Happy New Year! 12.27 – 1.2

December 27, 2017

I think I can safely say that most of us are looking forward to putting 2017 behind us. What with hurricanes, mass shootings, wildfires, “taking a knee,” sex abuse scandals, a political climate that could be called tumultuous at best, and locally, the unexpected closing of MacNally Smith Music College, we’re ready to start anew.

On a personal and positive note, my year was upended when I was diagnosed with significant health issues. Thankfully, I have responded very well, thanks to some excellent health professionals and, I believe, the good thoughts, vibes and prayers of family and a supportive community, including readers such as yourself. Thank you.

Another positive thing about the last year is the great talent that has performed in our Twin Cities, from both resident and visiting artists. We’re lucky to have a vital music scene, with high schools and regional colleges producing talented musicians to join a bevy of highly respected veterans. Evidence of emerging talent will be on display this week as a number of young jazz musicians are home on vacation and lining up to play. Roots and Blues groups continue to percolate up with brand new younger groups and realignments of veterans. Now… we’re in for a cold spell, but as hardy Minnesotans, I know that many of you will layer on the clothes and brave the weather to enjoy and support the talent in town. Here are some ideas for music that will lift your spirit.

Larry

Jazz

Wednesday, Dec 27

Will Kjeer Trio @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($6) Talented pianist Will Kjeer is on a Christmas break from school in California, and will be joined by his uncle Kenny Horst on drums, and Billy Peterson on bass. Kjeer was already playing professionally while in high school, and since going to college has performed as a leader and sideman in Washington DC, Montreal; and at the fabled Lighthouse Cafe in Los Angeles. He is also a member of Steve Kenny’s Group 47. Tonight is truly a cross-generational meeting of musical minds. Arrive early to catch pianist Kevin Gastonguay from 6 – 7:30 (No cover)

Rio Nido @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35), 9pm ($25) Tim Sparks, Prudence Johnson, and Tom Lieberman create wonderful three-part harmonies on tunes from the 30s and 40s, as well as on their original compositions. They are just as beloved today as they were back in the 70s and 80s.

Connie Evingson: Holiday @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($22) It’s not hard to think you’re in a cozy country lodge as you take in the Dunsmore’s view of a snow-covered lake during. Ms Evingson’s cool, yet sultry voice celebrates the season, as she did on The Secret of Christmas, her wonderful Christmas album of some year’s back. She’ll be accompanied by Mary Louise Knutson, piano; Dave Karr, sax & flute; and Gordy Johnson, bass. Here’s a version of a Christmas chestnut from The Secret of Christmas.

Thursday, Dec 28

Kendra Glenn and Jazz Fly @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($6) Glenn is a powerful, soulful singer, while JazzFly’s members have played with a wide list of both resident and national artists, ranging from Tower of Power and Avishai Cohen, to Ginger Commodore, Ricky Peterson, and members of Sounds of Blackness. Such experience makes the band and Glenn equally adept at blues, jazz, soul, and R&B. Here’s Kendra, along with her daughter Jalela.

Friday, Dec 29

Young Lions @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm – No Exit), 10pm  (Ben Erlich Trtio) ($10, $5 w/valid Student ID) It’s a night of talented young musicians as things start off at 8pm with the No Exit Sextet, led by drummer Luke Peterson, and including  Peter Goggin, alto; Jack Coutwright, Trombone; Levi Schwartzberg, Vibes; Adam Astrup, Guitar; and Charlie Lincoln, Bass. Then drummer Ben Erlich brings on his trio, including Will Kjeer on piano; and Charlie Lincoln, bass. Here’s a video from No Exit, from last summer.

Saturday, Dec 30

The Last Edition of Rhythm and Grooves @ KFAI, (90.3 and 106.7FM) 10:30AM – Noon. After 15.5 years in three different time slots, it’s time for me to move on. Note that I also hostedShake Up Southside for three years in the early 80s, and Streetlight Serenade for five years in the mid-80s. I’ll play a couple of songs from Shakeup, followed by their jazz versions, as well as a couple of vocal group harmony versions of standards from Streetlight, preceded by jazz versions of those songs. It’s not goodbye, just so long, as I’ll show up to help during pledge drives and hope to be called upon to sub for different shows, which is always a treat for me and hopefully for listeners. Tune in.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) 7pm DDT is composed of three veteran musicians: Dean Granros, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; and Tony Moreno, drums. At 8:30pm, a group of young and very talented musicians will perform. Hoaxer, which released their debut CD last summer, is Will Kjeer, piano; Peter Goggin, alto; Charlie Lincoln, bas; and Edmund Caitln, drums.

Sunday, Dec 31

Early & Late NYE @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 5-8pm ($5 suggested donation), 9pm – ? ($20 Reserved on stage side, $5 non-stage) The Black Dog continues its tradition of a family-friendly early NYE celebration, this year featuring pianist Todd Harper’s Open Season Ensemble, with Aaron Kerr, electric cello, James Holdman, guitar; Chris Hagedorn, tenor; and Eric Couren on drums. After clearing the stage side, a jazz extravaganza will ensue, with a group of Twin Cities All-Stars featuring Dave Brattain, sax; Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Will Kjeer, piano; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Pete James Johnson, drums; PLUS special guests. It’s billed as safe and reasonably sane. This video features Steve Kenny’s Grou 47, with Will Kjeer, piano and composition.

Tuesday, Jan 2

Jon Weber’s History of the Piano @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($15, $25) Pianist Weber, who is now based in NYC, is a master of musical trivia, host of NPR’s Piano Jazz, and a regular visitor to the Twin Cities and the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. He’ll be performing in a number of piano styles to show how the piano has been used in music throughout history. Here’s a sample.

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, Dec 27

The Eddies on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) This annual event is one of the few times that the Saint Paul-based Eddies cross the river to Minneapolis. Their appearances are even rarer now that guitarist Wyoming Brown (aka Paul) has moved out of town, so we’re lucky he’s visiting and we can hear their songs of life, work, and death, from traditional mountain songs to sea shanties and tunes by Bob Marley, The Rolling Stones, and Billy Joe Shaver. If you’ve not heard them, tune in and head over to the 331 if you want to hear more. Listen to this example.

The Skruffians @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 8pm (Tip Jar) This septet will get you moving with their infectious blend of Ska, Reggae, Soul, & Jazz, featuring Todd Baer, trombone; Joe Mayo, tenor; Jared Jarvis, baritone sax; Brian Knox, keys and melodica; Park Evans, guitar; Tom Hutton, bass; and Rick Nair, drums. Hers’s a sampling of their music.

Dress Like Deano @ Dusty’s Bar, NE Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Tip Jar) Have you got a plaid flannel shirt and colorful sneakers? Then you can dress like Deano – that’s Dean Mikkelson, a fine guitarist who always has equally talented sidemen when he plays in the the “Big Green Booth” at Dusty’s. Expect jazzy, bluesy tunes, with perhaps, some guests. Here he is with the Mill City Hot Club, playing rhythm guitar for most of the song and soloing at about 3:10minutes.

Thursday, Friday, Dec 28, 29

Lush Country @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No cover, but guaranteed seat for $15) Classic country sounds from Eddy Arnold to Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette and Floyd Cramer, from an all-star group of longtime Twin Cities headliners and A Prairie Home Companion veterans: Dan Chouinard, Prudence Johnson, Richard Kriehn, Gary Raynor, Gary Rue, Pete Johnson, and Joe Savage.

Friday, Dec 29

Rena Haus @ Dusty’s Bar, NE Minneapolis. 9:30pm (Tip Jar) More proof that the new owners of Dusty’s are sticking with what works (They’ve also added music on Wednesdays) So… singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Haus Is back, singing humorous originals about relationships, farm animals, or the political and economic climate, as well as an occasional classic rock song. Backed by her brother Bob on bass and the under-appreciated guitar-meister Ed Petche, it’s an evening of highly entertaining performances.

Roots, Rock & Deep Blues 2018 Pre-Party @ The Hook & Ladder, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10 Advance/.$12 Door) What better time to get up for a summertime party than in the midst of a spell of below-zero temperatures? To entice you out, tonight the Hook features a group that’s been an RRDB staple since the annual event started – Left Lane Cruiser, the punk bluesmen from Fort Wayne, Ind. Another regular is Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders, with their flat-out blues that would be a hot rod if it were a car. Joining in on the fun are Flatwater Mississippi and their psychedelic swamp blues, as well as Mutation playing metallic rock.

Saturday, Dec 30

Nooky Jones 4th Annual End of Year Party @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10:30pm ($15 Advance/$17 Door) 2017 was a big year for Nooky Jones as they sold out two consecutive nights at the Icehouse and co-headlined at the Fitzgerald Theater. They also released their debut album in July for fans who enjoy the band’s unique blend of soul, jazz, and undertones of hip-hop. Opening set by alternative should singer Jessica Manning, and between-sets music by DJ Keezy.

The “Committee” @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Maurice Jacox, Aisha Baker, and Deb Brown were all part of the Butanes Soul Review when it played at the Cabooze some 25-30 years ago, and recently for the 30th Anniversary of that group. They were also part of the Soul Tight Committee and the Lights Out Committee during much of the 90s. Tonight the three of them gather as “The Committee,” performing songs like Groove Me, Supernatural Thing, Rocking Chair, and other great soul songs of the 60s and 70s. Here they are performing in the Soul Tight Committee back when.

Sunday, Dec 31

Jaeden James & the Hunger @ The Basement Bar, Minneapolis. Doors at 9pm, music at 10:45pm ($20) This funk/soul ten-piece horn band has a high-energy attitude that’s almost punkish. They will surely ignite NYE revelers in celebration.

Joyann Parker Band @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 10:30pm ($30) Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Parker has a powerful blues and R&B voice that’ will ignite NYE partiers. She represented Minnesota in the 2015 International Blues Challenge. Additionally, her 2015 album, On the Rocks, was named Best Self-Produced Album by the MN Blues Society. Her versatility shows up in this duo setting.

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.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays: 12.20 – 12.26

December 20, 2017

Toy Trains at Christmas

Or to put it more humorously and inclusively, Happy Chriskwanzacuh – and don’t forget the celebration of Winter Solstice, since we can look forward to increasing daytime light after Thursday. This is a time of year when a number of faiths and cultures have special celebrations, and if you don’t practice those faiths, you can nevertheless appreciate and even enjoy some of their traditions (including setting up toy trains). You still have the opportunity to hear great music throughout our area, though admittedly, you might have to settle for watching Netflix and getting Chinese takeout on December 25. Besides a couple of holiday shows, we can choose from the last appearance in town by the original Bad Plus, a couple of dance-oriented bands, and some roots music. Whatever your traditions at this time of year, enjoy the season, and remember, music lifts the spirit

Jazz

Wednesday, Dec 20

Chris Lomheim Quintet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/valid student ID) Pianist Chris Lomheim gathers Adam Rossmiller, trumpet; Pete Whitman, sax; Graydon Peterson, bass; and Dave Schmalenberger, drums; for an evening of swinging tunes and subtle ballads. Here is what Lomheim sound like in a trio setting.

Fuzzy Math @ The Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 10pm (Free) Original eclectic jazz and creative covers from pianist/composer Mark Vandermyde, with Jason Parvey, sax; Matt Peterson, bass; and Harald Bondaris, drums.

Wednesday, Dec 20 – Saturday, Dec 23

The Bad Plus @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45), 9pm ($40) Since the turn of this century, Ethan Iverson, piano; Reid Kennedy, bass; and Dave King, drums; have been making annual visits to the Dakota to present their iconoclastic jazz, reimagining rock hits and jazz standards while creating songs that are often as quirky as their titles (i.e., 1979 Semi Finalist, Epistolary Echoes). This is the last gig featuring pianist Iverson, who is leaving the group after their New Year’s Eve appearance at the Village Vanguard. His droll wit will be missed, but he’ll be ably replaced by Orrin Evans. Stay tuned….

Thursday, Dec 21

Holiday Piano Bar @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/valid student ID) The “Piano Bar” isn’t really such, since Jazz Central isn’t a bar. Nevertheless curator Sarah M. Greer describes the evening as part open mic, part jam session, and part caroling singalong. Ms Greer will host the evening, aided by pianist Jon de Vall. Bring instruments, charts, your lyric sheets and requests.

Belle Amour Holiday Show @ Vieux Carré  Saint Paul. 8pm ($8) Looking at their website, it appears that this four-piece group – vocalist, keys, bass, drums – seems to specialize in wedding and corporate gigs. It appears that Graydon Peterson is on bass, though I don’t recognize the other performers. Listening to their songs reveals a tight, jumping outfit that plays vintage jazz, including songs from Bessie Smith, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, The Andrew Sisters, and other performers from the 1930s and 40s. Their music is bright, breezy, and fun.

Aerosol Pike @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Acoustic-based spontaneous composition from Philip Mann, Ryan Reber, and Rick Ness on horns (and other instruments?).

Friday, Dec 22

Peter Schimke Trio @ The Lexington, Saint Paul. 7pm (No Cover) The Lexington’s Williamsburg Room can be a bit noisy to fully appreciate the playing of pianist Schimke, who always has A-list players with him. Just sit close, enjoy a cocktail, and relax after doing your holiday shopping.

John Raymond’s Standards Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/valid student ID) Minneapolis native Raymond is a trumpeter/flugelhorn player who was called a “Rising Star” by no less than DownBeat Magazine. His four albums have all been well received by the NY Times, Downbeat, and Jazz Times. He’s currently Professor of Trumpet at Indiana University. His trip home provides us with a chance to hear him, accompanied by Graydon Peterson, bass; and Phil Hey, drums. Here he is with his New York group.

Saturday, Dec 23

Bill Carrothers @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 6:30pm ($15, $20) Carrothers, a pianist whose imagination is always inventive and far-ranging, seems to have fallen in love with the Dunsmore Room, as the Saint Paul native makes the trip from Michigan quite frequently to appear in various groups. He’s recorded 26 albums as a leader and has appeared as a sideman with a wide range of jazzers including Buddy DeFranco, Dave Douglas, Curtis Fuller, Billy Higgins, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Konitz, Dewey Redmanm, Toots Thielman, and more. He’ll be appearing solo to play on the 9-foot Steinway at the intimate listening room.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Guitarist Cole Mahlum opens at 7pm, leading his own group. At 8:30pm bassist Ted Olsen appears with frequent collaborators Javi Santiago on piano; Miguel Hurtado, drums; and saxophonist Aaron Hedenstrom.

Sunday, Monday, Dec 24, 25

Merry Christmas! Enjoy a technicolor Christmas at the movies, or a Chinese meal for those who don’t practice the Christian faith.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Dec 26, 27

Connie Evingson: Holiday @ Dunsmore Lodge, Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($22) With its view of a snow-covered lake, the Dunsmore will easily bring to mind a cozy country lodge as Ms Evingson, of the cool, yet sultry voice, celebrates the season, accompanied by Mary Louise Knutson, piano; Dave Karr, sax & flute; and Gordy Johnson, bass. Here’s a cut from her gorgeous Christmas album.

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, Dec 20

Ben Eaton on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Roots/Americana songwriter/guitarist Eaton is a native of Des Moines who now lives in Minneapolis. He’s working on a 5-song EP with drummer Dwight Dario, who used to live around here, and Matt Woods. Tonight he’ll have a 4-piece band with him, featuring guitarist/drummer Jeremy Johnson.

Thursday, Dec 21

Draper-Beckmen-Kiesling @ The Dubliner Pub & Cafe, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) The Twin Cities hardest-working washboard player teams up with bassist-around-town Liz Draper and Adam Kielsing (of Pert Near Sandstone) to play old-time music, country blues, early jazz, and maybe a holiday tune or two for your happy hour pleasure.

Friday, Dec 22

Steve Clarke & The Working Stiffs @ Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5?, $10?) Blues, swing, jump, jive, & jazz for dancing in the Ernie Mattson Ballroom at the commodious Eagles Club.

Nikki & the Ruemates @ Dusty’s Bar, NE Minneapolis. 9:45pm (Tip Jar) Though Dusty’s is under new ownership, they remain committed to providing the rootsy groups that have been appearing there for years. Example number 1: Nikki & the Rue-mates, whose folk-blue-rock has long been a Dusty’s favorite, often packing the place while they play in the “big green booth.” Nikki’s clarion voice and Rich Rue’s terrific fretwork are always a treat, with the added delight of guitarist Dean Mikkelson often sitting in to accompany Nikki on a jazz standard or two.

Saturday, Dec 23

Steeling Dan @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) You say you want to hear some heady, sometimes inscrutable lyrics, performed with cool, jazzy pop? Then this Steely Dan Tribute Band may deliver just what you need.

Joyann Parker Band @ Crooners’ Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 8pm (No cover, but $10 guaranteed seat) Vocalist/pianist/guitarist Parker has a powerful blues and R&B voice that’s just right for the Pre-Christmas Saturday night crowd at Crooners. She’s been making her mark on the Twin Cities Blues scene for the last few years, and represented Minnesota in the 2015 International Blues Challenge. Her 2015 album, On the Rocks, was named Best Self-Produced Album by the MN Blues Society.

Sunday, Dec 24

Enjoy Christmas Eve!

Monday, Dec 25

Christmas With Robert Robinson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $35) Get your gospel groove on with the highly popular and one-of-a-kind Robinson, who gets rave reviews wherever he appears. Some examples: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal called him “a volcanic talent,” while the Salt Lake City Desert New called his performance “glorious,” and the Star Tribune described him as a “soaring presence.”

Tuesday, Dec 26

Willie West @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($12) Louisiana-born Willie West is a classic soul singer who recorded for Allen Toussaint with the score for the blaxploiotation film Black Samson, and later worked with The Meters in the late 70s and early 80s. He then worked all over Bourbon Street until Hurricane Katrina, after which he moved to Saint Cloud, where he currently lives. In the last few years he’s recorded with some Finnish funk/soul groups (see video), and still has the vocal prowess and emotional power that makes a soul singer a soul singer.

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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