Summer Music Isn’t Over Yet: 8.26 – 9.2

August 26, 2015
Though dusk is coming earlier these days, music is always available

Though dusk is coming earlier these days, music is always available

Well, the State Fair begins tomorrow, which means that Labor Day, the unofficial end of Summer, isn’t far behind. There is much music at the Fair, and I’ll post a separate, simple listing tomorrow, but there is also plenty of great music to enjoy outside of the fair. Here are a few examples. Have a great week. Music lifts your spirit.


Wednesday, August 26

Joe Strachan @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Pianist Strachan graduated from the U o MN a couple of years ago and has become a pianist-about-town, playing with The Adam Meckler Orchestra, Pete Whitman’s X-Tet, Jake Baldwin’s Quintet, Charanga Tropical, and in other groups. Always inventive. Though the film quality on this video isn’t great, the sound comes through quite nicely.

Wednesday, Thursday, August 26, 27

Ben Sidran @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) Sidran manages to live in Madison and keep up an international touring schedule and regular release of CDs. Tonight and Thursday he’s celebrating the release of Blue Camus. It’s a two family celebration with Ben on keys and vocals, son Leo on drums, Ricky Peterson on organ, and Billy Peterson on bass. The show is titled Jazz + Philosophy, which isn’t unusual for Sidran, who often interjects hipster rapping into his show, whether it’s about Dylan, the first caveman discovering a beat,  or how commercial radio uses music to deliver potential customers to advertisers. Here’s something from the new album.

Thursday, August 27

Melody Mendis @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) The Detroit native has been singing jazz, R&B, pop, and more around town in a variety of cover bands like High and Mighty, and Boogie Wonderland. She recently released her second album, Love & Madness, full of twisted arrangements and dramatic, dark covers.

Bryan Nichols Quintet @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7 :30 – 9:30pm ($10) Given that saxophonist Michael Lewis is now living on the west coast, tonight’s performance is a rare opportunity to see this particular combination of players addressing the original music of pianist Nichols. With Brandon Wozniak, sax; James Buckley, bass; and JT Bates on drums.

Javi Santiago & Lucia Sarmiento @ Bedlam Theater, Saint Paul. 10pm ($5) Here’s a double bill of young talent. The Javi Santiago Trio includes Santiago, piano; Ted Olsen, bass; and Miguel Hurtado, drums. Lucia Sarmieto Quintet includes Sarmiento, still a student at McNally Smith on sax; Trevor Wiest, guitar; Will Kjeer, about to set off for CalArts on piano; Ry Dill, bass; and Blake Huebel, drums. Here’s an example of Lucia’s playing.

Friday, August 28

Javi Santiago & Proper-T Present: Murkury @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm – 10pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Pianist Javi Santiago and his long time running mate, drummer Miguel Hurtado, team up with vocalist/pianist Taylor Johnson, aka Proper T to create Murkury  a group that performs improvisational music mining jazz and blues, while bringing pop and electronic innovations to the fore as well.

Charmin Michelle & Sam Miltich @ Third Place Gallery, 3730 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm ($15 Suggested Donation) Songstress Michelle and guitarist Miltich address the Ella Fitzgerald/Joe Pass connection in this tribute to both of them.

Patty & The Buttons @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8:30pm – 11:30pm ($10) Some button accordion-driven swing from a group most often found at the Aster on Sunday mornings. The way the Vieux is set up, you’ll only have to shuffle a couple of tables aside to create a bit of a dance floor.

No Room for Squares @ The Nicollet Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm – 11pm (Tip Jar) A group of veteran players get together to enjoy themselves playing originals and jazz standards. Jon Pemberton, trumpet; Jimmie Wallace, sax; Mikkel Romstad, keys; Adam Tucker, bass; and Bill Steiger, drums.

Saturday, August 29

Saturday Night Jazz @ the Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. At 7pm, the U of M Combo opens, featuring current and former students: Ryan Christianson, Joe Strachan, Matt McIntyre, and Andres Crovetti, followed at 8:30pm by The Dean Sorenson Sextet CD Release party: Dean on trombone; Steve Kennym, flumpet; Dave Milne, sax; Chris Lomheim, piano; Tom Lewis, bass; Phil Hey, drums.

Maurice Jacox Trio @ Crooner’s Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30 – 10:30pm (No Cover) I would normally list Jacox under Blues and Roots, but the versatile singer’s appearance tonight at Crooners is more likely to be filled with Nat Cole and jazz-inspired acoustic Motown than full-blown R&B. Even in a trio format, Jacox’s balladry is likely to coax a few couples onto the dance floor.

Sunday, August 30

Tootie Heath Trio, w/Ethan Iverson & Ben Street @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($22) Talk about an entertainment deal. The 79 year old Heath has been an active participant in the nation’s jazz scene since the 50s. The younger brother of Jimmy on sax and Percy on bass, Heath continues to be a force in jazz. His first recording was with John Coltrane in 1957, and his subsequent work encompassed most all of jazz royalty, such as The Modern Jazz Quartet, JJ Johnson, The Jazztet, Bobby Timmons,  Thelonious Monk, and dozens of other artists. Now he’s teamed up with pianist Ethan Iverson, of the Bad Plus, and bassist Ben Street, who spent the 90s exploring free jazz, for three albums, the latest of which is Philadelphia, named for Heath’s home town. Here is the trio at theChicago Jazz Festival.

Monday, August 31

Terrence Blanchard E Collective @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40), 9pm ($25) Trumpeter Blanchard has appeared a leader or co-leader on over 30 albums, including soundtracks for Spike Lee and his moving, post-Katrina masterpiece A Tale of God’s Will. He and his band are now receiving much praise from the likes of both Downbeat and Jazz Times for Breathless, his latest album. It’s an electrified fusion of R&B and fusion-influenced jazz. It’s has slow jams, deep grooves, a hip-hop/jazz fusion of Les McCann’s “Compared to What,” and a reworking of Hank Williams’ “I Aint Got Nothing But Time.”

James Buckley Trio + One @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) Bassist James Buckley and his long-standing trio including Bryan Nichols, keys; and JT Bates, drums, are given the chance to provide new takes on their repertoire with the addition of Jacob Hanson on guitar. Hanson has long been a fixture in many bands around town, providing licks that are twangy, reverb-laden, and imaginative.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz go to the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar. KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and roots music.   For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs, Jazz PoliceJazz Ink, and Bebopified.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, August 26

John Till on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 club – Tip Jar) Whether he’s playing bottleneck slide, banjo, or acoustic guitar, Till  elivers country blues from the Great Plains to the Delta, with side trips to Appalachia and Chicago. Listen in and head to the 331 afterwards.

Gabby Z @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Gabby Z is a sixteen year old singer/songwriter who is about to release her debut album. Her soulful singing reveals influences of Joss Stone, Sara Bareilles, and Amos Lee.

Mother Banjo @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul 8pm ($5) Get yourself some bluegrassy gospel and poetic lyrics as Ellen Stanley, aka Mother Banjo  brings her full band to the underground confines of the Vieux Carre.

Thursday, August 27

Flamin’ Ohs & The War Poets @ Music in Mears, Saint Paul. 6pm (Free) The Ohs had a strong following back in the day, and can still deliver their smart pop/punk/new wave sounds with vengeance. Openers The War Poets are a protest band for this generation, writing about homelessness, poverty, and other social issues of the day. Music will be followed by a screening of Dispatched, a comedy action thriller presented by the Twin Cities Film Festival. Here are the Ohs doing a cover of the Rolling Stones.

Joe Ely and Alejandro Escovedo @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45) Here’s a double bill of Texas singer/songwriters with a punch to their music. Alejandro Escovedo left Texas for California in the 70s and played guitar with the Nuns and the punk-meets-country Rank & File. After returning to Texas, Escovedo began a steady but slow rise to prominence, working with producers like Chris Stamey and John Cale, and collaborating with Chuck Prophet. Nowadays, Escovedo says he just wants to write “cool pop rock songs.” Ely is a rockin’ troubadour, who has traveled the country singing  about his travels in honky tonks, hook joints, and concert halls. Bruce Springsteen, Raul Malo, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore (with whom he worked in the Flatlanders) have all contributed vocals to his albums.  Here’ Ely at work.

Friday, August 28

Willie Walker and the We R Band @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30 – 10:30pm (No Cover) Willie’s latest CD, If Nothing Ever Changes, was produced by bluesman/slyman Rick Estrin, of the Night Cats, and it’s terrific. Walker is still a soul master, able to evoke emotion with the slightest change in his gravely voice. He’s brought a good crowd to the Fridley lounge in the past and tonight should be no different. Here he is on a recent tour of South America.

Hipshaker 13th Anniversary @ The Kitty Cat Klub, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Get out the talcum powder and your best dancing shoes. And get there early to claim a spot to rest and have a drink every once in a while. Brian, Greg, and George will be pulling out the best of their rare 45s tonight.

Saturday, August 29

Jimmi & the Band of Souls @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8:30pm ($8) Jimmi & the Band of Souls use mandolins and banjos, as well as the usual guitars, slide guitars, and rhythm section found in a blues band. As a result, they have a unique sound which is strengthened by their winning blend of blues, R&B, and roots music.  Here they are with a classic Memphis Minnie tune.

Sunday, August 30

RAMM Band @ Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter, Stillwater. 3 – 6pm (No Cover) Guitarist Paul Mayasich  together with ace time-keepers John Iden, bass; and Hye Pockets, drums, deliver such blues-based favorites, including Motown, funk, R&B, and even some Rock n’ Roll and Americana. You get to hang out and avail yourself of the Hunter’s favorites, like goulash, all manner of sausages, spatzle, burgers, and more. Since this is an outdoor gig, all bets are off if the weather doesn’t permit.

Charlie Parr & Dave Moore @ Patrick’s Cabaret, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) This great two-fer is part of the Eclectic Electric series, and features two of Red House Records’ premiere artists in an intimate setting. Parr  of course, is the Duluth bluesman who has captured the imagination of both young and old with his Duluth-meets-the Delta acoustic blues. Moore is the somewhat reclusive singer/songwriter from Iowa City who used to play with Greg Brown and has become a stellar writer and performer in his own right. You might want to get advance tickets for this one, since the Cabaret is a bit small. Here’s Moore at work.

Tuesday, September 1

Doug Otto & the Getaways @ Father Hennepin Bluff Park, Minneapolis. 7pm (Free) The sad sounds of Doug Otto’s expressive voice backed by the rootsy/acoustic sounds of the Getaways will undoubtedly feel just right in an outdoor setting.

Halley DeVestern Band @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9:00pm (No Cover) This five-piece from New York City delivers some rock/funk/blues with verve. Leader/vocalst DeVestern has a big voice, well supported by band members who’ve been members of Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Zen Tricksters, and the bands of Roger Waters and Shawn Mullins. Refriogerager opens at 9pmn, followed by DeVestern and company at 10:30pm.

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 calendar for U Wanna Dance.

A New Venue, A Familiar Festival. Music: 7.15 – 7.21

July 15, 2015
One of the tents at the Roots, Rock, & Deep Blues Festival

One of the tents at the Roots, Rock, & Deep Blues Festival

This week starts the regular programming at the Vieux Carre, located in the old Artists’ Quarter space in the Hamm Building in downtown Saint Paul. They will be featuring resident talent, with jazz at least two nights a week and during early evening (5:30 – 7:30pm). This week also features what has become a favorite festival of Twin Citizens – the fifth edition of The Roots, Rock, and Deep Blues Festival, which has expanded to four stages this year. We are blessed with considerable resident talent and an ability to attract lots of visiting talent. Music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, July 15

Pete Whitman X-Tet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Oh boy, Whitman is bringing his ten-piece little big band out to play, something that’s been mighty rare in the last 18 months. the membership sometimes varies, but you’ll find some of the best players in town in this aggregation. 


Thursday, July 16

Chris Lomheim Trio @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 7pm ($?) Even before its official opening this past Tuesday, The Vieux was named as one of the best Speakeasy Bars in town, a nod to it’s basement location, dark atmosphere and craft cocktails. But the real reason to go there tonight is to hear the wonderful piano playing of Chris Lomheim, who can transport you to wonderful places with his ethereal solos.

Charlie Christenson Standards Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Christensonis the head of the McNally Smith Vocal Department. He’ll be joined by Graydon Peterson, bass; and Matt Edlund, drums to take a new look at America’s standards.
Red Planet @ Studio Z, Saint Paul, 8pm ($10) Dean Magraw, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; and Jay Epstein, drums. Three first-call musicians, who would be on the A-list, no matter the town.

Friday, July 17
Todd Harper @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 5:30 – 7:30pm (Tip Jar) Whether freely improvising or taking off from a composed piece, pianist Harper provides perfect music to start the weekend. Tonight he’s join by saxophonist Chris Hagedorn.
Kjeer, Horst & Friends@ The Nicollet Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm (tip Jar) It’s a bit of a family affair as young Will Kjeer, a pianist who is about to enter CalArts after a year at Interlachen Center for the Arts in Michigan, is paired with his uncle, the ageless drummer Kenny Horst, and some of their friends, which is a mighty long list. Here’s Will with other students at his Interlachen recital. 

Dean Magraw and Steven Hobert @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:00pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Take the imagination of guitarist Dean Magraw, and pair it with the whimsey and sensitivity of pianist Steven Hobert, and you have a fine formula for music that will engage your mind as well as your spirit.
Saturday, July 18
Saturday Night Jazz @ the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. ($10 Suggested Donation) Opening at 7pm: John Devine and Bill Lang. Headlining at 8:30pm Joe Mayo Quartet

Linda Peterson Trio @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) The piano playing daughter of the Peterson clan has spent a lifetime successfully singing her way into the hearts of Southern Californians. Now Peterson is back in town and entertaining us.

The Jazz Bridge Project @ SW Craft Bar (Senor Wongs), Saint Paul. 8pm ($?) I haven’t heard of this group before, though they have been playing every once in a while for a couple of years or so. I’ve certainly heard of half of its players: Sten, Ron, and Ted. Given the quality of their playing alone, this group seems to be a worthwhile listen. Sten Johnson, sax; Roger Johnson, guitar; Ron Evaniuk, upright bass; Bill Paul, percussion, Ted Godbout, keys; and Rajiah Johnson, flute.

Monday, July 20
Brian Grivna @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Grivna is a strong sax player who can often be found in the pit orchestra’s of touring shows, as well as in the JazzMN Orchestra and Pete Whitman’s X-Tet. Tonight he plays what he wants to play, rather than the arrangements of others. 
Monday, Tuesday, July 20, 21
Nachito Herrera and the Universals @ the Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($230, $35) On Monday, the Cuban flag will be raised above the Cuban embassy in Washington, and the U.S. flag will be raised above the American embassy in Havana. Cuban-born fiery pianistNachito Herrera is celebrating with special guests: Raul Pineda, a Cuban drummer who has had three Grammy Nominations and won a Grammy for his work with the Chuchu Valdez Quartet on the album Live at the Village Vanguard; Violinist Karen Brigg brings four decades of music across a wide variety of genres to the party. I interviewed Herrera on my show on Saturday, the 11th. You can hear the interview at:

Tuesday, July 21
Jeremy Walker Trio @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 7pm ($5) Pianist Walker is a thoughtful, imaginative composer, whether writing a long form piece for quartet and choir or improvising a solo. He works with a variety of resident and visiting musicians who are all high caliber players. Here’s a video with a couple of them.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz go to the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar. KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and roots music.   For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs, Jazz PoliceJazz Ink, and Bebopified.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, July 15

Paul Seeba @ Landmark Center, Saint Paul. Noon – 1pm (Free) Though he now lives in Saint Paul, singer/songwriter Seeba is from the Iron Range, and his songs evoke the Midwest. In fact, one of his songs, Mitchell Yards is about the historic switching yards of Hibbing, and will be used in a PBS documentary about the site. 

New Shoes @ The Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 7 pm ($5) Now that the Vieux Carre (voo ma-ray) is officially opened, the scheduling will begin. Tonight it’s New Shoes (Gary Raynor, Richard Kreihn, Joe Savage, Peter Johnson), all veterans of the Guys All Star Shoe band of Prairie Home Companion fame. They’re well-versed in all manners of music. 

Jimmy “Duck” Holmes on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3and 106.7FM), 7pm – 8pm (331 Club – tip Jar) If you like the style of Mississippi blues as practiced by Skip James, you’ll love this show, as “Duck’ Holmes is a proponent of the distinctive “Beltonia” style as practiced by James. Holmes runs the Blue Front in Bentonia, one of the oldest juke joints in Mississippi. After years of causal playing, he began performing in ernest in the 2000s, and has earned a number of awards and accolades since. He’ll be playing one show at the 331, followed by Jack Klatt from 8-9pm. He’ll also be playing at the Roots, Rock & Deep Blues Festival Saturday, and may show up at other venues around town (Hell’s Kitchen Brunch on Sunday).

Thursday, July 16LP Music @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10). Essentially, this is an all-star group of area players, performing improvised funk, including: Gram,my winnings Erik Leeds, sax, flute, vocals; multi-instrumentalist Paul Peterson, bass, guitar; Peter Schimke, keys; and Stokely Williams, drums, percussion, & vocals.


Friday, July 17

Roots, Rock, & Deep Blues Pre-Party with Miss Tess & the Talkbacks and the Dieselfitters @ Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 7pm (Free) Fans of Eilen Jewell will find much to like inMiss Tess & the TalkbacksMiss Tess writes and performs songs that are part Honky-Tonk, part Americana, with a touch of Western Swing, and a pinch of old time jazz. The rockabilly/honkytonk Dieselfitters open at 7pm, and Miss Tess comes on at 9pm.


Como Avenue Jug Band @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 7pm ($8) Booking at the new Vieux Carre will center on resident talent, with at least two evenings a week dedicated to jazz and the other evenings featuring mostly acoustic acts. Tonight it’s those purveyors of happiness, The Como Avenue Jug Band.

Left Lane Cruiser @ Bayport BBQ, Bayport. 8pm ($10) Opening by Catl. Indiana’s gut-bucket blues trio has been a favorite of area fans since they first started showing up at the original Deep Blues Festival back in 2007. Opening is Toronto’s own punk-blues duo, Catl. 

Saturday, July 18

Roots, Rock and Deep Blues Festival at Harriet Brewing and Patrick’s Cabaret, Minneapolis. Noon – Midnight ($15 advance, $20 door) Four, count em’, four stages, overflowing with talent, from the home-grown – Spider John Koerner, Charlie Parr, Willie Murphy & the Angel-Headed Hipsters, Black Market Brass – to visitors such as Left-Lane Cruiser, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Kent Burnside and more. Complete with food trucks, deejays, and everything else that made this festival win several “Best of” awards last year.


Blind Boys of Alabama @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($45 – $50) Soul stirring, rafter shaking gospel music from a group with a tradition that goes back 70 years, though they aren’t afraid of non-gospel songs with feeling, or in fact, pairing up with various pop/soul/jazz acts. 

Roots, Rock, and Deep Blues After Party @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($?) Just in case you didn’t get to the RRDB, or simply want more music. Poverty Hash, Gaslighters Union, and the Out of Controllers will be keeping the day’s vibe going. Here’s Poverty Hash.

Otto, Rae, and Porter @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($6) A trio of rootsy acts: Jeremy Porter & the Tucos, 9:30pm. Jillian Rae Band, 10:30pm, Doug Otto & the Getaways, 11:30pm

Sunday, July 19

Joe & Vicky Price @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11am (No Cover) Delta-inspired blues from Iowa. The Prices rightfully have a strong following in the area. Have some brunch and find out why.Jeff Ray & Hurricane Harold @ Brookside Bar & Grill, Marine on Saint Croix. 3pm (No Cover) Take a road trip to the riverside town north of Stillwater to catch this guitar/blues harp duo taking on classic blues, Dylan, and even the Grateful Dead. Word is, they’ll have some friends along too, to enriched the music. 

Monday, July 20

Joe Fingers @ Dunn Brothers on Grand, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) Grab a cuppa Joe and listen to a finger-picking champion.

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 calendar for U Wanna Dance.

Transitions and Traditions. Music: 4.2 – 4.8

April 2, 2014

images-1The big news this week is the confirmation of rumors that The Dakota will be leasing the old Artists’ Quarter space in the basement of the hamm Building in downtown Saint Paul. Reports are thea there will be asmall kitchen installed and the programming will include more than jazz. I imagine that some touring jazz acts like Tom Harell, and other acts that wouldn’t fill the Dakota would be booked into the new space, which is as yet, unnamed. This week’s music also features some groups and artists in transition, as they collaborate with new partners, perform in new venues, and otherwise seek to advance their music.

On a personal note, KFAI is in pledge drive mode, and I will be asking folks to become members during my show this Saturday morning from 10:30am – Noon. I’ll be doing a phone interview with drummer Matt Slocum. It would be gratifying to get some support from those of you reading this.

On to the music for the week.


Wednesday, April 2

Foreman, Felly, Schmidt, & Mussselman @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) This is a quartet of relatively young musicians with enough experience to create inventive and melodic music base on songs they like, whether modern jazz, alt-pop, or indie-rock: Andrew Foreman, bass; Dave Felly, guitar; Zach Schmidt, drums; and Dan Musselman, piano.

KCOB Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Donation – $10 suggested) Drummer/percussionist Davu Seru leads Casey O’Brien, bass; and Nathan Hanson, saxophones; in a concert that allows plenty of give and take for questions from the audience. Given the talents involved, the choice of music will undoubtedly be wide-ranging and somewhat free.

Emily Davis & Robert Bell @ Ingredients Cafe, White Bear Lake. 6:30 – 9:30pm (No cover) Emily sings and Robert plays guitar for your enjoyment as you have dinner or sit at the bar and have drinks.

Thursday, April 3

Jon Wood & Connie Olson @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30 – 9:30 (Donation) It’s vocalist night at Jazz Central, and tonight, curator Maryann Sullivan brings us two vocalists. Jon Wood is a guitarist/vocalist who will be performing the first set and then accompanying Connie Olson for a second set of songs from the Great American Songbook. Olson is an accomplished singer who has been heard on many commercials and has worked with folks like the Brian Setzer Band, The Peter Duchin Big Band, and musicians from the bands of both Madonna and Prince. Here’s Connie singing from a few years ago.

Friday, April 4

Vicky Mountain & James Allen @ The Wine Market, Mendota Heights. 5pm – 7pm (Free) It’s a free wine tasting while superb vocalist Mountain and sympathetic accompanying guitarist Allen serenade you with standards and some jazzified rock n’ roll oldies.

Steve Kenny’s Group 47 at the Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm (Tip Jar)  Trumpeter Kenny has assembled a group of young musicians (a couple are in high school), and like many band leaders back in the day, is both teaching and learning through his association.   Though they’ve been working on a album (vinyl only!), tonight’s show will focus on standards and tunes that aren’t on the album.

Sound Skirmish @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm – 10pm (Donation) This is the Young Artists’ Showcase, presented by Jazz Police, which used to be held at the AQ. Tonight features a quartet: Patrtickl Adams, piano, from Edina; Levi Schwartzbert, vibes, from Southwest HS; Drew Stinson, bass, from Southwest HS; and Ben Ehrlich,m drums, from Wayzata.

Saturday, April 5

Pippi Ardennia’s PipJazz Live, feat. The Dakota Combo @ The Capri, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $10 Student) Extraordinary vocalist PIppi Ardennia opens her fourth season of family-friendly concerts with a new twist, taking them to alternating venues. Tonight she’ll be at the Capri Theater in North Minneapolis, and as usual, will have a special guest. This time it’s the Dakota Combo, a metro-wide ensemble of talented high school musicians selected through open auditions. (Full disclosure: I chair the Foundation that sponsors the Combo). Here’s Pippi at the TC Jazz Festival a couple of years ago.

Lila Ammons’ Voices of Influence @ Honey, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm ($10) Ammons will be singing songs from a variety of her influences. As she puts it: Bessie Smith to Sarah Vaughn. She’ll be accompanied by Ted Godbout on piano, and special guest boogie boogie pianist Axel Zwingenberger for some numbers.

Saturday, Sunday, April 5, 6

Charmin & Shapira & Friends Present Bop to Bossa @ The Black Box Theater, Bloomington Center for the Arts. 7:30pm Sat, 2pm Sun ($19 Adults, $17 Seniors, $13 25 & under) The name says it all. It’s an exploration of the common ground between bebop of the late 40s and 50s and Brazilian bossa novas. Helping out will be Paul Harper on sax and flute; Tom Lewis, bass; and Nathan Norman, drums. Here’s Charmin Michelle and Joel Shapira doing a classic bebop tune.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz, go to the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar and the KBEM Calendar, which also features some blues and roots listings. For further commentary of Twin Cities Jazz, go to Jazz Police,Bebopified, and JazzInk.


Blues, Roots, and Other…

Wednesday, April 2

Mary Leinfelder & Friends on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90-.Fm & 106.7FM) and 7pm (331 Club – tip jar) It’s about time that songstress Leinfelder headlined her own group. She’s been sitting in with folks like Willie Murphy, John Beach, Dave Ray, and Papa John Kolstad for years and years. Tonight she’s joined by Jim Ouska, guitar; Jim Chenoweth, bass; Kory Badertscher, drums; and Tom Cravens, keys. Tune in to 90.3 or 106.7FM during the 5 o’clock hour to get a preview, and head to the 331 Club at 7pm for the real deal.

Steven Hobert & Lynn O’Brien @ Bryant Lake Bowl, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) You may know Hobert from his accordion work with Lulu’s playground, or his piano work in any number of other local ensembles. For one so young, he has an impressive resume: Glenn Miller Orchestra, 5 by Design, and a number of symphony orchestras. His keyboard work is often impressionistic, and sometimes whimsical. He’ll be joined by clear-voiced singer/songwriter Lynn O’Brien, who studied with Bobby McFerrin and is a board-certified music therapist.

Thursday, April 3

Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($22) This is a group with a compelling story: one that speaks to the redeeming power of music. Forced to leave their homes in Sierra Leone during the 1990s because of a bloody, horrifying war, members of the group found themselves in a refugee camp, where they met and proceeded to make music to entertain other refugees. They moved from camp to camp, were the subject of an award-winning documentary, and exploded on the world music scene after the release of their debut album in 2006. Their music is a combination of old school reggae, Afrobeat, and Congolease soukouss, which means it’s highly infectious and danceable. Extra bonus: DJ Salif Keita, from KFAI’s African Rhythms, will be spinning tunes before and between sets. Here’s a sample of their infectious music.

Friday, April 4

Big George Jackson and Curtis Blake with the Dan Schwalbe Blues Band @ Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5 after 7pm)  Big George has a big voice, well suited to John Lee Hooker-like boogies. He’s a star in Europe, and should be a star her in the US, so count your blessings that you can see him at the Tap Room. He’s on at 9pm, while ace harpman Curtis Blake joins guitarist Dan Scwalbe and his band for some more first rate blues 7pm. Big George at 9pm. Looks like the weather still won’t be warm enough to open the doors at the Tap Room, so be advised that seating is somewhat limited.

Adam Levy, Bethany Larson & the Bees Knees @ New Century Theater, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($15 – $45) Here’s a chance to check out a new, intimate venue in town. Adam Levy is a guitarist who’s work with the Honeydogs has earned him a national reputation, and who has shown a propensity for inventive collaborations with other musicians. Bethany Larson sings county-ish songs of heartbreak. The Bees Knees will be taking a hiatus after this gig, so it’s your last chance to see them for a while.

Lamont Cranston Band w/Bruce McCabe @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) Roadhouse blues gets an upgrade as this hometown crew brings some “Upper Mississippi Shakedown” to the tony environs of the Dakota.

Saturday, April 5

Rena Haus Trio @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (No Cover) A nice evening gig at the Kitchen for rootsy, bluesy Rena and her trio. She’s a stellar writer, with a flair for the humorous and an ability to speak to everyday concerns. check her out.

The Eddies @ The Hat Trick Lounge, Saint Paul. 8pm ($7) These five singers always show up on my radar, partly because they’re approach to singing (and just a little playing) is so warm and refreshing, and partly because they always involve the audience. The songs are familiar and/or easy to sing along with, and range from Bob Marley and Billy Joe Shaver to sea chanties and songs of murder.

Sunday, April 6

Road to Memphis Competition @ The Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 1pm ($10) This is the competition for solo and duo acts, and will include Wisconsin Bryan Johnson, Paul & Bambi, Doug Otto & Hurricane Harold, Brother Sun & Sister Moon, and “Duckshack Dave” Florine.  Winners will get to represent Minnesota at the International Blues challenge in Memphis in January, 2015.

Tinariwen with the Melodic @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis,  7:30pm ($35) Another African band comes to the Cedar this week, this time bringing the hypnotic sound of Desert Blues. Tinariwen hail from the Sahara region of Northern Mali and play guitar driven music based on traditional Tuaregsongs as well as regional influences such as Berber music, electrified Rai, and traditional Malian music.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, April 6,7,8

Lalah Hathaway & Ruben Studdard @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40, $45, $50), 9pm ($35, $40, $45) An evening of classic soul and elegant rhythm and blues. Hathaway, the daughter of soul legend Donny Hathaway, has been performing for over 20 years, and most recently won the 2014 Grammy for Best R&B Performance. Studdard is the 2003 American Idol winner who has turned that win into a successful career of gold and platinum records in both pop and R&B.

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

A Change Is Gonna Come. Music: 10.3 – 10.9

October 3, 2012

In spite of the high temps today (Wednesday), a change is coming, as mother nature is pointing out with the change in foliage. There will undoubtedly be more indoor events, thought there’s at least one more outdoor festival to check out. With a couple of CD release parties, visits from well-known touring artists, a few Latin shows, and a Fall Festival that gives you an extra reason to travel to Stillwater, this week is shaping up quite nicely.

On a personal note, thanks to those of you who became listener-members at KFAI, especially those who pledged during my show this past Saturday. There is still time to pledge at You can even specify my show (Rhythm and Grooves) as one of the reasons you joined.


Thursday, October 4

Medicinal Jazz Band @ the Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm (tip jar)  The duo of Noah Strom on accordion, concertina, or piano and Sam Ryan on guitar and vocals explore jazz, klezmer, and Dixieland music, along with some Americana from the turn of the last century.

Larry McDonough & Richard Terrill CD Release @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Pianist McDonough and saxophone player Terrill are releasing a charming, inventive CD, filled with surprises. McDonough convincingly takes on vocal chores on a couple of numbers. Terrill recites poetry. McDonough composed one number using melody fragments written by children with disabilities. Though this is their first effort as a duet, the two have worked together in various ensembles since 2001, and their easy communication shows. Here’s mcDonough doing one of the songs on the new CD with a quartet.

Friday, October 5

Hollywood Jazz: the JazzMN Orchestra with Wayne Bergeron and Connie Evingson @ Hopkins HS Performing Arts Center. 7:30pm ($29/$33) The JazzMN Orchestra are starting their season with a bang. Bergeron landed the lead trumpet chair in Maynard Ferguson’s band at 18, and has worked with an outstanding list of performers, from Ray Charles and Lou Rawls to Tito Puente, Barry Manilow, and the Pussy Cat Dolls. Extra added attraction: Connie Evingson on guest vocals. He’s played in the big bands of Quincy Jones and Arturo Sandoval, and got a Grammy nomination for his own big band. BTW, he’s also featured on over 300 TV and film soundtracks.

Babatunde Lea Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) with Richard Johnson, piano; Zacc Harris, guitar, Chris Bates, bass. Drummer/Percussionist Babatunde Lea and Richard Johnson are well-known on the national jazz scene, and have recently settled in the area. In fact, Johnson has been touring with Delfeayo Marsalis. Zacc Harris and Chris Bates are easily up to the task of playing with both. Expect some fire from this group, as well as the occasional moment of sublime beauty.

Firebell @ Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Park Evans, guitar, Graydon Peterson, bass, and Jay Epstein, drums. All three of these musicians play in (and sometimes lead) numerous bands. Each is also capable of playing a myriad of styles. Tasty, yet invigorating jazz in a small room with a view of downtown Minneapolis. Sounds pretty sweet.

Saturday, October 6

Lucia Newell, Laura Caviani, and Jeff Bailey @ Parma 8200, Bloomington. 7:30 – 10:30pm (No cover) Located in the rabbit warren of office buildings, hotels, and parking ramps immediately Southeast of the 100/494 intersection, Parma 8200 is having jazz on Saturday nights, featuring a singer and small backup. Tonight, enjoy the great vocals of Newell, the tasty piano of Caviani, and Bailey’s steady bass as you drink cocktails and have appetizers in the bar. It can get noisy, so you may want to sit close.

Monday, October 8

Steve Hobert Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis 8:30pm (Donation) I know I’ve written about Hobert, a talented pianist, recently, but hey, this time he’s at Jazz Central, which is about a good a “hang” as you can find for jazz musicians and fans. Cozy couches, chairs and tables, and a BYO atmosphere make for a relaxed evening. If you’ve not been there, look for the glass doors at 407 E. Central, directly across from the Aveda school. Walk down the hall, turn left and go down some stairs, and left at the bottom of the stairs. Tell them Larry sent you – just kidding, but that’s what it feels like.

John Devine @ Barbette, Minneapolis. 10pm (Free) Devine is an imaginative saxophonist, often surrounded with equally talented friends. Don’t know who will be with him this evening, but even if he’s alone, you can be sure he’ll transport you into moments of sheer happiness, especially if you’re enjoying the happy hour offerings at Barbette.

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

 Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, Thursday, October 3, 4

Junior Brown @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35-$40) Rockin’ honky-tonk from guit-steel player Brown. The guit-steel is a double-necked instrument combining guitar and lap steel guitar. Brown uses it well as he plays originals, classic country, and surprising covers of surf songs. It’s country for folks who don’t like country.  Here’s a video of him in action.

Charanga Tropical @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10:30pm ($6) The folks at this hot new spot will be moving tables and chairs to create room to Get your Latin Dancing on. With violins and a flute in their arsenal, Charanga Tropical will have the Salsa Dancers out en masse.

Thursday, October 4

Jake Manders Trio @ Cause Spirits & Sound Bar, Minneapolis. 9:30pm 9No cover) An evening of roots music as Jillian Rae and Caitlin Robinson open. Manders writes original music that’s informed by country and folk styles of the past, and sings them with voice that sounds like he’s hobo-ed around the country.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, October 4,5,6

Zeitgeist’s New Music Harvest @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($3.50 Thurs, $10, Fri, Sat) It’s the 35th season of playing new chamber music for Zeitgeist, and to celebrate, they’re only charging $3.50 for Thursday’s opener of the season. They’ll have guest artists Kyle Hutchins on soprano sax, and Kirsten Whitson on cello.

Friday, October 5

Willie Murphy Solo @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm – 11pm (Donation – $5 suggested) The sometimes irascible, but often romantic Murphy sits in front of a piano and sings songs of love and politics in his slightly jazzy, always R&B-ish way.

House of Mercy Showcase @ Gingko Coffeehouse, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm (no cover) Jon Rodine, Brett Larson, and the Wilkinson/James Duo present original music. Rodine is a West Bank favorite with a terrific voice. Larson is an often funny songwriter, and Wilkinson James are known to evoke June Carter and Townes Van Zandt.

Paul Cebar @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($?) Actually, this show will begin at 7:30 with the swamp boogie of the Swamp Kings, a trio that’s been known to get folks dancing themselves. Cebar, of course, has been getting folks to twist, spin, and generally wear out their dancing shoes for a couple of decades now. This is a Sponsor Appreciation Party, put on by the Minnesota Blues Society.

Saturday, October 6

RAMM Band & 617 Band @ the Stillwater Fine Art & Music Festival, Lowell Park, Stillwater. Noon – 5pm (Free) From Noon to 2pm you can catch Paul Mayasich & the RAMM band playing a mix of rock n’ roll, blues, and R&B. From 3pm to 5pm the well-seasoned and entertaining 617 Band will take the stage with it’s jazzy blues, rock, and originals, all designed to put some bump in your rump.

Michael Johnson CD Release @ Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hopkins. 8pm ($24) Johnson recently moved back to the Metro area after years of living in Nashville. The singer/songwriter know for Bluer Than Blue, Give Me Wings, and This Night Won’t last forever is releasing his first CD in 15 years – Moonlit Deja Vu. Backing musicians include Marc Anderson on percussion, Gordy Johnson on bass, and Maude Hixson on vocals, along with a few others.

Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Pineiro @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) This Son group originated in Cuba in 1927, and was instrumental in popularizing the Son song form. A quick listen to recent albums reveals the latest incarnation of this group to be in fine form. If the Dakota doesn’t make some room to dance, I expect that some swaying hips may be moving tables out of the way.

Tuesday, Wednesday, October 9, 10

Don’t You Feel My Leg

Maria Muldaur & Her Bluesiana Band @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30) 9pm ($25) Though known for Midnight at the Oasis from the 70s, Muldaur can convincingly sing in a number of styles, from big bands to jug bands, from Peggy Lee to Bessie Smith. Tonight, she’s exploring the blues as she tours behind a new album, First Came Memphis Minnie.

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.

New Jazz, World Music and more for 9.12 – 9.18

September 12, 2012

Where to find some music.

In the  coming week we can look forward to a new release by the in-demand bassist Chris Bates and his three-horn group, as well as visits from some established artists from across the country and around the world.  Not to forget the work of Twin Cities area artists as well.


Wednesday, September 12

Lulu’s Playground @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) I’m excited to see this band, making their debut at the AQ tonight. Adam Meckler on trumpet, Evan Montgomery on guitar, Cory Grossman on cello, and Steven Hobert on accordion. They’re all terrific jazz players, but are comfortable in pop, rock, and even salsa. It’s an intriguing combination, made doubly so by the fact that all four have been playing together since college. Here they are doing a Dave Douglas tune.

Rhonda Laurie Trio @ Barbette, Minneapolis. 10pm (Free) Rhonda has been playing a number of events outside the metro area, bringing her show about the Uplifting Songs of the Greatest Generation to the suburbs and rural areas, where she’s been warmly welcomed. No wonder. She gets inside the songs, and delivers them with enough swing to jog long ago memories and create new ones for younger listeners. Always worth your while. Plus, Barbette has great happy hour deals for weekday late nights.

Thursday, September 13

Lee Engele & Reynold Philipsek @ Centennial Lakes Farmers Market, 75th & France, Edina. 4pm – 6pm. (Free) Here’s a late afternoon treat for those of you living or working in the inner ring suburbs south of Minneapolis. vocalist Lee and guitarist Reynold are regular performing partners, with the ability to anticipate each other’s musical moves and the experience to make everything swing.

Black Heralds @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) A relatively new group on the scene, with Sten Johnson, trumpet; Kevin Gastonguay, keys; Andy Schuster, bass; and Jay Augspurger on drums. Original music that melds 21st Century grooves and 20th Century influences.

Jack Brass Band @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 10:30pm. ($5) Sure, it’s a late night gig on a school night, but if you’ve the energy to make it there, you’ll be energized for the ride home. JBB‘s ability to encompass the musical traditions of early jazz (no charts, improvised arrangements and singing) as well as modern era R&B (M. Gaye and R. Kelly) are the result of hard work and lots of talent.

Friday, September 14

Steven Hobert & Brian Courage @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 7pm – 10pm (free) Though the ambient noise is quite loud during the dinner hour, this is a chance to see and appreciate Hobert’s thoughtful, inventive piano playing. He’s been playing with a wide variety of groups, and is always a positive contributor to whatever aggregation he’s in. I have to admit I don’t know bassist Brian Courage, but given Hobert’s taste, I’m sure the music will take flight. Just be sure to get a table near the stage.

Friday, Saturday, September 14, 15

Chris Bates Red 5 CD Release @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Then name of the CD is New Hope and the music is original, mostly penned by by bassist Chris Bates. The group features three horns: Zack Lozier, trumpet; Chris Thomson tenor and soprano sax; Brandon Wozniak, tenor and alto sax. Brother JT on drums rounds out the group. You’ll note there is no piano and no guitar. You can hear a couple of the tunes and my interview with Chris here. The music and interview start at about 20 minutes into the show.

Saturday, September 15

Mike Salovich Trio @ The Loring Pasta Bar, Minneapolis. 6-9pm (no cover) World beat guitarist Mike Salovich is joined by Marc Anderson, percussion, and Larry McDonough on piano performing some of Salovich’s originals and more.

Certain Standards: Arne Fogel & Tanner Taylor @ Jazz @ St. Barney’s, 15600 Old Rockford Rd, Plymouth. 7pm ($10) If you were lucky enough to be listening to KBEM at about 8:30am during the past year, your day was made brighter by a segment that featured Minnesota singers performing classic standards. Fogel conceived and produced the segments which included background on each song, while pianist Tanner Taylor provided subtle, knowing accompaniment. Tonight, Fogel will be singing those songs himself, and really, is there any other male vocalist in town that can deliver the same mix of romance and ruefulness.

Dan Musselman Trio @ Red Stag, Minneapolis. 10:30pm (free) With Zach Schmidt and Andrew Foreman. Musselman is a talented, melodic pianist with an album in his own name and another with vocalist Rachel Holder. He also plays and records with Cory Wong, teaches at MacNally Smith, and is working on a doctorate in composition. Talented, indeed.

Tuesday, September 18

Adam Meckler Orchestra @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm. (Suggested donation – $7) There’s been a change of plan, and Adam’s Orchestra, which usually plays the last Tuesday of the month, is playing tonight since he’ll be on the road. The talented trumpet player has been busy writing original compositions and charts for a band that’s about 18 members strong and includes a number of talented young artists. Jazz Central is located across the street from the Aveda Institute on Central, NE. Look for the glass doors at 407 Central, walk down the hall and turn left down some stairs. BYOB. To hear what they sound like, go here.

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

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, September 12

Crankshaft on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 and 106.7FM) and 7pm (331 Club – tip jar) It is said that Crankshaft‘s approach to the blues and roots music wouldn’t be possible before punk music came along. That may be right, but don’t let the idea keep you from checking out this high-energy one-man band. You probably know the drill: tune in to KFAI during the 5:00 hour and listen, then head on down to the 331 Club to get a full blast of Crankshaft’s music.

Friday, September 14

Nikki & the Rue-Mates @ The Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 6pm – 8pm. Freshly brewed beer and freshly written tunes. It’s a 21st century version of classic blues along with a touch of folk-rock. A winning combination.

Friday, Saturday, September 14, 15

Joan Osborne @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45/$40) Inspired by Etta James and Tina Turner, Osborne has gone way past her 90s hit “(What if God Was) One of Us,” to embrace soul and R&B. She can burn through the Slim Harpo hit, “Shake Your Hips,” and turn around and kill “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.” Should be an evening of foot stomping and hand clapping, at the very least.

Saturday, September 15

Cactus Blossoms @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($?) Classic country. Fiddle, acoustic guitars, and pedal steel. I’m talking the kind of stuff that made it to the pop charts in the 50s and 60s, with unforgettable brotherly harmonies (think of the Louvins, Delmores, or the Everlys), done up to encourage dancing. The Eagles Club features cheap drinks, just the thing for crying in your beer songs, and ruminations on modern life. For a review of their album from No Depression, click here.

Uke-Fest 2012 @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($6) Well the ukelele keeps popping up in pop and folk music. It’s even got a superstar in Jake Shmabukuro, who’s appeared at both The Dakota and The Cedar Cultural Center. While he won’t be at the Aster tonight, a half-dozen or so players will be in attendance, including Katy Vernon, Kim Sueoka, Savanna Smith, the Meteor Boys, and the Broken Bicycles.

Sunday, September 16

Faux Playboys w/guest Eric Mohring @ The Half Time Rec, Saint Paul. 8pm. ($8) Show up by 7:30 and get a free lesson in Cajun dancing. The Playboys play all sorts of Louisiana music, but given that they have fiddler Mohring with them, I am sure that they’ll concentrate on Cajun and Zydeco tonight.

Saturday, Sunday, September 15,16

Namaste! Slalnte! @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7:30pm Sat, 2:30pm Sun ($15)  Here’s an intriguing change of pace. A concert of original music influenced by the Indian and Irish Traditions with Michelle Kinney (cello), Nirmala Rajasekar (veena), Thanjavur Murugaboopathi (Mridangam Drums), Graham O. Brien (Drums).

Tuesday, September 18

International Reggae All-Stars @ Bunkers, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($6) Thought all reggae was the same? Check out this band. Its members hail from Trinidad, Ghana, Venezuela, and Jamaica. With Lival Jackson on vocals, and Tony Paul on percussion, the All-Stars deliver a wide range of reggae, from roots, to lovers rock and dance hall. Hear their songs on their MySpace page.

JPP & Trio Brasileiro @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Free) The Cedar kicks off it Global Roots Festival with a Finnish fiddle group and a Brazilian trio. Both heavily rely on strings: JPP has been playing their “Wave of Fiddles” for 30 years, and are on their 11th tour of the US. Trio Brasileiro is an acoustic group playing choro and other Brazilian 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.

Interview with Paul Bollenback – 10.30.10

June 12, 2012
Paul Bollenback

Ed Note: This interview was first published in Bebopified on November 11, 2010, before I started this blog.  Since Paul is coming back to play at the Artists’ Quarter on June 15 and 16, I thought this would be a good time to re-publish the interview here:

Like every young guitarist of the 60s and 70s, Paul Bollenback was enamored with rock and roll. Then he heard Miles Davis and delved into fusion.

While living in Washington, DC, he was exposed to more traditional jazz, as well as organ jazz, and studied composition and performance. He made his first record with Gary Thomas in 1987 and met Joey DeFrancesco in 1990, establishing a relationship that lasts to this day.

After being named Musician of the Year for the Washington Area in 1997, he moved to New York City, where he now resides.

Paul dropped by KFAI on Saturday morning, October 30. This is a slightly edited version of the on-air discussion we had.

LE: How are you? 
PB: I’m great. It’s great to be here in the Twin Cities.

LE: You’re kind of a regular visitor.
PB: The gentleman who’s responsible for first bringing me here brought me to the studio today. John McCauley was Jack McDuff’s manager, and he’s responsible for first bringing me here. We calculated that I first came here, I think it was 18 years ago last night, to play a show with Jack and Joey DeFrancesco. I was in Joey’s band. It was a two-organ show. I met John and he was kind enough to bring me back to play at the Hotel Luxeford, for those of you who remember when they had jazz in there. I’ve been coming back ever since. I love it here. Great people and wonderful audiences, and there’s some really great musicians playing here. Tonight I’m playing at the Artists’ Quarter with Billy Peterson on bass and Kenny Horst on drums. You’ve got the Peterson family dynasty – it’s great.

LE: Tell us a little bit about how, as a guitar player, you decided to get into jazz.
PB: I was basically a rocker. I really liked Carlos Santana, and at a certain point I was listening to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, all those early heavy metal groups. I really liked the groove and power and the energy of it. A friend turned me on to the Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin. That was a thrill because I’d never really heard anybody play guitar like that. I’d heard all these soulful, really good guitar players, but John was a different scene. That kind of led me to Big Fun, which is an electric Miles Davis record which had John McLaughlin on it, if I’m not mistaken, which led me to Bitches Brew, which kind of at the same time got me into fusion – Return to Forever with Chick Corea, Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House.

At some point in this, my family moved from New York to Washington, DC, and that’s where I really got turned on to more traditional jazz. The first person I met when I got to DC is a great bass player named Edward Howard. Probably the thing he’s most well known for is playing bass with Roy Haynes for about 15 years, through the 80s up into the 90s. We had a friend who had a room full of records, a 10×12 room, three sides of which were covered in vinyl – all kinds. We’d go there and play and hang out and listen to music all day. That was really my first exposure to jazz other than the fusion stuff.

LE: How did that appeal to you as a guitar player who grew up in rock? What was it about jazz that appealed to you?
PB: Well, it intrigued me. When I was in high school, must have been 9th grade, there was a jazz band in the school I went to in Tarrytown, New York. It always amazed me that these young guys would come in, and they’d have music in front of them and play this stuff. I didn’t know what it was. “What is this that they’re doing?” I couldn’t do it. I was playing blues licks and trying to make my way through it. But I think that was one of the things.

Another was that my dad was a huge fan of the big bands. He really liked Benny Goodman in particular. He liked Stan Kenton a lot, and we had Harry James records and Benny Goodman records lying around the house. I’d put them on now and again, just out of curiosity. I’d be listening to one of my Beatles record and see one of these records and think, “What is this thing?” and put it on. I’d hear this “du did-it dee” and think wow, that’s interesting. But, I didn’t really like it when I was nine [laughs]. So it’s been kind of a progression.

LE: And you seem to have spent a lot of time in B-3 organ groups.
PB: Some people plot their path, and for other people it just happens. When I was 18 and living in DC, my friend Ed introduced me to a great piano player and composer named Lawrence Wheatley, who turned out to be a great mentor for me. Once I actually got a place of my own, I lived a couple of blocks from him. I used to go and play with him all the time. He was quite a bit older than I was. But he was one of those guys in DC who had played with everybody when they came through town. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had played with Charlie Parker. He was of that era.

Anyway, the summer I was 18, he had this regular three-nights-a-week gig. It was an organ gig – organ, saxophone, drums. And he’d say, “Why don’t you come down and play?” Of course, I was thrilled. I wasn’t getting paid, but these guys were top-notch players in DC. So I learned a lot playing with them. And I got my first taste of an organ group. I also really liked that record George Benson had done, Willow Weep for Me. I think it might have been Lonnie Smith on the organ. [LE: It was.]  It’s funny because it was on vinyl and I don’t even remember the cover. But that was the first jazz guitar that I heard and I thought, “That’s what I really like, what is that?” And the organ, too, the way it was in there. Needless to say, a few years later, when I met Joey DeFrancesco and he was looking for a guitar player, it worked out.

LE: As a teacher, you talk about the importance of musicians knowing how to sing the melody. Can you explain that a bit?
PB: There are a couple of things. Certainly, if you can’t sing, and I don’t sing well [coughs], you can still hear. The idea is that you can’t really play a song unless you know the entire song, which includes the melody. I think that educationally, in the 1970s and early 80s, I feel that what was being taught in schools was a lot of harmonic knowledge. Here’s the chord that you’re playing and the scale that you play over it, and that’s how you make it work. But, in actuality, if you take that approach every time, all of your music is going to sound exactly the same. And you really don’t want that.

If you know the melody, you know what the tune is about, and if you know the lyric –  especially if it’s a standard, you’re obliged to know the lyric – you know at least what the song is about. And if there’s a backstory on the song, that’s even better, because it informs how you would play it and what the song means to you when you play it. If you have a choice in what you play, and if you’re a leader you do, then you make your choice based on how you relate to the tune, and if it says something to you then you can actually create something with the audience in terms of the ambience of the tune. If you don’t know the melody and you don’t know the lyric, then there’s no way you can play the tune. So being able to sing it helps to solidify it in your mind.

LE: I’ve heard or read similar statements before, but mostly from older saxophone players, so you’re the first guitarist I’ve heard say that. It certainly makes perfect sense, even if a musician can’t sing.
PB: Absolutely, I’ve got this whole thing that I learned from a guy I studied with in Baltimore when I lived in DC. His name was Asher Zlotnik. When I studied with him, he must have been in his late sixties. He was pretty brilliant in terms of ear training. His whole thing was, if you can’t sing it, you shouldn’t be trying to play it. So he had me working on all these basic things in terms of being able to outline chords, outline harmony, being able to sing bass lines, and it helped my understanding of music as a language, and so I try to teach that to my students.

It takes a while to really have the whole thing come into play. I’ve found that most of the people I work with as a sideman have incredible ears. They have great pitch. The only way to develop that, if you don’t have that naturally, is to work on singing these different things.

LE: So when you hear someone playing something, you can think, “That’s an A-flat and I can play this with an A-flat.”
PB: Yeah, in a general sense.

LE: You’re a pretty busy guy.
PB: Fortunately, yes.

LE: That’s always a good thing for musicians. Is the Tuesday night gig at Smoke [in New York City] a regular thing?
PB: Well, it’s not really my gig. Organ player Mike LeDonne has been doing it for quite a while. He’s got a regular band that he uses, with Pete Bernstein, but Pete, of course, is very busy playing guitar with everyone, including Sonny Rollins, and a lot of time he can’t make it, so Mike will call me to come in. Since it’s about eight short blocks from where I live, I can walk to the gig. And I’ve been doing that a lot lately. That’s been nice. He’s had Vincent Herring playing alto saxophone, and a variety of drummers. McClinty Hunter, Rodney Greene, sometimes Joe Farnsworth will be there. It’s always fun to play with Mike. He’s another great organ player.

Paul Bollenback and Chris McNulty

LE: I’ve been aware of him for a number of years. He put out an album some years back that I believe was recorded live at Smoke. You also do gigs on your own and with Chris McNulty.
PB: Yes, we’ve had a…    Well, I should say, we’re married. I usually don’t put it out there just because, “Oh, it’s his wife,” or “That’s her husband.” We do quite a bit of work together. Chris just got done with a month-long tour of Australia, then went directly to ten days in Russia. I did a portion of the Australian trip with her and then we were doing a trio with Andrei Kardokov, a great piano player, all over the Eastern part of Russia, the Finnish area.

LE: For those folks who travel to New York, or elsewhere, where can they find out about your schedule?
PB: Best thing is to check my website, which just my name, Paul Bollenback, dot com.

LE: And if they can’t find your CDs in the local record shop, they can go there.
PB: Chris and I actually started our own small label. It’s not signing anybody, for all those hungry musicians out there looking for a label. We did it for us because we wanted some control over our product, and to be able to move it in the way we wanted. It’s called Elefant Dreams and you can link to Elefant Dreams Records from my website. You can order both of our CDs through that.

LE: Well, you’re at the Artists Quarter tonight. Starts at nine. Two sets?
PB: Nine and elevenish. The music is not ish, it’s very strong.

LE: It’s with Billy Peterson on bass and Kenny Horst on drums.
PB: We’re having a ball. Lots of interaction. I mean we’re really stretching it out, playing a variety of tunes. Lots of standards. Makes the idea of rehearsing easier. We’re taking different treatments to them, different styles.

LE: And are you doing some of your originals?
PB: We may do some tonight. I brought some with me. Really, as a leader, I don’t plan a set. I know a lot of guys prepare a set list. Joey DeFrancesco never had a set list. We’d never know what he was gonna play – he’d just start playing and you better know the tune.

LE: That’s where that ear training comes in.
PB: That’s right. Gary Bartz was the same way, and Gary Thomas as well. We’d rehearse five or six hard tunes that he had written, and then he would never tell you what he was going to play. He’d just start and you jump on [chuckles]. I like it because it keeps it fresh.

LE: Let’s close off with something from your albumDouble Gemini.
PB: That’s my second album. It came out in 1997. This particular tune, “Open Hand,” was written here in the Twin Cities when I was playing at the Hotel Luxeford, it was probably 1996. I had such a nice time. People were so nice that I just wrote this tune. So this has a relation to your town. It features Joey De Francesco and Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums.

LE: Thank you so very much for stopping by. I understand you’re off to do some recording now.
PB: Yes, something having to do with the Peterson dynasty, but first, breakfast. More coffee.

Jazz, Blues, and Roots, Oh My! Music: 4.4 – 4.11

April 4, 2012

This week we’ve got some unexpected combinations of musicians, as well as a stellar line-up of Twin Cities artists. Some nights feature a plethora of good choices. We’re lucky.

By the way, Big Thanks to those of you who pledged during my show on KFAI Community Radio. If you missed that opportunity, you can still go to the KFAI website and pledge. Just be sure to mention Rhythm and Grooves as the show you want to receive your pledge.


Wednesday, April 4

Chris Thomson Quartet @ Café Maude, Minneapolis.  7pm. (No cover) The neighborhood bistro that could continues to showcase great jazz. Tonight it’s Chris Thomson, sax; Sean Carey drums; James Buckley, bass; and Patrick Harrison on accordion. If you can find a seat at the bar you can hang there. Otherwise it’s best to get a reservation and ask for a table near the music.

Thursday, April 5

Larry McDonough Quartet DVD Release @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5) McDonough is a pianist of considerable skill and sensitivity who sometimes takes an “offbeat” approach to his music.  He and his quartet (Richard Terrill, saxes, lyrics; Craig Matarrese, bass; Chaz Draper, drums) have filmed “Live at the Music Connection” for public television. They perform poetry as well as odd-metered jazz based on melodies from children with disabilities, as well as from composers as disparate as Betthoven, Brubeck, and Spinal Tap. BTW, it’s foodie night at the Dakota.  Here’s a preview.

Friday, April 6

Todd Clouser’s A Love Electric and Tim O’Keefe’s Batucada do Norte @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Tim O’Keefe brings a seven piece version of the Brazilian percussion ensemble Batucade do Norte to the Studio to join with Clouser’s electric jazz group. The results should be invigorating, to say the least.

What song was Ophelia singing that shocked her parents so?

Naughty Songs for Nice Girls @ The Bryant Lake Bowl Theater, Minneapolis. 10pm – doors at 9:30pm ($12 – $10 for TCS members) Is this an attention-getting concept or what? Sassy songs, double-entendred and innocent, all expressing female views on femininity and sexuality, as sung by Rhonda Laurie and Bobbi Miller. Expect tunes from the likes of Dinah Washington (the dentist song?), Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, and others.

Friday, Saturday, April 6, 7

Eric Kamau Gravatt & Source Code @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) Don’t miss a chance to see this drum master at work. Miles Davis wanted Gravatt, but Gravatt went with Weather Report instead. He’s also played with Joe Henderson, and still tours with McCoy Tyner from time to time. Working with Gravatt is Dave Hagedorn, vibes; Ron Evaniuk, bass, and Gene Rush, piano.

Saturday, April 7

Lila Ammons Trio @ The Red Stag, NE Minneapolis. 10:30pm (No Cover) Chicago-born, Minneapolis-based Ammons has strong roots in jazz and blues. Her grandfather was boogie woogie pianist Albert Ammons, and her uncle was the monster sax player Gene Ammons. Since 2008 she’s been touring Europe alot, playing clubs and festivals throughout the continent.  She’s finishing up her debut jazz CD, so expect some previews. If you want to hear what she sounds like, tune in to my show Saturday morning on KFAI, 90.3 and 106.7FM, at 10:30AM.

Sunday, April 8

Charmin & Shapira @ The Red Stag, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (No cover) Cool jazz from Charmin Michelle on vocals and Joel Shapira on guitar. Their CD is delightful.

Monday, April 9

Dave Karr and Dave Shmalenberger @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 9pm. (Donation, BYOB) As usual, Jazz Central is featuring a couple of cool cats for its Monday night performance & jam. Karr plays just the right notes, whether he’s on tenor, baritone, or flute. Shamlenberger is a well respected drummer/percussionist who’s played with the JazzMN big band, The Fifth Dimension, Steve Turre, a number of local artists, and a host of others.

Tuesday April 10

Peña @ Southwest HS, 3414 W. 48th St., Minneapolis. 7pm. ($10/$8/$5) The Twin Cities Jazz Society presents this seven-piece ensemble that led by guitarist Cory J. Wong and cajón specialist Chico Chavez. The group emphasizes the cajón, a box-like percussion instrument that is at the center of Afro-Peruvian music. They will be playing unique song forms such as Festejos and Landos. The SW High Jazz Ensemble, led by music director Keith Liuzzi, will open the show.

McNally Smith X-Tet w/Gary Smulyan @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($8) X-Tet is actually a nisnomer, as Pete Whitman (who is on the faculty at McNally Smith College of Music) has put together a 17 piece jazz band. They’ll be playing with Smulyan, a NYC-based, award winning baritone sax player. Smulyan’s playing is muscular, fluid, and imaginative, as heard on his recent release “Smul’s Paradise,” a B3 organ romp.

For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz check out the blogs Jazz PoliceBebopified, and Jazz Ink.

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz in the Twin Cities, check out the Bebopified Calendar, here.

Blues, Roots, Other

Wednesday, April 4

Rena Haus on KFAI and @ the 331 Club, NE Minneapolis. 5pm on KFAI (90.3 7 106.7 FM) and 7pm at the 331 Club (Tip Jar). Haus may be the only artists that has been heard on both Prairie Home Companion and on Car Talk (for her deliciously risque Mechanic’s tune). She’s got a directness to her blues that keeps many (including me) coming back for more.

Davina & the Vagabonds @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm Davina and the guys continue to tour around the states, with the occasional European trip. They’ll be performing on the Blues stage at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, where they’ll be exposed to a whole new set of fans. They fill the Dakota on weekends, where there’s little space to dance. These monthly mid-week sojourns take care of that, what with swing dance lessons at 8pm, and a spacious dance floor.

Thursday, April 5

Kari, Lisa, friend, and instruments

Ditch Lilies @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm. (No Cover) What a nice surprise to see this talented duo appearing at the Kitchen. Lisa and Kari play all sorts of acoustic instruments and blend their voices quite well on originals, Western Swing, and old time tunes. Down home, front porch music for old friends and new ones.

Javier & the Innocent Sons w/guest Hurricane Harold @ Washington Square, White Bear Lake. 8-11pm. (No cover) Javier ramps up his rootsy, swinging music with the addition of harpmaster Harold. Washington Square isn’t particularly big, so you may have to hang at the bar until diners leave. But hey, good choices in all beverage departments.

Friday, April 6

Thomas Dolby @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25) In the 80s Dolby hit it big with a couple of tunes, including “She Blinded Me With Science,” recently heard on a local TV stations weather segment. But being on top of the charts was nothing compared to his next move – creating a Silicon Valley tech company that built the ringtone synthesizer found in over 3 billion phones around the world. He’s retired, and once again returned to the world of music. His first studio album in 20 years, Floating City, has been launched coincidentally with his transmedia game of the same name. Think web, phones, I-pads all taking part in real time. Anyway, he’s back and should provide an interesting, if not eye-opening experience at the Cedar.

Yodel A Go Go @ Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm The Schooner is a neighborhood hole-in-the-wall with a good beer list at 29th St and 27th Avenue South – directly east of Target. Dan Peterson’s little group plays rockabilly and danceable country. with guitarist Clay Williams providing tasteful fills and leads. Jennifer Markey used to sing with the group, and word is she’ll be dropping by for a song or two.

Saturday, April 7

Dough Bros @ Manitou Station, White Bear Lake. 9pm. (No cover) When Paul Mayasich and Andy Dee get out their resonator guitars (also known as Dobros), the results are mesmerizing. Not so mesmerizing that you won’t order another drink, or even dance a little jig, but mesmerizing nonetheless. Hear examples on their MySpace site.

Lamont Cranston @ The Narrows Blues Saloon, Navarre. 9pm (No cover) Over in the Western part of the Twin Cities area, Pat Hayes and his band will be delivering butt-rockin’ blues.

What’s Going On? @ The Cabooze, Minneapolis. 9pm. ($15) It’s the annual celebration of the music of Marvin Gaye, and what could be sweeter? Some of the musicians that will be performing include Julius Collins, Jay Bee, Lynval Jackson, Yohannes Tona, and Daryl Boudreaux, among others. As Marvin once sang, “How Sweet It iis.”

1/2 Birthday, Saturday.

Big Fat Love: John Prine’s 1/2 Birthday @ The 331 Club, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (tip jar) Well, 1/2 birthday, or Saturday, do you really need an excuse to celebrate the creativity of Mr. Prine? Tonight’s program is hosted by Mother Banjo and Art Vandalay, with guests Dan Newton, Caitlin Robertson, Jon Rodine and more.

Sunday, April 8

Willie Walker @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 4pm (No Cover)  Okay, here’s an alternative to a fancy Easter celebration. Willie Walker is a soul singer who can fill your heart and move your feet, not to mention other parts of your body. Plus, you can indulge your need for good bar food.

Zydeco Benefit for Second Harvest Heartland @ The Half Time Rec, Saint Paul. 8pm (Donation) It’s the Faux Playboys, JJ’s Zydeco Paydirt, and Dan Newton Plays Clifton, all for a good cause. You’d have to go to Louisiana to get this kind of music and fun, as folks of all ages will be dancin’ spinnin’ circlin’ and more.

Monday, April 9

Cactus Blossoms @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Fans of classic country (Hank Williams, Hank Thompson, George Jones) are discovering the brotherly harmonies and and down home appeal of this talented quintet. Their Monday night residency at the Turf is attracting dancers of all stripes, which resulted in about a 1/2 dozen couples waltzing on the Turf’s dance floor. Waltzing. Probably hasn’t happened since the heyday of the Turf as a C&W bar many moons ago.

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

For a comprehensive listing of Cajun and Zydeco events, see the Krewe de Walleye calendar.

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