Dancing, Romancing, and Singing. Music: 2.12 – 2.18

February 12, 2014

imagesValentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, making for many an opportunity to hear great music while spending time with your sweetie. We also have some terrific jazz singers coming to town, as well as outstanding blues singers, and a retro/modern soul singer. Then we have some visiting jazz artists, the celebration of a new jazz record label, and a couple of vinyl nights, not to forget my own Valentine’s Day Funky Friday. Remember music can lift your spirit.


Wednesday, February 12

Chris Bates 1 year anniversary of Magica Improvisado @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm – 11pm (Donation). 2nd Wed of each month. To celebrate, Chris has gathered a number of young musicians, including: Chris Bates – bass; Cory Healy – drums; Joe Strachan – piano; and Jake Baldwin – trumpet. They’ll be performing mostly original music.

Note: This gig has been postponed, since both artists are stranded in Atlanta as a result of the snowstorm there.  Dionne Farris and Russell Gunn @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm & 9pm ($32) Farris is known as a pop and soul singer, with a couple of Grammy nominations to her credit, as well as contributing vocals for Tennesse, the hit single from hip-hops Arrested Development. Gunn is a trumpeter/multi-instrumentalist who first gained attention playing on the Wynton marsalis album Blood on the Fields.  He’s also received a Grammy nomination for  the first album in his Ethnomusicology series. After Gunn and Farris worked together for a performance in Atlanta, the two recorded an album together, Dionne, Get Your Gunn, recasting the pop/soul songs of Farris as jazz numbers. The results have been well reviewed. Here’s a preview of what they will sound like.

Thursday, February 13

Kurt Elling @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40), 9pm ($25) There wouldn’t be much of an argument among jazz fans that Elling may be the best male jazz singer out there at the moment. He’s got a rich baritone and is about as hip a singer as can be. Chek him out.

Valentine Eve’s Revue w/Retro Swing Sister @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 donation) Maryann Sullivan and Rhonda Laurie bring their sophisticated swing from the 30s through the 50s to the basement room for a pre-Valentine’s evening. They’ll have Doug gaining, sax; Matt Peterson, bass; and Kent Saunders, drums; to provide the music for their vocals.

Saturday, February 15

Shifting Paradigm Records Launch Party @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 5p-10p. ($10) It’s a mini-jazz-fest of sorts, featuring five powerhouse acts on this new label label, with sets by Fat Kid Wednesdays, Atlantis Quartet, Bryan Nichols Quartet, Graydon Peterson Quartet, & the Zacc Harris Group. That’s five top notch jazz groups in one evening, all for just $10. In addition, there will be special promotions on CDs at the show. It’s being hyped as the biggest night of Twin Cities Jazz this Winter, and that is very likely true.

Sunday, February 16

Gregory Porter @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 – $42)  Porter is an up and coming jazz singer with a talent for writing groove laden, direct songs that go straight to the heart and the head. He’s been profiled in Jazz Times and the Wall Street Journal, nominated for a couple of Grammys, and will be at a number of jazz festivals this summer. Catch him on the way up.

Monday, February 17

Adam Meckler @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($5) Trumpeter Meckler takes time out from his various projects for a turn as a soloist with the JC rhythm section. There’ll be some standards and originals, and a friendly jam at about 10pm.

Illicit Sextet @ the Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8?) The always exciting Sextet brings their original music to the Jazz Implosion at the Icehouse. They’ll play one set, followed by a new ensemble from Adam Linz, which is another reason to attend.

Tuesday, February 18

Benje Daneman Quartet & the Jana Nyberg Group @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) In case you missed Adam Meckler last night, he’ll be performing with his wife Jana Nyberg tonight. He’ll also guest on a couple of tunes by his middle school buddy, trumpeter Benje Daneman, who is currently on a midwest tour with his quartet: Chicago-based pianist Rob Clearfield; drummer Christian Euman; and NYC bassist Sam Weber. Of course there are the sultry vocals of Ms Nyberg also calling to listeners.  Here’s a video for one of Daneman’s ethereal compositions.

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 Police, Bebopified, and Jazz Ink.

Blues, Roots, and Other…

Wednesday, February 12

Definitely Old School

Definitely Old School

Foghorn String Band & the Cactus Blossoms @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. ($15) Portland’s Foghorn String band plays the kind of music you would hear on Southern radio in the 1930s, playing in front of a single microphone. Of course, this being 2014, they play with lots of energy. The Twin Towns own Cactus Blossoms bring their traditional sounding original country music to the stage as openers. 

Thursday, February 13

Mayer Hawthorne @ First Avenue, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($25) The Ann Arbor musician knows his way around Motown, Philly, and other Northern Soul genres, which are, at the very least, implied in his original compositions, making for highly danceable albums. Here’s an example.

The Valentine’s Day Heart and Soul Happening @ Clubhouse Jaeger, Minneapolis. 9pm – 2am. ($?) Here’s a chance to slow dance the night away, and it isn’t a wedding. Deejays Rambo Salinas, Dale Burback, and Freddy Fresh will be spinning sweet soul 45s, along with some Chicano rolls. Special guest Bob Abrahamian will be coming up from Chicago where he hosts “Sitting in the Park” on WHPK.

Friday, February 14

Lucy Michelle’s Valentine Mixtape: C&W Edition @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7pm ($14 advance, $16 day of show) So the age of digital music on our phones and other tiny devices seems to have left the old idea of mix tapes behind, though the truly romantic music nerds among us will still come up with one from time to time. tonight songstress Lucy Michelle curates an evening of country & western music for Valentines day, featuring Frankie Lee and the Decade and Lucy singing with the Blackberry Brandy Boys. John Mark Nelson and the Cactus Blossoms will also make appearances. Whether you are with someone special or not, you are encouraged to bring your ideal Valentine’s Day Mixtape to swap with other attendees, or, who knows, you may find someone special who deserves your gift.

Worldwide Discoteque Afro Latin Valentine’s Dance @ Clubhouse Jaeger, Minneapolis. 10pm ($5) Deejays Steely Dan and Brian Engel will be spinning vinyl artifacts from around the world to get you heart pumping, your feet jumping, and body moving. Bring a date, find a date, or simply groove the night away to sounds form Brazil, the Caribbean, Africa, and Central and South America.

The Ericksons @ the Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm ($10) This late night showcase may be just the thing to round out a Valentine’s evening. The sisterly harmonies of the Ericksons can make the darkest subjects seem light. Rachel Reis opens.

Saturday, February 15

Dean Magraw & Peter Ostroushko @ The Riverview Wine Bar, Minneapolis. 8pm – doors @ 7:30  ($15) A Dynamic Duo if there ever was one. Magraw on guitar and Ostroushko on mandolin and fiddle will raise the roof on the small wine bar.

Unknown-1The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank @ the Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 7pm ($8 advance/$10 door) Teague and Ian Thomas Alexy have created a roots music project that features their distinctively MN outlook, even though their first CD was recorded in Brooklyn. They’ve been on the road and it’s good to have them back, now with a new album, Number lone Contender, recorded in the North Woods. This is part of a new Tap Room Concert Series, which tonight features Collen Myhre as an opening act,.

John Nemeth @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Nemeth is a singer and harp player who has been gaining lots of attention. His fans include RJ Mischo, Charlie Musselwhite and Junior Watson. He’s been nominated for a bunch of blues awards this year, including best Male Blues Artist, Best Soul blues Album (Soul Live), and Most Outstanding Blues Singer. Esquire magazine will be featuring a cut from his upcoming album Memphis Grease for their readers. If you missed Stevie Ray Vaughn when he played the old Union Bar, get out to hear Nemeth – he’s got the same potential for blowing you away.

Sunday, February 16
Cafe Accordion Orchestra at McNeely Conservatory, Como Park, Saint Paul. 4:30 – 6:30 (Free) Soak in the humidity of the Conservatory and dance to the music of CAO, including French Musettes, Columbian Cumbias, and music from other exotic climes.

Eclectic Tuba @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 7pm doors ($10) Here’s a new kind of tuba-based instrumental group, one that is psychedelic, funky, whose performance is described as “trippy lights, ripping synthesizers, funky tuba loops, latin percussion grooves, and soaring saxophone solos.” You can see a video with samples here. Opening acts are Surgery at the Hands of Machines, described as electronic instrumental Arabian Desert Pop, and Good Diction, a rhythm and blues-grass sextet!

Unknown-2Monday, February 17

Eric Bibb & Ruthie Foster @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($37 – $42), 9pm ($30 – $40) What a great pairing. Two highly personable performers of folk-blues, both of whom are also great storytellers. From blues to soul to gospel, expect a spirited, joyful evening.

For a more comprehensive listing 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 Ideas for December 14 – 20

December 13, 2011

We have a weekend of adventurous jazz in the Lowertown portion of downtown Saint Paul, a bevy of vocalists appearing in the area, and some fine blues and roots music for your listening (and maybe dancing) pleasure. Not to forget a couple of holiday specials. The weather has been mild, so that’s not an excuse to stay home, though I understand that holiday activities can be tiring. Choose from this weeks artists to either relax or recharge. Fact is. it’s all good.


Wednesday, Dec 14

Jose James @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm & 9pm ($20) Now based in London, James returns home for the holidays and a chance to show why the jazz world has embraced his inventive vocals. He’s got a smooth baritone that can caress a ballad, yet he’s adventurous enough for some serious scatting, and fearless in taking on a John Coltrane tune.

Friday, Dec 16

Todd Clouser’s Love Electric @ Studio Z, 275 East 4th St. Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Former Minneapolitan Clouser and his band have been steadily touring the US, Spain, and Mexico, with occasional stops back here in the Twin Cities. His guitar playing draws on Hendrix and Curtis Mayfield, among others, and brings an electric intensity to classic jazz (i.e., Gillespie’s Manteca) as well as originals. Tonight’s performance includes live painting to the group’s music by Tim Nyberg. Clouser, guitar; Adam Meckler, trumpet; Chris Bates, bass; Jaxon Craft, B3, and Greg Schutte, drums.

Brad Bellows/Donald Washington Quartet @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar) Bellows on valve trombone, and Washington on sax, together with Brian Roessler, bass, and Pete Hennig, drums. This quartet is fearless in playing and faultless in technique. What with Clouser (above) and Nichols (below) appearing at Studio Z this weekend, Lowertown may well be the hippest couple of square blocks in the nation this weekend.

Friday, Saturday, Dec 16, 17

Debbie Duncan @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm The Twin Cities First Lady of Song is equally at home with a ballad, scat singing, or a slightly bawdy blues. She’s released five CDs, and has thrilled audiences from here to Italy, Russia, and back. On the slight chance you’ve not heard her, here’s a videio.

Saturday, Dec 17

Bryan Nichols’ We Are Many @ Studio Z, 275 Ease 4th St, Saint Paul. 7pm. ($10) Pianist Nichols leads a nine piece group, including Mike Lewis, Brandon Wozniak, Erik Fratzke, Jeremy Ylvisaker, JT Bates, and more. Wow. This is part of the Jazz at Studio Z series.

Sunday, December 18

Lee Engele Christmas CD Release @ The Aster Cafe at Saint Anthony Main, Minneapolis. 6pm ($tbd) The CD is called “A Hot Christmas.” As might be expected, it’s a swingin’ little affair, with help from Reynold Philipsek and Gary Shultte, among others.

A Peterson Family Christmas @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 4pm & 7pm. ($23) Seven of the fabled music clan join matriarch Jeanne Arland Peterson to present Christmas favorites and more.

Tuesday, December 20

Rhonda Laurie and Maryann Sullivan @ The Nicollet Cafe, Franklin & Nicollet, Minneapols. 7pm (tip jar) The two singers that are curating Tuesday Night Jazz at the Nicollet join forces. Given their lovely voices, and ability to tease the rhythm from a song, this should be a delightful evening.

Blues, Roots, Other….

Wednesday, Dec 14

Dean Harrington Hot Club and Jake Manders and Alyssa Bicking @ the 331 Club, NE Minneapolis. 7pm (Harrington) 9:30 pm (Manders/Bicking). Guitarist Harrington has a new CD out, with a Hot Club Quintet performing acoustic swing. He’s got taste, technique, and verve, all of which are needed for the Django Rheinhardt-inspired music. He’ll be on the House Party (KFAI – 90.3 or 106.7FM) during the 5pm hour and start at the 331 at 7pm. Then, stick around for the folk/roots sound of Jake Manders and Alyssa Bicking. Jake is known for his work with the Pistol Whippin’ Party Penguins, and he’s found a complementary voice in Alyssa.

The Soulman & the Storytellerl

Paul Metsa & Willie Walker @ Nye’s, NE Minneapolis. 9pm. Paul & Willie work well together, with Paul’s guitar providing sympathetic backing to the slightly raspy, urbane voice of soulman Willie Walker. They’re in the old bar tonight.

The Lucy & Charlie Show @ Barbette, Uptown Minneapolis. 10pm. Jazz and old country standards from Lucy Michelle, of the Velvet Lapelles, along with her friend Charlie and others. Lucy has an alto voice that’s perfectly suited to songs of loss and regret, many of which can be found in the genres she’s exploring tonight.

Thursday, Dec 15

Benefit for Lynwood Slim @ Whiskey Junction, West Bank, Minneapolis. 7pm – Close ($10). Blues harpist and former Twin Citizen Lynwood Slim needs help with medical expenses, and as per usual, the music community is closing ranks to help out. Pat Hayes, Cool Breeze, Big Walter Smith, Big Bob Scoggin, JImi “Prime Time” Smith and more will be on hand to play as a means of raising funds.

Friday, Dec 16

Eddie Shaw & The Wolf Gang @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 8pm. ($10) For all the prominence of the saxophone as a symbol of the blues, there are very few of its players who have risen above anonymity as sidemen. Shaw is one of them. The Chicagoan played in Howlin’ Wolf’s last band, doing arranging and generally keeping things under control, and took over the band upon the Wolf’s passing. He’s become a star in his own right, with a sound on the saxophone that’s as raspy as his own voice. With the recent transition of Hubert Sumlin, Shaw remains among the few who go back to the fifties and sixties. If you want to hear what he sounds like, click here.

Singer/Songwriter Series @ Patrick’s Cabaret, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) Drew Peterson is serving as host tonight, with a sterling bunch of bluesy/rootsy folks as his guests, including legendary pianoman Cornbread Harris, Kim & Quillan Roe (of the Roe Family singers), Nick “The Feelin'” Mrozinski, and high-energy one-man band, Crankshaft.

Saturday, Dec 17

Papa John & the Cool Club @ Merlin’s Rest, East Lake St, Minneapolis. 8pm. (tip jar). Part of the charm of this fairly regular gig for Papa John is the semi-revolving cast of musicians that are part of the Cool Club. Sam Fiske on trumpet, and the guitar Deans – Mikkelson and Harrington, on guitars, of course. But then the bass player might be Tom Lewis, or Liz Draper, or someone of equal skill, and there may or may not be a drummer. Other musicians will sit in, or sing a song or two. Carrying it all is Papa John himself, a product of the West Bank 60s. John is equally at home with the blues as he is with the acoustic swing of the Cool Club. Then there’s his sly, politically oriented humor. And did I mention Merlins has a good beer selection and  no TVs?  It all makes for a fun evening. Listen to Papa John play some blues here.

Jennifer Markey & the Tennesee Snowpants @ The Driftwood Char Bar, 44th & Nicollet, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip jar) If you have ever wondered what country music would be like today if it hadn’t been “cosmopolitaned” wonder no more. Check out Jennifer Markey, who creates perfect country/Americana tunes. She’s got a band, including tasteful guitar slinger  Clay Williams, that perfectly complements her style. Check out her MySpace to hear some of her music.

%d bloggers like this: