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.