More Daylight, More Music: 3.7 – 3.13

March 7, 2018

Well, in spite of the snowstorm of the last few days, Spring is approaching, days are getting longer, and Daylight Savings Time will begin this weekend. We have a good balance of visiting and resident artists appearing for our pleasure, a special Birthday residency by a jazz legend, and three nights of Latin Dancing on the calendar. Soo… get out and hear some music – it lifts our spirits.



Wednesday, March 7

Cecile McLoren Salvant @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $45), 9pm ($30, $37) Vocalist Salvant sings unique and often little known songs, from the early 20s onward, to her own originals. Singing in English, French, and Spanish, she has an elastic voice and unerring improvisation, as well as a command of various styles, and seems to be in line to build on the legacies of Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Red Planet w/Bill Carrothers @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($15, $22) Bill Carrothers is a highly regarded pianist who grew up in Saint Paul and now lives in the UP of Michigan, close enough to perform at the Dunsmore Room every few months. Red Planet is a fusion trio that brings taste and imagination to the genre, thanks to members Dean Magraw, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; and Jay Epstein, drums. The four released an album late last summer that received four stars from Downbeat.

Thursday – Sunday

Charles Lloyd’s 80th Birthday Residency @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($55 – $125) This may be the hot ticket of the year, as sax master Charles Lloyd leads three different groups over the course of four nights. Britt Robson wrote an enlightening article in Tuesday’s Star Tribune describing the groups and how Lloyd chose the Dakota to celebrate his 80th birthday. You can read it here. Here is one of the groups – appearing Friday and Saturday.

Thursday, March 8

Erin Livingston @ Jazz Central, Minnreapolis. 8:00pm ($10, $5w/Valid Student ID) Vocalist Livingston, who sometimes appears with the Parisota Hot Club, will be performing jazz standards accompanied by her music director Marc Ziegenhagen on piano.

Le Percheron @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Le Percheron is led by bassist Adam Linz, and features up and coming young lions Levi Schwartsberg on vibes; Noah Ophoven-Baldwin on cornet, and Corey Healy on drums. They create music that is at once accessible and adventurous.

Friday, March 9

Wall Smashers Organ Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:00pm ($10, $5w/Valid Student ID) This is a new trio led by the fine multi-keyboardist Steven Hobert, with Jax Ravel, bass; and LA Buckner, drums.

Saturday, March 10

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) 7:00pm Opening Set: Three Faces: Joe Mayo, saxes; Dave Graf, trombone; Michael Gold, bass, and Rick Nair on drums. Headlining at 8:30 pm: The Jax Ravel Gang: Jax Ravel, bass: Joe Strachan, Piano; Nelson Devereaux, saxes, and Miguel Hurtado, drums. Here’s Ravel with some bass soloing.

JazzMN Orchestra: The Commission Project @ Hopkins High School, 2400 Lindbergh Drive, Minnetonka. 7:30pm ($31,$38) The JazzMN Orchestra is a 7- piece band, with a number of the area’s best musicians. Tonight’s program is The Commission Project, featuring the premier of new works by John Wasson – A Minnesota native and award-winning composer, conductor and performer, whose arrangement of “Caravan” was featured in the movie WhiplashDavid Berger – Conductor and arranger for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in NYC; and resident artists Dean Sorenson, Director of Jazz Studies at the U of MNH; and Adam Meckler, a vibrant trumpeter, educator, and leader of the Adam Meckler Orchestra. The evening also includes guest vocalist Andrew Walesch. Here’s the Orchestra with a classic.


Tuesday, March 13

Maud Hixson: Moon River & Mercer @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($15) Once again, Ms Hixson has hit upon a perfect theme to showcase her warm, sophisticated vocals, this time celebrating the music of Johnny Mercer, lyricist and composer responsible for such songs as Fools Rush In, That Old Black Magic, the lyrics to Skylark, Satin Doll, Summer Wind, and of course, Moon River. She’ll be joined by her frequent pianist, the ever tasteful Rick Carlson. Here she is doing a song from early 20th Century.

Melissa Aldana @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 7pm ($20) Tenor Saxophonist Aldana left her native Chile in 2007 to study at Berklee school of music. In 2009 she moved to New York, where she apprenticed with Greg Osby and George Coleman, among others. In 2013 she became the first female instrumentalist (and the first South American) to win the Thelonious Monk Competition. Her influences include Sonny Rollins, Don Byas, Gene Ammons, and Chris Potter. She’ll be appearing with her chordless trio – Pablo Menares, bass; and Jochen Ruekert, drums.

Tuesday, Wednesday, March 12, 13

Jose James: Lean On Me @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $0, $5) Soulful, elegant vocalist, and Minneapolis native, James is a rising star in the jazz firmament. He’s flexible enough to have performed with performed with Chico Hamilton and the electronica artist Flying Lotus, and has released four well-received albums, including a tribute to Billie Holiday. For this show, he celebrates the music of Bill Withers (with Withers blessing) accompanied by his band: Brad Allen Williams, guitar; Sulllivan Fortner, keys; Ben Williams, bass, and Nate Smith, drums, all of whom have stellar resumes.

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 7

Pistol Whippin’ Part Penguins on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) This 5-piece string band features 2 guitars, a mandolin, a bucket of fiddles, an upright bass, a banjo, and a 4 part vocal harmony. They’re preparing to record their fourth album of folk, rock, blues, and bluegrass. Listen in and head to the 331 Club if you like what you hear.

Thursday, March 8

Brazlian Night @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($10, $15) The Dunsmore Room will be taken over by the sensuous rhythms of Brazilian music as performed by Lucia Newell, a vocalist who spent two years performing with Brazilian artists in Rio, accompanied by Clea Galhano, a renowned recorder player from Brazil, Joan Griffith on guitar, and Gordy Johnson on bass. A rare opportunity.

Joanne Shaw Taylor @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($40 Advance/$45 Door) The UK’s hot blues rock guitarist/singer finally makes her way to the U.S. and Twin Cities after touring world-wide and breaking out with appearances on Jools Holland’s TV show and rave reviews for her album Wild.

Friday, March 9

Salsa del Soul @ Dayblock Brewing, Minneapolis. 9pm ($12) I‘m not sure if this is in the tap room or upstairs in the ballroom, which seems a more appropriate place to handle the outpouring of dancers whenever this 9-piece band plays its repertoire of Latin rhythms.

Saturday, March 10

Chino Latino Jazz Project @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7-10pm ($12, $7w/Student ID) This 7 -piece Latin Jazz ensemble will turn the basement club into a dance studio, with a free latin dance lesson at the beginning of the evening, and a special dance demonstration by professionals from the Arthur Murray dance studio.

RRDB Fest Pre-Party @ The Hook & Ladder, Minneapolis. 8pm ($9 Advance, $12 door) It’s a night of blues-stompin’music as the Hook unveils the line-up for the 8th Annual Roots, Rock, and Deep Blues Festival taking place July 14th. Tonight’s line-up features alumni of past RRDB Festivals, including resident stalwarts Javier Matos, and Jeff Ray & Hurricane Harold, Colimbia MOs punk blues trio The Flood Brothers, and Kent Burnside, singer/songwriter and grandson and keeper of the flame of RL Burnside and his music.

Dee Miller Band @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Foot Stompin’ good time blues from Ms Miller and band, two time winners of the Minneapolis Battle of the Blues Bands.

Sunday, March 11

Heatwave & Landman @ Como Park Conservatory, Saint Paul. 4:30pm – 6:30pm (Free) Heawave is Chris “Heatwave” Holm, and Landman is Mark “Landman” Larson, both of whom were the original rhythm section for 4ontheFloor. Today they’ll fill the warm wonderfully humid confines of the conservatory with Delta blues, British invasion pop, and a bit of garage rock.

Tuesday, March 13

Charanga Tropical @ the Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($7) This is the third Latin Dance gig in five days, this time featuring Cuban Danzones, as well as well as modern salsa, originals, and other Latin dance rhythms. The Icehouse usually removes tables to make room for the dancers that flock to this band.

Wednesday, March 14

D.O.A.: A Rite of Passage @ Trylon Microcinema, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) This  1980 Rockumentary about the beginning of punk follows the 1978 American tour of the Sex Pistols, (after which they broke up) and also includes fiery performances  by X-Ray Spex, Generation X with Billy Idol,  Sham 69, and the Dead Boys. It also includes one of the last interviews recorded with Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, three months before their deaths. Here’ the film’s trailer.

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.

Celebrations Galore: 4.5 – 4.11

April 5, 2017

We’ve now got April showers working to bring out the buds on trees and in gardens. We also have some fine visiting artists such as Stacy Kent, John Pizzarelli, Larry Fuller, and Elvin Bishop, as well as some unique events, such as the John Prine Celebration, Zeitgeist’s Early Music Festival, and a “Retirement Celebration” for Spider John Koerner. So…  once again we have many opportunities to let music lift our spirits. Take advantage of them.


Wednesday, April 5

Mississippi Hot Club on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Harold’s guests are usually be listed under Roots & Blues, but this is different. The Mississippi Hot Club plays gypsy jazz, also known as Jazz Manouche, the style of music pioneered by Django Rheinhardt during the late 1930s and WWII. Though their configuration is classic, they leave room for a bit of a modern take on the genre, with songs that might come from the folk idiom, romantic ballads, or jazz standards. Members are: Joshua Parlanti, guitar; Alissa Jacobsen, violin; Luke Zupan and Ian Stenlund, rhythm guitars; and Joseph Downing, upright bass.

Paul Harper’s Show & Tell Band @ The Hennepin Steam Room, 116 N. 1st Avenue, Mpls. 6:30pm -9:30pm (No Cover) The Hennepin Steam Room used to be Tangiers. They’ve redesigned the place and have committed to live music at least three nights a week. Tonight, saxophonist Paul Harper, who plays in the Illicit Sextet and other groups, leads his own band.

Wednesday, Thursday, April 5, 6

Stacy Kent, featuring Jim Tomlinson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40, $45), 9pm ($30, $35) Vocalist Stacy Kent  ses her intimate, light voice very effectively, taking an elegant, minimalist approach to successfully convey the emotion behind songs from the Great American Songbook, France, and Brazil. Her latest album, 2015’sTenderly, is a collaboration with Roberto Menescal, the great Brazilian guitarist and composer, who wrote O Pato and other Bossa Nova hits. Her husband, Jim Tomlinson is a saxophonist whose playing evokes Stan Getz.

Thursday, April 6

Art & Jazz @ Casket Arts Building, 681 !7th Ave NE, Minneapolis. 5:30 – 8:30pm (No Cover) The Twin Cities own nationally published jazz photographer Andrea Canter will be showing a collection of (mostly) black and white jazz portraits as well as a special collection of jazz-focused note cards in Studio 116. Meanwhile, The Dakota Combo w/bassist Adam Linz will perform at the 4th Floor Atrium at 5:30 & 7:30; while Larry McDonough & Carol Berquist will perform on the first floor at 6:30pm. BTW, 10% of Canter’s sales will go to The Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education.

Vicky Mountain @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Vicky Mountain has taught of number of Twin Cities vocalists, as well she should, given how good she is at interpreting jazz standards, baseball songs, hip pop and some originals. She’ll be accompanied by David Martin on guitar, and special guests.

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) A double header, featuring The Jax Ravel Gang: Jax Ravel, bass; Blake Hubel, drums; and Javi Santiago, keys, followed at 10:30pm by the Alden Ikeda Group: Scott Newell, saxes; Alden Ikeda Drums; Steve Gnitka, guitar.

Thursday – Sunday, April 6, 8, 9, 10

earWorm Improvisation Ensemble mini-tour @ Khyber Pass & Other Area Venues. (Various Times) earWorm is a collective of composer-performers who present what they describe as “an immersive experience of electroacoustic improvisation, transporting listeners across a panoply of sonic landscapes.” They draw from many styles and experiences, including free-form jazz, blues, minimalism, electronica, dub-step, edm, hip-hop, funk, rock, classical, folk, and many musical traditions of the world. It’s experimental music, that’s for sure. Members are all multi-instrumentalists: James Holdman; Elliot McKinley; Peter Farmer; and Michael Ethan.  Thursday @ Khyber Pass, Saint Paul (9pm, $5); Saturday @ The Underground Music Cafe, Falcon Heights (7-pm no cover); Sunday @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul (4-6pm, no cover); and Monday @ Honey, Minneapolis (7:30 – 9:30pm no cover) Listen to their music here.

Friday, April 7

Lila Ammons @ The Hennepin Steam Room, 116 N. 1st Avenue, Mpls. 7pm – 10pm (No Cover) Lila Ammons is a classically trained vocalist with a family background in jazz (her uncle was saxophonist Gene Ammons) and blues (her grandfather was boogie boogie pianist Albert Ammons). Listen to her take on jazz standards, bosses, and blues, backed by some of the Twin Cities best accompanists.

Saturday, April 8

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) For the first time in over 130 weekly shows at the Black Dog, a vocalist will be performing. Maryann Sullivan and Corner Jazz begin the evening at 7pm, with Maryann Sullivan  vocals; Doug Haining, sax; Ted Godbout, piano; Ted Olson bass; and Trevor Haining, drums. At 8:30, it’s the Steve Kenny Quartet, with Rodney Ruckus, drums (his last performance before moving out of the Cities); Javi Santiago, piano; Ted Olsen bass; Steve Kenny, Flumpet, and special guests.

JazzMN Big Band w/Guest Maria Schneider @ Hopkins HS, 2400 Lindberg Dr, Minnetonka. 7:30pm ($35, $37, Students: $10, $20) For jazz fans, this will be a show not to miss. New York based composer Maria Schneider is the pride of Windom, MN, known around the world for her majestic compositions for large groups, including orchestras and symphonies. She’s won five Grammys, including two at the most recent awards for 2016. One was for Sue, her collaboration with David Bowie, and the other was for Thompson Fields, by her own orchestra. She’s been working with the JazzMN band all week, creating arrangements based on the band’s instrumentation.

Kate Lynch & Her Most Excellent Fellows @ Vieux Carré,  Saint Paul. 9pm ($12) Bassist/vocalist Kate Lynch and the Fellows (bass, guitar, trombone, trumpet, drums) perform music from the 20s to the 50s, with an occasional 60s hit showing up once or twice an evening. Ms Lynch continues to provide historical perspective on songs, giving not only the year and composers, but other facts, such as what movies were playing downtown when the song was a hit, or where people would go shopping. Add to that the visuals of young swing dancers digging the music, and you have a thoroughly entertaining evening.

Sunday, April 9

John Pizzarelli @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 6pm ($35, $45), 8pm ($25, $35) Vocalist/guitarist John Pizzarelli is warm and witty onstage, whether telling a story or performing. In many respects he’s an old school entertainer – There’s no artifice, no attempts to play “hip chords” or the like, just honest music that’s exceptionally well played by an artist who engages the audience and swings like mad. Note the slightly earlier times for this Sunday night performance.

Monday, April 10

Reichfest @ The Icehouse, Minnapolis. 9:30pm ($10) The April Reichfest celebrating the music of the late minimalist Steve Reich, continues. Tonight a host of musicians will play Reich’s composition 2X5, from 2008. The group includes: Chris Cunningham; Zacc Harris; Pete Hennig; Cody McKinney; Thomas Nordlund; Chris Olson; Doan Brian Roessler; Javier Santiago; Zach Schmidt; and Brian Ziemniak. (Whew!). Second set is by JT Bates and others.

Tuesday, April 11

Chris Lomheim/JT Bates GRAIN Trio @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (Lomheim, no cover); 8pm (Trio, $6) Start your evening out with the piano stylings of Chris Lomheim, and then get your fill of soulful grease from JT Bates’ organ trio, featuring Bates on drums, of course, with Zacc Harris, guitar; and Kevin Gastonguay, organ.

Larry Fuller Trio @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($25, $50 w/Dinner) Fuller is a pianist who epitomizes the concept of swing, as well he should given his background. He got his start playing for classic vocalist Ernestine Anderson for five years, then went on to join the Jeff Hamilton Trio for six years, before joining the last edition of the Ray Brown Trio for a few years, and finally the John Pizzarelli Quartet for eight years. Along the way he’s also played with a pantheon of jazz illuminaries.

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, April 5

Radio Joe & The JazzBos @ Mancini’s Char House, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (No cover) Given the old school Las Vegas vibe of the lounge at Mancini’s, Radio Joe and the JazzBos, with their vintage swing, jump blues, and romantic ballads, were made to fill the dance floor at the venerable Saint Paul institution.

Thursday, April 6

Verretta @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) Original music performed with a big nod towards classic rock with a touch of punk. They say they’re an Outlaw Country Rock n’ Roll Revival Band, and listening to their songs, that seems about right, though perhaps more rock n’ roll than outlaw country.

9th Annual Big Fat Love @ The Hook & Ladder Theater and Lounge, 3010 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10) Mother Banjo and Art Vandelay are at it for the 9th year in a row, celebrating the half birthday of John Prine. Each year they gather friends to sing the songs of Prine. This year’s participants include: Terry Walsh, of the Belfast Cowboys, The High 48s, The Gated Community, Kari Arnett, The Eddies, and many more.

Thursday – Sunday, April 6 – 10

Zeitgeists’s 7th Annual Early Music Festival @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7:30pm, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 2pm Sunday ($15, $10 Students & Seniors, $40 festival pass) This year new music group zeitgeist is celebrating the music of composer Lou Harrison, described as ” true American maverick, Harrison’s integrations of non-Western musical traditions and his innovative use of just intonation embraced new artistic possibilities and made a lasting impact that continues to shape new music today.”  Find out more about the program for each performance and the guest artists here

Friday, April 7

Teague Alexy Band CD Release @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 7:30pm Jackson Buck’s Freewheelin’ First Friday series features a trio of Americana groups tonight. It’s  CD Release Party for Teague Alexy (of Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank). The Thirsty River String Band, Trevor James Americana Rebel (of Tin Can Gin), and Ian Alexy will also be appearing. Teague Alexy’s songwriting is clearly influenced by his home in Minnesota as well as his childhood in New Jersey, and life as a traveling hobo musician. His new album is Circuit Sessions, on which he uses a strong rhythm section: Eric Pollard, bass; Steve Garrington, drums; as well as Jake Hanson, guitar. Special guests include Trevor James, the Thirsty River String Band and Ian Alexy.

McNasty Brass Band Vinyl Release Dance Party @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 11pm ($10) The McNasty Brass Band has all the verve and outsized excitement that you might expect from a ten-piece band, including the use of contemporary and original songs. They released King Sized Life in January, and are now having another release party for the Vinyl Edition. You don’t have to know special steps to dance to this group, you only have to let your body react to their beats and the rhythm of the sousaphone.

Saturday, April 8

Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40-$50), 9:30pm ($35 – $45) Bishop is master blues guitarist and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He started out with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and went on to a successful solo career. While playing solo he also played onstage with The Gratefull Dead, Al Kooper, and The Allman Brothers, recorded with John Lee Hooker, Clifton Chenier, Bo Diddley, and others, and toured with BB King. The Big Fun Trio is an apt name for his group (Bob Welsh, piano/guitar; Willy Jordan, vocalist/percussion), as Bishop’s songs have often been delivered with a sly sense of humor.

Johnny Rawls @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover, $10 for a reserved table) Soul/Blues singer Rawls can work a crowd and deliver a satisfying, sweat inducing show. He started out playing for folks like ZZ Hill and Joe Tex, and eventually led the bands of OV Wright and Little Johnny Taylor before setting out on a solo career in the late 80s. Both his 2014 album with the late Otis Clay, entitled Soul Brothers, and Tiger In a Cage, from last year, show him to be in fine form.

The Magnolias @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7 Advance/$10 Door) With twin guitars creating a buzz-saw attack, the Magnolias  urst on the Twin Cities music scene over 30 years ago, becoming known as “Minneapolis’ scruffy also-rans” compared to groups like the Replacements and Soul Asylum. Their fans knew better as the band recorded 3 albums by the end of the 80s, and two more in the 90s. After some fallow years, in the early 2000s, they issued some unrealesed tracks and demos in 2007, and toured Europe in 2008 and 2009. Opening act Johnny Rey has been a fixture of the vibrant Twin Cities music scene for four decades. The guitar player was an original member of Flamingo, playing the old Longhorn Bar in downtown Minneapolis. He led his own band for a few years, but stopped in 1985, not performing again until about four years ago.

Malamanya @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm ($10 Advance, $12 Door) Get your salsa dancing shoes out as this septet plays vintage and traditional Cuban rhumbas and mambos, along with salsas, the updated version of mambo.

Sunday, April 9

Willie Walker @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 4pm – 8pm ($??) Here’s a chance for an afternoon delight, so to speak. Walker is an original soul man who recorded for Goldwax Records out of Memphis back in the 60s, but he’s been our own treasure for decades now, delivering heartfelt soul music in his slightly raspy voice. He’s just been on another international tour, and was recently named winner of Two Blues Music Awards for 2016 – Comeback Artist of the Year, and New Recordings/Southern Soul, for his album If Nothing Ever Changes.

Spider John Koerner “Retirement” Party @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($18 Advance/$20 Door) Folk legend Spider John Koerner is being honored with a “retirement” party by a bunch of mostly younger artists “who appreciate my work and wanted me to have a show with them,” according to Koerner. Those younger artists include The Cactus Blossoms, Lonesome Dan Case, Jack Klatt, Dave Babb, and Grant Johnson. Long time compatriots Willy Murphy and Tony Glover will also take part, as well as Chip Taylor Smith and Paul Strother. For 50 years, Koerner has explored the ranges of traditional American song, both as a solo artists and with a variety of partners, including Koerner, Ray, & Glover, and Willie Murphy. Along with his work with KRG, Koerner’s albums Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Been, from ’86, and Raised by Humans, from ’92 are classics of American folk music.

Monday, April 10

Joe Fingers @ Dunn Bros on Grand, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Fingers is a world-class finger-picking guitarist performing not-so-secretly under an alias. Get your fill of coffee and cool 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.

Big Bands, Americana, Classical and More: 11.19 – 11.25

November 19, 2014

images-2Well, another week, and another two dozen or so ideas for listening to music, whether it’s jazz, American, Classical, or undefinable. We’re blessed with very talented resident musicians and some very fine visiting musicians this week. As you acclimate to the cold, get out and hear some music. It’s good for your spirits.


Wednesday, November 19

Parisota Hot Club Trio @ The Tangiers, Minneapolis. 8pm (No Cover) The acoustic swing of the Parisota trio will work quite nicely in this club, which evokes the clubs of another, much earlier era. The Hot Club Trio consists of Robb Henry, electric guitar; Jay Epstein, drums; Matt Senjem, bass.

McNally Smith X-Tet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Pete Whitman has a passel of extremely talented young musicians in this band, which is actually more of a big band than an X-Tet. Their gig at The Bedlam Theater in Lowertown a month for so ago was exhilarating, with great solos from a number of players.

Thursday, November 20

Charlie Christenson Standards Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Christenson is a well-respected vocalist and composer who has worked such New York jazz clubs as Birdland and Jazz at Lincoln Center, and has also developed training strategies for Apple, Inc. He’ll be accompanied by Graydon Peterson, bass; and Matt Edlund, drums; to perform standards and originals.

Friday, November 21

Jazz Night @ the Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 5:30pm – 10:30pm. ($5 – $20 suggested Donations) Things get started with The Ordinary Mystics (Todd Harper, piano; Nathan Hanson, sax) around 5:30-ish, then from about 7 to about 8 it will be George Cartwright, sax; Michelle Kinney, cello; and Davu Seru, drums & percussion playing for the reception for Anne Elias, current artist on exhibit at the Black Dog. At 8:30, saxophonist Donald Washington comes in with Erik Jacobson, tuba; Brian Roessler, bass; and Davu Seru, drums and percussion.

Peter Vircks Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Vircks is a highly regarded Minneapolis-based saxophonist who was a founding member of Moveable Feast and regularly plays with The Rhythmic Circus dance troupe. He’s recorded as a sideman on a dozen albums or so and can easily move into free improvisation when called upon. He’ll be appearing with Ron Evaniuk, bass; Brian Ziemniak, piano; and Kevin Washington, drums.

St. Olaf Jazz Band 1 w/guests Brad Dutz and Chris Wabich @ Buntrock Center, Northfield. 8pm  I don’t normally write about events this far out of town, but having seen Dutz and Wabich at Jazz Central last week, I want to mention this gig at St. Olaf. They’re appearing with the St. Olaf Jazz Band, led by Dave Hagedorn, which will be playing some of the duo’s compositions. The Dutz and Wabich are highly inventive, with a slightly irreverent approach to playing any number of percussion instruments.

Saturday, November 22

Chris Lomheim Trio @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm ($5 – $20 suggested Donation) Timeless, the new recording from pianist Lomheim  is by turns ethereal, beautiful, and mesmerizing. Tonight he’s joined by Jay Epstein,drums; and Andrew Bergmann, bass. Guitarist Joel Shapira is an inspired choice as a solo opener, setting up the mood for Lomheim.

The JazzMN Orchestra: The Little Big Bands @ Hopkins HS, 2400 Lindbergh Dr. Minnetonka. 7:30pm ($10 – $34)  Some bands are larger than a combo, but not as big as a big band. These bands – usually 10-12 musicians, have been called little big bands. Groups from Charles Mingus to Oliver Nelson to Miles Davis (think“Birth of the Cool”) to contemporary groups such as Gordon Goodwin’s Little Phat Band, and Pete Whitman’s X-tet all fall within this category. These bands have produced some great music, which  hasn’t been played nearly enough, something the orchesatra will help remedy this Saturday night. This past Saturday I did a phone interview with the band’s director, Doug Snapp, which you can listen to here.

PipJazz Youth All Stars @ the Maplewood Community Center Theater, 2100 White Bear Avenue, Maplewood. 7pm – 9pm ($25, $5 Students) PipJazz Live presents its annual concert featuring young artists. This time vocalist Pippi Ardennia is presenting Peter Goggin and Ebonee Rainwater on saxes; Maggie Kjeer, vocals; and Levi Schwartzberg on vibes and piano. They’ll be playing alongside the veteran musicians that usually back Ardennia. This event is also a fundraiser, with a number of silent auction items available for your bidding. Here’s Pippi with Billy Peterson on bass.

Monday, November 24

Atlantis Quartet Live Recording @ the Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) The quartet (Zacc harris, guitar; Brandon Wozniak, sax; Chris Bates, bass; and Pete Hennig, drums) is a stellar example of 21st Century jazz, creating unexpected twists and turns as they play originals and some jazz standards. I expect they’ll just be doing originals tonight, since they’re recording live. A previous live album, Lines in the Sand, was recorded at the old Artists’ Quarter, with stellar results. Here they are performing a cut from that album.

Tuesday, November 25

Century Jazz Ensemble @ the Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 7pm (No Cover) the Century College Jazz Ensemble has been going strong since 1981, playing around town and at an annual event where they’ve brought in guest artists ranging from Tom Harrell, to Clark Terry, Conte Candoli, Bud Shank, and Ernie Watts. Here’s a chance to see them for free and to show the MMC that you appreciate their willingness to showcase big bands on Tuesdays.

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

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, November 19

Hot Rize @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35) with Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers. This Colorado traditional/progressive bluegrass band has been thrilling folks since 1978, though their major touring occurred through 1990, with appearances on The Prairie Home Companion and throughout the United States. After the passing of guitarist Charles Sawtelle in 1999, the band reorganized and started touring agin in 2002, and recently released When I’m Free, their first new studio album in 24 years. They’ll bring out their Western Swing alter ego, Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers, for some songs as well.

Randy Weeks @ JJ Hill Library, Saint Paul. 8pm ($25) You can call Weeks’ music roots rock, alt-country, or Americana. No matter the name, he’s a helluva songwriter, and puts on a show that will have you rockin’ and boppin’. You’ve heard Lucinda Williams singing his song Can’t Let Go, and have read the praises bestowed on him by All Music, Salon, and New Depression. He currently lives in Austin Texas, and comes to town fairly often, since he grew up in Windom. This is part of the Real-Phonic Radio Hour series, featuring a back-up band that includes Erik Koskinen and Molly Maher. With Ben Weaver Opening. Bring a food shelf donation and get 25% off admission.

Thursday, November 20

The Paladins Reunion Tour @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($27) Get out the pomade, leather jackets, and cowboy boots. The Paladins were shining lights of the Rockabilly Revival in the 80s. I believe their first appearance in the Twin Cities was at Mama D’s in Dinkytown in the late 80s, where their energy was not diminished by the small crowd. Throughout the 80s and 90s they headlined clubs and festivals around the world, then went into hiatus in 2004. They first reunited in 2010, and since then have done a few festivals and short tours, such as this one.

Yemen Blues @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20/$25) Yemen Blues is a combination of musicians from NYC, Uruguay, and Tel Aviv, creating music that mixes Yemenite, West African, and Jazz influences for a unique, original sound. Latin, North African, and funk rhythms provide a strong, hip-shaking foundation, while the vocals recall Arabic chants mixed with the blues.

 A lot of deviltry in that brain

A lot of deviltry in that brain

Courtney McClean @ Bedlam Lowertown, Saint Paul. 10pm ($5) This probably falls under Other…  What can I say, McClean specializes in dirty comedy and bluegrass. If you’ve a mind for such, she’s wrapping up a week and a half on the road with what she calls her Booze, Bullets, and a Banjo tour. She’ll also be finishing up the filming of her tour movie. McClean will be joined by comedians Jenn Schaal and Marial Weidner.

Friday, November 21

Shaggy @ The Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($18/$20) 18+ This is a show that should have many of the area’s reggae fans out in force. Back in 1995, Shaggy’s dancehall reggae hit Bombastic was all over the airwaves, both here and in Europe. It’s album went platinum and spent a year at number one on Billboard’s Reggae album chart. Since then he’s had other hits, including It Wasn’t Me and Angel in 2001, while Hot Shot, the album they came from sold six million copies. Shaggy’s 2011 releases, an album and an EP, have been been released on his own label.

Ray Bonneville @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 8pm ($18)  7pm cocktail hour. Bonneville is a singer/songwriter and guitarist/harmonica player whose 2008 Americana CD Goin’ by Feel, was named one of the best of the year by Downbeat magazine. His most recent Red House CD, Easy Gone, is also gathering rave reviews.

SolFlower Collective @ Dakota Late Night, Minneapolis. 11:30pm ($5) A young contemporary R&B group with soulful singing and good songwriting.

Saturday, November 22

Vance Gilbert @ The Gingko Coffeehouse, Saint Paul. 8pm ($15) After starting out as a jazz singer, Gilbert switched to folk music and exploded on the singer/songwriter scene in the early 90s, opening for Shawn Colvin, Gilbert has recorded 10 critically acclaimed albums that showcase his union of humor, virtuosity, and the unexpected. He’s now on tour behind his latest, BaD Dog Buffet.

Funk on First, Vol II @ First Avenue, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) First Avenue will jump to the sounds of four different funk bands from the area, headlined by the six-piece New Sound Underground, who’ve been making waves of late with their high energy performances. This funk extravaganza will also feature vocalists for a couple of the bands. Besides New Sound Underground, which with vocalists Reed Grim & Toki Wright, you can hear Pho, with Ashlee Dubose & Jellybean Johnson, Hustle Rose, featuring K. Raydio, and the McNasty Brass Band.

Tuesday, November 25

Sharon Isbin and Romero Lumbambo @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40 – $50), 9pm ($35 – $45) Here’s a very interesting pairing of artists. Isbin is an acclaimed classical guitar player, often called the pre-eminent guitarist of our time. She has a catalog of over 25 recordings. Her latest album, Guitar Passions, features guest guitarists ranging from rockers Steve Vai and Nancy Wilson (Heart), to Stanley Jordan, and Romero Lubambo, with whom she is touring. Lumbambo is a jazz guitarist from Brazil, who has performed and recorded with such stellar artists as Diane Reeves, Diana Krall, Michael Brecker, Yo-Yo Ma, and Kathleen Battle. Here’s an example of his playing.

Jake Hanson & James Buckley @ Cafe Maude, Minneapoolis. 7pm (No Cover) Hanson on guitar and Buckley on bass are just as likely to launch into a Ventures tune as they are to tackle a jazz standard. This SW Mpls neighborhood restaurant is a good place to hear them, though if you get a reservation for dinner, be sure to state you want to be near the music.

Poor Nobodys @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($5 – $20 Suggested Donations) Cinematic music with a rootsy vibe, thanks to a line-up of Chris Hepola, piano; Eric Struve, upright bass; Aaron Cantine, banjo & acoustic guitar; Chris Duba, mandolin; Albert Perez, electric guitar; and Jenna Wyse, vocals and accordion.

DKO @ Bedlam Lowertown, Saint Paul. 10pm ($5) Improvised electronic music from Jon Davis, bass and bass clarinet; John Keston, keyboards & electronics; and Graham O’Brien, drums. This trio has established themselves as the rhythm section for a couple of funkified techno groups in town, and has played as a trio at a number of high profile gigs at events like Art-A-Whirl, and the Northern Spak Festival. Their method is to improvise from scratch, often with no breaks. Their music will keep your head bobbing and your toes tapping.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the MN Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar. Dancers might want to check out the U Wanna Dance Calendar.

A Full Week of Music: 10.8 – 10.14

October 8, 2014

UnknownThere is plenty of action to satisfy both roots and jazz fans this coming week, what with David Bromberg, a Willie & the Bees Reunion, Roy Hargrove, Dave Weckl, and more coming to town. The weather is generally perfect for going out, whether you plan on raising a sweat dancing, or sitting back and enjoying creative musicians. Have fun. Music has the power to lift the body & soul.


Wednesday, October 8

Chris. He's really not so scary. Photo by John Whiting

Chris. He’s really not so scary. Photo by John Whiting

Chris Bates Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Chris brings along Peter Schimke, piano; and Cory Healy, drums, to explore new musical territory as a trio.

Thursday, October 9

Thomas Bruce @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) As a member of a musical family, Bruce developed a special affinity for the music of Ellington and Strayhorn. Pianist Jon de Vall will be joining him to perform some of those songs as well as jazz standards.

Friday, October 10

JT Bates @ The Bedlam Lowertown, Saint Paul. Noon – 1pm (Free) This is part of the American Composer’s Forum Landmark to Lowertown series. Drummer JT Bates will be joined by Jeremy Ylvisaker, guitar; and Jim Anton, bass. The kitchen will be open, so you can have a lunch with live music.

Anthony Cox’s DD7 @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Friday nights at Jazz Central feature the Bridge Series, established to pick up where the late Artists Quarter left off in featuring Twin Cities talent. Tonight bassist Anthony Cox brings some cutting edge post bop music to the venue with a group that only debuted a month or so ago. Joining Cox, who will be playing cello as well as double bass is: JT Bates, drums & percussion; Brandon Wozniak, sax; and Steve Kenny on FLUMPET.

BZ3 Trio @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8:30pm – 10:30pm. Looking for some old school B3 trio music? Join Troy Norton, guitar; Kevin Washington, drums; and Brian Z on the B3 tonight.

Katia Cardenas @ The Dakota Late Night, Minneapolis. 11:30pm ($5) Cardenas recently sang at Jazz Central, and is now taking the next step in establishing herself as a jazz singer in the area.

Saturday, October 11

Gypsy Mania Hot Club Quartet @ the Linwood ParkAnnual Family Bonfire, 860 St.Clair Ave, Saint Paul. 6:30 – 9pm (Free) Those of you living in Saint Paul might want to welcome Fall at this community event. It starts at 5pm and besides music, will offer free refreshments, as well as food and a bouncy castle for the kids.

Brazilian Workshop & Concert @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 5:30pm workshop (Free) 7pm – 9pm Concert ($10 – kids 12 & under, free) Pianist Laura Caviani  vocalist Lucia Newell  and guitarist Joan Griffith will be on hand to talk about Brazilian music and then perform it. These are imaginative musicians of the highest order, well versed in Brazilian music, well versed in jazz, and compatriots of many years. Here’s Lucia and Laura at the Artists’ Quarter.

Maud Hixson & Rick Carlson @ Jazz at St. Barney’s, Plymouth. ($10 Adults, $5 Students) This event is called: She Said/She Said: Class Female Songwriting of the Flapper, Swing, and Bebop Eras. Sounds like an old-fashioned commentary on the Battle of the Sexes.

JazzMN Orchestra w/David Weckl @ Hopkins High School, 2400 Lindbergh Drive, Hopkins. 7:30pm ($10 – $30) Weckl is an in-demand drummer who has been named one of the 25 best drummers of all time by Modern Drummer. Early on he worked with the Chick Corea Elektric Band for seven years, and has sense worked with folks ranging from George Benson and Mike Stern to Robert Plant and Madonna. The 17-piece JazzMN Orchestra is simply full of some of the best talent in Minnesota. Here’s a much younger Weckl playing with the Buddy Rich Big Band.

Monday, October 13

Cory Healey’s Beautiful Sunshine Band @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10pm ($8) Drummer Healey moved to the Twin Cities in 2013, after performing in Chicago for several years, including some time spent with Fareed Haque’s Flat Earth Ensemble. He’s gathered some like-minded musicians for this band: Jake Baldwin, trumpet; Zacc Harris, guitar; and Erik Fratzke, bass.

Monday, Tuesday, October 13, 14

Kota 3Roy Hargrove Quintet @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40), 9pm ($30) Hargrove is a trumpet master who is always challenging himself by looking beyond mainstream jazz. He’s recorded a Grammy Winning Latin/Cuban album (Cristol), and another Grammy winning album with strings (Moment to Moment) and has also incorporated hip-hop into a couple of albums. He has one of the best bands in the world, and his shows are always filled with a variety of tempos, solos, and moods. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys jazz.

Tuesday, October 14

Chris Olson Project @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7:30pm – 10pm ($5 – $20 Suggested Donation) Guitarist Olson will be joined by cellist Greg Byers for an evening of jazz, Latin, and popular duets.

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

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, October 8

10714386_10152357250155848_6678984019389826506_oCadillac Kolstad and “The Thing” Movie @ Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery, Lake & Cedar, Minneapolis. 6-7pm (Cadillac), 7pm (Movie). Okay, here’s a pre-Halloween treat that will benefit the oldest cemetery in Minneapolis (first burial in 1853). Cadillac s highly energetic piano pounding may not wake the dead, but it sure is entertaining. Following his performance, “The “Thing From Another World,” featuring James Arness, will be shown. As a child, I went to see it, though my older sister covered my eyes when The Thing (Arness) appeared. I don’t know if there’s a cover, but the Friends of the Cemetery are trying to raise funds to repair the fence.

The Meteor Boys and Vernon Dixon @ Schooner Pub, Minneapolis. 8pm (tip Jar) A couple of very rootsy duos for your Wednesday evening. The Meteor Boys arken back to the days of vaudeville when two guys, a banjo and a ukelele croon old favorites and new compositions. Vernon Dixon, who open, play and sing classic honky-tonk and country blues.

Thursday, October 9

The Walking Wounded w/Gwen Matthews @ Holihan’s Pub, White Bear Lake. 8pm (Tip Jar) Chanteuse Matthews joins Bobby Schnitzer, guitar; Larry Weigand, bass; Jason Craft, keys; and Scott Sansby, drums, for an evening of R&B, rock n’ roll, and who knows what else.

Butanes @ Shaw’s, Minneapolis. 8pm. (Tip Jar) 8pm. Bandleader/guitarist Curt Obeda was just inducted into the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame for his song, Crying To Do. In truth almost any one of his songs could qualify. The Butanes will be in full celebratory mode (as if they aren’t always) as they return to their weekly gig, which is always populated by drop-in guests. Always fun. Here’s a video of their instrumental prowess.

Friday, October 10

Willie & the Bees Reunion @ The Cabooze, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($15 Advance/$20 Door) Once Willie & the Bees take the stage at the venerable Cabooze, the place will undoubtedly erupt, as long time fans come out of the woodwork to revisit the R&B, rock n’ roll, and just plain exciting music of Murphy and company. Back in the 70s, this band was the bomb, fueling long nights of dancing wherever they went. Some of Murphy’s more political songs still resonate today, as do their rump-bumpin rhythms. Folks of a certain age not dance as long and hard as they used to, but my bet is if anyone can move, they’ll be on the dance floor for at least part of the night. Oh, and to add to the evening, Spider John Koerner will open. Check out this blast from the past.

Saturday, October 11

David Bromberg Quintet @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($30 Advance/$40 Door) Multi-instrumentalist Bromberg was an early exponent of genre-bending with his albums of the 70s and 80s including blues, bluegrass, folk, and Irish fiddle tunes alongside each other. Indeed, he was Americana, before the term was used to describe a style of music. Jerry Jeff Walker called him “The reason man created stringed instruments.” Add to his virtuosity a wry sense of humor, and you have a show that will entertain young and old alike. Tom Feldmann opens.

Sunday, October 12

Willie Walker Band @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 4pm (No Cover) Besides singing with the Butanes, Maurice Jacox, and Paul Metsa, original soul man Walker has his own band, which plays once a month at MMC for a delightful afternoon. He recently toured Brazil and will be going back in a few months. If you haven’t discovered what the Brazilians (as well as many Twin Citizens) know, this is a good chance to check him out. Here’s a video from his Brazilian trip.

Daddy Squeeze Polka Show @Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 4pm – 6pm (No Cover).  Here’s a way you can celebrate Octoberfest. Dan Newton and his pals will be providing the pomp pah pah, The Amsterdam has plenty of beer, as well as award winning french fries, and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to strut your stuff as a polka dancer. 

Pat Donahue & the Prairie All-Stars @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7 pm ($15) Grammy winning guitarist Pat Donahue has been a regular on Prairie Home Comanion for many years. No less than Chet Atkins called Donahue one of the greatest fingerpickers in the world today. Donahue has also written songs recorded by Kenny Rogers, Suzy Boguss, and others. He has an equally stellar band in Richard Kriehn, mandolin and violin; Gary Raynor, bass; and Peter Johnson, drums. Word is that Daddy Squeeze Newton will be dropping by as well. this video shows Pat’s way with a guitar.

Monday, October 13

Big Mama Lele @ The Black Dog Coffee & WineBar, Saint Paul. 7pm – 8pm (Tip Jar) Based in the Yukon Territory, Big Mama uses her size and her witty, double-entendre lyrics to sing about everyday, bittersweet moments, injecting her songs with honesty and humor.

Tuesday, October 14

Accordo: Chamber Music at the Amsterdam @ The Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($20 advance, $25 door) Accordo is a six-year old chamber music ensemble, consisting of principal string players from both the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. This is part of an occasional series at the Amsterdam that includes a hosted Q&A presentation format.

Joey Ryan & LOTT @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 9:30pm (No Cover) Joey Ryan is fine singer/songwriter/guitarist who writes sunny pop songs that are sure to make you smile, what with their sly nods to the rock n’ roll of a simpler time and inviting lyrics. Tonight he take’s a break from his band, The Inks.  LOTT is the solo project of Leah Ottman, who has sung with We Are The Willows and Better Bones. She’s influenced by Patsy Cline, and has been called a torch singer of indie music. Adam Levy produced her first single, released this past August. check out this video for an example of Joey’s singing and songwriting.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues (and some roots) events, see the MN Blues Society calendar. For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar. Dancers might want to check out the U Wanna Dance Calendar.





Music for Hot Summer Nights & Blistering Days: 8.28 – 9.3

August 28, 2013
One way to cool off at the Fair. Photo from Twin

One way to cool off at the Fair. Photo from Twin

Well, the late summer heat wave may be keeping some folks from the State Fair, but those who are going will still have plenty of opportunity to hear some terrific music. Blues lovers should check out the calendar of the Minnesota Blues Society (link below) to see the daily line-up of talent at the Fair. Jazz lovers may also find the occasional gig, though that may be a bit harder to find. Note Radio Joe, listed below. At any rate, once the sun and the temps go down, there are opportunities galore for music in the Twin Cities. Here are but a few.


Wednesday, August 28

Mountain King @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Donation) Three bassists, Graydon Peterson, Brian Courage, and Jeremy Boettcher, play together, creating memorable music.

Lucia Newell @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) When Lucia wraps her voice around a song, you know your listening to a jazz singer. She’s showing some fine talent as a songwriter as well. This is a great chance to hear her in her natural habitat, as you can see in this video.

Thursday, August 29

Nichola Miller & Tanner Taylor @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30 pm (Donation) The vivacious vocalist and sophisticated piano player go together like two straws in a coke. Parenthood has made it a bit more difficult for them to perform together, so take advantage of this opportunity while you can.

Ben Sidran @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) His latest CD, Don’t Cry for No Hipster, is full of Sidran‘s wry commentary, rhythmic playing, and groove-centered jazz. One cut, Back Nine, is getting lots of play on Sirius radio.  Here’s the video for the title tune of his latest CD.

Phil Hey Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) This quartet makes jazz look easy, even when they’re performing songs by Ornette Coleman or Charles Mingus. Of course, they’ve all been playing a long time, and playing together a long time as well. Phil Hey, drums; Dave Hagedorn, vibes; Tom Lewis, bass; and Phil Aaron, piano. If you haven’t seen them, go. If you have, go again. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, August 29, 30, 31

UnknownRadio Joe & the Jazzbos @ The State Fair, Saint Paul. (Free with Admission).  Guitarist Joe Demko brings his swinging little group to the AFL-CIO Pavillion from 4-6pm Thursday, and to the Ramberg Stage Friday at 10:30am, 11:45am, and 1:00pm, and Saturday at 3:15pm, 4:30pm, and 5:45pm. There will be swing dance demos at the Ramberg Stage performances.

Friday, August 30

Arne Fogel @ Parma 8200, Bloomington. 7:30 – 10:30pm (No Cover) The swingin’ Mr. Fogel is an expert on both Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, and he wears their influences well when he sings. This intimate lounge in a large restaurant is just right for his interpretations of the Great American Songbook.

Kevin Washington Quintet @ Dakota Late Night, Minneapolis. 11:30pm ($5) Washington is a drummer who is master of a number of world rhythms. For instance, listen to him play with Nachito Herrera to see how well he handles a variety of Cuban rhythms. As for his jazz bonafides, well, he did study with Max Roach.

Friday, Saturday, Aug 30, 31

JazzMN Big Band @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($20) This is a rare opportunity to see this 17-piece big band in a club, since they usually appear in big auditoriums. It’s a stellar group of seasoned musicians from the area, and they’ll knock your socks off, as the saying goes, in the relatively small confines of the AQ.  Here they are with a James Bond Medley.

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

Blues, Roots, Other

Wednesday, August 28

Doug Otto & the Getaways @ KFAI and the 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (KFAI), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Otto’s melancholy voice is perfect for the blues and classic country of this group. Tune in to KFAI (90.3FM & 106.7FM) at 5pm to hear them and then head over to the 331 Club. Here they are doing a CCR tune at the Fine Line.

Thursday, August 29

Prophets of Peace @ Palmers, Minneapolis. 10pm ($5) With the help of Hotpants Deejays, the folks at Secret Stash Records struck gold when they released a compilation of Twin Cities funk from the 60s and early 70s. Their Soul Revue has been playing to packed houses, and now the Prophets of Peace, one of the bands from the compilation, is back and playing with a vengeance. Hear them at one of the best dive bars in town, with Ben Mena and Dale Burback, two of the deejays that led the rediscovery of these guys, spinning between sets. Here’s an example of their old school sound.

Friday, August 30

Butanes 30th Anniversary @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7) Often named the Best Blues Band in the Cities, the Butanes have played at birthday parties, anniversaries, and other life-changing events for blues lovers in town. They’ve also backed Earl King at the Jazz Festival, played the Mother-in-law lounge, toured and recorded with Zydeco’s great Al Rapone, and currently hold down a weekly gig at Shaw’s, where folks like Davina Sowers, Jellybean Johnson, and others have dropped in. Led by the irascible, opinionated, and very funny Curt Obeda on guitar, the rest of the band includes Virgil Nelson on Hammond B-3, Rob Stupka on drums, and John Lindberg on bass.

Friday, Saturday, August 30, 31

Rosie Flores, Kenny Neal, Robert Randolph & the Family Band @ The State Fair Leinie Stage, Saint Paul. (Free w/Cover) It seems to be roots day at the Leinie Stage and if you can stand the heat, you can get to see the rockabilly and rockin’ country of Rosie Flores during the day, followed by guitarist Kenny Neal playing swamp blues. At night, Robert Randolph and the Family Band bring the sounds of sacred steel to the Fair. For times, etc., go here.

Saturday, August 31

Janiva Magness @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25) Magness has been cultivating a loyal fan base in the Twin Cities for a few years now. She’s had a turbulent life, and is Stronger For It, as her album from last year proved. “I Wont’ Cry,” from that album, was awarded Song of the Year and she also won her fourth award as Contemporary Female Blues Artist.  Check out her singing on this video.

John Nemeth @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm   Nemeth is an up and coming bluesman with a penchant for soul. This year he was nominated by Living Blues Magazine as Most Outstanding Blues Singer, and by Blues Blast for Male Blues Artist of the Year. He’s entertaining and definitely soulful on stage.

Sunday, September 1

Oliver Mtukudzi & The Black Spirits @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:20pm (Free, while tickets last)  Here’s a chance to broaden your appreciation of world music for free, or at least while tickets last. Mtukudzi is a guitarist, vocalist, and composer from Zimbabwe. His music is inspired by the rhythms of the thumb piano, and he uses South African, Zimbabwe pop, and traditional drumming in his performances, and he has a big fan in Bonnie Raitt, who recorded one of his songs.

Monday, September 2

15th Annual Laughing Waters Bluegrass Festival @ Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis. 1pm – 6:30 pm (Free) Spend Labor Day enjoying the Falls and the music of The Pride of the Prairie, Copper Creek, The Middle Spunk Creek boys, Platte Valley Boys, Sawtooth Bluegrass, and Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands.

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

Mary Louise Knutson

November 27, 2011

Performing a song from In the Bubble. Photo by Howard Gitelson

Pianist Mary Louise Knutson has been a staple of the Twin Cities jazz scene for almost two decades. Her melodic soloing and her rhythmic sensibilities have led to her performing with quite a few visiting artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby McFerrin, Nicolas Payton, Diane Reeves, and Doc Severinsen. She’s also played for shows by artists like Smokey Robinson, Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave), and  Trisha Yearwood.

When she isn’t performing with visiting artists, Knutson works with a number of Twin Cities groups including the JazzMN Orchestra and vocalists such as Connie Evingson and Debbie Duncan. She also  leads her own trio, with the seamless rhythm section of Gordon Johnson on bass and Phil Hey on drums. It is this configuration which drives her new CD, In the Bubble, though drummers Greg Schutte and Craig O’Hara step in for a few tunes.  The CD contains Knutson originals as well as standards. The result is a swinging affair, with moods that range from meditative to joyous, all buoyed by Knutson’s warm, soulful touch. This is an album that will undoubtedly receive airplay on stations throughout the nation. Ms Knutson stopped by Rhythm and Grooves on Saturday, November 19, 2011 to talk about upcoming CD release parties at The Artists’ Quarter in Saint Paul and the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. This is a slightly edited version of our interview.

LE:     I want to welcome to the KFAI Studio Mary Louise Knutson. How are you today?

MLK:  Great Larry, I’m just getting up though. (laughs)

LE:     Is that musician’s time?

MLK:  Oh yeah. Absolutely

LE:     You have a brand new album out called In the Bubble. You notice I’m calling it an album and not a CD.

MLK:  Oh, I do. I like the way that sounds.

LE:      You’ve been around a bit, but people don’t necessarily find out about your background unless they go to your website. Give us a little bit of your background, and when you came to the Twin Cities, that sort of thing.

MLK:  Okay. Well… I actually grew up being a classical pianist. I started playing piano when I was four, and took lessons all the way through college. I got a degree in classical music. While I was at college I was exposed to jazz, and really started liking it and got involved in some of the jazz ensembles. I didn’t know how to play it at all, but at that level they usually give you written-out music anyway.  So I could read it and play in a big band or other groups, and by the end of college I knew I wanted to be a jazz pianist.

LE:     What was it about jazz that intrigued you so much?

MLK:  Just the feel of it. I could feel something. Being able to play with my friends also was a factor.  Here’s something we could do together. I guess in the classical world, we could play quartets or I could accompany people or whatever. We could do that there, but I don’t know. There was just a sort of fun energy about it (jazz) that I appreciated. I loved the voicing’s on the piano, the rich harmonies and the rhythms – all that. So I knew I wanted to be a jazz pianist and after I graduated I thought I’m just going to sit down and study this music. That’s what I did. I moved to Minneapolis. At that point I was going to school at Lawrence University in Appleton Wisconsin and I moved to Minneapolis. Didn’t know anyone here. I just found an apartment and had a little keyboard and started practicing. I knew at some point I needed to start going to jam sessions. I mean… it was hard. I was totally new at it. It was frightening to improvise. But I’ve worked at it over the years and I should know a little bit about it by now. (laughs) Twenty years I’ve been playing jazz.

LE:     You’ve also shown talent at composition and have gotten awards for your writing. Is that something you studied separately? Did it come out of what you learned as a classical pianist? How did that come about?

MLK:  Well, let me mention a great teacher of mine, Chris Granias. Chris is actually a teacher here in the Twin Cities, at the Perpich Center for the Arts, but I grew up in Wisconsin, and he was there teaching. He taught me and he was the first one to ask me to try composing. He gave me an assignment and he came back and was very supportive. He opened that possibility in me, and then from there I took a couple of composition and arranging classes at college, and really enjoy exploring what is in me and what I have to say. It’s an enjoyable act to work on compositions.

LE:    How did this album come about?

MLK:  Well, I produced a CD (Call Me When You Get There) ten years ago, almost to the date. That was my first CD as a leader with my trio. It’s been ten years. It was time. I’ve worked on a lot of other people’s projects in the meantime, but I really wanted to get back to composing again, and just sort of documenting where I am now. It’s been a while so it really is mostly about that – wanting to document and wanting to share something with people that they could take home with them.

LE:    The first track on the CD is “It Could Happen to You,” a Jimmy Van Huesen tune that you’ve arranged with a couple of significant tempo changes. Gordy Johnson is on bass and Phil Hey is on drums. Was it fun to work out your arrangement?

MLK:  It sure was. That arrangement I always think of as a Ray Brown Trio arrangement. I just love the way he used to arrange all his tunes. I was very influenced by that and that was what I was thinking when arranging that tune

Mary Louise Knutson, Gordy Johnson, and Phil Hey at the Artists' Quarter, Saint Paul. Photo by Howard Gitelson

LE:     You’ve had the opportunity to play with many visiting artists as well as almost all the artists in town, and you’ve done some touring. What happens when you play with a visiting artist? What do you take out of that?

MLK:  The biggest thing I think is the energy that they play with. That inspires me. I watch them walk on stage. That’s one thing – how they carry themselves. Often these are national, international stars. They have a way of carrying themselves and then when they perform you can feel their energy. I pay attention to that and think, if that’s where I want to be, what do I have to do to step up my game to match that. If I’m playing with them, I want to bring my energy up to that level, or do that on a consistent basis from now on. I love that about playing with national artists. I learn a lot.

LE:     Do you find it difficult to match that energy?

MLK:  Usually, they’re very gracious. I’m thinking back to a time years ago when I studied with Kenny Werner, just a lesson or two, and I remember standing behind him. The energy he played with, the volume he played with – not just that you want to play loud – he was just playing with his whole being. That inspired me. I thought, oh, that’s the level of energy or emotion that you need to put out when you’re playing. It sort of gave me permission to let more of myself out. And so when I play with national artists, they’re giving a lot of their own energy, and I’m reminded to do that. Every time I play with them it’s just: put it all out there on the table.

LE:     You were talking about visiting artists. Will you be playing with someone who’s coming in soon?

MLK:  I’ ll be playing with Doc Severinsen, coming up Friday the 9th of December, and Sunday the 11th of December at Orchestra Hall. He actually asked me to go on tour with him this last summer, but the tour never materialized, so I didn’t get to go.

LE:     But that was great that you were asked.

MLK:  Yeah, what a treat.

LE:     One of your original compositions on the new CD is “Can You Hear Me Now.” What’s the inspiration for this one?

MLK:  Well, there is a little story behind this. One time when I was trying to compose some new music, I was really stuck. I was sitting at the piano for days and weeks and nothing was coming to me, and I decided to use a sort of composing trick that I swore I never would use. It’s where you assign numbers to the pitches.  Take a scale, and the first step of the scale is number one, then number two, three four, all the way up the scale. Then you take a series of numbers, like your social security number, or your phone number, and see if those numbers make a melody. So, I was desperate, and took my cell phone number, and tried to see if it made a melody, and it did. I worked with it for a while, and am really happy with the tune that came out of it. I titled it “Can You Hear Me Now” after the ad. I was glad to use it and to get out of my rut. It does work sometimes.

Cover of the New CD

LE:     How long did it take you to put this album (In the Bubble) together?

MLK:  I started composing and arranging for it about five years ago. With a full time job as a musician, there’s a lot to do. People might not think that, but it’s busy. You’re always practicing and rehearsing for other people’s shows and stuff. So I was trying to squeeze in composing and arranging. I kept saying, oh, I’ll have an album out. I’ll have an album out next year. It just kept going on and on. It felt like it took a long time. It did take a long time to put it together.

LE:     Once you got into the studio, did that go fairly quickly?

MLK:  I actually recorded about eight of the tunes in 2009 and didn’t like any of them. So I scrapped them all and went back in 2010. I tweaked some of the arrangements, and practiced some of the soloing. I had something else in mind, so I came back and redid everything and it came back much better this time.  Although I have to say I did use some of the tracks from the original recording. After having some time away from them I actually liked hearing them. (laughs)

LE:     We’re always our own worst critics, aren’t we?

MLK:  It’s true.

LE:     Thank you so very much for coming by. This has been delightful.

MLK:  Thank you very much.

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