A Semi-Thaw. Music: 1.28 – 2.3

January 28, 2015

Unknown-3Wow, can it really be January? Generally, the last weekend in January is bitterly cold, and here we are flirting with the thirties all week. We seem to be in the midst of a thaw, which everyone is happy about. Does that mean you don’t need a jacket? Of course not, at least if you’ll be out for a longer period than taking out the garbage. I guess I’m trying to say we need to stay comfortable, and a good way to do that is to hear music. It will inspire us, and lift us up, so, if you are in town, take advantage of the rich music tradition we have in these cities. Music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, January 28

Jake Baldwin Quintet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Here is a quintet of Twin Cities’ Young Lions playing often fierce, and occasionally beautiful jazz.  Baldwin, trumpet; Javier Santiago, piano; Nelson Devereux, sax; Ryan Hayes, bass; Miguel Hurtado, drums.

Thursday, January 30

Tim Kaiser @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Kaiser sits in the midst of hand-crafted electro-acoustic instruments that would seem at home in a steampunk movie, and creates sheets of reverb and unique sounds that range from toy ray-guns to theraminic tones, manufacturing hums, and marimba-like bleats, all of which bring into question the definition of music. It’s more experimental than the electronic music of dancers, or even classicists, and is definitely improvised, so I’m listing it under jazz. Perhaps this interview with him will help you understand what he does.

Friday, January 30

What Would Monk Do @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) The music of Thelonious Monk and Monk-inspired originals from some bad cats: Kenny Horst, drums; Billy Peterson, bass; Peter Schimke, piano; and Steve Kenny, flumpet. Based on past performances, I believe it will be cooking’

Mississippi Hot Club @ Bryant Lake Bowl, Minneapolis. 10pm ($7) It’s more or less a light night acoustic swing party, with a good dose of Djano Rheinhardt, some Latin music, originals, and a touch of Americana from this Northern Minnesota quintet  They just released a self-titled debut CD, which you can listen to on their website (previous link). Members include:  Ian Stenlund and Luke Zupan, la pompe rhythm guitars; Joe Downing, upright bass; Josh Parlanti, lead guitar; Alissa Jacobsen, violin.

Saturday, January 31

Thompson, Balluf, & Pikal @ Jazz at St. Barney’s, Plymouth. 7pm – 9pm ($10, adults, $5 Students) Lovers of traditional jazz will be out in force to hear pianist Butch Thompson  Clarinetist Tony Balluf, and bassist Steve Pikal. What they play is anything but stodgy, and far from being stuck in the early 20th Century. They bring a joy and liveliness to the music to make it swing beyond its years.

Dean Granros Quartet @ Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm. I was surprised at a recent Anthony Cox show in which Granros played to learn that Granros is known among some listeners as a “noise” guitarist, which never occurred to me. From his work with groups such as How Birds Work and others, it’s obvious that he’s a stellar player with a rich imagination. Tonight he’s joined by Zacc Harris, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; and Jay Epstein, drums. They hit the stage at 8:30pm while the Dave Brattain Quartet opens at 7pm: Brattain, sax; Kevin Daley, Billy Peterson, bass; Mac Santiago, drums.  Here’s Granros doing a solo number.

Katia Cardenas w/Ted Godbout @ The Nicollet, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5) If you’re looking for an entertaining evening in a place that isn’t overly crowded, you may want to check out the Nicollet tonight. Katia Cardenas is a fine singer who is building an audience, while the Nicollet provides an intimate setting where she and pianist Ted Godbout can perform both R&B and jazz standards.

Monday, February 2

Zach Schmidt @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Zach has been drumming since he was four. When he got older he attended McNally Smith, where he studied with Dave Stanoch,Marv Dahlgren, Dave Schmalenberger and Gordy Knutson. He regularly plays with the Cory Wong Quartet, but has also performs with Zack Lozier, Chris Olson, Rachel Holder, Jana Nyberg, and more.

Matt Otto & the Fantastic Merlins @ the Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) Otto is a Kansas City based saxophonist who has played with the likes of Ben Monder, Wadada Leo Smith, Willi Jones III, Tootie Heath, Charlie Haden Leroy Vinegar, Jimmy Smith, Bobby Watson, and Larry Goldings, to name just a few – whew! Tonight he is joined by the Fantastic Merlins for two exciting sets: Nathan Hanson, sax, Doan Roessler, bass; Pete Hennig, drums.

Monday, Tuesday, February 2,3

Chris Potter Quartet @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25), 9pm ($15) Saxophonist Potter entered the NYC jazz scene as an 18 yr old playing with bebop icon Red Rodney. Since then he’s been a sideman on over 100 albums and a leader on fifteen. He’s performed with folks like Herb i.e. Hancock, Davi Holland, The Mingus Big Band, Rayt Brown, and was featured on Steely Dan’t Grammy winning album Two Against Nature. He regularly receives high praise from critics, magazines, and fellow musicians. His quartet includes Adam Rogers, guitar; Fima Ephron, bass; and Nate Smith, drums.  Listen to his take on Charlie Parker’s Anthropology.

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…


Paul Mayasich w/ Big George Jackson and Jeremy Johnson @ Moe’s, Moundsview. 7:30pm (Tip Jar?) Guitarist Mayasich appears here on a weekly basis with different guests each week. Tonight he’s got big-voiced harmonica player Big George Jackson  and guitarist/drummer Jeremy Johnson, two unsung (or under appreciated) heroes of the Twin Cities blues scene.

Thursday, January 29

Viva Brazil @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 7pm ($7) This octet is consist of four Brazilians and four musicians who are currently from the Twin Cities, though a few of them were born and raised elsewhere. Geography doesn’t matter as much as talent, however when they start playing sambas, bossa novas, Brazilian jazz, and funky derivations of all. Their sensuous rhythms may have you pushing tables out of the way to dance.

Friday, January 30

Kelley Hunt @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) Hunt is a barrelhouse piano pounder from Kansas City whose frequent forays into the Northland have earned her a devoted following for her blues/R&B/Americana. She’s steeped in Blues and Gospel and has earned praise from critics and fans alike for her originals. Her latest CD, Beautiful Bones, has been called inspirational and beautiful. Its up to you to figure out if you agree.

Paul Cebar & Tomorrow Sound @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 9pm ($12 Advance/$15 Door)  Cebar integrates the rhythms of New Orleans, the Caribbean, western Louisiana, and Africa with the classic rhythms of 60s soul and 70s funk, to create highly infectious dance music. Opening is Poverty Hash, from Connecticut, seen around here at the Deep Blues Festival of some years back and at the Bayport BBQ.

Big George Jackson @ Schooner’s Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (No Cover) So maybe you didn’t want to go to Moundsview to hear George with Paul Mayasich on Wednesday. Check him out with his band at this modest, somewhat dicey bar. He’ll have you boogieing all through the night and onto home.

Friday, Saturday, January 30, 31

Monsieur Jeffrey Evans @ Bayport BBQ, Bayport. 8pm ($10) Evans is a singer/songwriter/producer who has recorded dozens of albums and singles with groups such as ’68 comeback, the Gibson Brothers, and the Memphis Roadmasters. The Memphis based musician cites RL Burnside, Charlie Feathers, Gene Vincent, and Doc Watson among his influences, while his music has been described as gutter blues, psychobilly, punk blues, and a half dozen other terms. He’s also the subject of a documentary entitled, the Man Who Loved Couch Dancing. (?!)

Saturday, January 31

Marshall Tucker Band & the Atlanta Rhythm Section @ The Medina Entertainment Center, 500 Highway 55, Medina. 7:30 Doors ($35 – $52) Fans of Southern rock will not want to miss this concert by two of the groups that founded the genre about 40 years ago. Each band contains at least one original member. The Marshall Tucker Band had 5 gold albums in the 70s, followed by Carolina Dreams, which went platinum, and still performs 150-200 shows a year. The Atlanta Rhythm Section didn’t quite hit those heights, but consistently charted and still has a strong following in the South.

Tim Sparks & James Buckley @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 6:30 – 9:00pm (No Cover) Here you have a certified champion flat picker (Sparks) who is comfortable with Yiddish music, jazz, and even the Nutcracker Suite, along with a bassist (Buckley) who has performed with as many as seven different bands in one month, ranging from new wavers, to new folkies, to new jazz. Sparks will fly (no pun intended).

Wild Colonial Bhoys & The Beavers @ Lees Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($6) The Wild Colonial Bhoys are a Celtic band that has been rockin’ out for over eleven years, and five albums. They’ve a guitar-driven sound that gets it’s Irish lilt from a fiddle. Opening are The Beavers, an all-female band that delves into folk pop, with a touch of old timey music for leavening.

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.

Another Good Week. Music: 5.7 – 5.13

May 7, 2014

images-1From young jazz musicians to boomer rockers, an oratorio on slavery and some mighty fine blues, we are privileged to be able to choose from a rich palette of music here in Minneapolis/Saint Paul. Music certainly lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, May 7

Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) Two acoustic guitars + Jazz + Bluegrass + Two creative minds + Two virtuosos = Fireworks for guitar lovers.

O'Brien at play

O’Brien at play

Michael O’Brien Quintet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Donation) Minneapolis bassist O’Brien has been based in Brooklyn for a few years now, and lately has been traveling (and playing) around the world. He’ll be joined tonight by Brandon Wozniak, sax; Jake Baldwin, trumpet; Tanner Taylor, piano; and Mac Santiago, drums; to rework some of his old arrangements and play songs from his fine CD, Tunes I Like to Play, which you can sample on his website.

Thursday, May 8

Charmin & Shapira & Friends @ The Dakota. 7pm (No Cover) When the sweet vocals of Charmin Michelle are combined with the tasteful, swinging sounds of Joel Shapira’s acoustic guitar, the results are sublime. Tonight they’re joined by friends on sax, bass & drums to round out an engaging evening of music.

Maurice Jacox @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Donation) Maurice brings his vocal chops to the “basement family room” of jazz. Thomas West will accompany him on the JC piano.

The Dakota Combo @ Antonello Hall, MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis. 8pm (Free) In September of each year, an open audition is held for high school students to study and perform as part of the Dakota Combo. They study with bassist Adam Linz, jazz coordinator at MacPhail, and then perform at various venues and schools during the school year. This marks the Spring concert for the group, which is as talented a group of young musicians as you can find. Full disclosure: I chair the organization that sponsors the group.

Friday, May 9

Paula Lammers @ Parma 8200, Bloomington. 7:30 – 10:30pm (No Cover) Lammers, a sweetly swinging vocalist, teams up with Phil Aaron on piano and Ray Siegel on bass to deliver an evening of standards seasoned with some under-recorded gems. Here she is doing No Moon at All.

Will Kjeer/Levi Schwartzberg Duo @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm (Donation) Here are two high school seniors who are members of the Dakota Combo and who also have been playing professionally around town. Pianist Will Kjeer has been playing with his own group, Blue Haven, as well as with veterans such as Steve Kenny, Dave Brittain, & Jana Nyberg. Levi Schwartzberg plays both vibes and piano in bands such as Blue Haven, Sound Skirmish, and the Cosmic Troubadours. Both are finishing their second year with the Dakota Combo and will be heading off to college next fall.

Courageous Endeavors CD Release @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm, ($8) Four twenty-somethings, each of whom has been making his mark in Twin Cities jazz, are releasing Prototype, their debut album of original songs. Though the use of a Fender Rhodes gives it a slightly 70s vibe, the time signatures and melodies are 21st Century. The group includes Nelson Devereaux, saxes; Joe Strachan, Fender Rhodes; Brian Courage, bass; and Miguel Hurtado, drums.

Saturday, May 10

Photo by Andrea Canter

Photo by Andrea Canter

Group 47 @ Sweet 317, Northern Warehouse, 308 Prince Street, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Trumpeter (Flumpeter?) Steve Kenny has gathered some of the best young talent around for this group: pianist Will Kjeer is finishing up his senior year in high school; Thomas Strommen, sax, is a sophomore at UW-River Falls; drummer Alex Burgess also studies at River Falls; while bassist Adam Tucker has been playing and recording music in the Twin Cities for a number of years. Though their new album, Straight to Vinyl, won’t be out for another month, you can hear some previews in the comfy confines of a house concert. For tickets and more info, go to http://Sweet317.com.

Monday, May 12

Brian Grivna @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Donation) Tenor sax player Grivna is a veteran of the Buddy Rich Orchestra, the Guthrie. He’s toured with the Minnesota Orchestra and with Bobby McFerrin and the SPCO. He continues to work with both the Orchestra and SPCO, as well as in the pit band for touring shows. His appearances at Jazz Central are always a delight.

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, May 7

Erik Koskinen Band @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10pm ($8) If anyone ever asks how to define Americana music, point them to Koskinen’s recordings. With his writing and singing, Koskinen has a way of connecting with the hopes and fears of both toilers and dreamers. His incisive guitar playing draws from rock n’ roll, country and even some classic folk.

Thursday, May 8

Cooker John & Mikkel Beckmen @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) Mikkel Beckmen, of the rub board and found percussion, brings in a different guest each week for a genial gathering of business folk, old hippies, and young fans of roots music. This week he’s invited fingerpicker/acoustic blues singer Cooker John to share the stage.

Youngblood Brass Band @ The Triple Rock, Minneapolis. 8pm ($12)  Madison is about as unlikely a place for a New Orleans Brass Band as Minneapolis, but these guys have made it work. YBB has collaborated with hip-hop artists, sold out dates in over 20 countries and continue to stretch boundaries and gain fans. Twin Cities trumpeter Adam Meckler has been playing with them on their recent tour through the west, which has also included a number of workshops in elementary and high schools. Opening is Mpls rapper Botzy.


Friday, May 9

Dee Miller Band @ The Sherwood Lounge, Saint Paul. 9pm (No Cover) This venue has remained under the radar as far as I know. Not so The Dee Miller Band, with the potent combination of Miller on take-no-prisoners vocals and Jimi “Primetime” Smith on guitar.

Friday, Saturday, May 9, 10

Kelly Hunt @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) The piano-pounding sassy singer from Kansas City has been appearing at the Dakota so often, she’s probably sampled most of their dinners. She has a new CD, The Beautiful Bones, about to be released, and it’s already garnering praise, so expect some new material.

Saturday, May 10

Unknown-2TU Dance 10th Anniversary Concert @ The Ordway, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($23 – $48) It’s been ten years since Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands, both veterans of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, started their own troupe. They are marking the anniversary with the premiere of Hikari, an Ordway-commissioned pice created by Uri Sands in collaboration with master wood block print artist Hiroki Morinoue. Uri Sands will also perform Alvin Ailey’s Twin Cities with special guest Laurel Keen, and the troupe will also perform Lady, a signature piece for the company, and the Minnesota premiere of Uri Sands’ One. All in all, a very special evening for fans of dance.

Let My People Go! A Spiritual Journey Along the Underground Railway @ Hamline United Methodist Church, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($20, $30) This is a concert-length oratorio featuring T. Mychael Rambo and Aimee K. Bryant in the roles of narrator, and the 75-voice Oratorio Society Chorus. It’s presented by the Oratorio Society of Minnesota. In essence, the piece by composer Dolnald McCulloug interweaves spirituals into a script that explores the ingenuity of America’s slaves, who created “coded” messages within much of their music.

Boom Boom Steve & The Knockouts @ Holihan’s Pub, White Bear Lake. 8pm (Tip Jar) This small East Metro club provides an intimate space for listening to the passionate harp playing of Boom Boom Steve, with John Franken, guitar; John Shroeder, bass; and Dwight Dario on drums. One or two couples can also dance.

Sunday, May 11

Pat Donahue & Daddy Squeeze @ The Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 5pm (Tip jar) Both Donahue and Dan Newton are expertly conversant in a number of genres. The master finger-picking guitarist and wizard of the “stomach Steinway” combine for an evening of music that may range from blues to gypsy jazz to polkas.

Sultans of String @ The Fine Line, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($15) This Canadian quartet of two guitars, bass, and fiddle has received raves wherever they go, with their blend of gypsy jazz, Spanish flamenco, Arabic folk, and other genre-blending sounds.

Flamin’ Groovies @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 8pm ($25) Comning out of San Francisco in 1965, The Groovies played what would eventually become known as power pop, using a two-guitar attack to rock up some r&b, classic rock n’ roll, and originals. They were mostly ignored, and certainly outsold by the more psychedelic bands of the time. After the inevitably splintering, quitting, they became cult favorites. After finally reuniting a couple of years ago, they are on the move and on tour. They still rock out, as you can see in the video below. Might Mofos open.


Monday, May 12

Willie Murphy’s Blue Monday Jam @ Richfield American Legion, Richfield 7pm (Tip Jar) Willie’s been doing a Blue Monday Jam for  decades, though the location has changed from time to time, as when the old Viking Bar closed. You never know who will show up and take part, but you do know it will be fun, as Willie goes through a repertoire that includes old rock n’ roll, blues, and originals.

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.


Romance and Dance. Music: 2.13 – 2.19

February 13, 2013
Ten Cents a Dance is a song from the Jazz Ballet. See the listing.

Ten Cents a Dance is a song from the Jazz Ballet. See the listing.

Well, Easter is now forty days away, so we’ve reason to take a breath and appreciate the relative mildness of our winter to date. We can also get out to enjoy resident and visiting artists, as well as a jazz ballet and one more Carnaval celebration. Not to forget Valentine’s Day, for which I’ve listed a couple of low-key shows. There’s lots more than I’ve listed, of course, but you know that.


Wednesday, February 13

James Buckley & Bryan Nichols @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) Buckley on bass & Nichols on piano will provide the perfect background for dining at the original Cafe Maude. These stellar musicians are highly creative improvisers who keep things interesting and sensitive. Reservations are recommended. Ask for a table near the music.

DownloadedFile-1Boot Camp @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Composer/pianist Jeremy Walker, aka Boot, is joined by Brandon Wozniak, sax; Chris Bates, bass; and Miguel Hurtado, drums. Walker’s beautiful compositions are in good hands with this group.

Wednesday, Thursday, February 13, 14

Stacey Kent @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40), 9pm ($25) Wednesday, 6pm (+ $65 – Valentines Dinner Show), 9:30pm ($25) The New York vocalist from England is really quite a good choice for Valentine’s Day. Her winsome persona belies sophisticated phrasing and a romantic bent that can melt hearts. If you want to see her at the early show on Thursday, you’ll have to buy a six-course dinner, but then what is Valentine’s Day, if not a day to splurge. Here’s a video of Stacey singing in French.

Thursday, February 14

Valentine’s Treat with Lila Ammons & Phil Mattson @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm – 10pm ($10) Light food available. BYOB. As  I may have mentioned, Phil has been partnering with many singers lately, to good effect. Tonight, it’s Lila Ammons, the classically trained vocalist who has moved to jazz and blues. And no wonder, given that Albert Ammons was her grandfather, and Gene Ammons was her uncle.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, February 14, 15, 16, 17

living2-682x1024Jazz Ballet: Lot of Living to Do @ The Southern Theater, Minneapolis. 7:30pm, Thurs – Sat,  2pm Sunday ($25 – $15 for Thursday’s preview) There are many reasons to attend to this production of Collide Theatrical, which follows the lives of 3 women in a brothel in the 30s. For jazz fans, the music will be performed live by three talented musicians: Dan Musselman, piano; Graydon Peterson, bass, and Pete Hennig on drums. Additionally, soulful songstress Katie Gearty will sing the songs used to propel the story forward, including such gems as Ten Cents a Dance, and I Put a Spell on you. A CD of her songs will be available at the show. She’ll be joined as well by vocalist Jared Oxborough. For Dance fans, the chance to see 12 dancers bringing life to a difficult subject is compelling. Finally, this production seeks to raise awareness for “Women are Not for Sale,” a project of the Women’s Foundation that seeks to end trafficking of Minnesota girls. There will be a talkback after the Sunday matinee performance. I had a chance to interview the Director/Choreographer Regina Peluso and Katie Gearty on my show this past Saturday. You can hear the interview here. It starts about 15 minutes into the show.

Friday, Saturday, February 15, 16

Bill Carrothers’ After Hours Trio @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) Carrothers returns to his home town for this annual tribute to his friend, the late pianist Bobby Peterson. This is a show that Twin Cities jazz fans eagerly anticipate. Carrothers has been receiving glowing reviews for his sensitive and beautiful piano work on recent CDs. He’ll be joined by Billy Peterson on bass, and Kenny Horst on drums. Here is Carrothers playing solo at the AQ a few years ago.

Saturday, February 16

Pat Moriarty/Ellen Lease Quintet @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10/$5 sutdents) Ellen Lease, piano; Pat Moriarty, alto sax; Phil Hey, drums; Chris Thomsen, tenor and soprano saxes; Jeff Bailey, bass.  2nd floor of the Northwestern Bldg., next to the Farmer’s Market. Pat and Ellen being the optimistic folks they are, recognize that the sun is shining more each day, and that Spring is not too far away, so this is their Farewell to Winter Concert.

DownloadedFileTodd Clouser’s A Love Electric CD Release @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm ($8) Genre-fusing guitarist Clouser is full of ideas, and he has to get them out. Even with a touring schedule that takes him to the East Coast, Mexico, and Europe, the adventurous guitarist has recorded his third CD in as many years. This time he’s added his vocals to the mix, with results that are a bit more rock than usual, but nevertheless exciting, and intriguing.

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, February 13

Phil Heywood on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (KFAI – 90.3 & 106.7 FM) 7pm (331 Club – tip jar) As Harold say, “You know the drill.” Tune in to KFAI at about 5pm to hear Phil Heywood do some amazing fingerpickin’ and then head over the 331 to hear him in person.

Thursday, February 14

Music for Lovers by Lovers @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15 single/$25 per couple) A darkened room, and loving couples performing for you. Plus you get a glass of wine and chocolate tasting. The couples are: Andrew Pierzina & Audra Suchy, Joe Cruz & Jennifer Grimm; Billy Larson  & Lisa Wenger, Estibaliz and Tony Price, and Tamara and Phil Barnett. From blues to pop to jazz.

Friday, February 15

Mingo Fishtrap @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7) Lots of buzz among the blues fans in town over this gig. Mingo Fishtrap is an 8 piece band from Austin, Texas, that draws upon Chess, Motown, Stax, and Muscle Shoals for its inspiration. Those who have already seen them rave. Here’s a number from them.

Friday, Saturday, February 15, 16

Kelly Hunt @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20) The piano pounder from Kansas City is back with her sass, sensuous voice, and grit. She loves the Dakota, and now has a five-piece touring band, which should be smokin’.

Let the samba dancing begin

Let the samba dancing begin

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, February 15, 16, 17

Carnaval Brasileiro @ Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm Fri, Sat, (21+ $20/door, $15 advance), 2pm Sun ($15/door/$10 advance) Okay, Mardis Gras and Carnaval have passed, but it’s not too late to enjoy the sounds of a 10-piece Brazilian Carnaval Band, Batucada do Norte, Samba Dancers, and Brazilian food and drinks.

Saturday, February 16

Nikki & the Rue-Mates and Jeff Ray & Hurricane Harold @ Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) Here’s a two-fer that I find especially appealing. Jeff Ray & Hurricane Harold start at 7pm, bringing stomping Hill Country blues with a touch Dylan and the Dead. Nikki & the Rue-Mates take the stage at 9pm with a mix of folk-rock and blues, driven by Nikki’s buoyant voice and Rich Rue’s expressive guitar.

They've got ants in their pants and they need to dance.

They’ve got ants in their pants and they need to dance. The Hotpants Crowd

Hotpants Dance Party @ The Nomad, Minneapolis. 9pm – 2am ($5) Rare funk n’ soul. People dancing their hearts out. Generous list of tap beers. Need I say more?

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.

The Livin’ is Easy. Music for 7.4 – 7.11

July 3, 2012

Well, we had a cornucopia of festivals last weekend, with the Twin Cities Jazz Festival presenting hundreds of artists from the area and beyond. The Saturday evening show of The Bad Plus with Joshua Redman attracted such a large crowd that vendors ran out of beer. By all accounts, the Deep Blues Festival and Honky Tonk Festival were also successful. Given that, and the 4th, it seems natural that there’s a slowdown in the presentation of music this week. It’s as if we’ve had a big meal, and now just have a truffle or two for dessert. Enjoy the 4th, and enjoy your dessert.


Wednesday, July 4

Robb Henry Trio @ The Red Stag, Minneapolis. 10pm. (No Cover) After you check out the fireworks on the river, head on over to the Red Stag for a quieter, but no less impressive display, this time of the guitar variety, as Henry mines 60s pop, Django Rheinhardt, Mancini, and more. Here’s a low-light video of Henry performing a jazz classic:

Friday, July 6

Nichola Miller @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (Free) Standards will be sung and swung. Cocktail music of the highest order.

Brad Bellows/Donald Washington Quartet @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 8pm. (tip Jar) Freely improvised music from Bellows on valve trombone, Washington on reeds, and friends.

Saturday, July 7

Debbie Duncan @ The Lexington, Saint Paul. 6:30 – 10:30pm. (No Cover) Sass and soul from the queen of Twin City jazz singers.

Sunday, July 8

PipJazz Sunday with Dean Magraw & Marcus Wise @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 5pm ($20) Singer Pippi Ardennia is truly spontaneous in her singing, working a vamp that she likes, letting musicians stretch out, and bringing in guest artists and students. This month’s guests are Dean Magraw and Marcus Wise. It will be especially interesting to see how the guitar/tabla duo are integrated into the bluesy jazz of Ardennia and the PipJazz All-Stars.

Monday, Tuesday, July 9, 10

Victor Wooten @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $40) Bassist Wooten is a five-time Grammy Winner who is known mainly for his work with Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, though he’s also worked with Chick Corea’s Elecktrik Band and others.

Tuesday, July 10

Cory Wong Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 7pm (No Cover) Cory is a versatile guitar player, whose playing is always full of surprises.

Wednesday, July 11

Lee Engele @ Landmark Center, Saint Paul. Noon – 1pm (Free) A lunch time treat  from Ms Engele, who manages to swing even if accompanied by just a guitar, as she likely will be this day.

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, July 4

Midnight Mo Experience @ Burger Moe’s, Saint Paul 2pm – 5:30pm. So you live in an apartment, or perhaps don’t want to be around a grill on a hot afternoon.  Prepare for Saint Paul’s fireworks on the river by checking out the Motown & More of Midnight Mo at Burger Moe’s.

Thursday, July 5

Davina & The Vagabonds & Armadillo Jump @ Marketfest, White Bear Lake, 6pm-9pm. Marketfest is a weekly event featuring two different music stages as well as food, arts & crafts, and a car show in downtown White Bear Lake. Tonight Davina will be on the Gazebo Stage and the Texas-style blues of Armadillo Jump will be featured on the 3rd Street stage.

Friday, July 6

Nikki & the Rue-Mates CD Release Party @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 10pm (tip jar) Fans have been eagerly awaiting another slab of semi-psychedelic folk rock from the clarion voice of Nikki and the crying slide guitar of Rich Rue. Fellow Rue-Mates Liz Draper, Jon Olson, and drummer Jimmy T (Tollesrud) help give the music a kick that will give old hippies flash-backs and younger folk goose bumps. With Matt Latterell.

Kelley Hunt @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20) Piano pounding blues singer Hunt has become a Twin Cities favorite through repeated visits to the area. She’s a good writer and impassioned story-teller, with a gospel tinge to her playing. I did an interview with her last November, which you can find here.

Sunday, July 8

Lindsay Pedalty Duo @ the Amsterdam, Bar & Hall, Saint Paul 11AM – 1PM (Free) Take the Sunday paper to the ‘Dam, order some hash browns and a Bloody Mary, and enjoy the singing of Pedalty, who has an appealing voice with a bluesy edge that gives a different spin to her pop leanings in the group Pine Deluxe. She’ll be accompanied by her dad, pianist Bruce Pedalty, who has spent time playing with Mojo Buford, The Senders, and a couple of area big bands.

Opera on Tap @ Honey, Minneapolis 6pm – 8pm ($5) Opera singers in a bar!

Havana Hi-Fi @ The Aster, Minneapolis, 9pm ($5) It’s Salsa night at the tiny bar/restaurant/tea room overlooking the river and downtown Minneapolis.

Tuesday, July 10

Phil Heywood @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7pm – 10pm (Free) finger style pickin’ just doesn’t get any tastier. Neither do neighborhood bistros. Good cocktails too.

Orchestra Poly-Ritmo @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis, 7:30 ($35) The late Peter Nelson, leader of Shangoya, would often declare, “You don’t need special steps to dance to this music.” That holds especially true for the music of this 10-piece, horn driven band from the tiny West African nation of Benin. Percolating Afrobeat, Latin, and Voodoo rhythms will have even the most staid Minnesotan moving their hips, if not other body parts. Here’s a sample of their music.

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

Music for the First Week in December – 11.30 – 12.6

November 30, 2011

We are blessed with a cornucopia of music and arts here in the Twin Cities, and, it seems, we have enough music fans to support regular appearances from musicians that call other parts of the world home. It is more than even an avid fan can follow. This week we have a couple of CD release parties as well as jazz vocalists, improvised music, roots, Americana, and old school R&B from which to choose. Enjoy yourself.


Ms Ammons

Wednesday, November 30

Lila Ammons Jazz Quintet @ Honey, NE Minneapolis. 7pm ($5). with Ted Godbout, piano; Azhary Warpinski, bs; Tim Zhorne, drums; and Dean Brewington, sax. A rare chance to see Ms Ammons, who spends much of her performing time in Europe. As a vocalist, Ammons is equally conversant in blues and jazz. I’ve seen her scat bebop tunes with ease, and turn around and kill a blues.

Mary Louise Knutson CD Release @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5). Last week’s Saint Paul release party was a blast. Now you who live in the West Metro can enjoy an evening of her warm, soulful playing. See my recent interview with her below.

Thursday, December 1

Christine Rosholt “Pazz” Release Party @ The Dakota, Minneapolis 7pm ($16) An evening of pop and jazz from chanteuse Rosholt. It’s a celebration of her transatlantic collaboration with British songwriter Kevin Hall. Instead of singing standards, she’s got this trove of originals that she’s interpreted, and quite successfully, I may add. The evening will feature many Twin Cities musicians, including The Hornheads, JD Steele, Randy Sabien, Sophia Shorai, Graydon Peterson, Mac Santiago, Vince Hyman, Zacc Harris, and more….  The performance will feature the music from the CD in its entirety, as well as some added surprises.

Ellen Lease & Pat Moriarty. Photo by John Whiting

Friday, December 2

Community Pool @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 8pm (Tip jar). Not only will Nathan Hanson (sax) and Brian Roessler (bass) perform their duo magic, but they’ll be joined by Pat Moriarty (sax) and Ellen Lease (piano) for an evening of two duos and a quartet. Improvised composing doesn’t get any better – adventurous and accessible.

Friday, Saturday, December 2, 3

What Would Monk Do? @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) No it’s not a new bumper sticker, though that’s an idea for an entrepreneur. It’s a quartet of Twin Cities ace musicians, exploring the music of the brilliant Thelonious Monk. Steve Kenny, trumpet; Peter Schimke, piano; Billy Peterson, bass; and Kenny Horst, drums. Sure to be fun.

Saturday, December 3

JazZen @ The Nicollet, Minneapolis. 8pm (tip jar). Flautist Bob Fantauzzo has added a keyboard player to the group, which includes a drummer and electric cellist. It’s sure to add to the already interesting music that Bob creates on wooden flutes from around the world. Nice to see The Nicollet having jazz on the occasional Saturdays as well as Tuesdays.

Sunday, December 4

PipJazz Sunday @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 5pm ($20) Vocalist  Pippi Ardennia continues her monthly residency at the Landmark Center. Her musical guests today include former MN Viking Esera Tualo, and high school student Zosha Warpeha, who is an inventive, melodic improviser on the violin. Ardennia is an engaging vocalist, who successfully takes chances with rhythm and melody. Her warm, welcoming demeanor is a big part of what makes these events family-friendly.

Wolff Jabbr @ Red Stag, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (No Cover)  Three multi-instrumentalists who emerged from the Minneapolis Free Music Society events at the Acadia Cafe. Their website says they create “adventurous instrumental music that fluctuates between minimalism, lyricism, and discordance.” At a recent Black Dog appearance I found them swinging quite a bit more than that description implies.

Monday, December 5

Catherine Russell @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) What a treat. Russell is an accomplished singer who has done backup vocals for Al Kooper and Steely Dan, to name just two. She was in town a few months ago and stole the show as part of a Grateful Dead tribute at Orchestra Hall, and has appeared on Marian McPartland’s piano jazz show. In her recent CD, “Inside this Heart of Mine,” she evokes wistfulness, playfulness, and braggadocio. It’s spent a lot of time on my CD player.

Tuesday, December 6

Joel Shapira @ The Nicollet, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm. Though a number of venues in town have Tuesday residencies, the Nicollet has an ever-changing roster of talented folks. The acoustics are very good, which will allow you to clearly hear Shapira’s nylon guitar, and appreciate his facile fretwork.

For a comprehensive listing of jazz events, go to KBEM’s calendar.

 Roots, Blues, Other…

Wednesday, November 30

Taylor Baggott on the House Party and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (KFAI 90.3 & 106.7FM) and 7pm – 9pm (331 Club). A couple of months ago, when Harold asked me to host today’s House Party, I immediately thought of having Baggott as my guest. He’s a soulful singer, with an appreciation for classics, and a winning way on stage. He just released an EP and packed the house at the Dakota. Baggott will be on KFAI during the 5 o’clock hour, and then scoot over to the 331 Club for the 7pm show.

Friday, December 2

Yulefest IV, Feat. The Eddies, Patrick O’Brien, & Barra @ The Hat Trick Lounge, Downtown Saint Paul. 7:30pm. ($10) It’s an evening of festivities to benefit the Minnesota Food Shelf. Join others in the intimate music room for Celtic music and more, including almost acapella ruminations on love, life, work, and death from The Eddies.

Heating things up. Photo by Marc Monaghan

Mississippi Heat @ Wilebski’s, Rice & Larpenteur, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Powered by the harp of Pierre Lacocque, this Chicago band delivers electrified blues that draws on the heritage of its hometown, as well as the Delta. With their ability to fill a dance floor, this is a fitting band to play the newly re-opened bar.

Friday, Saturday, December 2,3

Kelly HuntKelly Hunt@ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20) Hunt has steadily built a fan base here and throughout the country with her hard work and good humor, not to mention boundless talent. It would be easy to call her piano playing boogie-woogie, but that wouldn’t begin to encompass her gifts. Even the record charts list her in multiple genres – blues, Americana, and Adult Alternative, among others. Hunt is a piano-pounder, for sure, but this powerful singer will entrance and delight, all the while keeping your kiester moving as she lays out a ferocious beat with her left hand.

Saturday, December 3

Brass Messengers CD Release Party @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm. Ain’t no party like a Brass Messengers party. With a repertoire that stretches from the Balkans to New Orleans, and beyond, and an attitude that’s part circus, part vaudeville, and completely irreverent, the Messengers are simply like no other band in town. Should be mucho fun, what with dancing, etc.

Scottie Miller @ The Loring Theater, Minneapolis. 8pm ($30) Scottie hasn’t been playing in the area too much lately, as he has been touring far and wide as a member of Ruthie Foster’s band, and as a leader of his own funky, soulful group. As a pianist, he proudly calls upon New Orleans piano professors for inspiration, and does them proud. Tonight he’s bringing his game up a notch, by combining the music of his band with string arrangements by composer/arranger Victor Zupanc, and featuring the critically acclaimed violinist Margaret Humphrey.

Alvin Youngblood Hart w/Staving Chain @ Bayport BBQ, Bayport. 8pm ($25) Here’s a chance to see acoustic bluesman Hart, a Grammy Winner, in a very intimate setting and get some good BBQ to boot. Seating is very limited, so reservations are highy recommended (call 651-955-6337)

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, December 6,7,8

Tower of Power @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45 – $70) “What is Hip?” Going “Down to The Nighclub.” The ten-piece band with the tight horn section has been delivering their unique brand of soul for forty some odd years now, and, judging by their last appearance, can still bring on the funk. If “You’re Still A Young Man,” you can find out where modern bands like the Dap-Kings, Kings Go Forth, and the Soul Investigators got some of their influences.

For a more comprehensive listing of blues events, see the Minnesota Blues Society calendar.

%d bloggers like this: