Veteran and Emerging Artists: 4.26 – 5.2

April 26, 2017

At Twelve – Lizzie Wortham’s winning poster for the Saint Paul Art Crawl

Well, it’s Art Crawl Weekend in Saint Paul, and if you take part in any of it, you are bound to see dance, music, and spoken word performances at a number of the Art Crawl sites throughout town. For more info, go here. Of course, there are plenty of other chances to see and hear live music, some of which I’ve listed below. We have a number of visiting artists in both jazz and roots n’ blues, as well as performances from highly talented resident artists, some of whom are national stars in their own right. Regular readers will note that I’ve added a new feature, Early Alert, to highlight performances from the next week’s Wednesday and Thursday that require reservations. BTW, you can find addresses for most of these venues, as well as see videos of many of these artists by going to


Wednesday, April 26

Connie Evingson and Jon Webber @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley, 7pm ($20, $45 w/Dinner) Vocalist Evingson and pianist Webber will be celebrating the music of Ella Fitzgerald, since this week marks the 100th Anniversary of Fitzgerald’s birth. Saxophonist Dave Karr and bassist Gordy Johnson will be on hand as well. Here she is with a larger group.

The Jazz Image Through the Decades @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 7pm (No Cover) Here’s an intriguing event for fans of the late broadcaster. The Leigh Kammen Legacy Project  helmed by Brad Bellows, has a vast archive of interviews Kammen conducted during more than 70 years in broadcasting. Once a month, Bellows brings out some of those interviews, along with associated recordings, and airs them at the Black Dog. Tonight, he’ll have Kammen’s interviews with a number of female artists, including such legends as Carmen McCrae, Abbey Lincoln, Dinah Washington, Betty Carter, and others. You can once again enjoy the sound of Kammen’s voice, while gaining some insight into the lives and musical philosophies of these artists.

Gary La Rue & His Rat Pack Band @ Mancini’s, Saint Pul. 7:30pm (No Cover) With its red booths and a dance floor, Mancini’s is a throwback to lounges of the 60s, making it a great place to hear LaRue and his Rat Pack Band do invoke Las Vegas with songs by Sinatra, Dean Martin, and their cronies.

Wednesday, Thursday, April 26, 27

Sisters of Swing: The Story of the Andrew Sisters @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $30) The Dakota is partnering with the History Theater to present the story of LaVerne, Maxene, and Patty, from Mound MN. The Andrew Sisters were the most popular female singing group of the first half of the 20th Century. It’s a production that’s been performed in over 30 cities around the country and the world.

Thursday, April 27

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Michael O’Brien Quartet. O’Brien is a Minnesota native who moved to the Big Apple some years back and has been playing and touring regularly ever since. The stand-up bassist is back visiting and is joined by Zacc Harris, guitar; Steve Kenny Flumpet; Greg Schute, drums. Here is O’Brien in a duo setting.

Matthew Rahaim and Jon Lion @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Here’s a very intriguing performance at a place that specializes in adventurous music. Rahaim is an associate professor of musicology and ethnomusicology at the U of MN, and is a vocalist who has been performing Hindustani music in both India and North America since 2000, though he also plays a few instruments and other kinds of singing. Jon Lion is a guitarist who has played the Kyber Pass many times, in a variety of configurations.

Huge If True @ Dayblock Brewing, 1103 Washington Avenue So, Minneapolis. 8pm (No Cover) Washington Avenue’s Dayblock Tap Room features jazz once a month. I’m unfamiliar with the players, so I believe this is a chance to hear a relatively new band in town: Michelle Mastrianni, Lead Vocals; Robert Hest, Keys; Rob Higgins, Bass/Vocals; Jack Sloan, Guitar; Elliott Bonner, Sax/Vocals; and Brice DeGrand, Drums.

Friday, April 28

Arne Fogel @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm (No Cover) Fogel is a vocalist who is equally adept at performing the songs of Der Bingle and Ol Blue Eyes and the Great American Songbook. Hell’s Kitchen is a busy, and often noisy place, so you may want reservations if you want to be close to the stage or, you can sit at the bar.

Southside Aces @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) The Aces are back at the Vieux for a Friday night of traditional New Orleans jazz and brass band music. With a diverse repertoire that includes Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bix Beiderbecke, and originals, they are a party band that will leave dancers sweaty and the rest of the audience uplifted. Here they are at the Eagles Club, another venue where they’re regulars.

Saturday, April 29

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Curator/producer Steve Kenny has been putting together this weekly series for over 140 perform ances thus far. He usually has a relatively new, or young band open, and then a veteran group at 8:30. Tonight, the Brian Handeland Quartet begins at 7pm with: Handeland, sax; Park Evans, guitar; Graydon Peterson, bass; and Trevor Haining, drums. At 8:30, it’s the A-list members of Bottomless Pit, with: Joel Shapira, guitar; Pete Whitman, saxes; Tom Lewis, bass; and Eric Kamau Gravatt, drums

Bill Charlap Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $30), 9pm ($20, $25) Charlap is one of the finest pianists of our time, with the ability to swing, and an imaginative approach that gets to the nub of a song. He’s recorded albums featuring the music of Hoagy Carmichael, Leonard Bernstein, and George Gershwin, and has produced several concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center, and an evening of George Gershwin’s music at the Hollywood Bowl. He and Tony Bennett received a Grammy for their 2015 release, The Silver Lining: The songs of Jerome Kern. His fine trio, which has been together for about 20 years, includes Peter Washington on bass, and the unrelated Kenny Washington on drums.

Sunday, April 30

Bruce Henry: Stevie Wonder Unplugged @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40w/Dinner) Bruce Henry is the kind of singer who can tackle a Freddie Hubbard or John Coltrane tune and turn around and deliver some exquisite R&B. Tonight he’ll treat us to the songs of Stevie Wonder, which lately have been receiving deserved attention from jazz artists. He’ll be accompanied by Sean Turner, piano; Jeff Bailey, bass; and Kevin Washington, drums.

Monday, May 1

Delfeayo Marsalis @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($25, $50w/Dinner) Marsalis is, of course, a member of the famed New Orleans musical family. He’s a trombonist, educator, producer, and arranger who’s released six CDs, all of which exhibit the warmth and imagination of his playing. Here’s a chance to hear him in the intimate, 80-seat “listening room” at Crooners. He’ll be accompanied by pianist Rick Carlson, bassist Steve Pikal, and drummer Nathan Norman.

Tuesday, May 2

O’Brien, Lomheim, & Epstein @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley, 7pm ($10, $35w/Dinner) If you didn’t catch former Twin Citizen O’Brien playing bass with a quartet this past Thursday (see above), you can catch him in a trio setting with two of the area’s finest musicians: pianist Chris Lomheim and drummer Jay Epstein. It’s a treat.

Early Alert

5.3 Regina Carter @ The Dakota

5.3, 5.4 Randy Brecker @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Roo

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, April 26

Curtis Blake on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Harpmeister Curtis Blake stops by Harold’s House Party along with ace guitarist/drummer Jeremy Johnson, for some swingin’ blues. Tune in, and then head over to the 331 Club, where the two will play from 7-9pm.

Willie Murphy @ The Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) Veteran blues/R&B/rock n’ roller Murphy takes a solo turn at the Schooner, armed with nothing more than a guitar, keyboard, and songs that range from romantic doowop to rockin’ protest numbers. He’s not promising any guests, but you can never tell who may show up.

Thursday, April 27

Mikkel Beckmen & Jeff Ray @ The Dubliner Pub, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) Percussionist-about-town Beckmen holds down a Thursday residency at the warm, friendly bar on University, bringing in a different guest each week. Today it’s the slide guitar master Jeff Ray, who often brings new life to traditional blues and surprises with bluesified rock covers.

Rena Haus @ Dusty’s, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Singer/songwriter Haus has a sustainable farm in Saint Michael, where she supplies food to local groceries and finds inspiration for original songs. Together with her brother Bob on bass and the under-appreciated guitar virtuoso Ed Petche, she creates highly entertaining performances, whether singing tunes by the Allman Brothers, or humorous originals about relationships, farm animals, or the political and economic climate. If you can’t make it tonight, you can also catch her in the dinner hour atVieux Carré tomorrow, and for brunch at Hell’s Kitchen on Saturday.

Friday, April 28

Richie Furay @ The Dakota, Minneapolis 7pm, 9:30pm ($35, $40) This Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer helped bring country rock into our consciousness as a founding member of Buffalo Springfield, Poco and the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. Furay then went on to form his own band. He’ll be playing songs from throughout his career, with an opening by his daughter, Jesse Furay Lynch, performing The Songs of Laurel Canyon.

Lowertown Classics @ Lowertown Lofts, 225 Kellogg Blvd East, Saint Paul. 8pm ($10 suggested Donation) It’s Art Crawl weekend in Saint Paul and Lowertown Classics has brought in German guitarist Nora Buschmann as the featured artist this weekend. Buschmann has won numerous competitions, and performed a great number of solo concerts at places like the Frankfurt and Nürnberg opera houses, the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn and NDR-Funkhaus Hannover, and has appeared with a number of orchestras in Germany. She has made radio recordings with the Norddeutscher Rundfunk and the Bayrischer Rundfunk, and is a regular performer at guitar festivals around the world. Buschmann will preceded by the McNally Smith Guitar Quartet, a group of four guitarists with varying backgrounds. Enter through the alley

Slovczech @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 8pm (Tip Jar) Eastern European folk-rock party music, just in case you want to get rejuvenated after touring countless artists studios during Art Crawl.

John Nemeth @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Nemeth is an ace harmonica player and an award-winning soul/blues vocalist currently based in Memphis, where his music fits in like the proverbial glove. Whether he’s singing the blues, or projecting the emotional release of soul music, fans of either style will find much to admire.

Friday, Saturday, April 28, 29

KFAI Celebration @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) It’s a Listener Appreciation Party and New Antenna Celebration to thank listener members for a pledge drive that helped the “little station that could” retire much of the costs of a new antenna. Friday features Jillian Rae, Boiled in Lead, The yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers and more, while Saturday’s stage will be occupied by Rank Strangers, C. Kostra, The Ronnie Buxtons and others. Both evenings will feature a Super Secret headliner that has yet to be announced.

Saturday, April 29

Saturday Salon: Sambas and Sonatinas @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 3pm ($20) The witty and charming Maria Jette hosts this weekly series that brings chamber music into a relaxed, cabaret style “listening room” where small plates and a full bar will be available during the concert. Today’s program, Sambas and Sonatinas, features music from Russia and the Americas, performed by Clea Galhano, recorder; Tom Rosenberg, cello; and Olg Levin, piano. The program includes selections from Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Felix Mendelssohn, Astor Piazzola, and others.

4th Annual Pickin’ for Autism @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 7pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) Three folk and bluegrass bands will be playing to support Lionsgate Academy, a school dedicated to the education of students with autism spectrum disorders. The evening will feature music from Pert Near Pert (members of Pert Near Sandstone), and well as Luke Warm and the Cool Hands, and the Lowland Lakers.

Bossa Soul Trio @ Hennepin Steam Room, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) This weekly show can feature more than a trio, as various musicians are recruited to create Brazilian sounds, including sensuous sambas, Brazilian pop, bossa novas, and Latin Jazz. Both experienced and would-be dancers flock the small dance floor to sway to the bubbling rhythms.

Annie Mack & Joyann Parker @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) Two of the area’s dynamic blues and R&B singers take to the stage at the tiny, but charming Aster. Both Joyann Parker, who starts at 9pm, and Annie Mack, 10 pm, write and perform compelling originals and gritty covers.

Tuesday, May 2

Joe Ely @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40) Songwriter/guitarist Ely plays outlaw country music, Americana, and Texas honky tonk . He was a member of the original Flatlanders and Los Super Seven, and sang backup for The Clash, recently winning The Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Opener Jason Eady is a country singer with a direct approach to singing.

The Pines @ Hopkins Center of the Arts, Hopkins. 7pm ($25) Though now based out of the Twin Cities, The Pines’ Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt share a common musical language rooted in the songs and songwriters of their native Iowa. Each has a distinct voice and an ability to evoke the sparse, rural communities of the Great Plains with cinematic language. The combination of acoustic instruments, rich warm vocals, and an eye (and ear) for detail has helped them gain fans around the country. A social hour begins at 6pm, with the concert beginning at 7pm.

Early Alert

5.3 Kinky Friedman @ The Turf Club

5.4 Edgar Winter @ The Dakota


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.

Youth Jazz, Art, Blues, and Worldbeats: 5.18 – 5.24

May 18, 2016

13048116_858343110943744_3629080614244096720_oPlease indulge me for a moment as I tell you about an event that means much to me. It’s Celebrate Youth Jazz!, a fundraiser for the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education (DFJE) to be held this Sunday at Vieux Carré. DFJE is a non-profit organization that creates and supports quality jazz education for students and young musicians. Last year we served over 650 students by sending 24 area musicians into 14 public schools. We also sponsor the Dakota Combo, an open-audition group that studies with bassist Adam Linz throughout the school year and performs at public venues as well as public schools. This year marks the 10th edition of the Combo, and to celebrate, the current Combo, as well as a big band of Combo Alumni directed by Kelly Rossum, will perform. If you have any interest in jazz and/or music education, you can support DFJE by attending on Sunday. More information can be found below, as well as at

Now, onto this week’s music.


Wednesday, May 18

Stephane Wrembel Band @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($30, $35) French guitarist/composer Wrembel learned his craft among Roma campfires in the French countryside, has performed during the Oscar telecast, and was recruited to score the theme to Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris. Now based in Brooklyn, Wrembel’s latest album, Origins, explores his roots, touching upon everything from the blues to flamenco.

Nathan Hanson Group @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10) Here’s a trio that is conversant in straight ahead jazz as well as more adventurous treatments of music. Besides Hanson, on sax, the group includes Michael O’Brien, bass; and Cory Healey, drums.

Thursday, May 19

Sundae + Mr. Goessl @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) This Seattle based duo of husband and wife perform vintage jazz from composers such as Ellington, Porter, and the Gershwins. Ms Sundae is the vocalist of the two, though she also plays a cheap, but pink melody, while Mr. Goessl accompanying on an Epiphone Swingster guitar.

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 7pm (Tip Jar) With the return of jazz to the Reverie, we also get a return of the JazzINK Youth Showcase which tonight features Halcyon Daze at 7pm: George Adzick, alto & flute; Ivan Cunningham, alto & tenor; Yonci Jameson, bass clarinet; Nicholas Christenson, bass; and Sam Stroup, drums. The multi-generational Fall Of The House Of Usher headlines, with: Chris Cunningham, guitars; Ivan Cunningham, saxes; Chris Bates, bass; Greg Schutte, drums; Cole Pulice, saxes; Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, trumpet; Adam Svec, vocals. With special guest Michelle Kinney on cello.

Jeremy Ylvisaker & Michael Lewis @ The Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Ylvisaker (from Alpha Caonsume, and the Cloak Ox, among others), teams up with saxophonist and bassist Michael Lewis (of Happy Apple and Fat Kid Wednesdays, among others) for an evening of adventurous improvisation.

Friday, May 20

Michael O’Brien & the Latin Jazz Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/student ID) Bassist Michael O’Brien has been quite busy since he relocated from the Twin Cities to New York City. He’s performed and/or composed with such notable performers as Harry Connick Jr, Ruben Blades, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Steve Wilson, Wayne Escoffery, Dave King, Matt Wilson, Sachal Vasandani, and Ted Nash, among others – phew! He is back in town and is busy with a number of gigs, including this one featuring Joe Strachan, piano; Geoff Senn, trumpet; Babatunde Lea, congas; and Mac Santiago, drums, all of whom are well versed in Latin Jazz. Here’s O’Brien showing that he has the chops for other worldbeats as well.

Saturday, May 21

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) The Black Dog is undergoing some construction as they prepare to add another room and kitchen while opening up the original room and adding a bar so more people can see musicians performing. Just walk past the construction into the new, though somewhat unfinished room where music is temporarily being presented. Opening at 7pm is The Convergence Trio: Joel Shapira guitar; Michael O’Brien,m bass; and Eric Kamau Gravatt, drums. Then it’s the Kelly Rossum Quartet: Michael O’Brien and Eric Kamau Gravatt return to the stage on bass and drums respectively; to join Dave Hagedorn, vibes; and Rossum on trumpet. Rossum, who is director of Jazz Studies at Christopher University in Virginia, will be directing the Dakota Combo Alumni Big Band tomorrow. Here’s a video from Rossum’s brand new album.

Kate Lynch & Her Most Excellent Fellows @ the Uptown VFW, Lake & Lyndale, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (No Cover) Ms Lynch is a singer/bassist who mines pop & jazz from the 30s to the 50s to create dance-friendly tunes for fox trotters and swing dancers. The Uptown VFW has been remodeled and has a new, large dance floor. She will be joined by Chris Beaty guitar, Ken Chastaine drums, Greg Lewis trumpet, Peter VIrcks Sax, Pete Enblom, bone, each of whom does a fine job of bringing improvisation and swing to the dance floor.

Sunday, May 22

Celebrate Youth Jazz! @ The Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 4:30pm – 5:30: social hour, 5:30 – 8:30pm program ($45, $50  [$35 is tax deductible]) Kelly Rossum is returning to town to direct a Dakota Combo Alumni Big Band, which includes alumni working in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. There will be silent auction items including a double magnum of wine, a framed poster from the 1986 New Orleans Jazz Festival, a Meet and Greet (and tickets) with Chick Corea and Christian McBride, and more. We’ll also have a raffle with the first prize a “Wall of Wine, (two cases), and a second prize of a 9 CD set of Miles Davis Mono recordings. Tickets are available by calling the Dakota Box Office (612-332-5299) or going to their website  Tickets will also be available at the door. Thanks to the fine folks at the Vieux, your ticket will include a welcome drink from Prairie Distillery. Here is this year’s combo.

Dan Chouinard & Maud Hixson @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($10, $35 Dinner) It’s another edition of Chouinard’s Birthday Club, celebrating the music of composers born in May. This time around his partner is the cool yet warm vocalist Maud Hixson.

Monday, May 23

Freddy Cole @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30 – $45) Cole  the younger brother of Nat King Cole is a star in his own right, a masterful pianist and singer, with a vocal that’s slightly darker and rougher than his brother, but nevertheless shares the same tonal quality. He has his own elegant, sophisticated style. The NY Times noted his “impeccable sense of swing,” and called him “the most expressive jazz singer of his generation, if not the best alive.”   Here’s a sampling of his performance.

Graydon Peterson Quartet @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) Bassist Peterson is one of the first call players for singers around town. He also plays in a variety of other groups besides this one, which performs his original music. After spending time in Cuba last year with the Charanga Tropical, Peterson penned some new songs, for which he’ll add percussionist Andrew Gillespie to the proceedings. Regular members of the quartet include Adrian Suarez, drums; Adam Meckler, trumpet; and Joe Strachan, piano.  Peterson and band-mate Adam Meckler are featured in this video.

Tuesday, May 24

Mary Louise Knutson/Hot Jazz with Connie Evingson @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6pm (No Cover), 8pm ($8) It’s another jazz double at the Vieux, with Mary Louise Knutson playing piano during the dinner hour, followed at 8pm by Connie Evingson  who so effortlessly sings acoustic swing, aka Gypsy Jazz. Joining her will be Patrick Harrison, accordion; Dean Harrington, guitar; Mike Cramer, guitar; and Josh Granowski, bass. Here’s Connie working with the Hot Club of Sweden.

Bryan Nichols Album Release @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($7) Nichols is a pianist-about-town who leads a number of groups: a trio, a quartet, and a quintet, in addition to playing with any number of other musicians. He’s got a new CD, and will be celebrating its release at the Dakota. Tune in to my show Saturday morning (10:30am – Noon) to hear him talk about it and play a couple of tunes from it. Here he is in a trio setting.

Tuesday, Wednesday, May 24, 25

Bobby Lyle w/Billy Peterson @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($25, $50 Dinner), 9pm ($20) The Minneapolis native started playing piano in clubs at the age of 15, and hit the road as a full time musician after two years at Macalester. In the more than three decades since then he’s acquired a well-deserved impressive resume , recording for Capitol, Atlantic, Three Keys, and Heads Up, and serving as musical director for Al Jarreau, Anita Baker, and Bette Midler. His 2005 album Straight and Smooth appeared on both the Smooth Jazz and Traditional Jazz charts for Billboard. He’ll be joined by bassist Billy Peterson, whose own musical career also knows few boundaries, having worked with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Les Paul, and Steve Miller, among others.

Early Notice!!

Sunday, June 5

Joe Lovano’s Tribute to Gunther Schuller @ Sundlin Hall, 1531 Hewitt Avenue, Saint Paul. 4pm ($25, $25 Senior [62+], $15 Student ID) Note: One K-12 Student is admitted free with each paid adult. With Anthony Cox, bass; Young-Nan Kim, violin; Timothy Lovelace, piano; and Fred Harris, drums. With guest composer Peter Child.

For more listings, 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, May 18

Chemistry Set on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) This three-piece band has been around for a number of years, playing power pop with alt-country leanings. I recall seeing them at the Hat Trick lounge at least six years ago, and they were impressive then. Members are Chris Thompson, guitar and lead vocals; Steve Smith, percussion and backing vocals, and Jackie Crosby, bass.

Corpse Reviver Album Release @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($15) This is the second release for Corpse Reviver  though the first Vinyl release. Volume Two: Dry Bones continues the Reviver bent for songs from Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. The trio of Adam Kiesling, Mikkel Beckmen, and Jillian Rae have been performing together for six years, putting their own spin on the music while maintaining respect for songs that were first compiled and released in 1952 by Smith. They’ll be joined by resident choir MPLS (impulse) during their set, and will have the legendary Spider John Koerner as an opening act. Wouldn’t be surprised if Koerner, who’s a font of knowledge about traditional folks songs, joins the trio for a song or two.

World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band @ Schooner’s Tavern, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) Well, Nye’s may be no more, but you can still enjoy the sounds of the World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band at least once a month. The dance floor is a bit larger than Nye’s, so you don’t have an excuse for staying off it.

Thursday, May 19

Big George Jackson @ Hollihans’ Pub, White Bear Lake. 8pm (Tip Jar) The big voice of Big George can rumble so low you’ll expect the floor to move. You’ll find yourself moving, however, even if Hollihan’s is packed.

Orkestar Bez Ime @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. (Tip Jar) Raucous dance music from Eastern Europe. There’s a bit more room in the expanded, if not yet finished new room at the Black Dog. All the better for moving chairs and tables out of the way and joining the fun fray.

Friday, May 20

Charles Walker Band @ Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5) This Milwaukee funk n’ soul quintet with gospel influences and a tight sound. They’ve been nominated for the Wisconsin Music Award (WAMI) as the best soul/r&b act four times, winning in 2013.

Friday, Saturday, May 20, 21

Vinyl Voices play Art-A-Whirl @ the Northrup King Building, Minneapolis. 5:30 – 10pm Friday, Noon – 8pm Saturday (No Cover) There’s lots going on throughout NE Mpls, what with gallery openings and music at bars, brew tap rooms and elsewhere. You can get a complete listing of music here. An artist directory and maps can be found at: Anyway, I and other KFAI deejays will be spinning in the Third Floor Art Gallery #332 at the Northrup King Building. I’ll be there from 7:45 – 10pm on Friday.

Saturday, May 21


Shannon Mac Band @ Schooner’s Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) the guys in the Mystic Order of Reverb and Twang (M.O.R.T) were looking to kickstart their sound when the met Shannon McDonough  a singer predisposed to 50s rockabilly, blues, and a bit of doowop. They clicked, and the Shannon Mac Band is the result. High energy music, delivered with verve and panache.

Michael Monroe @ The 318 Cafe, Excelsior. 8pm ($20) Monroe is a charming singer/songwriter who has been performing for forty years. He’s a self-taught musician who plays guitar, ukelele, and glass bamboo flutes who certainly knows how to connect with an audience.

Sunday, May 22

Alma Afrobeat Ensemble @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($15 Advance, $20 Door) This Barcelona, Spain band actually got started in Chicago, but it wasn’t until founder Aaron Feder moved to Spain 10 years ago and met some Nigerian musicians that it began to gel and take off. This is actually their first proper American tour. Afropop Worldwide has called the band’s sound “as dark and intensely danceable as any African musical experience can be.” It has helped that the band has given some of their tracks to DJs to reimagine and take in a new direction. This is a standing show, but I expect there will be much dancing, freestyle and otherwise. Jaedyn James & the Hunger, the opening act, is a 10-piece funk n’ soul band out of South Minneapolis.

Monday, May 23

New Riverside Ramblers @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($8) High energy dance music, usually found around the bayous of South Louisiana. Thanks to the Ramblers and a few other bands around here, fans of the music can dance their hearts out in the dance halls of the Eagles Club. Members of the Ramblers include: Eric Mohring, fiddle; AJ Srubas, fiddle & Steel Guitar; John Terr, accordion; Doug Lohman, bass; Karen Kleinspehn, guitar; Paul Loughridge, drums.

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. .

Back to School: 9.9 – 9.15

September 9, 2015

UnknownAs the summer draws to a close and school begins (at many levels), we can look forward to another week of terrific music here in the Twin Cities, from a bluegrass festival in an art park, to a community jazz festival and a couple of visiting artists of note. Music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, September 9

Dean Magraw @ The American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) As part of the American Swedish Institute’s salute to the Hagström guitar (“Amp Up!, The Hagström Guitar Sensation), ASI is bringing the Hagström guitar to Minneapolis and putting it in the hands some of the Twin Cities’ best players as part of their “2015 Ballroom Music Series.” Tonight, the always versatile Dean Magraw will be putting it to the test, with, I am sure, great results.

Good Vibes Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Anytime I see this group, they generate such joy playing together that the audience becomes part of their fun. Chris Bates, bass; Phil Hey, drums; and Dave Hagedorn, vibes.

Friday, September 11

Michael O’Brien & Jeremy Walker @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 6pm – 8pm (No cover) Bassist Michael O’Brien is back in town from his current base in NYC for a few days, picking up a number of gigs. Tonight he joins with pianist Jeremy Walker for a fine early evening show.

Christian Scott @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30), 9pm, ($20) Scott is a New Orleans raised trumpeter who now makes NYC his home. He’s been turning heads in the jazz world for his forthright attitude about social ills and his ability to engage modern rhythms and genres into his own sound called Stretch Music.

Sophia Shorai @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm – 11:55pm ($8) The intimate space of the Vieux will be warmed by the vocals of Ms Shorai  Whether performing standard chestnuts or her original music, she can communicate both heartbreak and joy with the slightest inflection of her honey-sweet voice.

Michael O’Brien Trio @ Nicollet Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm, (Tip Jar – $10 Suggested Donation) Michael O’Brien and Jeremy Walker head to the Nicollet after finishing up at the Vieux Carre earlier this evening. At the Nicollet they’ll be joined by drummer Tim Zhorne. Tomorrow O’Brien will  be conducting a class at Jazz Central from noon – 2pm ($25)

Saturday, September 12

Selby Avenue Jazz Festival @ Selby & Milton, Saint Paul. Noon – 8pm (Free) It’s the 14th Annual community celebration, this year including Dick and Jane’s Brass Band, leading a parade through the area to start the day off, as well as The Lex-Hamm Community Band, the Urban Legends of Walker West, and Salsa del Soul. The Jazz Heritage Showcase will once again feature music from jazz’s great golden age, performed by area artists in period costume. Eric Kamau Gravatt and Source Code will be playing as well. Headlining is saxman Walter Chancellor, Jr, who has played on records by Prince, Chaka Khan, Maceo Parker, Candi Dulfer, and Bobby Lyle, among others. There will be food stands, food trucks, and vendors and organizations from the community.

JoAnn Funk @ The Saint Paul Hotel Lobby Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm – 11pm (No Cover) Well, one good thing about the end of summer is that we get to hear JoAnn Funk sing and play at the Lobby Bar. Funk’s most recent CD, Jazz in the Lobby Bar, has been getting great reviews and has become a favorite of jazz lovers in Japan.

Peterson Family Tribute @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm – 11pm. The Peterson Family pays tribute to their late matriarch, Jeanne Arland Peterson. Linda Peterson, piano, vocals; Patty Peterson, vocals; Paul Peterson, bass, piano, vocals; Jason Peterson DeLaire, sax, piano, vocals, and Very Special Guest, Kenny Horst, on drums. All proceeds will be donated to the Jeanne Arland Peterson Scholarship for Jazz Studies at the U of MN.

Mr. Pemberton on trumpet

Mr. Pemberton on trumpet

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Blackdog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. ($10 Suggested Donation) 7pm. First up is the Post Atomic Trio, with David Hamilton, piano; Ademola Adegun, bass; and Derrin Pinto, drums. Then at 8:30pm it’s time for trumpeter Jon Pemberton’s Tribute to Lee Morgan, with Dave Brattain, sax; Mikkel Romstad, piano; Tom Lewis, bass; and Cory Healey, drums.

Sunday, September 13

Paul Renz Quartet @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) Guitarist Paul Renz is a well-honed craftsman who, though based in the Twin Cities, performs here only occasionally. He does do an extensive tour of the East Coast every year. For this performance of original music he’ll be joined by Wes Ruelle, piano; Jonathan Thams, bass; and Jessie Lesmeister, drums.

Sunday, Monday, September 13, 14

Bill Carrothers Trio @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm – 9pm Sunday, 7pm – 10pm Monday (No Cover) The Saint Paul native and Michigan-based pianist returns to the Twin Cities, and jazz fans couldn’t be happier, especially since there is no cover charge. He’s worked with the likes of Lee Konitz and Dewey Redman, and has recorded 17 albums as a leader. These two evenings will be full of sublime, inventive music, with many surprising twists and turns.

Tuesday, September 15

Tommy O’Donnell Trio @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) The veteran pianist leads a trio for jazz listening in the restaurant’s music room, a place just made for his Errol Garner-ish playing.

Dean Magraw & Butch Thompson @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) Guitarist Magraw and pianist/clarinetist Thompson are both long time members of the Twin Cities music scene, going back to the late seventies or earlier. I don’t know if they’ve played together before, but both are consummate musicians with an affinity for the blues and jazz. Of course, in Magraw’s case, he has an affinity for many kinds of music, so there could be some real surprises tonight.

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, September 9

Crankshaft on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Tune in during the 5 o’clock hour to hear Crankshaft’s adrenaline-fueled blues, then head over to the 331 club, where  a celebration of Kathy Schwalbe’s Birthday will be taking place while Crankshaft amps up the atmosphere. I’m fairly certain members of the Blues Society and various bands will be in attendance to cheer him on and wish Kathy a happy birthday.

Hula Peppers @ The Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) This could be the low-key gig of the week. The Peppers play Tin Pan Alley jazz from the 20s and 30s. It’s old time, as opposed to old-timey, music, and it’s delightful.

Lee “Scratch” Perry @ The Cedar Culutral Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($25) Here is a musical maven who is so offbeat that some call him a genius while others call him insane. Perry’  approach to production and dub defined reggae music, and his work with Bob Marley and the Wailers, the Upsetters, and the Congos certainly helped their rise to success, while his more recent work under his own name has been mystifying, to say the least. He’ll be performing the legendary Super Ape album in its entirety. Subatomic Sound System opens.

La Santa Cecilia @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) This Los Angeles band of Latino rockers was last in town to celebrate the opening of the new theater at the Ordway. There infectious mix of cumbers, Tex-Mex, and rock n’ roll had the audience jumping in their seats. We’ll see if they can get a Dakota crowd up and dancing.

Thursday, September 10

Chuck Prophet @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) Singer/Songwriter Chuck Prophet first came to attention as a member of the 80s psychedelic band Green on Red. He released his first solo album, Brother Aldo, in 1990, and started to be compared to folks like Ray Davies, Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty, and Alex Chilton. He’s collaborated with a wide range of folks, from Warren Zevon to Jim Dickinson and Lucinda Williams. Opening is Holly Hansen, of the Twin Cities own Zoo Animal.

Friday, September 11

RAMM Band @ The Schooner Tavern, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Paul Mayasich brings the Real American Made Music trio to the modest south side dive bar. Expect fleet fingering from guitarist Mayasich, backed by the solid foundation of John Iden, bass; and Hye Pockets, drums, playing a mix of Motown, R&B, Blues, and Rock n’ Roll.

Saturday, September 12

Summit Backyard Bash @ Summit Brewing, 910 Montreal Circle, Saint Paul. Noon – 7pm ($20) Once again, Summit Brewing opens up their “back yard” to a big party featuring many of the area’s most exciting acts. Performers include Hotpants DJs, Blackmarket Brass, Al Church, Toki Wright, Gramma’s Boyfriend, and headliners the Suburbs.

Shangoya Reunion @ The Cabooze, Minneapolis. 10pm ($13) Shangoya was the first reggae band in the Twin Cities. Back in the early 80s their combination of reggae and calypso filled clubs, ballrooms, and street festivals with riotous dancers, and quite a few musicians came up through their ranks. Tonight many of those musicians will perform, as  a Tribute to the band’s founder Peter Nelson, who died some years back. Opening: Socaholix.

Sunday, September 13

Bluegrass Festival @ The Caponi Art Park, 1220 Diffey Road, Eagan. Noon – 6pm. ($20) Listen to a variety of bluegrass(y) sounds amongst the trees of the park’s amphitheater Theater in the Woods. things start out with a jam session until 2pm, when the Sawtooth Brothers perform, followed by the jug band and rag-timey bluegrass of Jack Norton and the Mullet River Boys at 3pm. The Wild Goose Chase Cloggers then take the stage at 4pm, to show off their foot-stomping dance moves accompanied by Rooster Riot, and a 5pm Monroe Crossing, inductees of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, close things out.

DVRG Redefined @ The Icehouse, Minnapolis. 5pm ($8) Devon R Gray is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, and composer who is perhaps best known as dVRG in the live rap/hip hop band Heiruspecs. He’s done many cross-genre collaborations and his influences range from classical music to the R&B of Shuggie Otis. Tonight he’ll be singing, and joined by James Everest, guitar; and Davu Seru on drums.

Jack Klatt @ The Como Dockside Pavillion, Saint Paul. 5:30pm (Free) Klatt is a singer/songwriter and finger-picking guitarist who draws inspiration from the hokum blues of the 1920s, the Appalachian sounds of country music’s roots, and acoustic swing. Just the thing for a late summer outdoor gig.

Monday, September 14

Maurice Jacox @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) Regular readers may gather that I really like vocalist/saxophonist/flautist Jacox, and that would be true. He’s a versatile singer, equally at home with blues, jazz, Motown, and Tin Pan Alley. Consequently, I want let readers know whenever he’s performing in a new situation, as with foodie night at the Dakota, where there’s no cover, menu specials, and $10 bottles of wine.

Tuesday, September 15

Kate Davis @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) This young multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter has been gaining critical attention since she moved to NYC from her native Portland Oregon in 2009. Davis‘ lyrics are in turn heartfelt, witty, perceptive, and cliche-free.

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.

Art, Music. Music, Art. 5.13 – 5.19

May 13, 2015

UnknownThe lusty month of May, as it’s called in the musical Camelot, is busting with buds and greenery. All the better to get out and enjoy Art-A-Whirl in NE Minneapolis, or some of the great music found in our Twin Cities. From a couple of former Minnesotans visiting once again, to a CD release and some mighty fine visiting artists, we have much to choose from. Music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, May 13

11205940_1401797490143620_650124457_nCasey O’Brien @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) O’Brien is a talented bassist/guitarist/arranger who has been heard around town in both jazz and R&B groups, including PaviElle and a number of Secret Stash groups. He’s released a jazz CD with Nathan Hanson, sax; and Davu Seru, drums entitled Ghost Dance and tonight will be joined by the duo as well as Ted Gadbout on keys.

Nick Videen Quartet @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) Videen is a NYC-based sax player who grew up in Cambridge, MN. He’s toured and/or recorded with Beyonce and a number of other high-profile R&B stars and leads the Superpower Horns, a grammy-winning horn section. I expect he’ll be drawing on Twin Cities Talent for tonight’s quartet.  He’s featured in this video:

Thursday, May 14

Dick and Janes Brass Band w/guest Thomasina Petrus @ Loring Pasta Bar, Minneapolis. 9:30 – 11:30pm (No Cover)  This five-piece brass band will have you parading around the dance floor at the Loring. Tonight they’re joined by vocalist Petrus, known for producing and staring in the Billie Holiday play Live at the Emerson Bar.

Le Percheron is named after a work horse

Le Percheron is named after a work horse

Le Percheron @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Bassist Adam Linz has put together a quintet of players who are strong on melodic improvisations: Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; Brandon Wozniak, sax; Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, trumpet; and Corey Healey, drums. The will be an opening set by Pandemonium Defender, whom I know nothing about, though, judging by the name, it just might be another Linz creation.

Friday, May 15

Irv Williams and Mary Louise Knutson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 4:30pm – 6:30pm. (Free) Irv Williams is proof that music can keep you young. The 92-year old saxophonist is joined today by the expressive pianist Ms. Knutson, a featured member of Doc Severinson’s midwest touring group when she isn’t playing around town.

Michael O’Brien Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Bassist O’Brien is a former Twin Citizen who moved to NYC some years back where he has flourished. He’s played with a wide array of artists, ranging from Ruben Blades and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, to Gene Ptney, Matt Wilson, Sashal Vasandani, and Wessell Anderson. He’s been in town for a few gigs and tonight is joined by pianist Chris Lomheim and drummer Jay Epstein for what will surely be some transcendent music.

JoAnn-JazzLobbyBar-coverMDJazz in the Lobby Bar CD Release @ the Saint Paul Hotel, Saint Paul. 7:30 – 10:30pm (No Cover) Pianist/vocalist JoAnn Funk and bassist Jeff Brueske have been holding down weekends at the Saint Paul Hotel Lobby Bar for seven years, building an audience that appreciates their arrangements of standards as well as unexpected gems from songwriters in many genres. They’ve finally released a CD and are celebrating by moving the party to the Hotel’s ballroom, and inviting guest artists Richard Kriehn, mandolin, violin; Pete Whitman, sax; Nathan Norman, drums; to join in the fun. I interviewed JoAnn on my show this past Saturday (May 9), which you can listen to, along with a couple of cuts from the new CD, by going here.

Saturday, May 16

Dean Magraw & Eric Kamau Gravatt @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($10) Talk about a dynamic duo! Guitarist Magraw and drummer Gravatt take you places you wouldn’t imagine. They can go inside, outside, and be funky as you wanna, while exploring all the sonic possibilities of their instruments.

Charlie Lincoln Group @ Elias Metal Studio, 1129 Van Buren Street, NE Minneapolis. 1pm. (Free) This is part of Art-A-Whirl, and features the “punk jazz” of Lincoln’s Physical Memory Dump featuring Peter Goggin, alto sax; Joey C. Hays, drums; and Charlie Lincoln, bass.

Fall of the House of Usher @ Elias Metal Studio, 1129 Van Buren Street, NE Minneapolis. 3pm (Free) This exciting band is led by Chris Bates, bass; and includes Chris Cunninham, guitar; Greg Schutte, drums and a four-pice horn section consisting of Nelson Devereaux; Adrean Larkin; Elliot Wachs; and Jon Davis.

Monday, May 18

Adam Rossmiller & Aaron Hedenstrom @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Trumpeter Rossmiller has played with Doc Severinson, Jason Marsalis, Natalie Cole, and Eric Alexander, among others. Aaron Hedenstrom is a composer/saxophonist with a recent fine CD, A Moment of Clarity, and his own big band. Tonight they’ll be playing what they want.

Kate Lynch & Her Most Excellent Fellows @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30 – 10:30pm. Though I recently featured bassist/vocalist Lynch at an afternoon gig, I’m once again listing her since she’ll have a new band and be playing in this relatively new nightclub. Kate’s repertoire ranges from the 20s and 30s to an occasional tune from the 60s, all delivered with a sly bit of sass. Her version of Tiptoe Thru the Tulips suggests way more than Tiny Tim could have imagined.

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, May 13

Siami plays guitar

Siami plays guitar

Mikkel & Siami on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip jar) Siami Matuzungidi is an internationally renowned guitarist from Zaire, whose liquid playing helped establish Soukous in the mid-70s. He now lives in Minneapolis, and has found, in Mikkel Beckman,  a simpatico percussionist for his hip-swaying sounds. Beckmen is well-known in the roots community for his work with Charlie Parr and Corpse Reviver, among others. Tune in at 5pm, and head over to the 331 Club to hear more.

Thursday, May 14

American Composers Forum 40th Anniversary @ Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 6:30 – 9:30pm, (Free) Through grants, commissions, and performance opportunities, the ACF supports composers of all stripes in developing audiences for their music. They are celebrating with National Composers Night Out, linking composers thought the nation via social media, and by presenting a number of groups including VocalEssence, the “maverick chamber music” of Orange Mighty Trio, the chamber jazz of JelloSlave, and more.

Eric Bibb @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($25 – $30) Bibb is a blues singing acoustic finger-picker, whose smooth voice, excellent guitar playing, and storytelling skills set him apart in the best possible way. Blues fans will not want to miss him.

Friday, May 15

Jimmi & the Band of Souls @ Wilebski’s, Saint Paul. 6pm – 10pm ($TBD) Though they didn’t win big at the International Blues Challenge this year, Jimmi & the Band of Souls won the heart of Miss Ella, a nationally known reviewer and one of the judges, who highly praised their album The Devil You Know. You can hear their high-energy original blues at tonight’s early show.

Hyentyte @ Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5) They’ll have to move a few tables for the dancing that will surely take place when this six-piece jam/rock band takes the stage. If the doors are open, so much the better for dancers as well as those taking advantage of the beer offerings of the Tap Room.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Art-A-Whirl in NE Minneapolis. Various hours (Free)   Lots of music throughout NE Minneapolis during these three days. Get a rundown of music here. A couple of bands of note on Saturday: Gospel Machine and Southside Desire at Anchor Fish & Chips starting at 6pm; Black Market Brass and Black Diet at Bauhaus Brew Labs starting at 7pm; Grant Hart and Cactus Blossoms at Grumpy’s NE starting at 7:15pm.

Saturday, May 16

Willie Walker & the We R Band @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) Crooners has been featuring jazz vocalists during the week and more R&B oriented acts on the weekends, when the small dance floor fill up, as it will surely do tonight with the soulful sounds of Walker.

Sub-Commandos @ First Avenue, Minneapolis. Doors at 7pm music at 9? ($15) It’s a Twin Cities Punk/New Wave Revival as aging rockers show that they still have what it takes to set First Avenue vibrating. The Sub-Commandos feature members of the Suburbs, Suicide Commandos, and Wallets. Also on hand: Yipes!, from Wisconsin; the New Spooks featuring Curtiss A; Hypstrz; and Flamingo

Sunday, May 17

Urban Pioneers @ Como Dockside, Saint Paul. 7pm (Free) This duo (Liz Sloan, fiddles/vocals; and Jared McGovern, bass/vocals/clawhammer banjo) from San Francisco play rootsy, Appalachian style music, which actually should sound quite good at the Lakeside Pavillion. Opening is Beneath the Crow, a five-piece who describe their music as Southern Goth Folk.

Inti-Illimani and Los Llaneros @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($30) This evening of Latin American music is a benefit for a Chilean Music and Arts School called Sol Del Illimani. Inti-Illimani are a legendary Chilean group who has been thrilling audiences with a blend of poetic and political music for over 40 years. Their talent is staggering, as they deftly move among 30 or more instruments. Los Llaneros perform the music of the plains (Llanos) around the Orinoco River in Colombia and Venezuela. Here’s Inti-Illimani.

Monday, May 18

Willie Murphy @ the Richfield American Legion, 6500 Portland Avenue, Richfield.  7pm (Tip Jar?) Murphy holds forth on this jam every Monday. Who knows who will stop by to participate. One thing is for sure. Willie will be the ringmaster, bringing out the best in everyone.

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.

Another Good Week. Music: 5.7 – 5.13

May 7, 2014

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


Wednesday, May 7

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

O'Brien at play

O’Brien at play

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

Thursday, May 8

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

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

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

Friday, May 9

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

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

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

Saturday, May 10

Photo by Andrea Canter

Photo by Andrea Canter

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

Monday, May 12

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

For a comprehensive listing of Jazz, go to the Twin Cities Live Jazz Calendar. For further commentary on Twin Cities jazz, check out the blogs Jazz PoliceBebopified, and Jazz Ink.

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, May 7

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

Thursday, May 8

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

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


Friday, May 9

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

Friday, Saturday, May 9, 10

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

Saturday, May 10

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

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

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

Sunday, May 11

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

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

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


Monday, May 12

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

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


Out and About. Music: 5.15 – 5.21

May 15, 2013

Unknown-2Monday we went from the mid-sixties at 11am to 98 degrees by 5pm. The temps will be moderating, but we finally have some pleasant weather. It’s just right for a memorial celebration tonight, as well as a birthday celebration, and Art-A-Whirl this weekend, which are a few of  the many opportunities to get out and about.


Wednesday, May 15

Michael O’Brien & Triage @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) It’s about ten years since O’Brien went off to the Big Apple, where he’s been working steadily, even touring Europe. O’Brien recently recorded Tunes I Like To Play, which includes standards as well as three originals. On it, O’Brien shows his talent at bowing, improvisation, and laying a great foundation for the tunes.

Wednesday, Thursday, May 15, 16

imagesJane Monheit @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40), 9pm ($25) Monheit’s voice is an incredible instrument. Touted as the next big thing in jazz vocals when she started about 13years ago. In the years since, she has matured, married, had a child and generally gone past the hype to establish her own way. She just released her ninth album, a collection of standards and pop songs entitled “The Heart of the Matter” to warm reviews.

Thursday, May 16

Robert Bell & Emily Jane Davis @ Honey & Barbette, Minneapolis. 7:30 – 9:30pm (Honey – $5), 10pm – 12:30am (Barbette – Free) You’ve two chances to hear guitarist Bell and vocalist Davis perform swing, bossa novas, & jazz standards. Pay a bit at the intimate and cozy Honey, if you want an early show, or go to Barbette to partake of an excellent happy hour as well as excellent music.

2012-1013 Dakota Combo. Photo by Andrea Canter

2012-1013 Dakota Combo.   Photo by Andrea Canter

The Dakota Combo @ Antonello Hall, MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis. 8pm. The Seventh edition of the Dakota Combo, an open-audition group of the area’s best high school musicians, will perform its last concert of the school year season. The octet, which includes vibes and violin, has been rehearsing and performing since last Fall under the direction of bassist Adam Linz, jazz coordinator at MacPhail. They’ve also participated in clinics with pianist Lynne Arriale, trumpeter Phil Grenadier, and percussionist Francisco Mela. Alumni of previous editions of the combo have gone on to schools like the Brubeck Institute, The Berklee School of Music, Julliard and other renowned music programs. Many are now completing studies and becoming professional musicians. This is the future of jazz.

Friday, Saturday, May 17,18

Phil Hey 60th Birthday Weekend @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) The master of the trapset is the drummer of choice for many visiting musicians. He studied with the great Ed Blackwell, toured with Dewey Redman, is the drummer of choice for Stacy Kent, recorded with Von Freeman, as well as numerous Twin Cities artists, and leads a serious quartet that isn’t afraid to have fun. This is bound to be a high-energy performance. Here’s a video of the Phil Hey Quartet in a swinging, relaxed mode.

Saturday, May 18

Jana Nyberg Group @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (No Cover) Jana and the gang have been doing some recording of late. Not sure if they’ll be playing any of those tunes, but it’s a bet you’ll hear her singing some well crafted versions of jazz standards, a pop song or two, and some originals.

Lila Ammons Jazz Quintet @ Honey, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9:30pm ($7) After a tour of Germany, Austria, Chicago and Texas with her trad jazz project, Ammons returns to the Twin Cities for some straight ahead jazz, with a band that includes Dean Brewington, sax; Tom West, keys; Ron Evaniuk, bass; and Tim Zhorne, drums. I did an interview with Lila last year. Read it here.

Sunday, May 19

UnknownIllicit Sextet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7pm – 9pm ($12/$10 UCJS members) This is part of the Twin Cities Jazz Society’s Jazz from A to Z series. The Illicit Sextet is a composing collective that was one of the area’s most popular ensembles in the late 80s and early 90s. After a 15 year sabbatical, they reunited in 2009 and started performing again. Tonight they’ll be performing music (as they always do) from their long-anticipated second album, Chapter Eleven. Members of the group include Steve Kenny, trumpet; Paul Harper, sax; Tom Pieper, bass; Chris Lomheim, piano; David Roos, guitar; and Nathan Norman, drums.

Monday, May 20

Nate Shaw, Chris Bates, & JT @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($7?) The Bates brothers reunite with the keyboard player from their old band Motion Poets.

Tuesday, May 21

Charles Lazarus Quartet w/ Connie Evingson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) It’s a night of Summer Samba from trumpeter Lazarus and Ms Evingson. Lazarus has a background in classical and jazz idioms, and has performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival and has performed with the New York Big Brass, the London Brass, and the Montreal Symphony and has been a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra, The oregon Symphony, the Bach Society and others. Ms Evingson is a superb singer, and a long time favorite in the Twin Cities.

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

Blues, Roots, Other…

Wednesday, May 15

Celebration of Dave “Cool Breeze” Brown @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10 suggested donation) Includes Bruce McCabe, Lynwood Slim, Mick Sterling,Everett Smitson, Jimi “Prime Time” Smith, and Tommy Burnevik and the Bees Knees Big Band. What a line-up. A blues fan could hardly ask for more. It’s a testament to the high regard in which the late guitarist for the Senders and other groups, Dave “Cool Breeze” Brown, was held. More information can be found at:

Thursday, May 16

Willie Murphy @ The Belmore Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm (No cover) Willie has taken up a residence at this relatively new place on 4th Street in downtown, near where Nate’s Clothing used to be. Expect the usual gaggle of folks sitting in. It’s always enjoyable to hang with Mr. Murphy.

Friday, Saturday, May 17, 18

Art-A-Whirl, NE Minneapolis.  It’s the annual studio crawl (or bus) in NE Minneapolis, and there will be music all around. Some examples: The 331 Club has music Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (schedule here).while Grumpy’s NE has music all day Saturday (schedule here). Flutist Julie Johnson, in the Thorp Building, will be hosting the art of Cheri Johnson and a reading by Marge Barrett, as well playing solo on Friday, starting about 6:30 (info).

Friday, May 17

Unknown-1Don Scott & Curtis Blake @ Bayport BBQ, Bayport. 8pm ($10) If you didn’t catch them at the 331 Club Wednesday (7pm) you have another chance tonight. A lifetime or so ago, guitarist Don Scott headed up the DustBowl Blues Band. If he didn’t spend winters in Mexico (where I met him a few years ago) and New Orleans, we might know him better. Harpmaster Curtis Blake heads up Greezy Wheels, and has played with a number of area performers. Together, they recorded and released Sure Thing, a great sounding round-up of traditional blues and a new song or two. Hear an example of the duo’s prowess here.

Tom Robinson: Music from Brasil, Minnesota, & Elswhere @ The Hat Trick Lounge, Saint Paul. 8pm. ($?) Tom is a guitarist and aficianado of Brazilian music. He’ll give new (and truer) translations to some well-known songs, and with his band, can get folks dancing to jazz as well as sambas and bossa novas.

Saturday, May 18

Bethany Larson & the Bees Knees @ Harriet Brewing Taproom, Minneapolis. 9pm (Free) with Sarah Morris (7pm) Finally, the weather is just right for opening the warehouse doors at the Taproom and hanging out while listening to some great music. Larson’s songwriting is about heartbreak, but won’t cause you to want to drown in your beer, of which there is plenty at the Taproom. Midnord Empanadas will have a food truck available. Read more about the show here.

Sunday, May 19

Big George Jackson @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 10AM – 1PM (No cover) Get your brunch, blues, n’ boogie on as Big George delivers his ferocious, low down vocals. Check out this video.

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.

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