Lovers and Music: 2.8 – 2.15

February 8, 2017
Clearly thinking: Valentines Day - Meh!

Clearly thinking: Valentines Day – Meh!

Well, Valentine’s Day is upon us, and I only have a few things for those of you who have yet to make reservations for the evening. Of course, maybe, like a grumpy cat, you’re not celebrating this year, which is fine. Anyhow, we still have good music to enjoy during the week. Music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, February 8

Schmidt, Magraw & Nichols @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40 w/Dinner) Though Claudia Schmidt has amassed a great following during her four decades as a singer/songwriter, and charming storyteller, she has primarily worked as a folk singer. However, she would often include a standard or two in her concerts, and has successfully stepped out as a jazz singer on a number of occasions. She’s worked with guitarist Dean Magraw many times, but this is the first time in over ten years that she has worked with pianist Bryan Nichols as well as Magraw. Here are Claudia and Dean doing a folky number.

Bates, Nordlund, & Sanborn @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) It’s another evening where bassist Chris Bates brings together some musicians for a night of fine jazz, including both originals from the group, and jazz standards. JT Bates may add his drums to the mix.

Thursday, February 9

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Tonight’s featured act is the Phil Hey Quartet, with Hey on drums; and Phil Aaron, piano; Dave Hagedorn, vibes: and Chris Bates, bass. This is a swinging group of veterans who have played together for years, attacking the music of Ornette Coleman, Chick Corea, and others with verve and panache.

Rachel Holder & The Wolverines @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30 (No Cover) Vocalist Holder was studying classical music at the U when she heard a jazz performance and switched to McNally Smith, where she studied with Judi Donaghy Vinar, Debbie Duncan, and Pete Whitman, among others. About ten years later, she now teaches at McNally as well as at Macalester, and gigs around town, as a soloist and featured singer with folks like Bruce Henry, the George Mauer Group, Vital Organ, The Girls, and others. With a supple voice that’s a bit throaty and sensuous, she’ll be accompanied by the always swinging Wolverines Trio: Rick Carlson, piano; Steve Pikal, bass; and Jendeen Forburg, drums. Here she is with George Mauer.

Katia Cardenas @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Cardenas is an energetic, hard working vocalist whose debut CD, I’ll Be Seeing You, has been well-received, with much airplay on KBEM. She has a natural, soulful sound, that she uses to great affect on jazz standards and the occasional pop/R&B number by Amy Winehouse or Beyonce.

Friday, February 10

Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35) This isn’t your father’s (or grandfather’s) big band experience. Johnson creates modern day mixes that cross genres. Johnson attended Saint John’s University and settled in Saint Cloud, where he started his career with Tonic Sol-fa, the vocal quintet that’s sold two million records. He’s still an active member of that group, but decided to bring a new approach to big band music, honoring folks like Frank Sinatra, while acknowledging Michael Buble, and performing songs from across the music spectrum. Here’s an example.

Saturday, February 11

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) It’s UW Eau Claire Jazz night, with an opening set at 7pm by the UW Eau Claire Jazz Combo 1, and the Michael Shults Quintet at 8:30pm. Shults, a saxophonist who teaches at Eau Claire, will be joined by Aaron Hedenstrom, sax, who did his undergraduate work at Eau Claire; as well as  Chris Bates, bass; Javier Santiago, piano, and a drummer TBA.  Here’s a slightly different version of the quintet.

Sunday, February 12

Cole Mahlum Jam @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 4pm – 6pm ($5) Get your dose of Hammond B3 music as guitarist Cole Mahlum leads a jam session.

Monday, February 13

Acme Jazz Company @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) It’s the Acme Company’s monthly gig, bringing you big band music and the vocals of Arne Fogel.

For more listings, KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and roots music.   For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs, Jazz Ink, and Bebopified.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, February 8

Doug Otto & the Getaways on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Mournful, down home sounds from Doug and the guys, performing music that ranges from originals, to Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Buddy Guy, and Robert Johnson. Here’s a video from their residency at the late Nyes.

Thursday, February 9

Anda Union @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20 Advance/$25 Door) Formed in 2000, Anda Union is a ten-piece band of Mongolians who come from differing ethnic nomadic cultures of Mongolia. They bring together a wide range of musical instruments and vocal styles (including throat singing) from tribal and music traditions throughout Inner Mongolia, finding their inspiration in old and almost forgotten songs.

Quirkestra @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul 8pm (Tip Jar)  A five-piece band playing a blend of Americana, 60s R&B, Reggae, Swing, & Jazz.

Lonesome Dan Case @ the 331 Club, Minneapolis. 9:30pm (Tip Jar) Ahh, with his trademark fedora and fleet guitar, Lonesome Dan is a man who evokes the blues of the 30s blues and wraps them in the trials and tribulations of modern day society.

Friday, February 10

Paul Cebar & Tomorrow Sound @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 6pm – 10pm ($10??) Gifted songwriting, rhythms that span New Orleans, Chicago, Africa, and the Caribbean, and a rhythm section that will have the soles of your dancing shoes light up from friction. Milwaukee guitarist/songwriter/singer Paul Cebar has not only earned a rabid following, but has managed to keep it over the last three decades.

The Pachanga Society, with Dan Newton @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($18 Advance/$20 Door) The Pachanga Society  alls from the Saint Cloud area, and has been in existence for 15 years. Tonight, they present “Crossing Borders: An (im)migration story in words, images, and Woody Guthrie songs.” Using searing guitar, haunting wooden flute and pan-flutes, charango, Cuban tres, keyboards, bass and tight, world-beat percussion, they have built a repertoire that includes classic songs from all over the Caribbean and Latin America, new arrangements of some Rock and Country standards, and a good, steady dose of original compositions.

Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials @ Famous Daves, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) Lil’ Ed  s an electrifying, raucous slide guitarist who learned from one of the best – his uncle Homesick James. You’ll be hard pressed to find any blues guitarist who will fire you up so much with his stage presence.

Joyann Parker & Annie Mack @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) So, we’ve got Joyann Parker and Annie Mack on the bill. They are two of the area’s fine female blues performers for one night. Both are equally at home writing their own material as they are singing classic blues and R&B.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, February 10, 11, 12

Be My Nasty Valentine @ Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10 Advance, $15 Door) Here’s a non-traditional look at Valentine’s Day, as this show is subtitled Songs of Love and Liberation. As described, Mistress Ginger is “gonna sing and dance her way into your hears and inter your pant, saving the world while she’s at it.” Mistress Ginger will be accompanied by Lori Dokken, piano; Dustin Jensen, drums; and Noah Welter, on bass. Here is Mistress Ginger with the Wolverines Trio.

Saturday, February 11

Cate Fierro Sings Sade @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 8pm ($15 Advance, $20 Door) The show is actually titled “Stronger Than Pride: The Passionate Songs of Sade.” It was about a year ago that Fierro, an in-demand soul singer around town, debuted her tribute to Nigerian-born English singer Sade to much acclaim. She’ll be doing 22 songs from Sade’s catalog, spanning the albums Diamond Life (1984) to Lover’s Rock (2000), and using her soulful voice to good effect on the slow-burn intensity of Sade’s numbers. Here she is, tackling a standard.

Soul Tight Committee @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7, includes a free drink) Old, Old School R&B from a ten-piece horn band for those who simply want to dance.

The Eddies @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 7:30 – 10:30pm (Tip Jar) The weather on Saturday is supposed to be relatively mild, just right for getting out to hear songs of life, love, death, and work. Now a quartet, the Eddies are a friendly, charming group of men who sing songs they remember, from old ballads of walking among cemeteries, to Bob Marley, and Sympathy for the Devil. Sometimes they even change up a word or two in order to make a mild political statement, but whatever they sing, they end the night walking through the bar and toasting all who are present.

Sunday, February 12

35th Annual Battle of the Jug Bands @ The Cabooze, Minneapolis. Doors: 12:30pm. Ends 8pm ($5 Suggested Donation) It’s the annual battle for the coveted Holliwood Waffle and Pancake Irons, that is, if they don’t get hijacked by dastardly losers. The rules are plain. Kitchen instruments, so to speak, and no rehearsals. An intriguing or funny name helps, but is no guarantee.  Proceeds are donated to the Dave Ray/Bill Hinkley Memroial Fund. Though it’s not a very good video, this 2013 performance will give you an idea of what occurs.

Kelly Hunt @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25 – $30) It would be easy to call Kelly Hunt a boogie-woogie piano player, 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 with her stories, all the while keeping your kiester moving as she lays out a ferocious beat with her left hand.

Monday, February 13

Maceo Parker @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 – $50), 9pm ($25 – $40) Saxophonist Maceo Parke  was just another hard-working sideman in James Brown’s band until Brown said “Maceo, I Want You to Blow” during I Got You (I Feel Good). Since then, his name has become synonymous with funk, though he is also a skilled jazzman. Back in 2011 I managed to get an interview with him which you can read here.

Tuesday, February 14

Michael Monroe @ The 318 Cafe, Excelsior. 7pm ($20)  Monroe is a charming singer/songwriter who has been performing for forty years, charming audiences with his wit and songwriting. He’s a self-taught musician who plays guitar, ukelele, and glass bamboo flutes who can be as romantic as necessary for this day.

Third Annual Valentine’s Day Variety Show @ O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, Saint Paul. 7pm ($29 – w/various discounts) Storyteller extraordinaire Kevin Kling, brings together some musical friends for an evening of “dynamic duos, tender trios, and oh solo-me-ohs” on love. Musical friends include Dan Chouinard, Bradley Greenwald, Prudence Johnson, Simone Perrin, Claudia Schmidt and Dane Stauffer, along with special guest writer/director Ali Selim, known for the movie Sweet Land.  Here’s an example of Kling’s storytelling abilities.

Music for Lovers @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm ($25, $65 Dinner Show) This annual event put together by Lisa Wenger and Billy Larson has been presented at a number of venues around town, though I don’t think the option of a 3-Course Dinner has been offered before. Celebrate the date with Lisa Wenger + Billy Larsobn; Deb Brown + Brian Z; Sena Ehrhardt + Cole Allen; Jennifer Grimm + Joe Cruz; and Tamara Barnett + Phil Barnett. Don’t have any videos of the couples, but here’s one of Lisa Wenger.

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.

Inside. Outside. Music: 6.11 – 6.17

June 12, 2014
The Green Line of the LRT begins running this weekend.

The Green Line of the LRT begins running this weekend. There will be music galore.

It’s a big weekend for festivals, what with the annual Stone Arch Bridge Festival, music events at many of the stations along the Green Line LRT, the Loring Park Acoustic Music Festival on Saturday, and a few nearby-but-out-of town events. Don’t forget those day-to-day events featuring some of the very talented individual artists and groups in our fair cities, as well as the occasional visitors.


Thursday, June 12 Melody Mendis Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) It’s the vocal showcase at Jazz Central, tonight featuring Mendis, a Detroit vocalist who has been calling Minneapolis home for a few years now. She’s sung in a Parisian cabaret, and has toured England and throughout North America, bringing her own interpretation to originals, standards, and some pop/rock fare.

Kinghorn/Baldwin, Inc. @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) This should be especially interesting for those who appreciate the intersection of jazz and soul music. A quintet of some of the area’s busiest young musicians will be interpreting jazz and soul standards, as well as songbook tunes and the occasional original. Cameron Kinghorn, vocals; Jake Baldwin, trumpet & trombone; Ted Godbout, piano; Matt Peterson, bass; and Andres Crovetti, drums.

Adam Linz/Paul Metzger Duo @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Grand at Snelling, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Emil Sherzad is host of Radio Duende on KFAI, a show that features much freely improvised music. As the owner of the Khyber Pass Cafe, he’s now providing a new venue for adventurous improvised music every Thursday. The initial show features bassist Adam Linz and guitarist/banjoist Paul Metzger in and evening of improvised music based on a set of African field recordings. Wine, beer, and small plates will be available.

Friday, June 13

Rhonda Laurie Trio @ Parma 8200, Bloomington. 7:30 – 10:30pm (No Cover) This New York City native can sing gypsy jazz, as well as swing some standards and the occasional pop fare. The lounge at Parma 8200 has good cocktails and great bar fare. A fine combination.

Saturday, June 14

Jazz at Studio Z: NextGen Showcase @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10) This is the last show of the season for this series, and they’re closing out with some bands featuring young players. At 7pm it’s the No Coast Quintet, with Nelson Devereaux, sax; Jake Baldwin, trumpet; Zacc Harris, guitar; Brian Courage, bass, and drummer Lars Larson. At 8pm The Kevin Gastonguay Trio takes to the stage, followed at 9pm by Steve Kenny and Group 47, celebrating the digital release of their new album. Led, more or less, by trumpeter Steve Kennyu, the band features saxophonist Thomas Strommen, bassist Adam Tucker, drummer Alex Burgess, and 17 year old piano phenom Will Kjeer.

Down in New Orleans

Down in New Orleans

Jack Brass Band @ Sibley House Lawn, Mendota. 7pm – 9pm. ($10/$7 for MNMHS members)This traditional/contemporary brass brand will be celebrating Mendota’s rich jazz history by playing the New Orleans jazz that filled the clubs in Mendota from the 60s through the 80s. Bring a blanket or chair and soak in the music. If the weather isn’t cooperating, it will be moved into the Mendota VFW, where seating is limited, so reservations are recommended at 651-3452-1596.

Sunday, June 15 Unknown-2Maud Hixson & Rick Carlson: Cole Slaw @ Saint Albert The Great, E. 29th & 32nd Av S, Minneapolis. 1pm – 2:30pm ($15) It’s 123 years since the birth of Cole Porter (June 9, 1891) and Ms Hixson and Mr Carlson are presenting a An Afternoon Picnic of Porter, celebrating his music.

Capri Big Band @ The Como Lakeside Pavillion, Como Park, Saint Paul. 3pm (Free) An inter-generational big band, 25 pieces strong, directed by Faye Washington. They bring a hefty dose of soulfulness and brio to the big band sound.

Billy Hart Quartet featuring Ethan Iverson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) Drummer Hart has played with Otis Redding, Jimmy Smith, The Montgomery Brothers, Eddie Harris, Pharoah Sanders, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter Stan Getz, and Miles Davis, to name a few. He teaches at Oberlin Conservatory, the New England Conservatory, and Western Michigan University. In short, he’s got the chops and he knows how to use them. His quartet includes pianist Ethan Iverson, known around here for his work with the Bad Plus, Mark Turner on sax; and Ben Street on bass. If you want to know jazz, this is the gig to attend.

Monday, June 16

Peter Enblom @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm – 11pm ($10 Suggested Donation) This should be fun for those fans of the sometimes maligned trombone, as Enblom has been playing the instrument, in all genres, for over 40 years. He’s played for such legendary performers as Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, and Harry Connick, Jr., and is currently the lead trombonist with the Brian Setzer Orchestra. He performs as well with the JazzMN Orchestra, the Explosion Big Band, and the Bill Simonsen Orchestra, as well as with numerous other groups.

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…

Thursday, June 12

John Gorka and Michael Johnson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35) A night of singer/songwriting without peer. Both Gorka and Johnson have been at it since the 70s. Gorka has recorded eleven albums, including a 2010 album with Red House label-mates Lucy Kaplansky and Eliza Gilkyson which was one of the most played folk albums of the year. Johnson scored a top ten hit with Bluer Than Blue in 1978 and since then has had four tunes on the Hot 100 and nine on the country charts. He spent 20 years living here, doing annual Christmas shows at the Guthrie, though he now lives in Nashville, where he continues to write.

Friday, June 13

Booker T. Jones @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($42), 9pm ($35) That’s Booker T as in Booker T and the MGs. The MGs may be no more, but Booker T plays on, recording his latest album, Sound the Alarm, with a number of contemporary R&B voices, and . Before that, his album Potato Hole, with the Drive-By Truckers received an Grammy for the Best Pop Instrumental album. I expect he’ll be playing some old favorites, like Green Onions and Time is Tight in addition to newer tunes.

New Sound Underground @ Dakota Late Night, Minneapolis. 11:30pm ($5) Here’s a funk-laden group whose inspiration draws from genre-crossing jazz like RH Factor, Weather Report, and Soulive. Member include: Kevin Gastonguay, Keys; Trent Jacob Baarspul, Electric Guitar; Christopher Ray Hunnicutt, Electric Bass; Kenyari Steele-Jackson, Drums; Sten Johnson, tpt, Flugelhorn, & Trombone; and Nelson Devereaux on Saxophones.

Left Lane Cruiser w/Sex Rays @ Bayport BBQ & Nashville Hot Chicken, Bayport. 8pm ($12) Left Lane Cruiser has been a favorite of Bayport BBQ owner Chris Johnson since before Johnson started the Deep Blues Festivals some years ago. LLC is a duo that plays raw, bluesy rock, and is heavily influence by musicians from North Mississippi Hill Country. Sex Rays open, with a sound that combines the Sex Pistols and Link Ray. Get there early for some fine BBQ and maybe a few tastes of “white lightnin”.

images-4Friday, Saturday, June 13, 14

5th Annual Howlin’ Wolf Tribute @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 each night, $15 for both nights) Friday line-up: Chris Holm, Tonny Manno (Chicago), Rev. KM Williams (Dallas, TX), Black Diet, The Fattenin’ Frogs. Saturday line-up: Minke Munson, The Crooked Saws, The Flood Brothers, Ross Kleiner & the Thrill, Javier & the Innocent Sons

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, June 13, 14, 15

Stone Arch Bridge Festival @ St. Anthony Main, Minneapolis. 6pm-10pm Fri, 10am – 7pm Sat, 10am – 5pm Sun. This annual festival is an art show and music festival, along with a car show and motorcycle showcase (To attract Dads on Father’s Day), and of course, food. It’s held across the river from downtown Minneapolis and will feature many singer/songwriters in a variety of styles that encompass folk, indie rock, Americana, and roots music. You can go to the website to find out schedules.

Saturday, June 14

Lowertown’s End of the Line Block Party @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 2pm – 9pm (Free) The Green Line LRT opens for business today, and to celebrate, Lowertown businesses and artists are joining together to present art, food, henna painting, and more, including music by The Brass Messengers, Zacc Harris Group, The Person and The People, Orkestar Bez Ime, The Pete Hennig Group, and The Maurice Jacox Band. Hosted by Hot Date.

Monday, June 16

The Fairlanes @ Rice Park, Saint Paul. Noon (Free) An afternoon delight as four guys harmonize to songs from the 50s to the present. It’s acapella doo-wop, for want of a better term.

Monday, Tuesday, June 16, 17

Maceo Parker @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45, $55), 9pm ($35, $45) The embodiment of funk. Maceo was a sideman who was immortalized in 1965 when James Brown said “Maceo, I want you to blow” during the recording of I Got You (I Feel Good). Since then he’s been in and out of the JBs, had his own hit as Maceo and His Men with Soul Power, recorded with Parliament/Funkadelic, Keith Richards, 10,000 Maniacs, Ani DeFranco, Prince, and others, as well as recording his own albums of funk and jazz. You can read an interview I did with him a few years ago here.

Tuesday, June 17

Rich Lewis Band @ Mears Park, Saint Paul. Noon (Free) Some more noon-time fun in the summertime, this time from the New Orleans-ish, Motown-ish R&B band led by Mr. Lewis.


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 ideas for the week of November 16 – 22

November 16, 2011

A varied bit of music here in the Twin Cities this week, ranging from straight ahead jazz, to swinging vocalists, to zydeco, rockabilly, and more, including a film about four jazz albums released in 1959.


Wednesday, November 16

Gary Berg Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10). I first heard Gary many years ago, when he was playing with a Brazilian group. I was impressed by his warm tone on the tenor sax, and his facility at improvising. I later found out he’s a bit of a bebopper as well. Well, he still has a warm tone. Still is a great improviser. He’s appeared on a number of albums by Twin Cities artists, and has been known to pull out a chromatic harmonica and apply his considerable chops to that instrument as well. To see a video of him at the Artists’ Quarter, go here.

Small City Trio @ Red Stag, NE Minneapolis. 10pm. (no cover). Jeremy Walker is back and town for a while, and the talented pianist/composer has been busy playing with Jeff Brueske, bass, and Tim Zhone, drums. His compositions have been called quirky, and compared to Monk and Mingus. Decide for yourself in a new venue for them.

Thursday, November 17

REEL Jazz presents “1959: The Year That Changed Jazz” @ The Trylon Microcinema, Minneapolis. 7pm & 9:30pm ($10). The year 1959 saw the release of four albums that changed the way many people thought about Jazz: Time Out by Dave Brubeck; Mingus Ah Um, by Charles Mingus; the Shape of Jazz to Come, by Ornette Coleman; and Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. This film examines the impact of those albums and their creators. Don’t bother with the 7pm show – it’s sold out. There are seats available in the small (50 seats) theater for the second screening, however.

Friday, November 18

Community Pool @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Lowertown Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar). Every other week Brian Roessler (bass) and Nathan Hanson (tenor sax) host adventurous musicians. Tonight they’ll be joined by Pat O’Keefe (Zeitgeist) on clarinet and visual artist Ta Cumba Aiken on percussion and vocals. There’s no telling where their music will take us, but the journey will be memorable and fun.

Saturday, November 19

Regina Marie Williams Sings Nina Simone @ The Capri Theater, 2027 West Broadway, Minneapolis 7pm – 8:30pm ($25). Williams was outstanding in her role as Dinah Washington (Dinah Was) at the Ordway. Tonight she takes on the music of Simone, a force of nature. Williams will be accompanied by Sanford Moore, piano; Jay Young, bass; and Kevin Washington, drums.

Emily Green @ Eagles Club #34, 25th & 25th, , Minneapolis. 7:30pm – Midnight ($10) It’s swing dance night at the Eagles Club, with lessons at 7:30 and music beginning at 8:30. Emily Green is a fine singer, with great phrasing, who doesn’t play out enough. She’ll have a kickin’ rhythm section backing her. The Eagle’s great wooden dance floor responds nicely to the pounding of many shoes, and drink prices are very, very reasonable.

Zacc Harris Group @ Studio Z, 275 East 4th Street, Saint Paul. (free open rehearsal – 1pm)  7pm performance ($10). Zacc Harris has been curating this monthly series, Jazz at Studio Z,  featuring a lively mixture of jazz from today’s players. This time he’s leading his own group, which is preparing to record an album. Besides Harris on guitar, the group includes Bryan Nichols, piano; the Bates brothers on bass and drums, and special guest Brandon Wozniak on sax. A special feature of this series are the open rehearsals on the day of the performance, where anyone can see what goes into preparing for a performance and ask questions.

Monday, November 20

Always and Forever CD Release @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($7). In 1996, the Illusion Theater presented this musical revue about the male side of relationships, and ended up with a sold-out show for three months. It was revived in 2020 with original cast members T. Michael Rambo, Dennis Spears, and Julius Collins III, along with newcomer Jackson Hurst. The directors and producers decided to record a CD featuring songs from the Revue, and tonight they are celebrating it’s release.

Tuesday, November 22

“Autumn –  and Change” @ The Nicollet Coffee House, Minneapolis. With Vicky Mountain, Teresa Manzella, Karen Quroz, and Maggie Diebel. The little coffeehouse on the corner of Franklin & Nicollet continues its jazz programming with a quartet of stellar singers, all from the Jazz Vocalists of Minnesota. There’ll likely be some bebop, swing, and Brazilian tunes. The owners have applied for a beer and wine license, but even without one, it’s still a swinging venue.

For a comprehensive listing of jazz events, go to:

Roots, Blues, Other

Thursday, November 17

Taylor Baggot EP  Release Party @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5) I first came across Taylor Baggott when he sang at the Landmark Center last center, and subsequently saw him opening for Bettye Lavette. He’s an engaging singer-songwriter who mines old school soul for inspiration. Though Taylor’s singing might be called “blue-eyed soul” that doesn’t do him justice. He’s managed to get Michael Bland (Prince, Mambo’s combo) and Ryan Liesman (Jonas Bros) as producers for this effort, which includes musical contributions from other Twin Cities veterans. I like him well enough to have booked him as a guest when I host Harold’s House Party on Kfai on November 30.

The "Rockabilly Filly"

Rosie Flores @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 11pm. ($8). With the Reckless Ones (9pm), and Adam Lee & The Dead Horse Sound (10pm). Slick up your pompadours and get your cat clothes out. It’s rockabilly time! Rosie has been at it now for 20 years or so, and is an exciting performer. As are the Reckless Ones, local boys who’ve actually done quite well for themselves in Europe, though they remain relatively unknown here in town.

Friday, November 18

Up From the Delta @ The Ritz Theater, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10)  Fattenin’ Frogs and Boys in the Barrels celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the movie soundtrack for “O Brother Where Art Thou.” They’ll be joined by Javier Matos, of the Innocent Sons, and others for an evening of songs inspired by and from the soundtrack. Lotsa Americana. Originally scheduled for the Loring, this has been moved.

Saturday, November 19

Joe Hall & the Louisiana Kane Cutters @ the Knights of Columbus, 1114 West American Blvd, Bloomington. 7pm ($12). The Krewe de Walleye are having another event featuring a Louisiana band. Hall and his crew play insistent, sweat-inducing zydeco with verve and panache. Lessons at 7pm, for those who want to learn the slip/slide shuffle to go with the music.

Paul Cebar @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9:30pm. ($10) Another chance to get out your dancing shoes, as Milwaukee’s charming and rhythmful Cebar brings his infectious blend of R&B, New Orleans, and Caribbean music to Lee’s. Get there early to get a table.

Phil Heywood @ Riverview Wine Bar, Minneapolis. 8pm ($13) Here’s a chance to hear renowned fingerstyle guitarist Heywood in his hometown. He’s toured with Leo Kottke, played with Chet Atkins on Prairie Home Companion, recorded five CDs, and has won two different national fingerstyle championships.  If you like your fingerstyle playing with a soupçon of Leadbelly, this is the place to be tonight.  Here is a video of him performing.

Tuesday, November 22

Still Black, Still Proud, An African Tribute to James Brown @ The Ordway, Saint Paul. 7:30 ($20 – $38 + fees). Back in 1973, James Brown toured Africa as part of the build-up to the Foreman-Ali “Rumble in the Jungle.” He was already a worldwide star, and the tour only solidified his influence on the continent. This show pairs former Brown sidemen Pee Wee Ellis and Maceo Parker with Vusi Mahlasela, a soulful singer, and Cheikh Lo, among others, to present a “pan-continental funk-soul super group.” When a slightly different version of this show was at the Dakota a year or so back it was a joyous, rhythmic affair that had people dancing in the aisles, between tables, and wherever they could find a spot. Should be lots of fun. Check out my interview with Maceo from last spring here.

For a more complete listing of blues events, go to:

Maceo, I Want You To Blow

May 28, 2011

An Interview with Maceo Parker

Maceo Parker, From the Cover of is 2007 CD, Roots and Grooves

When James Brown said the above words during the song I Got You (I Feel Good), Maceo Parker became a famous sideman. Famous enough that his name became synonymous with funky saxophone. Famous enough that a few years later he left Brown and started Maceo and the King’s Men. Famous enough that he eventually would play with George Clinton, Prince, and other funksters, not to mention folks like Ray Charles, James Taylor, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Since the early 90s, he’s been leading his own group and recording well-received albums, such as Roots Revisited (1990), Life on Planet Groove (1992), and most recently, Roots and Grooves (2007), recorded with the WDR Big Band of Germany. In person, his band reflects the tightness of the original James Brown band, as well as its adherence to “stage uniforms.” Maceo’s group is an eight-piece band that executes precision stops and starts, yet the individual members blow plenty funky. I had the opportunity to interview him by phone about 10 days before his appearance at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, on May 22, 2011. I recorded the interview and aired it on Rhythm and Grooves on May 21. I’ve done some slight editing for clarity.

LE: You come from a musical family. Your dad played the drums, your dad and mom both sang in church, your brother played the drums. How did you gravitate to the saxophone?

MP: As far back as I can remember, there was a piano around. As a child, you see an adult play, or you realize that you put your fingers on a key and with a little pressure you get a note or sound. It was interesting, or entertaining, to key it, so I would play in passing. I’d just play and bang, bang, bang. But as I got older, I really noticed how to actually play it, not just how to play it by ear. That was that, then I got really excited about my first parade, you know, a marching band parade? I still remember being really, really excited about that, and I had to choose, like my mom said, a marching band instrument, and as we were speaking, the saxophone line was passing, and I thought, well maybe I can play one of those things, and that was it.

LE: You joined James Brown in 1964 when he wanted your brother to be his drummer, and Mr. Brown said he’d bring you along.

MP: Yeah, right. Well he had met by brother Melvin about a year earlier. He happened to come by where Melvin was playing. We were college students at the time, but we had two different groups, and he (James Brown) thought Melvin was of a caliber to work with him when he first heard him.

One thing you have to remember is we started trying to do, you know, dot dot dadot, dah, and come up with our own individual styles, what we thought funky music should be. We started very, very young. I think my trombone-playing brother was in the sixth grade. I was in the fifth. Melvin was in the fourth. But we had rehearsed and rehearsed til we had gotten a couple of tunes down. We were listening to my uncle’s band [Ed note: The Blue Notes] and been at his rehearsals, being in the corner trying to learn, to imitate what they did. Pretty soon we got pretty good at it, and he would take us to the nightclub while we were at an early age, and have us play during the breaks. [Ed note: They performed as the Junior Blue Notes] To make a long story short, we just kept trying, kept trying, from elementary school right through high school. By the time we graduated, when Melvin first met James Brown, he was a freshman in college and I was a sophomore.

Then about a year after he met him, we decided to get out of school and seek that job with James Brown. We met him and Melvin said, Mr. Brown do you remember me, I’m Melvin Parker, the drummer. Mr. Brown said, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.” He was still excited about my brother. They went through the whole thing about did you bring your clothes, and where they’d be going for the next two or three days and stuff. And then my brother cleared his throat, and I cleared my throat, and Melvin said, “Oh yeah, Mr. Brown, this is my brother, he’s a saxophone player. He needs a job too.” He asked me some questions about playing saxophone, if I played baritone saxophone. I told him I played a little baritone, but I didn’t have a baritone. He said, “Okay, I’ll give you a chance. Take two weeks, three weeks, to get a baritone and you can have a job too.” It was exciting. Having two brothers in the same household being hired by James Brown at the same time. It was really exciting for us.

LE: I’m sure it was. After you joined James Brown what was the first important lesson that you learned?

MP: Punctuality, I think was the first thing I learned. Well, he used to teach pride, stage decorum, and punctuality. Not in that order, but at the same time. The one that came to mind first is punctuality. The bus would leave at a certain time, and if you’re not there, maybe five minutes within leaving time, they’re gone. And then there’d be like a fine, and if you weren’t there, you’d get fifty dollars taken from you. You learn really quickly you gotta be on time for stuff. I think that’s the first thing I learned. We knew about punctuality anyway, but that was a big thing with Mr. Brown. Along with stage decorum, the way your uniform looked, you gotta be pressed, just having pride in being a man, to respect women and kids. He preached that really, really well.

LE: You mentioned being in a marching band, and I noticed that on Funky Music Machine, one of your albums with the Kings Men, that you do a tune that’s a tribute to the Tennessee State University Marching Band. What was it about that band that made you want to do a tribute song  to them?

MP: Well, it was not my idea, I went along with it. That whole idea was from my trumpet player at the time, Richard Griffin. We called him Cush. We had a couple of friends that had joined James’ band, the James Brown Band, from Nashville, and I guess it inspired him to write that little thing. The whistle part, and the “pick up your feet” part, what was it, “pick up your feet, play your part, drive, drive, drive” came from the school that Melvin and I were at, which was North Carolina E&T in Greensboro. That’s something we used to sing. We incorporated that because it was like a march.

LE: You’ve served as a sideman to James Brown, Parliament/Funkadelic, and Prince. You’ve worked with artists like Kenny Neal, Candy Dulfer, Ani DiFranco. Do you approach your playing any differently when you are not the leader of the group, as opposed to when you’re the leader?

MP: No. I just dig down within my soul and within myself to try to come up with something funky. I always try anyway. People say, wouldn’t it be nice to have that guy that worked with James Brown come up with something (for a track). They’ve come up with something that reminds them of, or sounds like, something James Brown would do or something funky in the same kind of vein, and my name comes up. So I figure that’s what they want, something I would do if I’m working with him. It’s very easy and natural for me. I just realize that the funky style is natural for me, just as some guys can pitch a baseball, or hit a baseball, throw a football. It’s just something natural I could do from birth I guess.

LE: How did this current appearance with Christian McBride come about?

MP: I don’t know, but I’m excited about it. We’ve worked together. We were on the same stage a while back, some festival, or something where we’ve collaborated. Either we’re on the same stage doing a couple of tunes together or he’s with a group and I’m with a group. These things happen in this business. You follow your schedule, your itinerary, and however it turns out, it’s fun, it’s okay. That’s what makes it exciting as you tour month after month, and year after year. You get to the point where you start looking forward to things like this where you cross-breed with other musicians.

LE: I believe you’re doing an appearance with the African tribute to James Brown.

MP: Well, there’s some stuff coming up, I think they call it, Still Black, Still Proud. I’m doing stuff like that too. [Ed note: Coming to the Ordway Theater in Saint Paul on November 22, 2011]

LE: We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, May 22nd.

MP: Thank you, and like we say all the time when I perform, on behalf of all of us, we love you.



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