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.


World Sounds and Jazz: 3.1 – 3.7

March 1, 2017

 

imagesIt’s March 1st, which means the vernal equinox, with its promise of new growth, cannot be far behind. We even have a celebration of the month at the Amsterdam on Sunday, as I have listed below. We also have some unique jazz experiences to look forward to, including visiting artist Bob Dorough. With the weather being un-March like, it will be easy to get out and let music lift your spirits.

Jazz

Wednesday, March 1

Phil Hey/Pat Moriarity Duo @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Phil Hey  drums; and Pat Moriarty  sax; put out a duo record back in 1977 that was striking in its originality and free improvisation. Their ability to communicate and respond to each other has only grown since then, thanks to collaboration with other artists, and the occasional duo gig, which doesn’t happen very often. In fact they’ve only played as a duo three times in the last ten years. If you’re at all curious about free improvisation, this is the gig to see. Here they are in a quartet setting.

Larry McDonough Quartet: “Bill Evans and Tony Bennett” @ Vieux Carré,  Saint Paul. 8pm ($8) Pianist Bill Evans rarely accompanied singers, but in Tony Bennett he found an extraordinary collaborator. The two albums they did together showed Evans’ skill in accompanying a vocalist while adding the complexities that he displayed in his solo and ensemble performances, and exhibited Bennett’s expressive range from bold and commanding to soft and delicate. Tonight, McDonough will take on both roles, often beginning with just voice and piano, and being joined by other members of his quartet: sax player and award-winning poet Richard Terrill; bassist Greg Stinson; and drummer Dean White. Here’s Larry with an impromptu version of a song recorded by Evans and Bennett.

Thursday, March 2

Thursday Night Jazz: Mancrush @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Tonight’s attraction is Mancrush, a band with standard instrumentation for a jazz quartet, though their sound is leaner and more sparse than you might expect. Members are: Bryan Nichols, keys; Zacc Harris, guitar; Brandon Wozniak, sax; and leader Lars-Erik Larson on drums.

Jana Nyberg Group @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover or $10 Reserved Seat) Nyberg is a singer who uses her jazz chops on originasl, jazz, and pop songs to great effect. She and her tight-knit group swing mightily, with: Sean Turner, piano; Graydon Peterson, bass; and Rodney Ruckus, drums. Here she is with a different version of her group.

Carl Franzen @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:00pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Singer/songwriter Franzen is making his debut appearance at Jazz Central. The former advertising copywriter is a gifted lyricist, with an ability to paint pictures and tell stories with skill and wit. He’ll be accompanied by guitarist Chris Beatty, a vet of many bands including the Droppers and Kate Lynch.

Friday, March 3

Patty Peterson Presents the Jazz Women All Stars @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20), 9pm ($20) While Patty Peterson’s shows are always filled with spirit and energy, her work with the Jazz Women All Stars, at least as demonstrated at the Winter Jazz Fest, seems to have given her a shot of new energy. This is a band of amazing musicians, each of whom has established their bona fides and creativity many times over. Members are: Peterson and Ginger Commodore, vocals; Mary Louise Knutson, piano; Joan Griffith, bass & guitar; Jendeen Forberg, drums; and Kathy Jensen, saxophone.

Eric Kamau Gravatt & Source Code @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) If it seems I write about this gig once a month, I believe you may be correct. Here in the Twin Cities, Gravatt should be heralded from the rafters as the nationally recognized monster drummer he is, having played with Weather Report, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Pharaoh Sanders, and McCoy Tyner, among others, including early work with the legendary Twin Cities fusion band Natural Life.

North Central University @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 10 pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Stick around after Source Code (above) or simply show up to hear the next generation of jazz players, as NCU’s Jazz Workshop performs. The Workshop was under the direction of pianist Bobby Peterson until his untimely death in 2002. Since then, one of Peterson’s protégés, Peter Shu, has helmed the group.

Saturday, March 4

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Tonight’s opening set is by the piano-less Pete Snell Trio: Snell, who plays saxophone, has been jobbing around the Twin Cities for many years, as have his musical cohorts: Phil Aaron, piano; and Tom Lewis, bass.  8:30 Set by the JC Sanford QuartetSanford  is a trombonist/composer who was a protégé of the the great Bob Brookmeyer, and has worked with many high-profile artists. Tonight he is joined by Zacc Harris, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; and Greg Schutte, drums.

Cedric Fuller & Global Sound @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Jazz Central doesn’t often have music on Saturdays, but this special event is deserving of your interest. Drummer Cedric Fuller has pulled together a group of talented musicians to perform his originals as well as songs in a variety of styles, from jazz, to soul, R&B, and Hip-Hop. Global Sounds includes: the amazing violinist Ernest Bisong; Steven Hobert, keys; Tomas Simpson, guitar; Kenneth P. Garnier, bass; and Caitlynn Daniels, vocals.

Sunday, March 5

The Great Tap Dancers @ Chanhassen Dinner Theater, Chanhassen. 3pm ($12) Film Archivist Bob DeFlores presents films of some of the great tap dancers from 1929 through the 70s, including folks like Bill Bojangles Robinson; Sammy Davis, Jr; Eleanor Powell, Shirley Temple, the amazing Nicholas Brothers; Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers; Buddy Ebsen, Donald O’Conner, and many more.

JelloSlave @ The Como Park Conservatory, Saint Paul. 4:30 – 6:30pm. Chamber Jazz in the Conservatory’s fabulous Sunken Garden. Jelloslave is a highly original and interesting band consisting of Michelle Kinney and Jaqueline Ultan on cellos; Gary Waryan on tables; and Greg Schutte on drums. Their music will also be piped in to the Palm Dome and the North Garden. Beer and wine available to purchase.

JazzMN Orchestra: Next Gen Jazz @ Hopkins HS Auditorium, 2400 Lindberg Drive, Hopkins. 3pm ($31 – $35, $10-$20 for Students) Jazz is alive and well, especially here in the Twin Cities, as you’ll be able to tell by listening to The Dakota Combo and other youth bands that will be performing before the JazzMN Orchestra, which will have social guest artists form LA’s Urban Renewal Project, which melds jazz, pop, and hip-hop.

Monday, Tuesday, March 6,7

Bob Dorough @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm – 9pm ($25, $50 Dinner Show) Dorough is one of the hippest and wittiest singers around. He recorded two vocals with Miles Davis, including the wry Blue Xmas, set multiplication tables to music for Schoolhouse Rock, and played 22 workshops and concerts in 13 cities in 6 countries as a jazz ambassador for the State Department. Now in his 90s, Dorough continues to write and record, his latest being Eulalia, which among other great songs, features him singing the Webster’s Dictionary definition of love.

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 1

Mitch Kashmar on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) West Coast Blues harmonica player Kashmar is in town for the Blues Harmonica Blast (see below), and is warming up with an appearance on Harold’s House Party and at the 331. He’s got a big fat sound that is equally at home invoking Chicago and Delta blues, developed in part through playing with folks like John Lee Hooker, Big Joe Turner, Lowell Fulsom, and other blues greats. He’ll be backed by the stellar line-up of the House Party All Stars: Jeremy Johnson guitar; Bill Black, bass; and Victor Span, drums.

Salif Keita @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($30 Advance, $35 Door) Keita is an Afro-pop singer/songwriter from Mali who was cast out of his family at an early age because he’s albino, a sign of bad luck in Mali. Upon moving to Paris at 25 in 1985, he began combining traditional West African musical styles with American and European influences. He’s recorded about 20 albums, some of which have included guests like Joe Zawinal and Wayne Shorter, as well as Carlos Santana, and percussionist Bill Summers. His latest album is Talé, released in 2012, is dance-floor friendly, with appearances by Manu Dibango, Bobby McFerrin, and Esperanza Spalding. Opening for Keita is our own Siama, who helped to popularize Soukous with his sensuous guitar lines.

Thursday, March 2

Butanes’ Tardis Gras @ Shaw’s, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (tip jar) The Butanes do a “late” Mardis Gras party as part of their Thursday night residency. There is always a surprise guest or two that sits in for a song with the Twin Cities Best Blues Band.

Friday, March 3

Blues Harmonica Blast @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 6pm ($?) It’s a summit meeting of harp masters with West Coast guest Mitch Kashmar (see Wednesday, above), and resident harmonica players Paul Barry, Boom Boom Stevie V; Big George Jackson; Curtis Blake; and Hurricane Harold; all backed by an all-star group of Twin Cities musicians. Chicago Blues? Yep! Delta Blues? No Doubt! West Coast Blues? Most Certainly! Dancing? You Bet!

Joyann Parker Band @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) Joyann Parker has been making her mark on the Twin Cities Blues scene for the last few years, representing Minnesota in the 2015 International Blues Challenge. Her 2015 album, On the Rocks, was named Best Self-Produced Album by the MN Blues Society, and has been nominated for Best Independent Blues Music Award. She has a powerful blues and R&B voice that’s just right for the TGIF crowd at Crooners.

Mbongwana Star w/ZuluZuluu @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($28) Imagine, if you will, the punk/DIY ethos of 80s NYC, where anger, boredom, and the need to simply get by resulted in a burst of creativity as punk, gay, and whatnot bands would share a bill and more importantly, the ability to express themselves by subverting the music they knew. Now consider the city of Kinshasha, in the Republic of Congo, where war, corruption and chaos brought the citizenry down. It was in the streets of Kinshasah, where everybody was eking by, that Mbongwana Star was born, creating their own take on Afrobeat, soukous, and rumba. They’ve upped the rhythms, increased the energy, and created their own sound, which I’m at somewhat of a loss to describe. Check out their videos on their website. Opening is ZuluZuluu a Twin Cities Afro-futuristic hip-hop/funk/soul group that uses deep grooves to get across their uplifting message songs. The six member collaborative has been working with each other for years, but didn’t come together as a group until the last couple of years. Their debut disc, What’s the Price? was released last summer.

Lowertown Classics presents Claude Bolling’s Picnic Suite @ Lowertown Lofts, 225 Kellogg Blvd East, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10 Suggested Donation) If you’re looking for some high-class, low-cost classical music, this is the place to be. Eva Beneke, guitar; Ted Godbout, piano; Bethany Gonella, flute & piccolo; and Scott Horey, drums & percussion; will perform the 7 pieces in Bolling’s Suite, as well as some other pieces which, as they said, “we don’t even know about yet.” BTW, the entrance is in an alley between 4th Street and Kellogg Blvd.

Saturday, March 4

Freezer Jam @ Lake Calhoun’s Thomas Beach, Minneapolis. Noon – 7pm (No Cover) This is an outdoor concert as part of the Minneapolis Polar Plunge to benefit The Special Olympics. There will be beer, cider, and other beverages, as well as food and fireworks. Of course you’ll be able to watch folks plunge into cold water as part of the event, which features the Midwest rockers 4 on the Floor, the bluegrass/Americana of The Last Revel; the rockin’ cover band Viva Kneivel, and the hot country sounds of Maiden Dixie. There will be shuttles from Cowboy Slim’s in uptown and the Lake Calhoun Center.

Carnaval Brasiliero Masquerade Ball @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20 Advance/$30 Door) This is the 15th Annual Carnaval, presented by guitarist/vocalist Robert Everest and his ten-piece band Beira Mar Brasil. Joining them from Brazil is the extraordinary samba dancer Dandara Odara, as well as the percussion ensembles Batucada Do Norte and Drumheart, as well as professional samba dancers and Minnesota’s Brazilian martial arts group Omulu Capoeira. Authentic Brazilian Carnaval masks will be available for sale, and the adventurous can have their face and body painted. There will be food and drink as well. I’ll have Robert Everest on my show Saturday morning at about 10:45am.

Sunday, March 5

Benefit for Bronco @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 3pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Saxophonist Merlin “Bronco” Brunkow would take solos with Willie & the Bees that would explore the outer reaches of jazzy R&B. He’s also played with Lamont Cranston, and more recently, the Big Wu. Well, it seems he fell and broke his hip, and as a result, can’t play and make any money, so a bunch of his friends are getting together to play and raise funds – it’s what bands do here in the Twin Cities. Featuring: The Butanes; Willie Murphy; The Groove Merchants; Renee Austin; Lonnie Knight; Maurice Jacox; Jellybean Johnson, and more…..

Marenitsa @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 5-9pm ($12 Advance/$15 Door) Marenistsa is not a band, but rather an annual Balkan celebration of Spring. Orkestar Bez Ime and the Mila Vocal Ensemble are presenting this Bulgarian Bacchanallia, as they call it, featuring music form Bulgaria, Macedonia, and surrounding areas. This year they’ll have as guests Traki, a Twin Cities based ensemble that features traditional and evolving  Bulgarian folk music. The Mila Vocal Ensemble consists of eleven women singing “chords that Lutherans do not have in them” as Garrison Keillor noted.  Rest assured, once Orkestar Bez Ime takes the stage, this will become a raucous dance party as their careening, infectious music makes it hard to stand still.

Monday, March 6

Marcia Ball @ The Dakota, Minneapolis.  7pm ($35), 9pm ($25) Pianist Marcia Ball is the recipient of ten Blues Music Awards, nine Living Blues Awards, five Grammy nominations, and has been inducted into both the Gulf Coast and Louisiana Hall of Fame. Her rollicking blues and emotional ballads draw from New Orleans R&B, Swamp Pop, and Gulf Coast blues, with the occasional spiciness of Tex-Mex polkas and zydeco two-steps. I’ve seen her at least a half-dozen times over the years and have never been disappointed.

Steve Clarke & The Working Stiffs @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) It’s swing night at Famous Dave’s and saxophonist Steve Clarke and the gang will deliver the goods: swing, jump blues, jazz, and jive.

Tom Paxton and the Don Juans @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($30 Advance/$35 Door) Guitarist/vocalist/storyteller Tom Paxton has been singing folk songs and telling stories on stage since the flowering of the folk movement in 60s Greenwich Village. In the years since he has earned a Grammy Liferime Achievement Award. Tonight he teams up with the Don Juans  Don Henry, guitar/vocals, uke, and banjo; and Jon Vezner, piano, vocals, uke, guitar, and more. Between Paxton and the Juans, they’ve had songs recorded by Harry Belafonte, John Mellencamp, Ray Charles, Neil Diamond, Nancy Griffith, Judy Collins, Blake Shelton, Bob Dylan and many, many more. Their appearance at Crooners about a year or so ago was a delight.

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.


Mardis Gras and Music: 2.22 – 2.28

February 22, 2017

images-1Well, Mardis Gras season is now in full swing, with a number of events planned for the coming week, which actually ends on Mardis Gras, or Fat Tuesday, which is the day before Lent begins. Whether you celebrate or not, there is still ample opportunity to enjoy music here at the north end of the Mississippi River, from both visiting and resident artists. Music lifts the spirit.

Jazz

Wednesday, February 22

Thomasina Petrus @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) Thomasina Petrus has lit up local stages with her acting and singing talent, including a notable turn as the star of “Lady Day, Live at the Emerson Bar & Grille.” Tonight she takes the stage in the large room at Crooners to belt out jazz standards, along with a bit of blues and R&B, not to forget some songs of Billie Holiday.

Maud Hixson @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) Ms Hixson knows how to pick a song that’s just right for her warm, enchanting vocals, whether from the pre-Songbook era of her latest CD, or the music of the under-apprecieated composer Mickey Leonard, or classics from Cole Porter and the Gershwins. It will be an evening of intimate songs, as Hixson is accompanied by Rick Carlson, piano; and Chris Bates, bass. Here’s Maud at a Jazz at Lincoln Center event, with an introduction by Rex Reed.

Leigh Kamman’s Interviews with Eddie Berger @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 7 pm (Donation) The Leigh Kamman Legacy Project has stores and stores of Kammen’s interviews in their archive, and once a month will be sharing interviews and music at the Black Dog. Tonight, the subject is saxophonist Eddie Berger, a Twin Cities Bebop giant who passed in 2008. Read Berger’s obituary here.

Thursday, February 23

Joel Shapira, Midnight Love @ Vieux Carré,  Saint Paul. 6pm (Shapira – No Cover) 8pm (Midnight Love-$7) Guitarist Shapira starts things off during the dinner hour with his always tasteful licks. Then at 8, Midnight Love takes the stage to deliver classic hard bop as practiced by Blue Note artists of the 50s and 60s, throwing in some 60s and 70s pop ala hard bop along the way. The group consists of: Peter Vircks, sax; Brian Ziemniak, keys; Matt Darling, trombone; Patrick Nelson, bass; Greg Schutte, drums.

Thursday Night Jazz: Zacc Harris’ American Reverie @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Zacc Harris is a versatile guitarist who always plays interesting lines, whether its 21st Century jazz with the Atlantis Quartet, soul jazz with Vital Organ, or in this case, a jazzy take on Americana. That’s what you’ll get with the American Reverie Trio, which is dedicated to classic tunes and songs like Shenendoah and Tennessee Waltz, as well as some oldies, and perhaps a contemporary tune or two. Joining him are Matt Peterson, bass, and Lars-Erik Larson, drums. Here is Harris with a different trio, performing a standard.

Friday, February 24

Jeremy Walker, Southside Aces @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (Walker – No Cover), 9pm (Aces – $10) It’s another double header of jazz, this time featuring the often contemplative piano playing of Jeremy Walker to start the evening, and following that with the joyous sounds of traditional New Orleans jazz, as played by the six-piece Southside Aces.  Robert Bell, guitar; Dave Michael, drums; Erik Jacobson, sousaphone; Zack Lozier, trumpet; Tony Baluff, clarinet; and Steve Sandburg, trombone, will help you celebrate Mardis Gras a few days early. Here are the Aces performing a classic.

St. Peter Street Stompers @ Bistro LaRoux, 9372 Lexington NE, Circle Pines. 7pm – 10pm (No Cover) Not only can you celebrate Mardis Gras a bit early by listening to the Stompers do traditional New Orleans music from Louis Armstrong, Kid Thomas Valentine, and others; but you can dine on New Orleans dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, and beignets. The Stompers include: Chuck DeVore on tenor, trumpet, and trombone; Eddie Sekula, bass; Dave Wilkeining guitar; and Jason Berg, drums.

Saturday, February 25

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Julian Manzara Quartet is a group of college age musicians performing Manzara’s original jazz and fusion compositions. They start at 7pm with Manzara on guitar, Drew Stinson, Bass; Levi Schwartzberg, keys; and Geo Randall on drums. With a name like the Minnesota Hard Bop Collective, it’s obvious that the 9pm group celebrates Hard Bop, that 50s style that leavened the technical ferocity and intellectuality of BeBop with the rhythms and emotions of gospel. The Collective features drummer Jesse Simon; and includes Jake Baldwin, trumpet; Ted Olsen, bass; Ted Godbout, piano; and Aaron Hedenstrom, sax. Here’s a slightly different line-up of the group.

Julian Lage and Chris Eldrige @ Hopkins Center fo the Arts, Hopkins. 7pm social hour, 8:30pm concert ($27) Two Grammy nominated guitarists get together to explore the intersection of jazz, folk and bluegrass. Lage was a child prodigy who at 20, has become a highly respected performer through both his solo efforts and work with Gary Burton’s New Quartet and gigs with folks like Pat Methany, Toots, Thielemans, Jim Hall, Ambrose Akinmusire, Fred Hersch, and others. He’s also played with mandolinist David Grisman and banjoist, Bela Fleck, so a duo with bluegrass guitarist Chris Eldridge is not as uncommon as it might seem. Eldrige was a member of the Punch Brothers, and has worked with Fiona Apple, Paul Simon, Jerry Douglas, Del McCoury, and Elvis Costello.

John Scofield @ The Dakota, Minneapolis.  7pm ($35, $40, $45) 9pm ($25, $30, $35) When guitarist Scofield played the Twin Cities Jazz Festival a few years back, the area if front of the stage’ was completely filled with jam band fans and guitarists wanting to see how he composes his licks. They recognized his genius at unfolding guitar lines that fall somewhere between funky jazz, rock, and R&B. He genius was recognized at the Grammy’s, where his most recent album Country for Old Men, won two awards last week. The album is an homage to such greats as George Jones, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, James Taylor, and Hank Williams, among others. Scofield plays alongside accomplished colleagues Steve Swallow, Larry Goldings and Bill Stewart. Here’s a cut from the album.

Monday, February 27

Ted Olsen Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10) Olsen is a talented bassist who can be found in many groups around town. Tonight he leads his own quartet, which isn’t listed on the Jazz Central Calendar. However, a few weeks ago the group included pianist Javi Santiago; saxophonist Aaron Hedenstrom; and drummer Miguel Hurtado. Here is Ted in a trio setting.

Tuesday, February 28

Mardis Gras w/Patty & the Buttons @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover, but $10 for reserved seat) It’s officially Fat Tuesday, and Patty and the Buttons will help you celebrate in style.

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 22

Andy Cohen on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Guitarist Andy Cohen is a country blues musician, musicologist, and folk and blues historian. Besides featuring dazzling guitar work, his shows are filled with stories about classic bluesmen, the folks he’s hung with, like Wiggins and Cephas, Elizabeth Cotton, Etta Baker, Ted Bogan, Honeyboy Edwards, and others. He lives in Memphis, and only gets up here every couple of years. Well worth tuning in to hear him, and heading over to the 331 to see him. He’ll be accompanied by Mary Dushane and another friend or two from the area.

Lev, Olga, and the Band @ Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) I have to admit I’ve not heard this band, but you have to be curious about a band that claims to play a mix of Russian, Ukrainian, and English retro rock and jazz music.

Thursday, February 23

SPCO @ Icehouse, Minneapolis. 6pm doors, 7pm showtime ($20, drink included) The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Icehouse are teaming up to present chamber music, specialty cocktails and gourmet food at the bar/restaurant. Tonight’s program includes Mozart’s Divertimento in D; Villa-Lobos’ The Jet Whistle for Flute and Cello; Mozart’s Quartet in D for Flute, Violin, Viola, and Cello; and Strum by the emerging American Composer Jesse Montgomery.

Rockin Pinecones @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($5) Get into the Mardis Gras Spirit as the Pinecones deliver New Orleans R&B from the 50s and 60s, along with a spicy helping of Cajun and Zydeco tunes.

Curtis Blake’s Birthday Party @ Holihan’s Pub, 2160 3rd Street, White Bear Lake. 7pm (Tip Jar) Harpmeister Curtis Blake is having a birthday and he’s inviting all of us to celebrate with him as he plays the blues with Greazy Gravy.

Friday, February 24

Winter Blues Shakedown @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10 Advance/$12 Door) Kent Burnside & New Generation, Crankshaft & the Gear Grinders, and the Rena Haus Trio will have the dance floor bouncing at the Hook. Headliner Kent Burnside is the grandson of the late, great master of Hill Country Blues, RL Burnside, and the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders are the Twin Cities acolytes of stripped-down blues, while Rena Haus Trio can be equally compelling covering the Allman Brothers as performing her own compositions. This video may be dark, but you certainly get a taste of Burnside’s music.

Thursday, Friday, Sunday, February 23, 24, 26

Everett Smithson Band Mardis Gras Parties @ Famous Dave’s (Thursday 7pm), Wilebski’s (Friday 6pm), and Neumann’s (Sunday 4pm) Everett Smithson and his cohorts play swamp pop, Zydeco, and other music inspired by the Mississippi River, and they’re taking advantage of the Mardis Gras season to show off their skills at getting folks to dance.

Saturday, February 25

Bluegrass Saturday Morning 35th Anniversary Party @ The Hook & Ladder, Minneapolis. 3pm – 8pm ($10) It’s now 35 years that Twin Citizens have had coffee, read the newspaper, and done their Saturday morning errands to the sound of Bluegrass Saturday morning and its genial, and knowledgeable host Phil Nussbaum. Host station KBEM is celebrating the event with a stellar line-up: The High 48s; Phil Nusbaum and Sherry Minnick; King Wilkie’s Dream; Adam Kiesling; The AJ Srubas Group; Chris and Ari Silver; and Sawtooth.

Kaiser’s Boogie Woogie Ball w/Radio Joe & the Jazzbos @ The Germanic American Institute, 301 Summit Ave, Saint Paul. 6pm ($5) The party-lovin’ folks at the Germanic American Institute are having a Ball featuring the ever-swinging Radio Joe & the Jazzbos, who have convinced them to let in non-members for this event. There will definitely be beer.

Sunday, February 26

Phil Heywood @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11am – 2pm (No Cover) Acoustic guitar lovers can have brunch while enjoying ace fingerpicking from Heywood. His fine, plain-spoken baritone vocals are put to good use as well. Here is Heywood on Wisconsin TV about 25 years ago.

Church of Cash @ The Hook and Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) Today is the anniversary of Johnny Cash’s birth. What better way to celebrate than with this tribute band that goes deep into his repertoire. They’ll be taking requests all night long. Check them out.

One World Consort w/guest Laura  MacKenzie @ Celtic Junction, Saint Paul. 7pm ($16 Advance, $20 Door) One World Consort will be performing special arrangements of Celtic-inspired music, along with their usual diverse repertoire of musical traditions. The addition of Laura MacKenzie, makes it that much more special. If you aren’t aware of OWC, their musicians include: Dave Milne, sax & woodwinds; Mary Louise Knutson, piano; Eric Graham, bass; Craig hare, drums and percussion, and the Four Voices String quartet. Here is MacKenzie on concertina.

Sunday, Monday, February 26, 27

Ana Popovic @ Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $30) While many cultures around the world have their unique form of the blues, the American style of blues has found adherents in all cultures. Case in point: Serbian born guitarist/vocalist Ana Popovic  who grew up listening to her dad’s jam sessions and records and picked up a guitar at 15. Twenty-five years later her blistering finger work and strong vocals have catapulted her to international stardom. She’s appeared at blues, jazz, and rock festivals, and in the process has received nominations for five Blues Music Awards, and regularly reaches the top five in Blues charts. She’s currently touring around her recently released Trilogy, a 3 volume set of music.

Tuesday, February 28

Swamp Kings @ Dixies on Grand, Saint Paul. 6pm (No Cover) If you didn’t make it to any of the last week’s celebration of Mardis Gras you can still actually celebrate on Fat Tuesday (today!). The three members of the Swamp Kings will have you dancing in between tables, as customers enjoy Louisiana cuisine, King Cakes, a shrimp boil and hurricane cocktails.

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


The Song Remains the Same: 1.25 – 1.31

January 25, 2017
Music may be the one thing that unites us.

Music may be the one thing that unites us.

Well, the new administration in the White House may be talking about, and making, big changes, but one thing remains the same: the quality of the music here in the Twin Cities area. Whether you’re concerned about the current state of affairs, or looking forward to change, live music will give you some hours of enjoyment and a chance to commune with others who enjoy music as well. After all, music lifts the spirit.

Jazz

Wednesday, January 25

Yohanes Tona @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. Noon – 1pm (Free) Ethiopian bassist Yohanes Tona will be celebrating there release of 13 Months of Sunshine as part of the American Composer’s Forum Landmark to Lowertown Series. Ethiopia is the only country that uses the 13-month Coptic Calendar, and the album celebrates the sound and the equatorial climate of that nation. Ethiopian food will be for sale.

Leigh Kamman Interviews w/Mose Allison @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Free) The Leigh Kamman Legacy Project will present at least four interviews that Kamman had with Allison during the course of their careers. The interviews are taken from tapes of Kamman’s shows that are part of his archives accumulated during 70 years of broadcasting. Selections from Allison’s recordings will be played during the intervals between dialog.

Keston & McKinney @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Here’s an evening of what sounds like adventurous music. Cody McKinney  bass/composition; and Jon Keston, electronics and sound design; present Sound/simulacra: A monthly series they describe as a “fateful and intentionally distorted” representational process. Sound/simulacra will bring together some of the Twin Cities most unique voices to recreate, distort, and create the hyperreal.”

Thursday, January 26

Maryann Sullivan and Corner Jazz @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Vocalist Sullivan is celebrating a birthday, and helping her out are: Phil Aaron, piano; Jim Chenoweth, bass; and Trevor Haining, drums. It will be a swingin’ birthday party.

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Featuring the WISE quartet: Pete Whitman, saxes; Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Jay Young, bass; and Phil Hey, drums. They’re a hard-charging group of some of the best musicians in the area.

Friday, January 27

Peter Kogan’s Monsterful Wonderband @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Drummer Kogan has been having a ball with jazz since retiring as the Tympanist at the Minnesota Orchestra. His two recordings show a musician that’s conversant in bebop, hard bop, post-bop, and mainstream jazz. He’s joined by Pete Whitman, sax; Adam Rossmiller, trumpet; Scott Agster, trombone; Chris Olson, guitar; Phil Aaron, piano; and Gary Raynor, bass. He and the band will also be appearing at the Winter Jazz Fest Sunday afternoon (see below for link) Here’s what they sound like.

Steve Cole Superband @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) Saxophonist Steve Cole has been celebrated for his catchy singles, earning him the respect and adulation of smooth jazz fans, though he far exceeds the limitations of that term. He’s worked with artists such as Junior Wells, Buddy guy, Freddie Cole, Cyrus Chestnut, Larry Carlton, and Boz Scaggs, among others. In addition to his touring quartet, Cole will be joined by Patty Peterson on vocals, and Ricky Peterson on organ and keyboards.

Somi @ The Ordway Theater, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($27 – $37) Somi is an American born vocalist whose parents came from Rwanda and Uganda. After spending 18 months in Lagos, Nigeria, she recorded The Lagos Music Salon, a CD that reached #1 on US Jazz Charts. The album includes guest artists Angelique Kidjo, Common, and Ambros Akinmusire, and integrates jazz, pop, R&B, and her own insightful lyrics. She’ll be performing music from the album and previewing new music from an upcoming album about Harlem.

Saturday, January 28

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) This performance is part of the Winter Jazz Fest, and features the Tommy Bentz Quartet opening, with Bentz, guitar; Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Jason McLean bass; and Alex Burgess on drums. at 8:30pm The Ruckus returns to the Twin Cities after a tour, featuring Greg Byers, Cello; Javier Santiago, piano; and Rodney Ruckus, drums.

Bruce Henry @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($15) Former Minneapolitan Bruce Henry now lives in Chicago, which is close enough that he can get up here every few months. He is a master vocalist, with a voice that floats over octaves, whether he’s invoking Nina Simone, Al Jarreau, or Stevie Wonder. His musical imagination has earned him fans throughout the United States and Europe. Backing him will be Jay Young, bass; Daryl Boudreaux, percussion; Dean Magraw, guitar; Sean Turner, keys; and Kevin Washington, drums.

Jesse Simon’s B3Q @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Drummer Jesse Simon has put together a B3 Quartet, hence the moniker. It includes Evan Benidt, tenor; Cole Mahlum, guitar; and Abebi Stafford on the Hammond B3. Their repertoire includes rarely heard hard bop by the likes of Wes Montgomery, Dexter Gordon, and Hank Mobley.

Saturday, Sunday, January 28, 29

Twin Cities Winter Jazz Festival @ Various Venues, Downtown Saint Paul.  5pm Saturday ($25); 1:30pm Sunday ($35) ($50 for both days) This year’s Winter Jazz Fest is headlined by New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton on Sunday night, with performances by Patty Peterson, Jon Weber, Andrew Walesch, John Penny, The Dakota Combo, and more. Saturday’s events start at the tpt Street Stage, where film archivist Bob DeFlores partners with the Leigh Kammen Legacy Project to present rare and historical films, as well as interviews by Leigh Kammen from throughout his career. Later on there will be music at Golden’s, Vieux Carré,  and the Black Dog. Sunday features shows at various performance spaces in the Saint Paul Hotel. For a complete schedule, go here.

Sunday, January 29

Tuck & Patti @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 6pm & 8pm ($30, $35) This vocal/guitar duo has been creating magical musical moments for about four decades. The extraordinary voice of Patti and the virtuosic guitar playing of Tuck crosses genres, and creates breath-holding, spell-binding moments using complex guitar work within minimalist arrangements.

Monday, January 30

Matty Harris Double Septet CD Release @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) Harris is a multi-instrumentalist (mostly reeds) and composer who grew up in Edina and went to school in Southern California, where he assembled a group of 13 other musicians to record his compositions. Tonight, I am assuming he’s recruited Twin Cities musicians to perform in this CD release party (Vinyl also available). He describes his music as “somewhat avant-garde jazz-rock fusion,” or “psychedelic chamber jazz.” You can hear examples of his work here.

Tuesday, January 31, Wednesday, February 1

Nellie McKay: The Life and Times of Billy Tipton @ The Dakota, Minnepolis. 7pm ($35, $45, $50) McKay is a vocalist/pianist whose charm, whimsy, and  satirical wit have earned her many fans among jazz, pop, and cabaret audiences. For this appearance she’ll be performing “A Girl Named Bill,” a “revue-with-dialogue” about a fairly successful saxophonist from the 50s and 60s by the name of Billy Tipton, who wasn’t discovered to be a woman until his death. If there is anyone who can make a compelling, yet witty case for this musician, it’s McKay. Here’s an example of her satire.

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, January 25

LukeWarm and the Cool Hands on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Pickin’ and Grinnin’ from a six-piece string band that’s been entertaining folks with bluegrass/folksy/jugband sounds since 2009.

Dieselfitters @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 7pm – 10pm Rootsy rock, rockabilly, vintage country, and rhythm and blues, fired up by Clay Williams dazzling guitar work, and built on the sold foundation of Dan Peterson’s bass; and Mike Sandell on drums.

Thursday, January 26

FireFall @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $45), 9pm ($30, $40) With a musical history that spans four decades, FireFall has had three gold albums, two Platinum albums, and eleven chart-topping singles, bringing mellow rock and country rock to fans around the world.

Rockin’ Pinecones @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($5) This quintet plays the highly infectious music of Southern Louisiana, from R&B to Cajun & Zydeco, delivered by Dan “Daddy Squeeze” Newton, accordion; Dick Danaher, sax & rub board; Dehl Gallagher, drums; Rusty Jones, bass; and Tim Mauseth, guitars; for dancers of varying stripes.

Friday, January 27

Jayanthi Kyle @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 7pm (Free) Here’s a real treat. Kyle is a terrific gospel and soul singer who has been heard around town in a number of bands, including Black Audience, and Gospel Machine, while also singing backup for Romantica and Ben Kyle. She and guitarist We Burdine composed a song entitled “Hand in Hand” for the Million Artist Movement that has since become the unofficial anthem of the Minneapolis Black Lives Matter movement.

The Dead of Winter @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($98 Advance/$10 Door) Deadheads Unite! It’s an evening of psychedelic and Grateful Dead music, featuring the Jef Cierniak Triptet. Cierniak spent 8 months working with Grateful Dead keyboard player Vince Welnick and also played on two tours with Melvin Seals and JGB (The Jerry Garcia Band). The show also features The Jones Gang  a GD Tribute band since 1996; and LazyLightning420  featuring Erik Berry of Trampled By Turtles, and March Gartman of Two Many Banjos and Glitteratti. They often perform entire Grateful Dead concerts.

Saturday, January 28

Malamanya and Siama Matuzungidi @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($12 Advance/$15 Door) Here’s an evening of music that is anything but Minnesotan, though it is made by Minnesotans. Siama Mtuzungidi is a Congolese guitarist now living in the Twin Cities, who played on many Souskous hits in Africa. Malamanya features the highly danceable vintage sound of Cuban and Latin rhythms and melodies, delivered with verve and élan.

Charles Lawson w/John Beach & Mary Leinfelder @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 9pm (Tip Jar) Guitarist Lawson continues his monthly residency at the comfortable, Irish pub. Tonight, he and his band will have a couple of special guests: Twin Cities legend, pianist John Beach; and vocalist Mary Leinfelder, a strong performer who is happy just sitting in with area bands from time to time.

Samba Social Club @ Squirrel Haus Arts, 3450 Snelling Avenue, Minneapolis. 7pm – 10-pm ($5) Dance lesson, prizes, and the twelve-piece Samba Meu band playing Brazilian roots music. Squirrel Haus Arts isn’t a bar, so it’s BYOB (alcoholic or not). You can chill out or dance.

Inside straight Blues Band @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7, includes a free drink) Inside Straight has been around for decades, bringing the blues to the metro area and occasionally beyond. Members include: Kurt Koehler on Guitar; Bill Swanson on Keys;’ Mark Zmuda on Bass; and Greg Mans on Drums. Tonight they’ll be joined by the Big Horns: Steve Clarke and Rand Evenson.

Monday, January 30

Tom Hunter @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) Pianist Tom Hunter’s background includes recording and touring with Bernard Allison, as well as touring with Mary Cutrufello in support of an Allman Brothers Tour. A hard working musician, Hunter plays about 300 gigs a year, including a weekly church gig at United Methodist Church in Minnetonka. He’s versatile enough to play jazz or Billy Joel, but his forte is the blues. Hunter will be taking off on a weeklong tour of Alaska tomorrow, so stop by and wish him well.

Tuesday, January 31

Beijing Bamboo Orchestra @ Sundlin Hall, 1531 Hewitt Avenue, Saint Paul. 7pm – 8:30pm (Free, Reservations required) Here’s a very unique concert, being held in the music hall of Hamline University. Over twenty musicians will perform Chinese and western classical music on newly invented strings, winds, and percussion instruments all made of bamboo. For reservations: yyou@hamline.edu or call 651-523-2459. Here’s a video – it takes about a minute to get to the music.

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 Talent Abounds: 1.11 – 1.18

January 11, 2017

musicians_paint_on_silenceWell there aren’t many visiting artists this week, but there are plenty of interesting gigs in both jazz and blues/roots, which isn’t that surprising, considering what an active music scene we have in the Twin Cites. There are new combinations of artists, special presentations, and even a retirement party for some blues musicians. Not that they’re leaving the blues, but they no longer have to worry about getting up to work after a late night gig. Music lifts the spirit.

Jazz

Wednesday, January 11

Travis Anderson Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($6) Sometimes, all you need is a bit of swinging music to put some snap in your step. Travis Anderson, piano; Steve Pikal, bass; and Nathan Norman, drums; can do that for you, whether they’re playing jazz standards or putting some swing to Chopin or video game music.

Jimmy Scott Documentary @ Trylon Microcinema, 3258 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) This 50 seat movie house is screening I Go Back Home, a documentary about the legendary, if under-appreciated Jimmy Scott, a jazz singer without peer.  Though he began recording in the 50s, he became a prisoner to a contract that kept him from recording for about 30 years. This film features appearances by Quincy Jones, Joe Pesci, David Sanborn, and others. Check with the Trylon website to see if tickets are still available. Here’s the official trailer.

Chris Bates Presents @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) The ever-busy bassist uses this monthly gig to spotlight one of his several groups, or to bring together new combinations of musicians to see what happens. Tonight Bates is joined by Thomas Nordlund, guitar; JC Sanford on trombone, and possibly his brother JT on drums.

Thursday, January 12

Andrew Walesch Big Band: Songs of Sinatra @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover, but you can reserve a seat in the stage area for $10) Walesch is a talented pianist and vocalist whose clear enunciation, and ability to swing certainly qualifies him as a crooner. His ten piece band features Bob Parsons, arrangements/alto sax; Dave Karr, tenor sax; Bruce Thornton, bari sax; Mark Bobnick and Steve Wagner, trumpets; Dave Graf, trombone; Geoff LeCrone, guitar; Gary Raynor, bass; and Jay Epstein on drums. There’s often a line out the door for this show, so be forewarned that it will pay to get there early. Here’s a bit of what Walesch and the big band can do.

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) First set is by the Julian Manzara Quartet: Manzara, guitar; Drew Stinson, bass; Levi Schwartzberg, keys; George Randall, drums. Second set by the Aaron Hedenstrom Trio: Hedenstrom, saxes; Kameron Markworth, bass; and Lars Erik-Larson, drums. Here’s Hedenstrom performing all parts for Dolphin Dance.

Friday, January 13

Jeremy Walker, Debbie Duncan Band @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (Walker – No Cover), 9pm (Duncan – $10) Another double bill of jazz at VC. Opening the evening is pianist Walker, who is a prolific composer, having written over 70 pieces for the various small bands he leads, as well as a number of commissions and the evening-length work 7 Psalms for jazz combo and choir. Then at 9pm it’s Debbie Duncan, who has been entertaining audiences with her mix of jazz, R&B, and sass for decades.

Doug Haining Presents the Music of Horace Silver @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Back in the 50s pianist Horace Silver was one of the architects of Hard Bop, infusing the improvisational wizardry of bebop with the soulfulness of gospel. The result is now considered mainstream jazz, having outlasted and outgrown a lot of other jazz movements. Tonight, saxophonist Doug Haining is gathering musicians to pay homage to Silver’s music, which includes such jazz standards as: Song for My Father, Sister Sadie, and Señor Blues. Joining Haining are: Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Chris Bates, bass; Mac Santiago, drums.

Saturday, January 14

OUDYANO @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 6pm workshop ($10), 7pm concert ($15, or free with workshop admission) Oudyano is the duo of Issam Rafea, oud; and Steven Hobert, eclectic keyboardist. Rafea, a native of Syria, and Hobert, of Minneapolis, have discovered a deep musical connection that’s immediately apparent when they play. Those who have heard Hobert in different settings know that he’s always a sensitive improviser, and with Rafea, he has found a musical partner that shares that sensitivity. Their music explores all the potential that’s inherent in the pairing of Arabic classical tradition with American jazz & roots. The resulting music is delightful, and if there are any political overtones to their work, it is simply the desire for peace.

 

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 8:30pm (Tip Jar) There is no opening act tonight, so the Solomon Parham Quintet will perform starting at 8:30, with a stellar line-up of musicians, including: Parham, trumpet; Eric Kamau Gravatt, drums; Dean Magraw, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; Dave Graf, trombone.

Monday, January 16

Paul McCandles & Charged Particles @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) Back in the late 70s and early 80s, multi-instrumentalist/reed player Paul McCandles was a member of the original Paul Winter Consort and Oregon, both of which melded classical, jazz, and world music. McCandles still performs with Oregon, though he’s also managed a solo career, performing and recording with such stellar musicians as Jaco Pastorious, Wynton Marsalis, Steve Reich, Bruce Hornsby, the String Cheese Incident, and Bela Fleck.

Very Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) I may have missed it, but I’ve not seen this group listed before in any of the dozens of websites I check each week. They’re described as “an instrumental jazz, funk and pop trio” consisting of Andrew Frederick, guitar; Keith Yanes, bass; and Jared Mondlock, drums.

Monday, January 17

Butch Thompson @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm Solo on Monday ($12, $37 w/Dinner). This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first commercial jazz recording, so its only appropriate that the Dunsmore Room features Thompson, a pianist/historian, known for his elegant playing of early jazz pieces. This is the first of two nights at the Dunsmore Room for Thompson, who will be joined by Pat Donohue on Tuesday night. (See listing under Blues and Roots, below)

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, January 11

Mikkel’s Birthday Party featuring Jeff Ray on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Slide guitar master Jeff Ray has released 6 CDs and has made fans throughout North America andEurope. Tonight he’s joined by percussionist Mikkel Beckmen, who happens to be celebrating a birthday. Using just a djembe drum and washboard, Beckmen has managed to become a percussionist about town for a number of blues and roots performers, and as a result, is a frequent visitor to Harold’s House Party. Expect some of his many musical friends to be on hand at the 331, and, as he often does, host Harold Tremblay to sit in on harp for a few numbers.

Thursday,January 12

Jaedyn James & the Hunger @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) This energetic, enthusiastic funk n’ soul band will turn the Dakota into party central. Vocalist Jaedyn James has a powerful voice and commanding stage presence, both of which are enhanced by the 8-piece horn band and two vocalists who provide the backing.

Dean Magraw & Dan Newton, w/guest Pat Donohue @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 8pm ($6) Guitarist Magraw and accordionist Newton could easily be placed under jazz listings, but the Aster’s website says this as a folk show, and the appearance of guitarist Pat Donohue certainly steers it in that direction. All three are master musicians, so no matter what they play, it will be inspiring and entertaining.

Friday, January 13

Armadillo Jump @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 6pm – 10pm ($??) The blues and R&B of the five-piece Armadillo Jump never fails to bring dancers to the floor. They’re a favorite at Wilebski’s and other watering holes in the area.

Captain Gravitone & the String Theory Orchestra @ Dulono’s, Minneapolis. 8pm (No Cover) This Mankato-based sextet plays a combination of acoustic rock, gypsy jazz, tangos, and roots music, led by banjoist (is that the correct term?) Eli Hoehn, with a sure sense of both theater and a sense of humor.

Americana Showcase @ Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($6) Not only is it Friday the 13th, but it’s a Full Moon tonight as well, so the Hook & Ladder has put together a quartet of roots music groups sure to make the evening memorable. They’ve got bluesman Bernie King & The Guilty Pleasures, the world-weary vocals and deft playing of  Doug Otto & The Getaways, singer/songwriter of old-timey sounding music of Jake Manders (of Pistol Whippin’ Party Penguins), and those bluegrass funsters, the all female Beavers.

New Feral Cats @ The Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) This is the debut performance of this new group, which has arisen from the breakup of Sweet Tea. The New Feral Cats are a soulful blues outfit that includes veteran players with sterling music resumes, that include years with a variety of bands from across the musical specturm. Singer Sonna Olson sings with passion and grit.

Calientando El Bloque @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10 Advance/$12 Door) This celebration of Afro-Latin rhythms will feature singer/songwriter/hip-hop artist Maria Isa, and Joga Bola, a new Brazilian project led by guitarist/songwriter Adam Levy, featuring Mina Moore and Karen Quiroz, vocals; Lucia Sarmiento, saxophone; Andrew Gillespie, percussion; Tim O’Keefe, reeds; Jeff Bailey, bass; and Charlie Peterson, keys Their sound is inspired by 1960’s & 1970’s samba, funk, soul, and psychedelia from Brazil.

Friday, Saturday, January 13, 14

Radiate! @ The Sheldon Theater, 443 West 3rd Street, Red Wing. 7:30pm ($18 – $30) It’s worth the hour or so it takes to drive to Red Wing simply to see the interior of the Sheldon Theater, a beautifully restored gem of architectural flourishes, ceiling paintings, and delicate plaster sculptures. It’s doubly worth it to see this unique show, described thusly by the New York Times, “RADIATE glows..making it hard to resist this sequined earth-mother’s soulful embrace.” It’s been a critic’s pick in the NY Times, Time Out New York, The New Yorker, and Time Out Chicago. The show itself is a musical about a mythical R&B expatriate diva, Jomama Jones, who returns to the states determined to awaken the ability in everyone to regenerate ourselves. Besides Jones, the production features a band and backup singers, as well as Red Wing High School’s Ovation Choir and the Red Wing Singers. The show’s creator Daniel Alexancer Jones, who performs as Jomama Jones, is a former member of Saint Paul’s Penumbra Theater.

Saturday, January 14

Westside Band Tribute to Earth Wind & Fire @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($25, $30 Advance, $35, $40 Door) During the 50s and 80s, EWF ruled the charts with their stunning R&B, selling hundreds of millions of albums, being inducted into the RnR Hall of Fame and eventually being one of the first bands to play at the Obama Whitehouse. With the passing of EWF founder Maurice White this year, Junior Trejo, leader of our own legendary band Westside, is gathering the band and some friends for this tribute to EWF and their positive message of hope and spirituality.

The Gated Community & the Skruffians @ Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Never mind that it’s the middle of January, the Skruffians will heat things up with the smoking’ sounds of classic ska from the 60s. The instrumental septet take their musical inspiration from the Skatalites, the band that backed The Wailers and other Jamaican groups. Then, at 10pm, a different kind of heat erupts from The Gated Community, an Americana septet that mixes country and bluegrass with a bit of rock. They recently released Country Hymn, their third album since coming together in 2006.

Sunday, January 15

Blues Retirement Party @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 1pm ($10) Though vocalist/bandleader Dee Miller has been retired for a while, she’s finally getting round to celebrating, and is doing so with a few other friends – Boom Boom Stevie Vonderhaar, Deb Frey, and Chris Bauer – who are now free to rest and/or do the things they enjoy. Of course, Dee Miller enjoys singing, so she and her band will be playing, with special guest harpist Vonderharr. They’ve also got the classic R&B of Who Nu on the bill, a band that Miller often sits in with. There will be a complimentary buffet, along with wine & keg beer during a 2pm – 4pm Happy Hour. Here’s an example of Vonderhaar at work.

Javier Matos @ The Como Park Conservatory, Saint Paul. 4:30 – 6:30pm. I mentioned Javier’s gig at Palmers last week, but this is such a different venue (and time) that it’s worth noting. Matos, an excellent slide guitarist and blues vocalist, will be performing in the Conservatory’s fabulous Sunken Garden. Though the Sunken Garden has few places to sit, the music will also be piped in to the Palm Dome and the North Garden. So… give your skin a break and take in the humid air of the Conservatory while hearing some great music.  BTW, Beer and wine will be available to purchase.

Tuesday, January 18

Butch Thompson and Pat Donohue @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40w/Dinner). Pianist Butch Thompson was solo on Monday night. Tonight he’s joined by guitarist Pat Donohue for an evening of classic blues, as found on their excellent album Vicksburg Blues. Don’t be surprised if Donohue sings a few songs and Thompson breaks out his clarinet.

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.


Resolved – More Music: 1.4 – 1.10

January 4, 2017

Happy New Year!

img4170-800x400While January 1 may not have been much different than December 31, the act of marking time gives us a chance to reflect and perhaps start anew. Whether you are embracing or resisting change, or resolving to make life better, music will always serve to lift your spirits. If you’ve resolved to go out and hear more music this year, there are some great options for the next week from visiting and resident artists alike. After all, music lifts your spirit.

Jazz

Wednesday, January 4

Dick Oatts Quartet @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($20, $45 Dinner) Iowa-born and raised, alto saxophonist Dick Oatts began his professional music career in the Twin Cities in 1972, and moved to NYC in 1977 where he became a member of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. He has since worked with such big bands as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, as well as those led by Joe Lovano, Paquito D’Rivera, Tito Puente, and Gunther Schuller. Oatts has also recorded and toured with small groups led by Red Rodney, Bob Brookmeyer, Mel Lewis, Jerry Bergonzi, Fred Hersch, and others, and has a dozen and a half albums as a leader. Oatts is being backed by a stellar line-up of Bill Carrothers, piano; Billy Peterson, bass; and Joe Pulice, drums.

Kate Lynch and Her Most Excellent Fellows @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) Ms Lynch has been a regular a Vieux Carré for a few months now, and just had a sold out dinner show there for New Years Eve. Tonight, those who rarely cross the river to the capitol can see the bassist and her estimable cohorts in Minneapolis, performing music from the 30s to the 50s. Some folks may even dance in the aisles.

Lincoln, Schwartzberg, & Healy @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Young bassist Charlie Lincoln still has a few days left before he returns to Berklee to continue his studies, and he’s squeezing in a few more gigs, including this one with fellow Dakota Combo alum Levi Schwartzberg on vibes, and drummer Cory Healy, who can be seen leading his own group, The Beautiful Sunshine Band (see Saturday listing) and playing in others around town.

Thursday, January 5

Moonlight Serenaders @ Wabasha Caves, Saint Paul. 7pm ($8 Cash) Start your new year swingin’ with a visit to the Wabasha Caves, where the 16-piece big band of the Moonlight Serenaders, featuring Lee Engele on vocals, will provide the rhythms for dancers of all ages in a venue with a haunted past, inexpensive drinks. Arrive early for some preliminary lessons, and don’t wear sneakers.

Sarah M. Greer @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) The estimable vocalist Ms Greer teams up with the very talented bassist Mr Cox, for an evening that’s sure to be filled with musical surprises.

Ruckus: Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Powerhouse drummer and multi-instrumentalist Rodney Ruckus presents two different sets of music. The first from an ensemble called Ruckus Hip-Hop Jazz, featuring: Arthur LA Buckner on drums; Russell Evans, piano; Rob Coleman, keyboards; Omid Huttar, guitar; Excel, MC; and CJ Pitts, on vocals. Then he presents a trio with Ruckus, drums; Greg Byers, electric cello; and Javier Santiago, piano.

Friday, January 6

Bass Camp Concert @ Walker West Academy, Saint Paul. 7pm ($15 Suggested Donation) The Twin Cities Bass Camp is having a Winter Workshop through the weekend, and tonight they have an opening concert with resident bassist Doan Roessler performing his own compositions and improvisations both alone and with longtime musical partner Nathan Hanson on sax. The second set of the evening will feature bassist Etienne Lafrance  of Quebec, playing his own compositions, as well as music from Ravel, Fauré, Telemann and Rabbath, accompanied by Craig Randal Johnson on piano. Here’s Roessler & Hanson from a few years ago.

Judi Vinar & the Wolverines Trio @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover, but a guaranteed seat in the front lounge for $10) Vinar is a vocalist who can sing just about any style, believing that a good song is a good song, no matter what. She’s sung with the Wolverines Big band and other orchestras, was a member of Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra, and led the voice department at McNally Smith for 15 years. She’ll be joined by Rick Carlson, piano; Steve Pikal, bass; and Jendeen Forberg, drums. Here she is a few years ago with the Wolverines Big Band.

Eric Kamau Gravatt & Sourcecode @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) If you’re looking for the ultimate in post-bop, modern jazz, then head over to Jazz Central, where master drummer Gravatt will hold forth with his group Sourcecode. Gravatt has played with the absolute best in the business, from Pharaoh Sanders to Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Albert Ayler, Charles Mingus and Hank Mobley, to Roy Hargrove, Donny Hathaway, and Derrick Trucks.

Jack Courtwright Quartet @ Jazz Central, 10pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Stick around after hearing Eric Kamau Gravatt, or simply show up for the Jazz Central late show featuring emerging artists. Tonight, you can hear young trombonist Jack Courtwright, home for the holidays from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Courtwright was the winner of the 2016 Carl Fontana Trombone Competition held by the International Trombone Association, and spent last summer honing his chops on a cruise ship. He’ll be accompanied by Will Schmid, guitar; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Ben Erlich, drums.

Saturday, January 7

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Steve Kenny continues to bring in interesting combinations of groups each Saturday, often pairing experimenters and main stream groups, or, as he’s done tonight, young turks and veterans. Things start off at 7pm with the Will Schmid/Greg Lewis Quartet: Will Schmid, guitar; Greg Lewis, the veteran of the group, on trumpet; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Edmund Caitlin, drums. Then Paul Harper and his quartet of veterans take the stage, with: Harper on saxophones; Phil Aaron, piano; Tom Lewis, bass; and Nathan Norman, drums.

Cory Healy’s Beautiful Sunshine Band @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 6pm workshop; 7pm ($10 Advance, $15 Door) Before moving to the Twin Cities about three years ago, drummer Cory Healy had worked and collaborated with a wide variety of artists, including Kenny Wheeler, Dr. Lonnie Smith, John Abercrombie, and Fareed Haque’s Flat Earth Ensemble. Since moving here, he’s also worked with Dosh, Marijuana Deathsquads, Anthony Cox and a bevy of jazz aggregations. Healy and the Beautiful Sunshine Band released an album earlier this year that showcases their ability to go from bop to abstract jazz, with traces of metal, and a bit of contemporary rock. Healy leads the band: Erik Fratzke, bass; Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, trumpet; and Zacc Harris, guitar and effects. Arrive for the workshop on improvising with drums and electronics, and you get both the workshop and the concert for $10. Here’s a track from their album.

Sunday, January 8

Anthony Cox Trio @ Walker West Music Academy, Saint Paul. 3:30pm ($15 Suggested Donation) The final concert of the Twin Cities Bass Workshop feature our own resident artist Anthony Cox  who has gained much respect playing with Dewey Redman, John Scofield, Pat Methany, Ed Blackwell, Joe Lovano and other masters. Tonight the bassist is playing with Brandon Wozniak, sax, and the seemingly ubiquitous Dave King on drums.

Tuesday, January 10

Mary Louise Knutson/Phil Aaron Trio @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Knutson, no cover), 8pm (Aaron, $5) It a treat for those who love jazz piano, as Mary Louise Knutson sits down and plays for the dinner hour. The award-winning pianist is Doc Severinson’s go-to pianist for many of his tours, and, with a warm, nimble, and imaginative touch, a formidable pianist in her own right. At 8pm it’s the Phil Aaron Trio, with Aaron, piano; Gary Raynor, bass; and Jay Epstein, drums. The ever tasteful Aaron is an Emmy winning composer who has created scores and soundtracks for films, television and advertising. He often has a light touch, and creates beautiful improvisatory lines while also excelling in hard-charging aggregations.  Here’s Phil with a different trio.

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, January 4

The Fiddle Heirs on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) some people believe you can never have too many fiddles and this group is out to prove them right. Consider the band’s members, all of whom play varying types of fiddles: Justin Bruhn (Pert Near Sandstone, Pocahontas County); Jillian Rae (Brass Kings, Corpse Reviver, her own band); Ryan Young (Trampled by Turtles, Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, Pert Near Sandstone); and Chris Forberg (Kind Country, Boys in the Barrels). As a special added attraction, they will be joined by Nate Sipe, of Pert Near Sandstone, who relocated to California a few years ago and rarely makes it to the Twin Cities. Tune in to KFAI at 5 o’clock to hear them and then head over to the 331 Club to see and hear more.

Thursday, January 5

The Home Fires @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm – 7:30pm (No Cover) Sarah Morris and Vicky Emerson are a couple of accomplished singer/songwriters who have worked together on double bills and have decided join forces on this project. They have a lot in common: both are excellent songsmiths; both have an affinity for Americana/alt country; and both can deliver heartfelt ballads and romping uptempo tunes with equal verve. I believe this is their first appearance as the Home Fires.  Here’s a ballad by Emerson.

Friday, January 6

Trailer Trash: It’s Still A Free Country @ Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8 – $10) For the first Freewheelin’ Friday of the year, KFAI deejay Jackson Buck is bringing in these veteran musicians, who have been making rockin’ honky tonk, and putting a country spin on blues, R&B, and rock n’ roll, for 22 years. Trailer Trash attracts dancers of all types, and The Hook & Ladder has the requisite room to accommodate them as well as non-dancing fans.

Detroit Don King @ The Black Dog Bar & Restaurant, Saint Paul. 8pm (Tip Jar) Gritty, industrial strength blues, with a touch of soul, from King, guitar & vocals, Jeff Hester, guitar; Dan Emerson, bass; Dan Emerson, bass; Doug Hill, drums; and Tall Paul, sax.

Joyann Parker @ Schooner’s Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) If you didn’t catch her at the packed Vieux Carré for New Year’s, here’s your chance to catch the soulful Ms Parker in a more modest setting (some would call it a dive bar, but it’s much too clean for that).

Right Track Funky Soul Party @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 9pm (No Cover) The funky yet warm environment of the Dubliner Pub is the setting for this vinyl dance party hosted by spinmeisters Brian Engel and Ben Mena.

Saturday, January 7

April Fools @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7) Guitarist Brian Drake had a bunch of songs he wanted to record, so he reached out to some players and lo and behold, The April Fools was born. 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.

Javier Matos @ Palmers, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5) Javier Matos is a solid bluesman who can play bottleneck slide with utmost authority, swing some blues when called for, and deliver soulful vocals with ease.

Sunday, January 8

Charlie Parr w/Mother Banjo @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Bluesman Charlie Parr is starting a month long residency Sundays in January. Aside from bringing his unique perspective on the blues, Parr will have a special guest each week. Tonight it’s Mother Banjo, aka Ellen Stanley, who will be accompanied by her usual cohorts: Dan Gaardner on guitar, and Ben Cook-Feltz on piano. There will likely be some collaboration between Parr and Mother Banjo by the end of the evening

Sunday, Monday, January 8, 9

Peter Asher’s Musical Memoir @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $35, $45) Asher is a regular Forrest Gump of the music industry: as a child he acted in a film with Claudette Colbert; as a teen he roomed with Paul McCartney, and then became a worldwide star as a member of Peter and Gordon; he owned the art gallery where John met Yoko; and went on to produce and manage James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, as well as produce albums by a number of superstars including the 2014 Grammy winning CD by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell; and much, much more…  He tells his tale (and sings) in a charming multi-media presentation that includes film, video, and photos from his personal archive.

Monday, January 9

All-Purpose Cajun Band @ Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30 ($8) Time to break out the dancing shoes, as Shawn Glidden, accordion; AJ Srubas, fiddle and steel; Marie Stier and Gary Powell, fiddles; Dehl Gallagher, drums; and Vaughn Asselstine, bass; play cajun favorites.

 

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.


Solstice Music and More: 12.14 – 12.20

December 14, 2016
Druids celebrating the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

Druids celebrating the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

We are in the midst of the holiday season: Christians, Jews, Atheists, Mayans, Buddhists, Muslims, Native Americans Neopagans, and Zoroastrians all have some significant celebrations during this month. In fact, this coming Tuesday is Solstice, which has been celebrated in various ways since before the time of Christ. Whether or not you celebrate a holiday, anyone who appreciates the power of music has plenty to celebrate, as this sample of musical happenings demonstrates. Music lifts the Spirit

Jazz

Wednesday, December 14

BZ3 Organ Trio Holiday Show @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 7pm ($12 door) Git down, Santa! You say you’re looking for a holiday show that’s a bit out of the ordinary? Well, Brian Ziemniak, B3 organ; Troy Norton, guitar; and Kevin Washington, drums; have just the thing: funky, greasy, soul jazz versions of your favorite holiday tunes and even some that are unfamiliar, like a James Brown tune. To help them present this funk filled night they’ve enlisted vocalists Maurice Jacox, Deb Brown, and Jody Hanks.

Randy Sabien Holiday CD Release Party @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($20, $45w/Dinner) Renowned violinist Sabien can be bluesy, jazzy, swingin’ and funky. He’s got a new holiday CD entitled, Meet Me under the Misteltoe, and he’s celebrating its release tonight. Joining him will be Gary Raynor, bass; Greg Byers, cello; Andy Dee and Dan Caton, guitars; Ben Kroeger, violin; Dave Schmalenberger, drums; and special guest Erin Schwab on vocals! Here he is doing a Grateful Dead tune.

Joe Strachan Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 W/Student ID) Pianist Joe Strachan is proving to be a versatile performer. He plays salsa and charangas with Charanga Tropical – even traveled to Cuba with them; has laid down some Afrobeats with area bands, and of course, plays some mighty fine jazz in groups like the Adam Meckler Orchestra and Pete Whitman’s X-tet. Tonight he’s got a trio with Ted Olson, bass; and Patrick Marshke, drums. Here’s Joe with a different trio.

Thursday, December 15

Thursday Night Jazz:Hip-Hop Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Young drum master, multi-instrumentalist, and fireplug Rodney Ruckus has put together a show featuring two bands led by fellow drummer LA Buckner and himself. I don’t know who is playing in which band, but the line-up includes CJ Pitts, vocals; Russell Evans, piano Rob Coleman, aux piano; Omid Huttur, guitar; Jax Reval, bass, Javier Santiago, piano; and Omar AbdulKarim, trumpet. Sound like an evening featuring new approaches to jazz. Here’s Buckner on drums, and Ruckus on piano.

The Holiday FUN Show w/Cardenas, Zuther, & Carey @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 W/Student ID) It’s Vocal Night at Jazz Central, and Katia Cardenas,  Sheridan Zuther, and Nicole Carey have put together a special show featuring touching holiday stories, delightful sing-alongs, inspired solos, and exquisite harmonies. With accompaniment by pianist Ted Godbout and bassist Andrew Foreman, and the additional enticement of holiday treats and a hot cocoa “bar!” Light food and beverage will also be available for purchase from Vanessa.

Aaron, Cox, & Hey @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Three fine musicians gather for an evening of free improvisation. Phil Aaron  piano; Anthony Cox, bass; and Phil Hey, drums are masters of melodic improvisation.

Friday, December 16

Kronick Quintet @ Public Kitchen + Bar, Saint Paul. 9pm (tip Jar) Bassist Richard Kronick leads Aaron Tafoya, percussion; Tony Guscetti, drums; Scott Ives, guitar; and Dennis Landeen sax, through an evening of soulful jazz, in the basement lounge at Public.

Saturday, December 17

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) The evening starts out at 7pm with a JazzINK youth showcase performance by Below Zero, a group from MacPhail Center for Music, featuring Noah Wilhite, tenor; Jacob Rochell-share, trombone; August McKinney, piano; Jorgen Linne, bass; and Nick Adams, drums. Then at 8:30pm it’s The Ruckus, led by drummer Rodney Ruckus, and featuring Anthony Cox, bass; Javier Santiago, piano; Steve Kenny, Flumpet.

Babatunde Lea Sextet @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 6pm (Masterclass – $10), 7pm (show $10Advance/$15 Door) This is part of the Jazz at Studio Z series. Attend the Masterclass, which will be podcast, and get the $10 price. Tonight, drummer/conguero Babatunde Lea premiers a new suite, “New Rituals of Unity,” co-composed by Lea and guitarist Zacc Harris. It’s based on a series of traditional West African chants. Joining them will be Brandon Wozniak, tenor; JC Sanford, trombone; Phil Aaron, piano; and Graydon Peterson, bass. Here he is with a quartet.

Sunday, December 18

The Peterson Family’s Jam Before Christmas @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 2:30, 6pm, 8pm ($25) Santa must have a tough time figuring out gifts for the talented Peterson family, since the gift of their talent is so unforgettable. I don’t have room to list all their bonafides, but Patty, Linda, Billy, Ricky, Paul, and Linda’s son Jason will all be on stage, sharing their musical gifts with us lesser mortals.

Monday, December 19

Andrew Walesch & Debbie Duncan: It Must Be Christmas @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($12) Here’s a combination of vocalists that’s sure to please even the grinches amongst us. Andrew Walesch is a pianist/crooner who can sing pop, jazz, and classic Sinatra. Vocalist Debbie Duncan can get down with some bluesy R&B, and turn around a kill on a jazz standard. They’ll be ably abetted by veteran saxophonist Dave Karr.

Zacc Harris Quartet @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) Guitarist Zacc Harris is a go-getter who plays in a number of bands and produces the Jazz at Studio Z series. The most prominent group that he plays with is the Atlantis Quartet, which has toured the upper Midwest, NYC, and even London. Tonight he’s joined by: Chris Bates, bass; Bryan Nichols, piano; and JT Bates, drums.

Tuesday, December 20

Winter Solstice: The Laura Caviani Trio @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. ($10, $35 w/Dinner) With the advent of Solstice the days will once again be getting longer, if slowly so. You can celebrate without going outside by hearing pianist, and occasional vocalist Laura Caviani. She has two holiday CDs, so there will be plenty of seasonal songs as you sit overlooking Moore Lake. She’ll be accompanied by the masterful musicians Chris Bates on bass; and Phil Hey on drums. Here’s a recent interview and performance.

Tuesday, Wednesday, December 20, 21

Nachito Herrera & The Universals @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 – $45) Even if you’ve seen the dazzling Cuban American pianist Nachito Herrera before, you likely haven’t seen him in this setting. He has gathered a number of world famous musicians for the Universals, including violinist Karen Briggs, who has worked for many years with Yanni, and can go from classical to gypsy jazz on a dime; Saxophonist Mike Phillips has worked with Prince and Steve Wonder; while Cuban drummer Raul Pineda and Senegal bassist Cheikh Nkoye provide the groups’ thundering heartbeat. All have deep resumes, are supremely conversant in a number of styles, and will no doubt create exhilarating music.

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, December 14

Charlie Parr on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) this is the 12th year in a row that Parr has appeared on the House Party. In fact, he was on the very first show, so this is always a special event. Expect the 331 Club to be packed to hear Parr’s traditional blues and originals, often done in Piedmont style. Here’s a video that includes a humorous story.

Thursday, December 15

Mikkel Beckmen w/Siama @ The Dubliner Pub, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) The lilting, sensuous guitar lines of soukous guitarist Siama Matuzungidi is supported by the unerring rhythmic instincts of Mikkel Beckmen, percussionist and host of this weekly guest series at the ever comfortable Irish pub.

Louisiana Rhythms Swamp Pop Christmas @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis.  7lpm (Donations) It’s a Fais Do Do Ho-Ho-Ho, as this celebration of a Louisiana Christmas has become an annual tradition, with the proceeds going to Second Harvest Heartland. The Swamp Poppas will be playing, as well as backing Tom Leiberman, Rich Lewis, Jon Rodine and Lucinda Plaisance. There will be readings and explanations of Louisiana traditions, such as how, in the bayou, Santa uses a pirogue pulled by alligators. Other special guests and readers still to be announced.

Friday, December 16

Davina & The Vagabonds @ the Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 7pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) With a repertoire that encompasses originals, as well as Fats Domino, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Tom Waits, and more, Davina & the Vagabonds create new fans wherever they play, whether its the stages of the Monterrey Jazz Festival, European concert halls, or bars and lounges around the world. It’s hard to beat the sheer musicianship, energy, and powerful vocals of this tight ensemble.

Ian Alexy & the Deserters @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Guitarist and singer/songwriter Ian Alexy is known for his work with the folk troubadours Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank. He has a new EP, inspired in part by the music of groups like The Pretenders, Tom Petty, and Thin Lizzy, with R n’ R grit delivered by the Deserters: Dave Mehling, from Minneapolis group The Fontanelles on Keyboards and guitars; while drummer Mike Cini and bassist Johnnie Timm are best known for their work with superstar vocalist Nicholas David. Also on the bill: The Federales, the Lowland Lakers, and Teague Alexy.

Friday, Saturday, December 16, 17

Sonny Knight & the Lakers @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25), 9pm ($20) The new album from Sonny Knight & the Lakers burns, seethes, and simmers, from the opening title track, Sooner or Later, to the closing Oh, Mary. The Lakers’ backing is spot on, with tight, melodic horn arrangements, and solid rhythm section. This annual spotlight gig always fills up the Dakota, so be forewarned.

Saturday, December 17

A Merry 50s Christmas with the Holy Rocka Rollaz @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($15) Here is a show for those of a certain age, as well as younger folks who appreciate the unbounded energy of 50s rockabilly and rock n’ roll. This family-friendly show features a charming trio steeped in the music of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash and other rockabilly and early rock n’ roll favorites. The Holy Rocka Rollaz will be backing Tommy Alsup, of Buddy Holly’s Crickets, at the Surf Ballroom this February, so you know they’ve got the right attitude, touch, and talent for this show. The band is: Mark Flora, hollow-body Gretsch guitar; Lisa Lynn, upright bass; and Matt Alexander, hard hitting snare drum. They’ll  be visiting such classics as Rockin Around the Christmas Tree, Run, Rudolph Run, Jingle Bell Rock, and other jumpin’ songs of the era.

Smokey Robinson @ Mystic Lake Casino, 2400 Mystic Lake Blvd, Prior Lake. 8pm ($69, $80, $109) I usually don’t list casino shows, but it’s Smokey Robinson! Poet Laureate of Motown, inspiration for Bob Dylan; beautiful singer, writer of hits for his own Miracles, the Temptations, Mary Wells, and others, including his own solo work. And let’s not forget the iconic Ooh, Baby, Baby. He recently received the well-deserved Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. There are still tickets left, and given our weather, there may be some cancellations, so check with the Casino before making the trip to Prior Lake. Here’s one of his solo hits.

Southside Desire @ The Hexagon Bar, Minneapolis. 10pm ($??) Southside Desire describe themselves as “Femme-Fronted Northern Soul, sprung from the littered alleyways of South Minneapolis,” which is a fairly accurate description. I’d add that touches of Stax and girl-group sounds also make their way into their sound. They’re releasing a seven-inch, which you can listen to here. Also on the bill: the minimal space funk of Moors Blackmon; the sugary grunge-pop of Ahem; and the city rock of Private Interests.

Sunday, December 18

Joe & Vicky Price @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11AM (No Cover) It’s a brunch gig for this couple, who play the Delta Blues by way of Northeast Iowa.

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


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