Spring into Music: 3.22 – 3.28

March 22, 2017

Spring has now officially arrived, and we’ve a surfeit of talent to catch in clubs and restaurants, as well as in bigger venues, though arenas and theaters are not usually the subject of these weekly missives. Anyway, we do have some visiting artists that may get your attention as well. So start getting out that springtime wear, though here in Minnesota it’s always a good idea to keep winter wear handy until May. Just let music lift our spirits.

PS: The Spring Pledge Drive at KFAI goes until Friday. You can still pledge your support for my show by going to http://www.kfai.org and pledging on-line

Jazz

Wednesday, March 22

Dean Magraw & Butch Thompson @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) Guitarist Dean Magraw shows up in these newsletters quite often, since he’s so damn versatile that he plays in a variety of settings. Tonight, he’s teaming up with pianist (and occasional clarinetist) Butch Thompson  whose knowledge of, and forays into, traditional and New Orleans jazz are formidable.

Debbie Duncan & Margaret Cox @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40 Dinner show) Here’s an intriguing match-up of two vocalists. Duncan is well-known in jazz circles for her very able, and sometimes sassy, interpretations of standards and blues. Cox  on the other hand, is better known to Prince aficionados, having recorded numerous unreleased songs with him. She is also a featured singer with Mambo’s Combo (aka The Combo) at Bunkers. Back in the day she sang with the Doug Maynard Band and the TC Jammers among others, and then led Ta Mara and the Scene, a Jesse Johnson-produced example of the Minneapolis sound of the 80s. She always kills it during Combo appearances, and will provide a strong foil to Duncan. Here’s a video for one of the few Prince songs that was released.

Sound/Simulacra @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 Student w/ID) Each month John Keston  sound design; and Cody McKinney, bass, composition; bring together improvising musicians to attack music from several directions. This week’s special guest is violinist Leah Ottman, aka LOTT (Wind in the Willows), who has brought her classical experiments music to both roots and rock bills around town.

Thursday, March 23

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) A classic piano trio led by the inimitable Peter Schimke  whose chops have been honed in a variety of settings and recordings. He’ll be accompanied by Chris Bates, Bass; and Cory Healey on Drums. Here is Schimke solo.

Paris Chansons @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40) Julia Kantor, a sultry Ukranian songstress, together with her husband Jacob, from Russia, and Max Cohen, from Morocco, perform jazz standards and other classics in French, Russian, Italian, and other languages. The singers of the Los Angeles based Paris Chansons will be backed by their five piece band.

Peter Kogan Quintet @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Former Minnesota Orchestra tympanist Kogan has been keeping busy performing jazz since his retirement a couple of years ago. Tonight, his group consists of: Jake Baldwin, trumpet; Pete Whitman sax; Phil Aaron, piano; Jeff  Bailey, bass ; with Kogan on drums. It may be a classic hard bop line-up but Kogan’s compositions explore many more avenues in jazz.

Friday, March 24

Sophia Shorai @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm-9pm (Tip Jar)

Shorai’s honey-sweet vocals, when combined with her ability to convey heartache with the slightest crack of her voice, are reasons to sit close to the stage at this somewhat noisy place.

Wozniak, Adkins, Peterson, Peterson @ Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Tonight a couple of up and coming musicians: Patrick Adkins, piano, compositions; Luke Peterson, drums, compositions; perform with a couple of veterans: Graydon Peterson, bass; and Brandon Wozniak, sax; .

Kneedelus @ the Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapoils. 8pm ($28) A Live Collaboration between Kneebody and Daedelus  Many in the jazz community find Kneebody’s music, which is certainly based in jazz, to be unclassifiable, though they’ve collaborated with musicians in a number of genres, even getting a Grammy nomination for their work interpreting the music of Charles Ives. According to Nate Chine in the New York Times, the music of Kneebody  “uses a common jazz instrumentation to make a somewhat less common amalgam of urban-signifying genres, from electro-pop to punk-rock to hip-hop.” Tonight they are playing with Daedelus, a producer with 18 solo albums to his credit, as well as EPs and dozens of remixes for other artists. Their work together ranges from chill mediations to explosive grooves.

Saturday, March 25

Dorothy Doring: Roaring 20s Cabaret @ Eagan Community Center, 1501 Central Parkway, Eagan. 2pm ($15 Adults, $10 under 12 – Cash or Check only) Doring is an engaging, soulful vocalist who will be performing a one hour show as a scholarship fundraiser for her teacher sorority – Alpha Delta Kappa.  (The ECC is located off 494 & Pilot Knob Road)

4th Annual Jazz at Studio Z Festival @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 5pm – 9pm ($12 Advance, $16 Door) Zacc Harris and his JASZ associates have presented a consistently good monthly series at Studio Z, using both straight-ahead and forward looking groups. Things kick off today with Real Bulls, the JT Bates/Dave King drum duo, and continues with Dean Granros’ guitar-driven Tall Tales; The Adam Meckler Quintet, featuring Meckler’s intriguing compositions; and closes with  Drobka/Weller, a drums/sax duo from Milwaukee & Chicago who are about to release a CD.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) 7pm is the Shapira/Granros duo, featuring guitarists Joel Shapira and Dean Granros. At 8:30pm it’s The Ruckus Birthday Tour Conclusion w/ Rodney Ruckus, drums; Jonathon Greenstein, sax, Adam Meckler, trumpet; and others TBD

Sunday, March 26

Katia Cardenas’ Birthday Bash @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 5pm ($8 Advance, $10 Door) Vocalist Cardenas has been very busy of late, with auditions and workshops for various shows and a number of part-time jobs, in addition to preparing for this show. Last year’s debut CD, I’ll Be Seeing You, does a good job of spotlighting her versatility and commanding vocals. She’ll be doing songs from the Great American Songbook, as well as songs by Carole King, Amy Winehouse, and other contemporary singers.

Monday, Tuesday, March 27, 28

David Sanborn @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($50, $60, $70), 9pm ($40, $50, $60) Sanborn is a talented saxophonist who can appeal to dance-floor R&B fans as well as a listening-only jazz audience. He’s won six gold records, and one platinum record, and eight Grammys, and hosted a TV show. He’s played with David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, James Brown, The Stones, The Butterfield Blues Band, and more.

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 22

Lowland Lakers on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Folk/bluegrass/Americana from this trio with roots in Duluth. Tune in, listen, and BTW, pledge.

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes @ the Dakota, Minnapolis. 7pm ($45-$60) Rowdy, passionate, bar band R&B from Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. Johnny is an alumni of bars on the Jersey Shore, where he and friends Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt came up before hitting the big time, a few decades back. He more than satisfied with his performance at the Dakota last year around this time.

Thursday, March 23

Battle of the Blues Bands @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) Famous Dave’s in Uptown is once again having a weekly showcase for blues bands. Tonight, the bands vying for a slot at the Lowertown Blues Festival are: Crooked DiceVibronautsMonny Ray & Triple Trouble; and the Mark Cameron Band.

Las Cafeteras @ The Ordway, Saint Paul. 7:30pm  ($27, $32) Las Cafeteras are an East Los Angeles band of “immigrant children,” as they call themselves. They mash up punk, hip-hop, cumbia, and rock to deliver socially conscious messages inspired by the communities in which they live. Resident artists Alma Andina open with a modern take on music from indigenous cultures of the Andes.

John McCutcheon @ the 318 Cafe, Excelsior. 9pm ($30 Tickets here) The folk veteran makes a rare appearance in this area. He’s recorded 34 albums and has thoroughly toured the US and the world. McCutcheon’s latest album, Trolling for Dreams, was released in February. This small room, with a capacity of less than 50, will provide an intimate setting for his music.

Rose Ensemble: Musique et Masqueray @ The Saint Paul Cathedral, Saint Paul. 7:30pm. ($15 – $38) Architect Emmanuel Masqueray (1861-1917) designed a number of outstanding places of worship in the area, and for four nights, the Rose Ensemble will be performing French Baroque music in them. Tonight kicks off the series at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, with guest artists Patricia Halverson, viola da gamba; Scott Pauley, theorbo; and Bruce Jacobs, organ; sitting in as the Rose Ensemble performs works by Charpentier, Cosperio, and others. On subsequent nights, the music will be performed at Saint Francis Catholic Church in Benson; (Friday), the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis (Saturday), and the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas in Saint Paul (Sunday).

Friday, March 24

Cory Stevens @ Flat Earth Brewing, 688 Minnehaha Ave East, Saint Paul. 7pm ($15 includes one standard brew) Sample the brews of Flat Earth while listening to Stevens, a blues-based guitarist and singer/songwriter who early on (in the 90s) was compared to Stevie Ray Vaughn, but has since developed his own rockin’ sound. Flat Earth is located in the historic Hamm’s Brewery complex.

Dee Miller Band @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover, $10 Reserved table) Powerhouse vocalist Ms Miller  aka The Duchess of the Blues, does real well with the weekend crowd at Crooners. Her uptempo tunes, duets with harpist Paul Meja, and choice covers often have people dancing in the aisles.

Nikki & the Ruemates @ Dusty’s Bar, Minneapolis. 9:30pm (Tip Jar) Under the Radar gig of the week, though the band’s fans (and there are many) are likely aware of this monthly gig. As regular readers may remember, Nikki & the Rue-mates play folk/rock and blues, drawing on inspiration for their originals from the late 60s and early 70s, though they’re also exploring vocal group harmony. Dusty’s is a hole-in-the-wall bar, so much so that Nikki, Rich, and Jon set up in a booth, while fans line the bar and fill up the few tables that are available.

Hipshaker 45 RPM Dance Party @ The Kitty Kat Club, Minneapolis. 9pm – 2am ($5) Hipshaker deejays Brian Engel, Greg Waletski, and George Rodriguez continue to entice college students and young graduates, along with a smattering of Gen Xers and the occasional Boomer with their collections of rare soul and funk 45s. Tonight they have a guest sitting in with some rare tunes: DJ Jameson.

Friday, Saturday, March 24, 25

Al Stewart Plays Year of the Cat @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45, $55, $65) Scottish singer/songwriter Stewart first took up guitar when he was swept up in Britain’s skiffle boom of the late 50s. He took guitar lessons from Robert Fripp (who would later lead King Crimson); roomed with Paul Simon in London (before Sounds of Silence was a hit); and had future Yardbird Jimmy Page playing guitar on his first single in 1966. It wasn’t until 1975 that Stewart came into his own, however, with the release of Year of the Cat, with the title song becoming a top ten hit around the globe. He followed that with Time Passages, another hit album. He’s not been able to reproduce that success, though he has continued to record and tour ever since, and in 2005 EMI records released a 5 CD box set. He’ll be performing The Year of the Cat, and more with backing from Marc Macisso and the Empty Pockets Band.

Saturday, March 25

Upper Mississippi Cajun Trio @ Como Dockside, Saint Paul. Noon – 2pm (No Cover) The Como Dockside is now featuring Saturday lunch music, featuring mostly Cajun groups. Today it’s a trio that I believe has performed under other names, but includes Shawn Glidden, Doug Lohman, and Marie Stier.

Saturday Salon: Eva Beneke @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 3pm ($20) The delightful, Saturday afternoon chamber music series at the Dunsmore Room continues with guitarist Eva Beneke  The McNally Smith teacher has performed at international guitar festivals in the China, Peru, and throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. Her performances have been broadcast internationally, and on NPR, and include a live-televised performance with Carrie Underwood at the 2010 American Country Music Awards.

Minneapolis Music Showcase @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 7pm ($12 Advnce, $15 Door) Here’s a chance to see four up and coming bands in one venue and still get out early enough for another show or a good night’s sleep. Headliners Sawyer’s Dream is a 7-piece band w/4 part harmonies, performing original songs inspired by Mark Twain, and the harmonies of bands like the Mamas and Papas and ABBA. The River High features the male/female vocals of Justin Law and Rena Carlson Rasmussen, along with fuzzed out guitars and a strong rhythm section. The Friendly Beers is a blue-collar rock band from Saint Paul, and Jeromy Darling is a songwriter and actor.

Soul Tight Committee @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 8pm ($8 Advance/$10 Door) Get out your dancing shoes and head to downtown Saint Paul where this ten-piece band will be laying down old school R&B, mostly from the 70s.

Charlie Lawson Band w/Guest Larry Hayes @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 9pm (Tip Jar) Guitarist Lawson continues his monthly residency at this warm pub. Tonight, he and his band will be joined by guitarist Larry Hayes, a founding member of Lamont Cranston, and composer/writer of “Excuse Moi, Mon Cheri” for the Blues Brothers. Hayes has won a number of MN Music Awards and is a favorite of other Twin Cities guitarists. He’s helmed the very excellent Larry Hayes and the ToneArms and currently performs with Mississippi Driftwood

Sunday, March 26

Greazy Gravy @ Shaw’s, NE Minneapolis. 3pm – 7pm (No Cover) It’s a matinee performance for this blues band featuring harp master Curtis Blake  Members of this band have been laying down blues licks for decades, so their blend of BB King, Albert Collins, a little Eric Clapton, and Chicago Blues goes down very easy.

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.


Around the World in Music: 4.6 – 4.12

April 6, 2016

Unknown-1Between live music and music in movies, we have quite a bit going on this week, including a film about a trumpet legend (Not the Miles Davis movie); as well as films about Brazilian samba schools and another about Twin Cities jam band the Big Wu. Then we have performances from a Mongolian punk/folk band, a Malian desert punk/blues band, a Peruvian guitarist, a Swedish folk-rock trio, and a bluesman who’s explored music from a number of other cultures. We also have a couple of very talented high-school age jazz combos. It’s a good week: Music lifts your spirits.

Jazz

Wednesday, April 6

Cox, playing electric. Photo by Andrea Canter

Cox, Photo by Andrea Canter

The Reverse of Sam & Dave @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10) We’re not talking the soul duo, but Sam Rivers and Dave Holland, with Anthony Cox on bass & cello, and Michael Lewis on alto & soprano sax. Tonight they have drummer Corey Healy as a special guest. Expect some musical fireworks.

Thursday, April 7

Lila Ammons Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10) Jazz and blues from Ms Ammons  with help from Phil Aaron, piano; Tom Lewis, bass; and Jay Epstein, drums. Here she is doing some boogie boogie with Axel Zwingenberger in Beaune, France.

Friday, April 8

Nuskein Ensemble and the Dakota Combo @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10 Suggested Donation) This is another of the “Friday Night Jazz in Exile” series. The opening set is by the Dakota Combo, an open-audition group of some of the most talented high school players in the metro area. They are coached by Adam Linz and presented as part of the JazzINK Youth Showcase. This year’s members include: Jordan Anderson, piano; Adam Astrup, guitar; Alma Engebretson, bass and cello; Yonci Jameson, bass clarinet; Gerhardt Robinson, saxophones; Nick Zaczkowski, alto saxophone; Sam Stroup, drums. Then at 8pm it’s the Nuskein Ensemble, a group that combines music, song, spoken word and visual images. It’s members are: Katherine Pehrson, writer, visual culturalist, and musician; Davu Seru, literary scholar and musician; and J. Otis Powell, writer, performance artist, producer and curator. should be a very interesting and enlightening evening.  Here’s music from last year’s edition of the Combo, which contains both Adam Astrup on guitar, and Jordan Anderson on piano. You can expect similar excellence from this year’s edition.

Dave Graf Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) Trombone master Graf gathers up Peter Schimke, piano; Ron Evanuik, bass; and Eric Kamau Gravatt, drums, to play some of Graf’s original music plus his arrangements of some jazz standards. Followed at 10pm by Macalester College Big Band. Here is Graf with a different quartet.

Born to be Blue & Larry McDonough @ The Edina Cinema, Edina. Pianist Larry McDonough has been doing a show honoring trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker at various venues around town. Tonight Born To Be Blue, a biopic about Baker, opens. Baker was a dazzling trumpet player, and ice cool singer with the good looks of James Dean, who succumbed to heroin addiction. McDonough and trumpeter Tim Martin will perform the music of Baker before the movie at 6:30 p.m. and again afterward. They will perform the title of the movie, Born to Be Blue, other pieces from the 1950s, including My Funny Valentine, The Thrill Is Gone, When I Fall in Love, You Don’t Know What Love Is, and There Will Never Be Another You, as well as songs from the end of Chet’s life, such as All Blues (the rare vocal version) and Softly as in a Morning Sunrise. The film stars Ethan Hawke as Chet. Here’s the NY Times Review: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/movies/born-to-be-blue-review-ethan-hawke-chet-baker.html?_r=0  Here’s the trailer.

Andres Prado, Ted Godbout, Randy Sabien @ Lowertown Classics, Lowertown Lofts, 255 Kellogg Blvd, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10 Suggested Donation) You have to enter via the alley between Kellogg and 4th Street to hear this trio of musicians. Prado is the Peruvian guitarist who lived in the Twin Cities for a few years. Ted Godbout is a pianist who plays with a number of groups around town, and fiddler Randy Sabien has not only appeared on Prairie Home Companion numerous times, but chaired the jazz strings department at Boston’s Berklee School of Music. Here’s Prado in a trio setting.

Saturday, April 9

Zacc Harris’ American Reverie @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10 advance, $15 Door) It seems that many jazz artists are exploring the rural roots of America’s music. Here in the Twin Cities, guitarist Zacc Harris gets together with bassist Matt Peterson and drummer Lars-Erik Larson to re-imagine folk and Americana: songs like Tennesee Waltz, Shenendoah, and Long Black Veil.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Another young group opens, as the Will Schimid/Adam Astrup Quartet takes the stage at 7pm. Schmid and Astrup have been making waves as a guitar duo, with stellar results from their quartet as well. At 8:30pm The stage will be filled with the Illicit Sextet, six veterans who play original music from members of the group, which includes Paul Harper, sax; Chris Lomheim, piano; David Roos, guitar; Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Tom Pieper, bass; and Nathan Norman, drums. Here’s Adam and Will.

Sunday, April 10

Joyce Lyons Remembers Carmen McCrae @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley.  7pm ($8, $35 Dinner & Show) A great concept, great singer, great room, and great band, as Ms Lyons brings Phil Aaron, piano; Jay Epstein, drums; and Graydon Peterson, bass to Crooners’ listening room. Here she is with a big band.

Sunday, Monday, April 10, 11

David Sanborn Electric Band @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40 – $60), 9pm ($30 – $50) With eight Grammys, six gold records, and one platinum, Sanborn is the rare saxophonist who can appeal to dance-floor R&B fans as well as a listening-only jazz audience. He’s played with David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, James Brown, The Stones, and more. I’m not sure who is in the band this time around, but there’s little doubt that Ricky Peterson will be on keyboards.

Monday, April 11

Jazz Implosion @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) 1st set – DVrG REDEFINED  – Devon Gray  keys; with Davu Seru, percussion; and JG Everest (bass?).  2nd set – Park Evans Quintet, with Evans on guitar; Zack Lozier, trumpet; Cody McKinney, bass; Greg Schulte, drums; and Brandon Wozniak, sax.

Tuesday, April 12

Chris Lomheim @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul, 6pm (No Cover) Lomheim is a pianist about town who can play with big bands, large combos, or accompany singers with equal ease. Here’s a chance to hear him in a cool room at no cover to start your evening right.

Mississippi, featuring Andres Prado, @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($10, $35 Dinner) Andres Prado is a Peruvian guitarist who lived in town for a few years before returning to Lima, Peru. He’s back for a visit and will be leading a fine group, with Pete Whitman, sax; 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 6

Drew Peterson on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) this West Bank singer-songwriter has been involved in a number of successful projects and collaborations over the years, including the Dead Pigeons, Forty Watt Bulb, Julie Johnson & the No-Accounts, and his own solo work. You can expect original, rootsy songs with dashes of Piedmont Blues and Americana. It’s the Spring Membership Drive for KFAI, and this event gives you one more reason to support the station.

Curtiss A & Dark Click @ Schooner’s Tavern, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (No Cover) The Dean of Scream does more than high energy rock n; roll: He uses the Dark Click to sing his version of the blues.

Thursday, April 7

Hanggai @ The Ordway Theater, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($25 – $27) This sextet from Mongolia incorporates throat singing, along with traditional instruments and folk music from their country with western drums and electric guitars to create exuberant performances that have taken them to the Lincoln Center Festival and to Bonnaroo. It may be hard to imagine, so check out this video.

Battle of the Blues Bands @ Famous Dave’s, Calhoun Square, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover ??) This is the first in a series of battles to determine what band will open the Lowertown Blues Festival in July. Tonight you can hear Paul Barry and the Ace Tones, Bambi Alexandra and the Dark Horse Blues Band, The Strips, and Sasha Druva and Highway 65. Check out the up and coming talent and vote for your favorite.

Friday, April 8

Väsen @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20) This Swedish trio has become a Cedar (and Twin Cities) favorite, for their updated takes on traditional Swedish folk music using fiddle, Nyckelharpa, and guitar. They’ve toured the world, playing their Swedish folk-rock in front of audiences that have numbered 25,000, and have been on Prairie Home Companion.

Armadillo Jump @ Shaw’s, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (No Cover) The modest stage and just about non-existent dance floor at Shaw’s will be shaking as fans “jump” to the rhythm and blues of this five piece band voted Best Dance Band by the members of U Wanna Dance.

Songhoy Blues @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm ($20)  Desert punk/blues from a group  hat was forced to leave Mali during the civil conflict there a few years ago. Their music includes element of contemporary rock and hip hop, but is mostly based on the music of the Songhoy people of Mali, with hints of the band’s West African guitar heroes such as Ali Farka Toure.

Saturday, April 9

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra @ The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9:30pm $20) An evening of Dvořák, Mendelssohn, and contemporary composer Vivian Fung, in this small, lovely museum The evening starts with a social hour, with beer, wine, and cocktails, enabling you to peruse some of the Russian masterpieces on the walls. An extended intermission will allow further discovery of the museums fabulous artworks.

Eliza Gilkyson @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($28) This two-time Grammy nominated singer/songwriter/activist is known for her composing, with songs covered by the likes of Joan Baez, Tom Rush, and Roseanne Cash. Her performances are marked by a mix of storytelling, political diatribes, and love songs.

Oh! What a Night! @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20) This is not simply a reprise of the show from a couple of year back. Tonight there will be a bit more emphasis on songs from solo singers, including Sam Cooke. There will be a couple of gospel numbers as well as lesser known songs from the likes of the Temptation, Chi-Lites and the Spinners. The singers are Ronn Easton, Wee Willie Walker, Maurice Jacox, Jerry Eskridge and Maurice Young. Old school, all the way. Here are highlights from the concert two years ago.

Nikki Roux & Rich Rue/Hurricane Harold’s All-Star Revue @ The Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Nikki & Rich – No Cover), 9pm (Hurricane Harold – $8) It’s an evening of roots and blues, starting at 6pm with Nikki Roux & Rich Rue performing a combination of blues and folk rock, particularly inspired by the songs of the psychedelic era. Then at 9pm Hurricane Harold’s All Star Revue takes the stage. The All-Stars are a revolving cast of some of the area’s best blues players and tonight, according to Harold, will feature at least three who sing as well as they play. Here’s one example of the All-Star Revue./

Music Movies @ MStP International Film Festival, Various Venues, prices, and Times. There are two movies being shown today and three others later in the Festival. Today’s features are:  O Samba, about the music of Brazil, screening at 1:30 at St. Anthony Main Theater, and repeated on Sunday, the 10th at 4:15pm; and The Big Wu Way, about the Twin Cities own jam band, screening at 7pm tonight at McNally Smith, and repeated on Tuesday at 9:30 at St. Anthony Main Theater. You can look forward to movies about the Twin Cities favorites’ rapper Eyedea and rockers Gypsy, as well as a film featuring cellist Yo Yo Ma, and another, entitled Mad Tiger, featuring the Asian band Peelander Z.

Sunday, April 10

Road to Memphis Competition @ Schuller’s Road House, Golden Valley. 1pm ($10 Suggested Donation) This is the solo/duo competition to represent Minnesota at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. This year’s acts are Mike Munson & Mikkel Beckmen; Jimmi Lngemo & Nate Heinz, Trevor Marty, and Nigel Egg

Tuesday, Wednesday, April 12, 13

Taj Mahal @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45 – $65), 9pm ($35 – $55) though he began his career more than four decades ago playing the blues, Taj  as become somewhat of a ethnomusicologist, exploring and playing music from West Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Hawaii. He’s been a favorite of the Twin Cities for a long time, with many appearances at the Zoo and other venues. He is, simply put, a treasure.

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.


Valentines Day. Mardis Gras. Celebratory Music: 2.11 – 2.17

February 11, 2015

UnknownOkay, we’ve got two special occasions this week. For the romantics out there we have Valentine’s Day. For those who just want to party we have Mardis Gras. Take your pick, or take both, each of which is a good reason to get out and listen to music. There are other reasons as well, just check out the possibilities below. Music lifts the spirit.

Jazz

Wednesday, February 11

Trio PKD @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) George Cartwright, sax; Chris Bates, bass; JT Bates, drums. Chris Bates always brings interesting musicians to Jazz Central on the second Wednesday of the month. Tonight he’s teaming up with brother JT on drums and, for the first time, the exploratory sax of George Cartwright.

Thursday, February 12

UnknownJennifer Grimm @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Grimm’s musical theater background, her sense of sing and her weekly shows at Manitou Station, along with appearances at Carnegie Hall, the Ordway, and Prairie Home Companion attest to her versatility. With Joe Cruz accompanying on guitar, this promises to be an intimate evening. I suspect there will be quite a few love songs in the repertoire.

Friday, February 13

Irv Williams and Mary Louise Knutson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 4:30pm – 6:30pm (No Cover) Mr Smooth, aka Irv Williams, has had a number of different partners for his Friday afternoon happy hour gigs, but this may be the first time he’s accompanied by the accomplished pianist, Mary Louise Knutson  Her bonafides are well established: she’s Doc Severinson’s pianist for his mid-nation tours, her most recent CD In the Bubble, hit the top ten in Jazz Week, and was in the top 50 for 19 weeks, and she’s performed with musicians ranging from Diane Reeves to Nicholas Payton, and Randy Brecker. This should be a delightful pairing.

Eric Kamau Gravatt & Friends @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Gravatt’s powerhouse drumming has propelled Weather Report and McCoy Tyner’s groups. Tonight he brings Brandon Wozniak, sax; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Zacc Harris, guitar; to the basement club in near Northeast. Here’s a video of Gravatt with Wozniak and bass player Adam Linz.

College Night @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 9:30pm  featuring North Central University’s Jazz Workshop. There will be sets from two different ensembles, followed by a jam session.

Friday, Saturday, February 13, 14

Isn’t It Romantic: Jazz in the Lobby Bar @ the Saint Paul Hotel, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm (No Cover) Sure, the lobby can be a bit noisy and distracting, but Joann on piano and Jeff on bass are very good at keeping your attention. They are bringing in a special guest, Saxman Pete Whitman, for these evenings of romantic songs.

Saturday, February 14

Kate & the Fellows

Kate & the Fellows

Kate Lynch & Her Most Excellent Fellows @ Patissiere 46, Minneapolis. 3pm – 5pm.  (No Cover) Bassist/vocalist Lynch is calling this Sweet Tunes for the Sweet Toothed. She and the Fellows will be playing tunes from the 30s through the 50s, and maybe even a tune or two from the 60s, all in that toe-tapping rhythm. There may be no cover, but you will definitely end up buying one of the beautiful French pastries at what is arguably the best pastry shop in the state. Their creations are colorful, sculptural, delicious, and sweet – a perfect complement to the tunes of Kate and the band. Here she does a li

Connie Evingson @ The Cabaret at Camp Bar, 490 Robert, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm ($20, $25) Ms Evingson takes a lighthearted look at romance in a show called “This Funny Thing Called Love?” Helping her answer that question are: Adi Yeshaya, piano; Gary Raynor, bass; Dave Karr, sax; and Mac Santiago drums.

Ready to Sing!

Ready to Sing!

The Girls: This Thing Called Love @ Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hopkins. 7pm – 10pm  ($24, Discounts for seniors, students, and members) It’s an evening celebrating all things romantic, with the cream of Twin Cities vocalists: Patty Peterson, Lori Dokken, Debbie Duncan, Judy Donaghy-Vinar, Rachel Holder-Henning, and Erin Schwab.

Paul Harper Quartet @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. ($5 – $20 Suggested Donation) It’s not a Valentine’s Day Event, but if your sweetie likes jazz, tonight’s groups will help you get nice and cozy. Opening at 7pm: Central Standard Time: Charlie Lincoln, bass; Dave Roos, guitar; Alex Burgess, drums; Steve Kenny, flumpet. Followed by Harper, sax; Mike Cramer, guitar; Charlie Riddle, bass; Nathan Norman, drums at 8:30pm.

Monday, February 16

Iron Chops, feat: Jon Wood and Dave Brattain @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Wood is an area guitarist who is a member of both the Cedar Avenue Big Band and the Jazz on the Prairie Big Band. He also plays around town in in various venues and and genres and is currently recording a CD. He’s joined tonight by Dave Brattain on sax, who also plays in the Cedar Avenue Big Band, as well as the JazzMN Big Band. They’ll be playing compositions from Wood’s upcoming CD.

Unknown-2Enormous Quartet @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10pm ($8) Chris Bates is one busy bassist. Tonight he’s joined by Chris Thomson, sax; Park Evans, guitar; and Joey Van Philips, drums.

Tuesday, Wednesday, February 17, 18

David Sanborn @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45 – $70) Sanborn is a rare saxophonist, one who can appeal to a dance-oriented R&B crowd, and a listening audience of jazz aficionados. He has won six Grammys, had eight gold albums, and one platinum, has hosted his own excellent TV show, and recorded with a host of artists, from Eric Clapton to Christian McBride and Bill Frisell. His appearance at the Zoo a couple of years back had the crowd roaring with delight. Don’t be surprised if Ricky Peterson shows up on keys, as in this video.

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

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, February 11

MATRA @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($5 – $20 Suggested Donation) Sometimes we have to be reminded that the vibraphone and the marimba are both percussion instruments. Tonight’s your chance, as Andres Crovetti, vibes; Jenny Klukken, marimba; Krissy Bergmark, tablas; and Mathew Solace, drums play accessible arrangements of world and jazz influenced music.

Thursday, February 12

It's more like MeMeMeMeMe

It’s more like MeMeMeMeMe

MeMeMe with Little Star @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($5) If you liked the voice of Jon Anderson from Yes, you might appreciate the vocals of MeMeMe’s lead vocalist Casidy Anderson. The rest of the band evokes folks from Weezer to Neil Young. Opening for the evening is Little Star  who delivers something completely different – a guitar duo featuring Jayme Clifton Halbritter and Olivia Marie Quintanilla. The results are, as might be expected, quietly pretty, little dreamlike wisps of imagination.

The Eddies @ The Underground Music Cafe, 1575 Hamline Ave, Saint Paul. 7pm – 8:30pm ($5 Suggested Donation) The always fun Eddies are featured for this month’s Celtic Music Showcase, and though there is a definite Celtic bent to what this almost acapella group sings, there are 19th and 20th Century songs of love, death, and work as well.

Friday, February 13

The Assad Brothers and Romero Lubambo @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 – $45), 9pm ($25 – $35) Guitar players and lovers of guitar music will converge on the Dakota tonight to hear the Brazilian-born Assad Brothers  whose virtuosity in classical and other genres have led to them being called the best two-guitar team in existence by the Washington Post. Romero Lubambo  another Brazilian guitarist, melds Brazilian styles and rhythms with the American jazz tradition, leading to his performing and recording with such artists as Diane Reeves, Michael Brecker, Diane Krall and others.

On Love @ the Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($15) With Lynn O’Brien and Steven Hobert, PaviElle, and Sankophoenix. Three female singers take to the Cedar’s stage to explore the manifestations of love, often using a groove to move their messages forward. PaviElle has been getting lots of good press recently for her neo-soul work. Lynn O’Brien is a singer/songwriter with a soulful voice who has found a kindred spirit in imaginative pianist Steven Hobert. Sankophoenix calls her approach to singing neo-jazz, integrating jazz and neo-soul in her singing. Here’s PaviElle doing a Tom Petty song.

Saturday, February 14

Freewheelin’ Mardis Gras @ The Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 6pm (No Cover) I’ll be spinning Mardis Gras music and more from 4:30 – 6pm, prior to the start of this event featuring The Rockin’ Pinecones, Scottie Miller, and The New Riverside Ramblers.

Maurice Jacox @ The Normandy Kitchen, Minneapolis. 7pm – 10pm (No cover) Though vocalist Jacox is well known for his work with Willie & the Bees, The Butanes Soul Revue, and the Soul Tight Committee, he is also an excellent interpreter of standards, and stripped down Motown. Things get intimate tonight in the tiny bar at Normandy Kitchen, as Jacox performs with Thomas West on keys, and Grammy winner Robb Stupka on drums. Reservations recommended.

North America Super Stars @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($15) Here’s a unique Valentine’s day concert, performed by a collective of Somali artists who appear in various configurations around the Twin Cities and beyond. It’s Somali pop, with perhaps, a bit of hip hop as well.

Sunday, February 15

Finn Hall @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 6pm (Donation) Talk about old-time music! With mandolin, violin, nyckelharpa, and two accordions, this quartet will take set the Wayback machine to the turn of the last century as they play  waltzes, schottisches, polkas, mazurka, humppa and other traditional music as played in Finnish-American dance halls. Here they are with some guests.

S.O.S. Band @ Mill City Nights, Minneapolis. ($25) The S.O.S. band hit big in 1980 with the single Take Your time (Do It Right), which sold over two million copies. Other hits followed after they hooked up with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as producers. It will be a night of funk with opening acts The Maxx Band and the West Side Band

Bridge City Hustle @ the Nomad, Minneapolis. 9pm (No cover) This modern soul quintet from Brooklyn caught my ear when I heard one of their tracks on KFAI. They handle slow grooves and uptempo numbers with equal aplomb.  w/Sonic Intension, a neo-soul group that uses a touch of rock, and DJ Tarik Thornton, who always spins interesting and danceable grooves. Here’s a video of Bridge City Hustle.

Monday, February 16

Blues at the Crossroads @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 6:30pm ($50 – $75), 9pm ($40 – $65) Wow, this is a good old fashioned Soul Revue. Featuring the wonderful Irma Thomas  Soul Queen of New Orleans; journeyman soul singer Lee Fields, who should be as well known as Sharon Jones or Charles Bradley;  Eric Krasno, of Soulive and Lettuce; and new singer Alecia Chakour, who’s been getting dynamite press. Speaking of which, The Dynamites, who provided butt-shaking backing on the excellent Charles Walker album, provide the backing for everyone. Here’s Lee Fields.

Tuesday, February 17

Swamp Kings @ Dixie’s on Grand, Saint Paul. 6pm (No Cover) You just know that Dixie’s has to have some appropriate music for Mardis Gras, and they’ve found it with the Swamp Kings  This quartet of bass, drums, accordion, and electric guitar does a more than credible job of laying down the Cajun, New Orleans, funk and blues sounds of Louisiana.

The New Riverside Ramblers

The New Riverside Ramblers

8th Annual Louisiana Rhythms Mardis Gras Party @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. ($12) Whether you do Cajun Dancing, Zydeco, Swing, or freestyle, The Swamp Poppas, Southside Aces, New Riverside Ramblers, and the Rockin’ Pinecones will be providing music from New Orleans and South Louisiana for your dancing pleasure. Plus, there will be Gumbo, Jambalaya, and Red Beans and Rice!

Jack Brass Band: Naughty Gras @ The Amsterdam, Saint Paul. 9pm($15, $50 for 2-top tables, $100 for 4-top tables)  They’re pulling out the stops for this one, folks. Besides the always fun JBB  they’ve got side show acts presented by Musette the Mistress of Mischief and burlesque from Sassy Von Straddler, as well as a crawfish boil, Abita beer and circus aerialists. My. My. My.

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.

 


And the Days Grow Short. Music: 8.23 – 8.28

August 23, 2012

You may need umbrellas before the weekend.

It’s been a busy week, and so I’m a day behind in this post. We’ve got some much needed rain in the forecast, which will certainly put a damper on outdoor events. That won’t stop intrepid folks from going to the State Fair, where there’s some mighty fine music taking place on the free stages, as well as Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples in the grandstand on opening night.

Jazz

Thursday, August 23

Capri Big Band @ The Lake Harriet Bandshell, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Free) The Capri Big Band is one of the  positive stories of Minneapolis’ North Side. It has proven to be a great training ground for young musicians as well as a place for older musicians to keep their chops up while mentoring students. You’ve got the lake, sailboats, cyclists riding by, grills, and picnic grounds. As long as the weather is good, it makes for a perfect summer evening.

Snowblind’s Tribute to Blue Note Records @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Blue Note has long been recognized for its stellar jazz recordings of the 50s and 60s which set the standard for jazz. In fact, much of what we consider mainstream jazz today is directly descended from the hard bop that was brought to the public’s attention by Blue Note. Tonight, Snowblind, a collective ensemble with a predilection for grooves, will perform some of the label’s hits, and perhaps a few misses. The group consists of Scott Agster, trombone; Shihad Sen, sax; Adam Rosmiller, trumpet, Graydon Peterson, bass; and Reid Kennedy, drums. Fine musicians all.

Friday, August 24

Boot Camp @ Dakota Late Night, Minneapolis. 11:30pm ($5) Pianist Jeremy Walker (aka Boot) moved to NYC for a couple of years to compose and play in the Big Apple. Since returning, he’s put together a number of projects to play his thoughtful music including this group: Walker, piano; Chris Bates, bass; Brandon Wozniak, sax; and Miguel Hurtado, drums.

Saturday, August 25

Lucia Newell @ the Lexington, Saint Paul 6:30pm – 10:30pm (No cover) Ada Ashaya, piano, and Jeff Bailey, bass. Around here, other singers come out to see Lucia perform. You should too, especially since the setting is so warm and clubby. There may be a minimum at some of the tables, but given the quality of the food and drinks at the Lex, it should be easy to meet.

Whitman, Schimke, Lewis & Horst @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Kenny Horst continues to feature new groupings of players at the AQ. This time we’ve got a swinging saxophonist/composer (Pete Whitman); a pianist who is equally at home with the swing, jazzy R&B, and Latin music (Peter Schimke), a journeyman bassist who can be depended upon for a firm foundation (Tom Lewis) and Kenny Horst himself on drums. Sounds like some great jazz is in the offing.

Culbertson, Sanborn

Dave Sanborn & Brian Culbertson @ Burnsville Performing Arts Center, Burnsville. 7:30pm ($48 ) Sanborn is one of the most influential successful sax players on the planet (take that, Kenny G), winning six Grammys, eight Gold Records, and one Platinum. He’s a passionate player, who tempers his commercial, danceable, R&B with improvisation and surprising forays into projects like a TV series where he played with guests ranging from Sonny Rollins and Sun Ra, as well as a recording project with Avant Gardist Tim Berne and a recent album with Joey DeFrancesco and Steve Gadd. Keyboardist & trombone player Culbertson has been called jazz lite, which is too bad, because his jazz is a funky as can be. It’s allowed him to amass a considerable fan base.Patty Peterson & Friends open. Check out a video of his below. I interviewed Patty on my show this past Friday. You can hear the interview here.

Monday, August 27

Gypsy Mania Trio w/special guest Patrick Harrison @ Barbette, Minneapolis. 10pm – Midnight (No cover) Folks who like Gypsy jazz know  Glen Helgeson on guitar, Matt Senjem on bass, and Patrick Harrison on accordion can swing with taste and finesse. Those looking for food and drink late at night know that Barbette has a great late night happy hour. Sounds like a great combination.

From a European Tour a few years ago.

Fat Kid Wednesdays @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30 & 11:30pm. ($5) Mike Lewis (sax), Adam Linz (bass), and JT Bates (drums) have been so busy with numerous other projects that the three friends (since high school) haven’t played much in the last year or so. See why they’re popular in France and  hear them deconstruct ballads, bebop, and tunes from the likes of Ornette Coleman. The first show gets pretty crowded, and rowdy, but that’s part of the fun.

Tuesday, August 28

Cory Wong Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul 7pm – 9pm. (No Cover) Wong’s recent release, Quartet/Quntet, has moved into the top ten on the CMJ Jazz Charts. He was recently featured on the Voice of America as well. Check out his guitar wizardry at this early show. It’s a weekly thing, but that doesn’t mean you should put off going. Besides, this performance is being recorded by KBEM for its series Saint Paul Live!, so head down and add to the atmosphere.

A more comprehensive calendar for the Twin Cities can be found at Jazz Police. They feature jazz commentary as well, as do Bebopified, and Jazz Ink.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, August 22

Julie Johnson & The No-Accounts on KFAI , Minneapolis. 5pm on KFAI, and 7pm – 9pm at the 331. (Free – tip jar @ 331) Okay, you’ve missed this but it’s still available in archive. I was the host on Harold’s House Party this afternoon from 4pm – 6pm, so I invited Julie and the guys to be my in studio guests during the 5pm hour. They play historic folk songs from Minnesota and Wisconsin, with Julie playing flute and Doug Otto and Drew Druckery on guitar, mandolin, and vocals. They played three songs live in the studio, which you can listen to here.

Thursday, August 23

Brooklyn Rider with Bela Fleck @ The Washington County Historic Courthouse, Stillwater. 7:30pm (Adults: $25, Students: $10) This is the final concert in the Stillwater Music Festival, organized by Brooklyn Rider, a string quartet from Brooklyn with Minnesota roots. They are certainly not your father’s string quartet, as they are unafraid of pushing the boundaries of the genre. If you didn’t see them at the Cedar or in other Stillwater Music Festival appearances earlier in the week, here’s your chance. Their special guest for this evening is virtuoso banjo player Bela Fleck, who has been known to cross a genre or two himself.

Deadstring Brothers @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm. ($8) Deadstring Brothers bring to mind the Rolling Stones of Exile on Main Street – a bit raw, a bit ragged, a bit country, and a lot of hard rock n’ roll. Dirt Road Ramblers start the evening, followed by Cannon’s North celebrating a CD release before Deadstring takes the stage to close off the evening.

Friday, August 24

Ronn Easton’s All Star Soul Revue @ Famous Dave’s, Calhoun Square, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) If you want to hear some old school music from Motown, the O’Jays, Ohio Players and more check out Che nine-piece revue. Make sure to bring your dancing shoes.

Cool Disposition @ Neumann’s, North Saint Paul. 9pm (No cover) Dan Schwalbe’s guitar, Harold Tremblay’s harp, and Mickey’s vocals are just a few of the forces driving this band’s combination of jump, Chicago, and West Coast blues. There isn’t much room for dancing at the oldest continually operating bar in the state, but that just adds to the fun.

Saturday, August 25

Mother Banjo @ The Saint Paul Farmer’s Market, Saint Paul. 9AM (Free) Listen to the sounds of traditional folk, gospel, and alt-country from Ellen Stanley (aka Mother Banjo) as you roam the aisles of the market picking up fresh basil, fruit, and (if you are so inclined) some meat that was on the hoof a couple of days ago.

Maurice Jacox @ Hollihan’s Pub, White Bear Lake. 7pm (Free) Jacox recently sang some gospel tunes for a church service. He’s equally at home with soul music (naturally), and jazz standards, including Nat King Cole’s songs. I suspect this gig will fine him in an R&B/Blues vein.

Jennifer Markey & the Tennesee Snowpants @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Markey sings country. Not the country of Nashville today, but country that sounds like it was written in little towns, hollers, and even on the plains. Plus, they’re originals.

Saturday, Sunday, August 25, 26

Robby Vee, Jeffrey Broussard, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds @ The Minnesota State Fair Leinie Stage, Saint Paul. (free with $12 Fair Admission) Get there early, fill up at the milk truck, take in some animal barns (you may want to avoid the swine barn) and check out Robby Vee and his Rock n’ Roll Caravan at 10:30 and 11:45am. Test your Zydeco and Cajun dance steps with Jeffrey Broussard & His Creole Cowboys at 3:30 or 4:45, and top your day off with the butt-rockin’ blues of the Fabulous Thunderbirds at 8:30. Grab some desert-on-a-stick and head home, tired and spent.

Monday, Tuesday, August 27, 28

Their first album.

Desert Rose Band @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45) Wow. Chris Hillman (guitar), founding member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, along with Herb Pederson (banjo.guitar) who played with both of those groups as well as Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, John Jorgenson (guitar), a wizard who can go from bluegrass to Beatles in the blink of an eye, and Bill Bryson (bass) who played with Ry Cooder. The Desert Rose Band combined Bakersfield honky-tonk with country rock to cause a sensation in country music during the late 80s and 90s. I’ve got two of their first albums on vinyl and play them a lot.

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.


George Duke

August 9, 2011

A Genial Talent

 

From the George Duke Website

George Duke is a genial, talented multi-instrumentalist who specializes in keyboards. He made a name for himself playing jazz fusion with Jean-Luc Ponty, and went on to play with Cannonball Adderley and Frank Zappa before going solo in the mid-seventies. He has practiced his talents across a variety of genres, finding success in R&B, Jazz, and pop, collaborated with a who’s who of recording artists, including  Stanley Clarke, with whom he had a number one single (“Sweet Baby”), and has had his work sampled by Hip-Hop artists. He’s scored TV and films, including The Five Heartbeats, and produced and composed two tracks for Miles Davis. Duke has collaborated with Brazilian artists such as Milton Nascimento, Flora Purim, and Airto Moreira and has also been a musical director for a number of specials and tribute shows.

Duke played at the Minnesota Zoo music series with Marcus Miller and David Sanborn on August 5th, 2011.  During their funk filled performance, Duke used his humor to good effect. Singing a ballad about losing his baby, he pretended to cry, which the audience lapped up, and Duke milked for all it was worth. Then, for a closer, his voice was electronically altered to achieve a Darth Vader effect, as he introduced the George Clinton-esque “Dukey Stick” and walked through the crowd with his portable keyboard (a key-tar?). I talked with Duke by phone the morning of July 30, 2011 during my radio show. This is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

LE:  Good Morning, Mr. Duke, are you there?

GD: Absolutely, I’m here.

 LE:  Terrific. Glad to have you. We’re looking forward to this Friday’s show, which features you, and Marcus Miller, and David Sanborn. I’m just amazed at all you do, and the energy you have and what you’ve been able to accomplish since, what is it, about 1967 or 68 when you first started.

GD: Well, you’re trying to date me now. (laughs)

LE:  Well, I can remember that era myself

GD: I go back a little bit. Yeah, you’re definitely in the right area.

LE:  What was your first musical memory?

GD: Oh my God. Well, actually the first was probably the strongest. My mom took me to see Duke Ellington, and that kind of messed me up. Long and short of it is I never heard any music like that. I’d never seen anyone like that. I never heard a band that sounded like that. And I was only four years old.

LE:  Wow.

GD: Yeah, it was a mess. (chuckles)

LE:  So you took up piano, and played some in church and eventually had your own little group. What intrigued me as I’ve learned about your career is that apparently you heard a recording of Jean-Luc Ponty, and he was coming to town and you decided you were the only guy worthwhile playing with him. What was it about his music that intrigued you?

GD: First of all, it was very experimental for the time, and there was a station called KJAZZ in the Bay area – I grew up in San Francisco Bay area – that used to play his records all the time, and so I got a chance to experience that and I was like, Man! When this guy was coming to town, I just instinctively knew that I was the right person to play with him, because I understood what he was trying to do musically. And so I, well, there wasn’t e-mail at that time, so I sent a reel-to-reel tape – not even a cassette, they weren’t around – I sent a tape down to this producer (Note: Dick Bock of World Pacific Records) on the off-chance that he might give me a shot, and he did. He didn’t have to, because I was an unknown quantity at that time.

LE:  And so you had somewhat of a groundbreaking album with him. What did you learn from Jean-Luc Ponty?

GD: Well, basically it was a real shared kind of thing, because we were trying to do progressive music – as simple as that. What I learned was that it was possible to be your self and make a living. I wasn’t sure at that time whether I could make a living doing music. I was playing at a club in San Francisco and had been there for about three years, starting about 1965. I was playing at a place called the Half-Note Club with Al Jarreau, neither one of us knowing whether we could make a living doing that. When I got the gig, somebody who didn’t know who I was kind of called me up and said, “I’m going to give you a shot at playing in my band and we’re going to go to Europe and blah blah blah,” and Wow, maybe I can make a living doing this.

LE:  And you certainly have. I’m just amazed at all the projects you’ve been involved with, and the number of people you’ve been involved with – everybody from Barry Manilow, to Diane Reeves, to your current compatriots Dave Sanborn and Marcus Miller and the music direction you’ve done. One of the other things that intrigues me was that after being with Jean-Luc Ponty you were with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.  How did that come about?

GD: Actually, through Jean-Luc. Jean-Luc’s producer had an idea, and to make a long story short, we ended up playing a rock club. We did an album there, a place called Thee Experience in Los Angeles. It’s no longer there. And because Jean-Luc was playing a unique, electric violin thing, all the musicians came, because he had made his name, and there weren’t a lot of progressive violinists at the time. Matter of fact I don’t think there were any. He was probably it, and was playing modern jazz. He played music that was kind of close to what Miles Davis was doing at the time. And so Frank Zappa came, Quincy Jones was there, a lot of people. And so I just happened to be there and we did a record called King Kong, an album came out of that. So that’s how I got with Frank Zappa. He heard me playing on that album and eventually called my mom looking for me and found me.

LE:  That must have been a somewhat unique experience in your life.

GD: Oh yeah. That was definitely a turning point in my life and in my career. Frank brought out a lot of things in me that might not have ever been brought out. In terms of humor… in terms of playing electronic instruments… singing. All of that. He just told me basically I needed to loosen up and allow my talent to go wherever it will.

LE:  What a great thing to hear. Let’s fast forward through all the things you’ve done, production, solo work, Grammy nominations. Now, you’re touring with Marcus Miller and David Sanborn. What are you doing with this group that you haven’t done with anybody else?

GD: First of all, the simple answer is we’ve never done this before. This is something which came about in January. A very new idea. I was kind of brought into it late because David and Marcus had already decided they were going to do a tour, and wanted to add a third element. I was hanging around and the word got to me and I said sure, I’m interested and they said great. That sounds like an interesting package. I think the thing that’s interesting is that the more we play together, the more we’re gonna become a band and sound like we create our own thing. We thought about the idea of doing an album, before we did this tour. This is like the third leg of the tour, that we’re embarking on next week. So we’ve already been playing and we’re beginning to develop a band sound, which is really interesting. I would love to see where we go when we do make an album. I think this can continue.

LE:  What have you discovered about playing together so far?

It's all happening at the zoo.

GD: Interestingly enough, I’m not playing as much keyboards where I’m sitting down as I normally do, because there’s a second keyboard player, and there’s no guitarist. So I wind up playing, many times, guitar parts, and I’m wearing the instrument I wear around my neck. I kind of walk around the stage, and I’m having a good time. That’s one thing. It allows me a different focus, because normally I just play a couple of tunes on this thing, not like when I was thirty years old and playing this instrument all the time. I kind of stopped doing that and only do it once a night. Now I’m back on stage playing it half the show.

LE:  Okay.

GD: That’s one thing that’s different. And playing Marcus’s music and David’s music, it’s just interesting because we sound different playing together than they do with their own bands or me with my band. It’s a different level of intensity because you have three musicians on stage who are of equal level of competence and we challenge each other in a good way, so the music reaches another level. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

LE:  You mention there’s a second keyboard player. I assume there’s a drummer as well?

GD: Absolutely. Absolutely.

LE:  Anybody else with you? Vocalists or anybody?

GD: Nope. I’m the only one singing right now.

LE:  Well you’ve a long history of singing and it’s turned out well for you. In coming together did you say, “we want to do a particular kind of music” or is there a philosophy behind this, or is the philosophy “let’s get together and have some fun.”

GD: That’s part of it. The latter. First of all, we didn’t know what this was going to be. Until we actually got on stage and played we didn’t know what this was going to be. There were really no preconceived notions, though we did talk about it. We thought we’d let the experience dictate where we should go. Right now, we’re not really doing any new music. We’re doing music from our catalogs, our respective catalogs. But we’re doing different arrangements on them because of the personnel involved. So it is different because the three of us are out there headlining it. Obviously we can’t play the greatest hits of all of us because we’ve all been around too long.

LE:  Not enough time.

GD: Not enough time to do it all and do it justice. But we hit all the major points that we can, and we’re just having a good time. It’s something that may not ever happen again, but hopefully it will.

LE:  Before I let you go, I do want to go back to your early career. Early on you were a sideman for a couple of Flora Purim and Airto Moreira albums, and you did a Brazilian album. Do you still play Brazilian influenced music?

GD: Oh, absolutely. Even in this show. I bring a couple of my tunes which are more oriented that way. Yeah, that’s played a big part in my career and in my musical world, the Brazilian sound. And of course Cannonball Adderley was a big part of that because I was in his band for a few years. He encouraged me to do that and was actually the first one to take me to Brazil, as part of his band. So yeah, Flora Purim and Airto are good friends of mine. As a matter of fact, my son is in a band with their kid.

LE:  Wow.

GD: Yeah, it continues.

LE:  The circle is complete.

GD:  Yeah, (laughs)

LE:  Well, thank you so very much.

GD: Bye bye.

 


%d bloggers like this: