Duo present original music. Rodine is a West Bank favorite with a terrific voice. Larson is an often funny songwriter, and Wilkinson James are known to evoke June Carter and Townes Van Zandt.

Paul Cebar @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($?) Actually, this show will begin at 7:30 with the swamp boogie of the Swamp Kings, a trio that’s been known to get folks dancing themselves. Cebar, of course, has been getting folks to twist, spin, and generally wear out their dancing shoes for a couple of decades now. This is a Sponsor Appreciation Party, put on by the Minnesota Blues Society.

Saturday, October 6

RAMM Band & 617 Band @ the Stillwater Fine Art & Music Festival, Lowell Park, Stillwater. Noon – 5pm (Free) From Noon to 2pm you can catch Paul Mayasich & the RAMM band playing a mix of rock n’ roll, blues, and R&B. From 3pm to 5pm the well-seasoned and entertaining 617 Band will take the stage with it’s jazzy blues, rock, and originals, all designed to put some bump in your rump.

Michael Johnson CD Release @ Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hopkins. 8pm ($24) Johnson recently moved back to the Metro area after years of living in Nashville. The singer/songwriter know for Bluer Than Blue, Give Me Wings, and This Night Won’t last forever is releasing his first CD in 15 years – Moonlit Deja Vu. Backing musicians include Marc Anderson on percussion, Gordy Johnson on bass, and Maude Hixson on vocals, along with a few others.

Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Pineiro @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) This Son group originated in Cuba in 1927, and was instrumental in popularizing the Son song form. A quick listen to recent albums reveals the latest incarnation of this group to be in fine form. If the Dakota doesn’t make some room to dance, I expect that some swaying hips may be moving tables out of the way.

Tuesday, Wednesday, October 9, 10

Don’t You Feel My Leg

Maria Muldaur & Her Bluesiana Band @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30) 9pm ($25) Though known for Midnight at the Oasis from the 70s, Muldaur can convincingly sing in a number of styles, from big bands to jug bands, from Peggy Lee to Bessie Smith. Tonight, she’s exploring the blues as she tours behind a new album, First Came Memphis Minnie.

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.

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