Visiting Artists Galore: 9.12 – 9.18

September 12, 2018

Nancy Harms – photo by Lisa Venticinque

Well, this week over half of my suggestions are for visiting artists, though two of them have Twin cities roots. That’s not to say that resident musicians should be ignored, since many go on to achieve some national renown, such as Nancy Harms. It’s all good, since Music Lifts the Spirit!


Wednesday, September 12

A Sound Decision @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10/$5 with Student ID) Another of Chris Bates’ new collaborations, featuring: Thomas Nordlund, guitar; Joe Strachan, piano; Kismat Shrestha, drums; Kristy Bergmark, tablas; and Chris Bates on basses.

Thursday, September 13

Marilyn Scott & the West Coast All-Stars @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $35, $40) Vocalist Scott has been performing and recording for over four decades, as both leader and collaborator. She’s worked with folks like Spyro Gyra, The Yellowjackets, Tower of Power, Bobby Womack, and Etta James. There’s a good reason her band is called the West Coast All-Stars: she’ll be accompanied by pianist Russell Ferrante, of the Yellowjackets; ex-Yellowjacket Jimmy Haslip on bass; as well as well-traveled musicians guitarist James Harrah and drummer Gary Novak.

Kind Folk CD Release @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($15, $10w/Student ID) Kind Folk is a group of musicians who have all received praise from the NY Times, Downbeat, Jazz Times, and other reviewers. Together, they make up Kind Folk: Trumpeter/ fleugelhonist John Raymond, a Twin Cities native; NYC based artists Alex LoRe, alto; Noam Wiesenberg, bass; and Colin Stranahan, drums. Their new CD features mostly original compositions by group members.

Saturday, September 15

Saturday Night Jazz @ the Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) 7pm: JazzINK Youth showcase, with Below Zero – Noah Wilhiter, tenor sax; Jacob Rochelle-Share, trombone; August McKinney, piano; Jorgen Linne, bass; Nick Adams, drums. 8:30pm: The Joan Hutton Jazz Project – Joan Hutton & David Milne, woodwinds; Joan Griffith, bass; Laura Caviani, piano; and Jendeen Forberg, drums.

Pete Whitman’s Urban Nature @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm ($12 Advance/$15 Door)   This is the opening performance of the Jazz at Studio Z series, tonight featuring saxman Pete Whitman’s new group, and it’s a great one: with Dave Hagedorn, vibes; Chris Lomheim, piano; Chris Bates, bass; and Phil Hey on drums. There will be two sets, as well as a free master class led by Whitman at 6pm. Advance tickets here.

Nancy Harms @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($20, $25) Vocalist Harms, who graced the Twin Cities with her music for a few years before moving to NYC, returns with a concert of original music, including songs from SHE, her upcoming album, as well as songs she wrote in Denmark during one of her recent tours.

Sunday, September 16

The Hot Sardines @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 6pm, 8pm ($35, $40, $45) The Hot Sardines mine the “Hot Jazz” tradition with verve and panache. With a four-piece horn section, a sense of humor, energy to burn, occasional French songs, and plenty of bluesy licks, they’re much fun and will leave you wanting more.

Sunday, Monday, September 16, 17

Ethan Iverson & Mark Turner @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 6:30pm Sunday, 7:30pm Monday ($25, $30) Two pre-eminent jazz musicians collaborate on the intimate stage at the Dunsmore Room. Pianist, composer, and writer Ethan Iverson may be best known for his 17 years with The Bad Plus, but also regularly works with jazz masters such as Billy Hart, Tootie Heath, and Ron Carter. Saxophonist Turner moved to NYC after graduating from Berklee in 1990. He quickly became a sought-after collaborator and sideman, and recorded 5 albums as a leader between 1995 and 2001. Though he took time off from recording for parenthood, he still performed and collaborated, returning to recording in 2013. He released the well-received Lathe of Heaven last year, with Avishai Cohen, trumpet; Joe Martin, bass; and Marcus Gilmore, drums.

Monday, September 17

Nelson Devereaux @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm *$10, $5w/Student ID) Saxophonist Nelson Devereaux is a bright light on the Twin Cities music scene, appearing in a number of bands, and leading his own combos as he is tonight, when he’ll be joined by Joe Strachan, piano; Ted Olsen, bass; Miguel Hurtado, drums, and from Long Beach CA, saxophonist Eric Hirschorn.

Tuesday, September 18

Butch Thompson & Dean Magraw @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 8pm ($6) Just because they play the Vieux with some regularity, doesn’t mean you should put off seeing these two masters tonight. Thompson  on piano and clarinet, and Magraw on guitar are among the finest, and most popular musicians in town.

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

Blues, Roots, Other

Wednesday, September 12

RJ Mischo on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) The “King of the Mighty Good Time” will help you forget your troubles as he sings and plays a mean, mean harp. If you can’t make it to the 331 Club, catch Mischo at Famous Dave’s on Saturday. Here’s a video with Jeremy Johnson on guitar, who will be accompanying Mischo on both drums and guitar.

Jesse Colin Young @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. ($45, $55, $65) “C’mon people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.”  Hear that song and many others from Young’s 15 solo albums and 40-odd years in music.

Thursday, September 13

David Babb & Mikkel Beckmen Folk It Up@ The Dubliner Pub, Saint Paul. 5pm – 8pm (Tip Jar) Guitarist/singer Babb, of the Front Porch Swinging Liquor Pigs, and washboard percussionist Beckmen, host of Thursday afternoons at the Dubliner and member of numerous bands, will entertain this afternoon.

Friday, September 14

Joyann Parker Band @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Parker is a multi-instrumentalist blues singer whose recent album, Hard to Love, has been well received by reviewers at Blues Magazine, Cashbox, Living Blues, and Downbeat, more signs of her rising star power.

Saturday, September 15

Wanaku @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11am (No Cover) Have brunch and enjoy the melodic, rhythmic, and sensuous/swaying music of guitarist Wanaku, who grownup in KOM, a tribal kingdom in the grassfield highlands of the Adamawa range in West Africa. With dozens of tribes the region, Wanaku was exposed to multi-cultural traditions growing up, from which he draws inspiration, as reflected his songs, sung  in a number of different languages.

Chuck Brodsky @ The Gingko, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($15) Guitarist/singer/songwriter Brodsky has worked as a migrant fruit picker, ice cream truck driver, laborer at an Israeli Kibbutz, bank courier, and street singer. All of which has given him an ability to write songs which have a down to earth, quirky, character filled with keen observations.

Ben Glaros @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) From his 80s days in the new wave Tone Poets, to recent work with Fathom Lane, versatile guitarist Glaros has incorporated influences from Jimi Hendrix and Paul Westerberg, to John Coltrane and Gram Parsons into his work. In 2016 he released three EPs – the power pop Celebrated Summerteenth and two furious punk rockers with his trio Dump Trunk. Glaros is re-emerging after taking over a year time to woodshed and write, and will be performing new songs and new sounds.

Hoven Droven w/Aar Maanta @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($30) To open its Annual Global Roots Festival, the Cedar has brought in one of the Twin Cities favorite Cedar artists – Hoven Droven. This Swedish band melds folk music melodies from Sweden with the energy and intensity of a power pop/heavy metal band. They even recorded an album there, Jumping at the Cedar, which was nominated for a Swedish Grammy. Opening is the Cedar’s Resident Artist, Aar Maanta, a Somali singer who makes for a combination just right for the beginning the Cedar’s 30th Season.

Monday, September 17

Harold Lopez-Nussa Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $30) Cuban-born Lopez-Nussa is one of a long line of amazing Cuban pianists. He was featured on the album Ninety Miles, with David Sanchez, Christian Scot, and Stefon Harris. He holds a dual citizenship in both Cuba and France, while his latest album, Un Dia Cualqueria, was recorded in the U.S. and includes influences from both our country and his.

Tuesday, Wednesday, September 18, 219

John Oates @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45, $50, $55) You may know Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famer John Oates as half of Hall & Oates, but you probably don’t know of his love for Americana music. He’ll demonstrate his love for the genre with songs from the recently released album Arkansas, backed by The Good Road Band: Russ Paul, pedal steel; Guthrie Trapp, guitar; Steve Mackey, bass; and Josh Day, 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 in the Saddle: 6.14 – 6.20

June 14, 2017

Taken on a different vacation by Andrea Hjelm. The first time on horseback in 30 years.

Well, I’m back in the saddle again, so to speak, after a brief interruption in posting when my vacation was involuntarily extended. All is good, and I’m looking forward to a week of great music from both visiting and resident artists. This Sunday is Father’s Day and that means that the Stone Arch Festival will be taking place all weekend. Besides booths of art, crafts, and food, there are plenty of artists performing, in genres ranging from classic rock and punk, to Americana and C&W, to even a bit of jazz, but I have to admit I know only a few. A schedule of performers can be found here. Have a great week. Remember music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, June 14

Candy Dulfer @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35, $40, $45), 9pm ($30, $35, $40) This Dutch saxophonist has played with Maceo Parker, Aretha Franklin, Lionel Richie, mavis Staples, Beyonce, Van Morrison and more, and has been name-checked by Prince. She’s had several number 1 hits in the US, and is a big draw at festivals around the world.

Gary LaRue & the Rat Pack Band @ Mancini’s, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (No Cover) If ever there was a great spot to hear the music of Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, and other swinging cats from the 50s, it’s the lounge at Mancini’s.

Thursday, June 15

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Tonight it’s the Wayne Horvitz Group: Horvitz, keys; Josh Granowski, bass; Davu Seru, drums, a combination of musicians who celebrate adventurous music making.

Lucia Newell & The Wolverines Trio @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) Newell is a wonderful singer who is conversant in all manner of jazz and Brazilian music (she spent two years singing there). She only plays selected dates each year, so this is a perfect opportunity to hear her, especially since she’ll be backed by the swinging Wolverines Trio. Here she is in her Brazilian mode.

Friday, June 16

Adam Booker @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Bassist Booker put out a fine recording, Unraveled Rival, on Shifting Paradigm records in 2015.  He has an extensive history with Duluth groups such as The New Orleans Hot Club, the Jazz Pharaohs, the Asylum Street Spankers, and others. This is his last Twin Cities appearance. After teaching at UMN- Duluth for many years, he heading to Appalachian State University where he’ll be Assistant Professor of Double Bass at the Hayes School of Music. Joining him are Levi Schwarzberg, vibes; and Ben Baldwin, drums.

Kevin Washington Quintet @ Rice Park, Saint Paul. 6pm (Free) Drummer Washington is a master of rhythms, whether playing with Nachito Herrera, Viva Brazil or any of a number of jazz luminaries, such as Anthony Cox, Roscoe Mitchell, James Carter, Fred Wesley or the David Murray Big Band. He’ll undoubtedly have some Twin Cities luminaries in his quintet. Pippi Ardennia and the PipJazz All Stars open this summertime outdoor event.

Saturday, June 17

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) As is often the case, the evening starts with a young group. Drummer Simon Petrick, who is a member of this year’s Dakota Combo will be leading a group at 7pm. Then at 8:30pm it’s How Birds Work, a quartet started during the heyday of the Artists’ Quarter and featuring Dean Granros, guitar; Peter Schimke, keyboards, Chris Bates, bass, and Kenny Horst, drums. They play high-quality, demanding jazz from the likes of Coltrane, Shorter, Hancock, and more.

Joel Shapira CD Release @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (No Cover) Guitarist Shapira has had an every other week solo early gig at the Vieux for almost two years now, and has developed a bit of a following there, members of whom have asked for a solo CD. Well, he’s delivered. The CD, In Essence, contains some gems from the Great American Songbook as well as modern jazz classics by Coltrane, Miles, and Monk, including his third recording of Bemsha Swing. In a recent interview with Tom Surowicz for the Highland Villager, Shapira said, “It’s a challenge, reducing piano music to the guitar.” Shapira is more than up to it.

Sunday, June 18

Nancy Harms @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($20, 425; $40, $50 Dinner Show) Though not exposed to jazz until she attended college, Ms Harms, a Clara City, MN native performs as if born to the role of jazz singer. She has an innate sense of time and phrasing and an ability to imbue songs with just the right amount of humanity to fully tell each song’s story. She is a uniquely gifted performer who has established herself in NYC and Europe. Her shows here in town are always well-attended, if not sold out, so be forewarned that the Dunsmore Room only seats 80.

Regina Marie Williams @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm )$17 – $22) You may have seen Williams in any number of roles at the Guthrie, Penumbra, Park Square, and Mixed Blood theaters. She’s a fine actress – she’s won an Ivey Award, was named City Pages Best Actress of 2016, and received the McKnight Theater Artist Award. She is also a great songstress, who can whisper as well as soar, as attested by roles where she’s played Dinah Washington and Nina Simone.

Monday, June 19

Jane Bunnett & Maqueque @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $35) Canadian saxophonist Jane Bunnett has been nominated twice for a Grammy and received a number of Canada’s music awards. She went to Cuba back in 1982 and fell in love with the sensual, yet intricate rhythms of the island. She’d often use them with her contemporary jazz performances, and recently assembled an all-star cast of female Cuban musicians to form Maqueque. Their second album, Odara, was released last fall.

Adam Astrup @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (!0, $5 w/Student ID)Though newly graduated from high school, guitarist Astrup as been impressing audiences in various groups for a couple of years now, including the Dakota Combo and two or three groups of his own. Tonight he and members of his quintet will be playing originals. Members include: Nick Benish, bass; Andrew Tomten, Sax; Patrick Adkins, keys; and Simon Petrick, drums. Here he is in a trio setting.

JT’s Jazz Implosion @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm. ($8) This long running weekly event, curated by drummer JT Bates, always features forward thinking artists, whether from the Twin Cities or beyond. Tonight features The Jon Davis Quartet for set one: Davis, bass & woodwinds; Chuck Love trumpet, flute, melodica, & percussion, Bryan Nichols, keys; and Greg Schutte, drums. Performing set two is The George Marich Trio; Marich, drums, George Cartwright, saxes; and Josh Granowski, bass.

Tuesday, June 20

Jordan Anderson Group @ Walker West, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (free) This dazzling young pianist was a member of the Dakota Combo prior to attending the University of Michigan, where he was recruited by, and studies with, none other than Benny Green. I believe he’ll have talented contemporaries with him: Peter Goggin, saxophone; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Edmund Catlin, drums. Here he is while still a HS student, with a different group

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, June 14

Crankshaft & the Gear Grinders @ Como Park Conservatory, Saint Paul. 6pm (Free) Pack up a picnic and head out the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory to  boogie down to the amped up blues, country, and roots music from the guitarist/songwriter who’s the pride of Anoka  Plus there’s a climbing wall, bouncy tent and other distractions for the wee ones.

The Dollys on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) The Dollys are Joanna Jahn, Kari Shaw, and Megan Shaw, or are all enamored of the three-part harmonies of EmmyLou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt. They also perform songs by other female country artists as well as their own versions of folk and Americana hits. Tune in to Harold’s House Party at 5pm, and if you like what you hear, head over to the 331 Club to see them in person.

Butch Thompson & Pat Donahue @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15; $40 for Dinner Show) A creative pairing of legendary, excellent musicians. Pianist Thompson and Fingerstyle Guitarist Donahue mine classic blues and jazz, that is from the 20s and 30s, with an occasional original that fits the style. The Dunsmore Room provides a quiet, intimate space to fully appreciate their musicianship, craftsmanship, and easy-going banter. Here’s a track from the album the duo made, featuring Thompson on clarinet.

Robert Earl Keen @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($40 Advance, $45 Door) Regular listeners of Jackson Buck’s Freewheelin’ show know that every Christmas he plays Keen’s Merry Christmas from the Family, a description of a blended family at Christmas time. No matter what your background, this tale of a family gathering will include something that’s funny and familiar. It’s a perfect example of his wit and powers of observation, as his his take on modern life called Wireless in Heaven. He’s been writing songs for over three decades and continues to sharpen his wit and entertain folk, and was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012, while a couple of years ago he became the first recipient of BMI’s Troubadour Award. Keen takes a few minutes to introduce the band before singing on this video.

Thursday, June 15

Doug Little’s Seven Steps to Havana @ Arlington Hills Library, Saint Paul. 7pm – 8:30pm (Free) This septet led by flutist/saxophonist Doug Little features musicians from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Ethiopia, and the US. Their hip-swaying music uses the fiery rhythms of salsa and the rich harmonies of jazz.

Mikkel Beckmen w/Martin Devaney @ The Dubliner Pub, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) Percussionist Mikkel Beckmen’s weekly residency is always a great place to stop after work and down a pint in a friendly setting while Beckmen invites guests to share the stage. This week he has Martin Devaney, hard working guitarist and prolific songwriter working on his seventh full length album. Here’s Devaney.

Steve Clarke Quartet w/Patty Peterson @ Seven Steak House, Minneapolis. 7pm (No cover?) It seems that Seven Steak House at 7th & Hennepin has new management, and has decided to bring in music on Thursdays. Tonight Steve Clarke brings his swinging saxophone to the venue, along with guest vocalist Patty Peterson, who is equally at home in jazz and R&B. Not sure if you have to order a meal or can hang at the bar, so you may want to call to get particulars.

Friday, June 16

Garland Jeffreys @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $35) Brooklyn native Jeffreys has been creating urban rock since the 60s, first hitting with Wild in the Streets back in the 70s. His songs have been covered by punkers and neo-folkies, and he’s worked with folks ranging from John Cale, Lou Reed, U2,  and Dr. John to Stan Getz and Sonmny Rollins. Jeffrey’s latest two albums, The King of In Between from 2011, and Truth Serum in 2013 received great reviews and his latest, the newly-released 14 Steps to Harlem, is sure to bring him new fans, at least based on the three songs I’ve heard.

Celtic Rock Night @ Celtic Junction, Saint Paul. 8pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) These days Celtic music is more than fiddles and whistles, and tonight in an event sponsored by the MN Music Coalition, will certainly prove that out. Performing are The Sweet Colleens, a quintet of multi-instrumentalists playing high-energy fiddle and accordion-driven Celtic Americana who just released their 5th album; Belfast-born Leslie Rich a guitarist singer who has played with The Hounds of Finn and Leslie Rich & the Rocket Soul Choir since emigrating to the US, and The Tim Malloys, who fuse traditional Irish music with pub rock and the sensibility (and sound) of Minneapolis punk rock.

Lowland Lakers @ The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 8pm ($7 Advance, $10 Door) It’s a seated show of Americana as this trio, with roots in Duluth, play their last gig with Dr. Matt Donoghue on bass – he’s taking a position as Emergency Medicine Resident. Opening is the talented Rachel Hanson, who’s a north country artist herself. Then the Last Jackson will close out the evening.

Paul Cebar @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($12) Milwaukee native Paul Cebar has been at this songwriting/singing/playing thing for decades, always finding ways to incorporate irresistible rhythms into his songs that provide a modern touch to old R&B ideas. For instance, you’ll be dancing along to something funky, when all of a sudden there’s a calypso break. No wonder legions of dancers come out for every performance.

Malamanya @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm ($10 advance, $15 Door) Late night salsa dancing to this Twin Cities band that with the bona fides to perform classic Cuban music.

Saturday, June 17

Class Action @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($25) For three years in the late 70s and early 80s, Class Action was just about the most popular dance band in the Twin Cities. No wonder – look at their talented members: Rockie Robbins, who later had seven charting singles as a solo artist; Patty Peterson, who continues to sparkle as a jazz/R&B singer here in town; Ricky Perterson, the wizard keyboard player who played with David Sanborn for 20 years and countless other artiits; Candy Anderson Cretoekos, who started singing in church, and worked with Wayne Cochran & the CC Riders throughout the nation. She moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis and returned to her church roots, performing throughout California; Stephen Faison, performer for hundreds of jingles and soundtracks and staff writer for recording studios, who worked withThe Coasters, Drifters, Walter Trout and Aretha Franklin and teaches here in town; Rick Cornish, who performed with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and who had one of his compositions premiered by the LA Philharmonic, and winner of numerous national and international awards; Rick Houle, who played in Passage and the Doug Maynard Band before moving to Seattle in 1984. Since then he’s worked with Ernestine Anderson, and is currently a member of a 12 piece group that plays the music of Steely Dan; finally there Glenn Swanson, who was a staff drummer at Creation Audio, who after Class Action went on to work with Sheila Raye Charles (daughter of Ray), including serving as emcee for a Japanese tour, and more recently produced vocalist Pippi Ardennia. Wow!

International Reggae All Stars @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($??) Here’s a chance for east-siders to hear the reggae sound of the All Stars outside of their weekly gig at Bunkers.

Rena Haus Trio @ Dusty’s, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Dusty’s is tiny, though a more upscale description would say intimate. Nevertheless it provides a great setting as guitarist/songwriter Rena Haus, her bassist brother Bob, and under-appreciated guitarist Ed Petsche will regale you with Rena’s original song stories and great covers of blues songs. Here she is solo.

Monday, June 19

Frankie Lee & Friends @ The Turf Club’s Clown Lounge, Saint Paul. 7pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) Lee has the June residency for Monday nights at the rec room inspired Clown Lounge. He’s a country/folk singer whose debut album American Dreamer, was released in 2015 on London’s Loose Records. It promptly became well played on Europe’s radio stations, making many “best of” lists from the continent. It was released in America in the summer of 2016, earning him more praise from NPR, among others. Don’t know which friends will show up, but they include Michael Lewis bass, sax; Jeremy Ylvisaker, guitar; and JT Bates, drums, who appeared on his first EP.

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.

Herald the Holidays: 12.21 – 21.27

December 21, 2016
Holiday lights in Rice Park

Holiday lights in Rice Park

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and a Joyous Kwanzaa. And a happy late December season to everyone else, whether you are people of faith, agnostics or atheists. The arrival of Christmas means there is little public music on Saturday and Sunday, but there are still some pre-Christmas holiday shows, as well as some first rate music for you to enjoy. Music lifts the Spirit.


Wednesday, December 21

Nachito Herrera & The Universals @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 – $45) As I wrote last week, even if you’ve seen the dazzling Cuban American pianist Nachito Herrera before, you likely haven’t seen him in this setting, with a group of musicians that can match his energy and wide-ranging musical interests. Violinist Karen Briggs has worked for many years with Yanni, and can go from classical music to gypsy jazz on a dime; Saxophonist Mike Phillips has worked with Prince and Steve Wonder; while Cuban drummer Raul Pineda and Senegal bassist Cheikh Nkoye provide the groups’ thundering heartbeat. All have deep resumes, are supremely conversant in a number of styles, and will no doubt create exhilarating music.  You can hear a phone interview I did with Nachito here, just click on the link for December 17. The interview occurs in the third (last) half hour of the show.

Retro Swing Sister’s Jingle Bell Ball @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($7) Swing dancing is the order of the day as the charming and sophisticated vocal stylings of Maryann Sullivan and Rhonda Laurie bring dancers to the floor to help ring in the holidays with the help of Bob Byers, sax; Tom Lewis, bass; Robert Bell, guitar; and Trevor Haining, drums. They and the band will be swinging through some standards and some holiday music, and as an extra special attraction, they are encouraging folks to dress up in their best holiday duds, with prizes for the best outfits.

Thursday, December 22

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Though the Twin Cities seems to be teeming with great jazz groups, as evinced by the recent release of the 14 track Twin Cities Jazz Sampler Vol. 2, there are some up and coming musicians who are currently off in college and playing on their return for the holidays. Case in point: Hoaxer, with Will Kjeer, piano; Charlie Lincoln, bass; Peter Goggin, alto; and Edmund Catlin, drums.

Katia Cardenas @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($8 Cash only) High energy vocalist Cardenas was recently in Colorado, where she sang as part of her mom’s CD release. Her father is also a musician, so she was surrounded by music growing up. For the last couple of years she’s been performing throughout the Twin Cities area, using a combination of R&B and Jazz to reach a wide audience. She’ll be celebrating the season with jazz, Latin, and holiday favorites.

Will Schmid Quartet @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7:30 – 9:30pm (Tip Jar) This is the debut of another group of up and coming  players on holiday leave from college, featuring Schmid, guitar; Patrick Adkins, piano; Alma Engebretson, bass; Jesse Thorson, drums.

Thursday, Friday, December 22, 23

The Bad Plus @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45), 9pm ($40) It’s Christmas week, so the Bad Plus must be back at the Dakota, for what is now their 15th or 16th annual show, the first one occurring just before they broke on the worldwide jazz scene. Ethan Iverson, piano; Reid Anderson, bass; and Dave King, drums are all from Minnesota and Wisconsin, though Iverson and Anderson make their homes in NYC. Their collective approach to performing crosses boundaries and genres in unexpected ways, whether doing originals, classical music, or new interpretations of tunes by artists such as Johnny Cash or Peter Gabriel. Rolling Stone calls them “about as badass as highbrow gets.”

Friday, December 23

King Baron Hot Several @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10 Cash only) This band seems to be an outgrowth of the Jazzland Wonderband, with an additional singer and a new drummer. It’s a New Orleans inspired band, with a bit of second-line, a bit of trad jazz, and a contemporary sound of their own. You get powerful vocals from Cameron Kinghorn, who also plays trumpet; and Abbie Mills; with the versatile Nelson Devereaux on reeds; Keith Hilson trombone; Evan Clark, tuba; and Lars-Erik Larson on drums. Here they are in the older configuration.

Saturday, December 24

No jazz on Christmas Eve.

Sunday Monday, December 25, 26

The Bad Plus @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45), 9pm ($40) This is the second part of a four night stand over Christmas for the Bad Plus  performing what is now their 15th or 16th annual show. Ethan Iverson, piano; Reid Anderson, bass; and Dave King, drums are all from Minnesota and Wisconsin, though Iverson and Anderson make their homes in NYC. Their collective approach to performing crosses boundaries and genres in unexpected ways, whether doing originals, classical music, or new interpretations of tunes by artists such as Johnny Cash or Peter Gabriel. Rolling Stone calls them “about as badass as highbrow gets.”

Monday, December 26

Andrew Schwandt @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Schwandt is a saxophonist with a big, warm sound, who can be heard with Fuzzy Math, the MN Hardbop Collective, and Steeling Dan, among others. As usual, Mondays at Jazz Central give musicians a chance to play new music, or whatever they want. In the past he’s appeared with Ted Godbout on piano, and Graydon Peterson on bass, though I’m not sure who’ll be with him tonight. Here he is with a group called Story City.

Tuesday, December 27

Nancy Harms & Jeremy Siskind @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($22, $47), 9pm ($15) After two sold-out shows in April, Ms Harms returns to the Dunsmore Room along with pianist Jeremy Siskind  The Clara City, MN born Harms lived in the Twin Cities at the beginning of her journey as a jazz singer, impressing jazz fans from throughout the area. Since moving to NYC in 2010, she’s appeared at a number of the Big Apple’s more famous nightclubs, but more importantly, has established herself in Europe, often spending weeks in Denmark, France, London, and elsewhere. She’s an expressive, yet reserved singer, who puts herself into every song, bringing knowing nuance to old chestnuts and new songs alike, as amply demonstrated on her album Ellington at Night. Famed jazz critic Walt Friedwald, writing in the Wall Street Journal, said, “…after hearing her just once, you’ll never want to let her go.” If you’ve any interest in vocal jazz, you will want to see Harms perform. Here she is at what I believe is a French radio station.

Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) This is more or less an open rehearsal, but don’t fear, there’s more rhythm and kicking’ horn lines than there is talking. Plus, you’re pretty much surrounded by the musicians, for an immersive listening experience.

Tuesday, Wednesday, December 27, 28

Rio Nido @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 Tues, Wed), 9pm ($25 Wed) A beloved trio, Rio Nido came out of the West Bank music scene of the late 70s, with their unique blend of voices and a repertoire of songs from the 30s and 40s. After a decades long hiatus, they started returning to performing a year or so ago, welcomed so much that a third show was added for this gig. Prudence JohnsonTom Lieberman  and Tim Sparks are successful performers in their own right:, Johnson as a singer with more than a dozen recordings to her credit, as well as extended appearances on Prairie Home Companion; Lieberman as a producer and songwriter, and Sparks as an award-winning guitarist who’s equally at home with folk, jazz, country blues, and gospel. You can hear an interview I did with Sparks and Lieberman here, just click on the link for December 17. The interview occurs in the first half hour of the show. Here they are many years ago/

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, December 21

Pat Donohue & Friends on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Guitarist Pat Donohue won the 1983 National Fingerpicking Contest, and was part of the house band on Prairie Home Companion for about 20 years, a gig which had him bringing a new song to the show each week. He also got to play with folks like Doc Watson, Brad Paisley, and others, including Chet Atkins, who inspired his song, Stealing From Chet. Though Donohue considers himself a folk guitarist, his fingerpicking style encompasses old blues, swing, R&B, and often-witty originals, such as Rubs Me the Right Way, filled with playful puns about getting a massage. Tune in and then head over to the 331 Club to hear more.

Erica West Band @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) A tight band and soulful, strong vocals make for an entertaining evening of music. Erica West is a silky, sensuous, and powerful singer. Her husband Kevin Anderson is the guitarist and leader of the band, creating a band that’s in deep sync with West.

Thursday, December 22

Dumpstaphunk @ The Hook & Ladder Theater and Lounge, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($25 Advance, $30 Door) If the New Year is near, Mardis Gras season is not far behind, and Dumpstaphunk is bringing the New Orleans groove and funk to Minneapolis to help us prepare. This group has great lineage, being led by Ivan Neville on keys; with Ian Neville on guitar; the double bass attack of Tony Hall and Nick Daniels; and drums by Alvin Ford Jr. They started in 2003 with a one-off gig at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and since then have played at some of the world’s largest music festivals, including Bonnaroo. We no longer have The Meters, James Brown, Sly & the Family Stone, and Booker T and the MGs, but we do have Dumpstaphunk, a group that’s as funky as you can get, as you can tell from this video.

Friday, December 23

Katie McMahon’s Celtic Christmas 2016 @ The O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($28) Soprano Katie McMahon was the featured soloist with Riverdance, that worldwide touring hit of the 90s. Each year since 2000, when the Irish native settled in the Twin Cities, she has presented her family-friendly Celtic Christmas show of traditional Christmas songs, Gaelic Carols, English Carols, stories, and Irish dance. This year’s show features the Kantorei Choral Ensemble, singing German and Austrian music, as well as the Corda Mor Dancers, a troupe of about 20 young people, three backup singers, and her long time band: Karen Mueller, autoharp, guitar, and hurdy-gurdy; Zack Kline, fiddle; Marc Anderson, percussion: and new member Jane Cords O’Hara on cello. It’s often sold out, so call the auditorium at Saint Catherine University to check for seats.

Ronn Easton & Friends @ Famous Daves, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) Ronn Easton is a musical entrepreneur and fine R&B singer who has been responsible for some great Revues at the Parkway. Tonight he’s joined by Deb Brown and Aisha Baker on vocals; Kenyari Jackson, drums; Will Glasper, bass, Deevo Dee, guitar; Brian Neilsen, keys; and Walter Chancellor Jr, saxophones. Expect some Funky Jazz & R&B Classics, along with plenty of room for dancing.

Patty & The Buttons Holiday Show @ The Aster Cafe River Room, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) Patty & the Buttons play for brunch-minded swing dancers at the cafe every Sunday. Tonight they bring their hot rhythm, trad jazz, Western Swing, ragtime, and other rollicking music to the River Room. There are only 40 seats, but there is also standing room. So make a reservation or get there early if you aren’t dancing.  BTW, the River Room only has bar service.

Saturday, Sunday, December 24, 25

Deano & the Dinosaurs @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8:30 – Midnight. (Tip Jar) This is certainly a comfortable gig for listeners and band members alike, with guitarist Dean Mikkelson leading a different group of musicians each evening. I’m not certain, but this may be the only music event on Christmas Eve, but it would be a great gig to see anytime. As for Sunday, it’s only one of two events that I’m aware of.

Sunday, Monday, December 25, 26

The Combo @ Bunker’s, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($7) Bring out your visiting relatives and friends to hear the Combo tear through R&B dance jams from the 70s, 80s, and now. If your friends and relatives need convincing, let them know that Prince used to show up, bringing potential band members to learn from watching the Combo, aka Mombo’s Combo. After all, they’ve been at it for decades, and yet the group is always exciting, and always fun. Added attraction: you never can tell who will show up to sit in.

Monday, December 26

Merry Cajun Christmas @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm – 10:30pm ($?) If you’ve been gathering calories over the weekend, here’s a chance to work them off, and still be home relatively early in case you have to work in the morning. The insistent, irresistible beat of Cajun music will have you up and dancing, as the twin fiddles of Eric Mohring and Gary Powell; along with the stomach steinway of Shawn Glidden; provide the impetus for moving, ably abetted by Karen Kleinspehn, guitar; Karl Smelker, bass; AJ Srubas, steel guitar; and Andre Mohring, 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.

September Song. Music for 9.4 – 9.10

September 4, 2013
Enjoy the last days of summer

Enjoy the last days of summer

Well, the days are going short and the weather is delightful. It’s no longer unthinkable to go inside while the sun is still shining at 7 or 8 o’clock. We’ve got a couple of CD release parties, the return of a Saturday residency, some end-of-season festivals, and a couple of surprising acts on hand this week. Have a good one.


Wednesday, September 4

imagesNancy Harms CD Release Party @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) Nancy Harms grew up in rural Minnesota, moved to Minneapolis to begin her singing career, and moved to NYC a couple of years ago. She’s done well there, getting engagements at a number of clubs, including Birdland, singing on a Wycliffe Gordon CD, making connections that have allowed her to sing at festivals in Europe. Now, she has a new CD, Dreams in Apartments. She’s written a few of the tunes with Arne Fogel, and does a terrific job of interpreting some standards. Nancy has a unique sound, in that she can sound languid, yet still swing. There is no doubt that tonight’s release party will be fun.

Davu Seru & Friends @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (tip jar) Drummer Davu Seru will be joined by Pat O’Keefe, clarinets; Marc Anderson on percussion; and Brian Roessler, bass. All of these musicians can play both inside and outside, so expect an intriguing evening of music.

Miguel Hurtado & Friends @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) This is actually, Courageous Endeavors, a quartet led by Brian Courage on bass, quickly becoming a bassist-about-town, and features recent University grad Joe Strachan on piano; with Nelson Deveraux on sax; and Miguel Hurtado on drums.

Thursday, September 5

I've Been Ringing You

I’ve Been Ringing You

Dave King Trio featuring Bill Carruthers and Billy Peterson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($17) Drummer King, who seems to collect bands like some people collect records, threw a curve to the critics when he came up with the trio that plays beautiful ballads. Carruthers plays spare, spacious music on the piano, while Peterson’s sensitive bass playing holds things down, to which King responds with imagination and taste. The album they put out last year, I’ve Been Ringing You is an homage, or perhaps a love song, to the Great American songbook and jazz standards, including Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman.

Friday, September 6

Playing on the patio, with guest Billy Peterson

Playing on the patio, with guest Billy Peterson

Irv Williams & Peter Schimke @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 4″30pm – 6:00pm (Free)  Irv Williams recently celebrated his 94th birthday by throwing a little party for his fellow inhabitants of a senior living complex. His tone is a sweet and gentle as can be, though he throws in a honk here at there, mostly at the end of a song, to break the mood. Schimke is a piano player about town who has developed great rapport with Williams, and serves as a perfect foil, as can be heard on the CD, Duets.

Dorothy Doring, Joan Griffith, & Phil Mattson @ Parma 8200, Bloomington. 7:30 – 10:30pm (Free) A personable, engaging vocalist, a talented guitarist, and a piano player who has built a reputation for arranging for vocalists. All in the Parma’s lounge.

Friday, Saturday, September 6,7

band-yellowedGraydon Peterson CD Release Party @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($12) Peterson has been well established as a bassist-about-town for a number of years now, and he’s been slowly composing the compositions that appear on the Quartet’s CD. He makes effective use of the harmonies and contrasts of Vinnie Rose on guitar and Adam Meckler, trumpet. Adrian Suarez on drums, together with Peterson, lays down an effective foundation for the group.

Saturday, September 7

JoAnn Funk @ The Saint Paul Hotel Lobby Bar, Saint Paul. 7:30 – 11:00 (Free) JoAnn on piano and vocals, and Jeff Brueske on bass return to their school year residency every Saturday. It’s a great place for people watching, and the cocktails are good (if a tad high), but the real reason to go is to hear JoAnn singing the songs of Nat King Cole, Blossom Dearie, Dan Penn, and many more. Here she is doing a Ry Cooder tune.

Tuesday, September 10

A Chris Olson Project @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (Tip Jar)  Chris is one of the area’s top guitar players, teaching at MacNally Smith and playing in the JazzMN Big Band, Maintime, and others. For this gig, which occurs with some regularity, Chris invites some friends to join him to play songs they don’t play with other people.

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

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, September 5,6,7

Moore by Four - Favorites at Concrete & Grass

Moore by Four – Favorites at Concrete & Grass

Concrete and Grass Festival @ Mears Park & Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 7pm Thursday, 5pm Friday, 4pm Saturday (Free) Here’s a chance to welcome back The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, playing Thursday night at 7pm, followed by Moore by Four. Other artists featured in this festival include the Minnesota Opera and Halloween Alaska on Saturday, Lucy Michelle w/Chan Poling and John Munson, and Marimba Africa on Friday, and the East Side Quartet, featuring Clint Hoover, at the Black Dog on Friday. More information can be found at

Friday, September 6

Les Nubians @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40), 9pm ($35) These French sisters have been nominated for Grammys in R&B, and with their AfroEuropean sound, embody pan global rhythms – exotic music with a danceable beat. Check out this video.

Javier & the Innocent Sons, w/Cooker John @ Harriet Brewing Taproom, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) Some blues for you, with an excellent band and an enjoyable soloist.

Tommy Malone with Paul Metsa & Willie Walker @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($?) Tommy Malone is the lead singer, guitarist, and one of the primary writers for New Orleans’ Subdudes, so rootsy rock music may be the order of the day, encompassing New Orleans R&B, folk, gospel, and perhaps some Cajun rhythms. He’s touring in support of his solo effort, Natural Born Days, which is riding high on Louisiana’s roots music charts. Metsa and Walker are billed as special guests, so I’m guessing they’ll have their own set to open.

Saturday, September 7

Haley will be there

Haley will be there

Secret Stash Soul Revue & More @ Summit Brewing Backyard Bash, Saint Paul. Noon – 8pm. ($18 advance/$20 gate) This is an annual celebration of Summit Beer, but more than that, it’s also a way to support Minnesota Music, as 50% of the gate goes to the Minnesota Music Coalition. Besides the Soul Revue, the Bash will feature a fitting cross-section of Minnesota Musicians:  Haley Bonar and a full band; the New Standards; Night Moves; Lizzo; and Charlie Parr and Friends, with Hot Pants Deejays spinning between acts. Good music. Good Beer. Good Cause.

Washington County Bluegrass Festival, Lake Elmo Park Reserve, Lake Elmo. 3pm – 7pm ($5) Facepainting, foodtrucks, and music from The Cactus Blossoms at 3pm; Boys ‘N the Barrels at 4pm; the Roe Family Singers at 5pm; and Kind Country at 6pm. The Lake Elmo Park reserve is a 2200 acre parkland, about 30 minutes or less east of the metro area.

Sunday, September 8

4th Annual Adieu Summer Concert @ Black Bear Crossings in the Lake Como Pavillion, Saint Paul. 4pm – 7pm ($10 – Children under 12 Free) A collection of world music groups, with an emphasis on the laid-back rhythms of Brazil and Hawaii, featuring the Talking Strings, Lau Hawaiian  Collective, Ticket to Brasil, and Blusion.

Tuesday, September 10 

Unknown-1ETHEL String Quartet @ Macalester College Mairs Concert Hall, Saint Paul. 7:30pm (Free) This New York based group includes violinist Kip Jones, who is originally from Duluth, and settled in the Twin Cities for a while after traveling the globe. While here Jones played in a number of different venues with a variety of improvising players. I did an interview with him in 2011, which you can read here. The string quartet will be playing works by Mary Ellen Childs, Vijay Iyer, Jeff Buckly, Enniko Morricone, and more, including a Jones original.

Naturally 7 @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40) This is a New York City group that sings a capella (the city’s streetcorners and subways are great places to hone this sound). They call their style VocalPlay, since they also use their voices to imitate instruments, something that hasn’t been done by groups since the Mills Brothers and others did it back in the 30s and 40s. Of course, the use of looping technology helps. They recorded three songs with Michael Buble, and have also done a track with Ludacris for the latest Quincy Jones record. Here’s an illustration of their work.

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.

4.10 – 4.16

April 10, 2013
Creativity is, well, creative

Creativity comes in all shapes & sizes

We have many great performances by resident musicians this week, as well as a few very interesting visiting musicans – Ben Wendel of New York; Paquito D’Rivera, originally from Cuba; Los Amigos Invisibles from Venezuela; and Fatoumata Diawara from Mali. Don’t let the stars get in your eyes, however, as our resident musicians are showing a high level of creativity, by combining forces and giving an extra something to their performances. All in all, we who are the consumers of music are the beneficiaries. Hear-Hear!


Wednesday, April 10

Stew Frog @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul 7:30 – 9:30pm. Stew Frog is Scott Fultz, sax; Dean Granros, guitar and Steve Goldstein, laptop & wavedrum. Hmmm, a trio of musicians that aren’t afraid to stretch their imaginations or ours. Is it jazz? Electronica? Avant Garde? Maybe all three at once.

Enormous Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Donation) Park Evans, guitar; Chris Thomson, sax; Chris Bates, bass; Joey Philips, drums. This quartet has been quiet for the last few years, as all have been busy with other projects. Nevertheless, though this may or may not signal a return to regular performing, it will undoubtedly be worth your while to hear them.

Thursday, April 11

Ben Wendel @ Jazz at Studio Z, Saint Paul. 6pm (workshop – free); 7pm (concert – $10) Saxophonist Wendel is a founder of the Grammy Nominated Kneebody, an adjunct professor at NYU, and is versatile enough to play with Prince, Snoop Dogg, and Cuban drumming legend Ignacio Berroa.  He’ll be backed by Brian Ziernak, piano; Zacc Harris, guitar; Graydon Peterson, bass; and Pete Hennig, drums; with special guest Brandon Wozniak on tenor. Free workshop at 6pm.

Friday, April 12

Nick Haas Trio @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm. Tasty jazz guitar, served up with imagination. Just like the food at Hell’s Kitchen.

Saturday, April 13



Jeremy Walker: Premier of 7 Psalms @ Bethel College, 3900 Bethel Drive, Saint Paul. 8pm (Free) Since his days as the owner of Brilliant Corners in Saint Paul, pianist and composer Walker has explored may avenues for his creativity, collaborating with dance companies like TU and Zenon, and working with his group Boot Camp. All of which have earned him deservedly high praise. Tonight, he’ll premier his latest work. 7 Psalms is a piece for jazz quartet, solo voice and choir, which he plans to take around the country. Video previews reveal emotional, sophisticated jazz compositions that fully support the words from the Psalms. With him will be Jason Harms, solo voice, along with Brandon Wozniak, tenor, Jeff Brueske, bass, and Tim Zhorne, drums, as well as a large choir directed by Brian Link.

We Love our Pianos @ Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hopkins. 8pm ($24) Vocalist Arne Fogel is at it again, bringing together some highly talented musicians around a theme – this time it’s pianos and vocalists. Joining Arne are Nancy Harms and Connie Evingson, a couple of superb singers, as well as Rick Carlson and Tanner Taylor on pianos. Both are known for their ability to fully support singers while leaving their own stamp on proceedings. I’m including a video of Nancy, partly because it’s so well done.

Saturday, Sunday, April 13, 14

imagesRhonda Laurie: Happy Days Are Here Again @ the Blackbox Theater, Bloomington Center for the Arts, Bloomington. 7:30pm Sat, 2pm Sunday. ($20/$18/$15) Vocalist Laurie knows how to swing, ac-CENT-uating the POS-itive while riding the rhythm, which ensures that this presentation of the songs of the greatest generation will be both memorable and warm. She’s presenting the music of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, and giving the background and stories behind such gems as Sentimental Journey, and Dream a Little Dream of Me and others.

Sunday, April 14

Gary Schulte & Zosha Warpeha: PipJazz @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 4pm ($20/$5 for students) Vocalist Pippi Ardennia is having a violin day for this monthly gig. Schulte is a treasure. He’s collaborated with gypsy jazz legend Dorado Schmidt, as well as David Byrne, Dionne Warwick, the Ballet of the Dolls, Butch Thompson and more. Zosha Warpeha is a HS senior with a bright future before her. She’s a member of the Dakota Combo and is a regular band member for every PipJazz concert. Here’s a video of Gary performing a Django Rheinhart song.

Ready to play

Ready to play

Paquito D’Rivera & the Assad Brothers @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 6pm & 8pm ($45/$40) Paquito D’Rivera was only 17 when he was a featured soloist on clarinet with the Havana Symphony. He was a member of the ground-breaking Irakere, and has gone on to win eleven Grammys. He is, to put it mildly, a virtuoso in Latin, jazz, and classical music. Tonight he is joined by the Assad Brothers, who are also virtuosos on their instruments – the guitar. Sounds like a formidable combination.

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.

Roots, Blues, Other…

Wednesday, April 10

DownloadedFileRAMM Band on KFAI and @ the 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (KFAI:90.3 & 106.7FM) and 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) The RAMM Band is Paul Mayasich, guitar & slide; John Iden, bass; and Donald “Hye Pockets” Robinson on drums. Paul is one of the best slide players in town, and John and Hye Pockets provide a deep groove no matter what they’re playing. Expect R&B, blues, Motown, & funk.

Willie Murphy & Tom Hunter: Last Chance @ The Driftwood Char Bar, Minneapolis. 7:30pm. (Tip Jar) Well, another weekly bluz jamoroony (to evoke Willie’s language) is about to end. Murphy & Hunter have been having a ball each week with various and sundry sittin’ in, and audience members often dancing. But, everything must change, as the song goes, and though Willie & Tom will undoubtedly keep performing (Willie is at the Eagles this Saturday), this is the last chance you’ll have to see them in the cozy surroundings of the Driftwood.

Thursday, April 11

Doug Otto & the Getaways @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Roots, Blues, Country, Americana. Close your eyes and listen. Doug & the gang are producing the sound of the 30s and early 40s, right here, right now. It’s enough to send chills down your spine.

Friday, April 12

Fatoumata Diawara @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($35) The Cedar continues to earn it’s title of the Best World Music Venue in the States. This time, they’re bringing in Mali’s newest singing sensation, Fatou. Sensuous rhythms and numerous influences abound. Check out this video.

Saturday, April 13

SlovCzech @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm – 11pm (Tip Jar) This six piece band plays folk/rock: Folk as in Eastern European folk music; Rock as in high energy. Move aside some tables and let music move you.

Butanes Soul Revue @ Famous Daves, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7) Take the crack blues team of the Butanes, season with extra horns, Maurice Jacox, and some female singers, and you’ve got a soulful, rockin’ party happening.

RJ Mischo w/Jeremy Johnson & Bruce McCabe @ Schooners, Minneapolis. 9pm (free) Harpmaster Mischo lives in Arkansas these days, but still visits his old pals here in the Twin Cities each year. This is one of a number of gigs around town, but may be the one that’s most under the radar. Piano legen McCabe, and dynamite guitarist/drummer Johnson will help elevate this gig out of the ordinary. Schooners is about as unpretentious as can be.

Sunday, April 14

KFAI Rocks @ The Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 2pm – 7pm ($10 suggested Donation) The Mighty Mofos, Curtiss A & Dark Click, the Oddfathers, Gini Dodds, Fret Rattles. For the 35 years it’s been on the air, the little station that could has always supported Twin City musicians. Today, some of the most hard rocking outfits in town show their appreciation. If you are of a certain age, you may want to wear earplugs.

Monday, April 15

Los Amigos Invisibles @ The Varsity Theater, Minneapolis. 8pm ($18 -$30) A Venezuelan party band, with one foot in classic Venezuelan dance halls and another in the disco. Really, it’s hard to sit still when listening to this music, even if, at times, you may not understand the words. Here’s an example of their irresistible rhythms.

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

Music for Mid-July: 7.18 – 7.24

July 18, 2012

My computer is on the fritz and in the shop, so I’ll keep this short, since I’m using a borrowed computer.

Wednesday, July 18

Jana Nyberg Group @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm (No Cover) Jana and her group have been playing out and touring the Midwest quite a bit lately, including forays into Door County, WI. She’s backed by a stellar group of musicians including hubby Adam Meckler on trumpet, long time cohort Evan Montgomery on guitar, Matt Peterson on bass, and  Jake Nyberg on drums. It’s Foodie Night, so no cover, and a featured wine for $10/bottle.

Valve Meets Slide @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Its a trombone showdown as Brad Bellos (Valves) and Dave Graf meet for one of their enjoyable gigs, backed by Chris Lomheim, piano; James Buckely, bass; and Jay Epstein on drums.

Thursday, July 19
The Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra w/Charmin Michele @ Landmark Plaza, Saint Paul. 6pm – 9pm (free) Part of the summertime weekly dance series by the Ordway. Ballroom dance instruction at 6pm, followed by music at 7:15. Food, drink, tables, and a dance floor are all available.

Todd Clouser’s A Love Electric @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm (no cover). It’s been a busy year for Clouser. He’s released the first of three CDs planned for the year, and has been playing all over the states and Mexico. His guitar playing and his music has enough energy to go over in a rock n’ roll bar like the ‘Dam, and enough improvising and imagination to go over in a jazz club.

Friday, July 20
Matt Turner & Viv Cunninghan @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar) Turner plays cello, while Cunningham sings. Part of the always adventurous and satisfying Community Pool series.

Friday, Saturday, July 20, 21
Laura Caviani Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Ms Caviani is an impressive player, interpreter, and composer. She’s also been known to sing a song, as on her album Going There. Caviani’s sound has been described as salon meets saloon, which seems apt to me. For these shows she’ll be accompanied by Pete Whitman, sax; Peter Schimke, piano; Jeff Bailey, bass; and Kevin Washington, drums.

Saturday, July 21
Joel Shapiro Trio @ Loring Pasta Bar, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm. Shapiro is a versatile and tasty guitarist. Tonight he’ll be accompanied by Tom Lewis on bass, and Eric Kamau Gravatt on drums. Music that deserves to be more than just a background for dinner.

Jeremy Siskind, Lucas Pine, and Nancy Harms @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm – 10:30pm. New York Pianist/composer Siskind recently put out an album entitled Finger-Songwriter, featuring Pine on reeds and Harms on vocals. It’s a chamber-jazz sort of affair, with Harm’s appealing dry vocals adding a special dimension to Siskind’s words. Nate Chinen, of the NY Times, gave it a very positive review. Nancy will be on my show Saturday morning (10:30AM KFAI, 90.3 & 106.7FM) and will likely bring Siskind and Pine along.

Tuesday, July 24
Moonlight Serenaders @ the Minnesota History Center, Saint Paul. 7pm (Free) Dance lessons at 6:30pm The Serenaders are one of the fine big band we’re privileged to have in our area. Lee Engele serves as their “canary” and does a great job of swingin’ with the band. This is an outdoor event on the Center’s plaza overlooking downtown Saint Paul.

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

Blues, Roots, Other
Wednesday, July 18
Malamanya @ The IceHouse, Minneapolis. 10:30pm ($6) The Icehouse is starting a Wednesday night program of world music with a bang, bringing in this popular Cuban son & salsa group to fire up the combination of hipsters and hip oldsters that are coming out to this new restaurant/stage/deli/bar.

Thursday, July 19
Luisa Maita @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) Sensual, Brazilian-flavored pop that’s pushing, or rather meshing the borders of numerous genres. Fans of CeU, Seu Jorge, and other current Brazilian singers will find much to like. 

Ukrainian Village Band @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8pm (tip jar) The Ukrainian Village Band is a group of eight musicians with acoustic instruments playing music from the Ukrainian countryside in a “cafe europa” style, yet isn’t afraid to apply their sound to a Lady Gaga tune. Sounds fun!

Friday, July 20
Felonious Bosch, Brass Messengers, and Clocks & Clouds @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 8pm ($8) Check into the Hall stage to hear the global/medieval, yet highly accessible sounds of Bosch and the always fun, loose-limbed, celebrations of the Messengers. Clocks and Clouds are Stephanie Shogren and Lucas Shogren on violin and cello, respectively, and Derek Powers on drums and percussion. They are a chamber trio whose tunes sometimes evoke rock n’ roll power trios.

Bill Kirchen @ Lee’s Liquor Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm $15  Guitarist Kirchen first came to prominence with Commander Cody & the Lost Planet Airmen, when his twang-infused guitar served as the double barrel carburetor for Cody’s V-8 engine of a band. He’s an incisive player, with such wit and humanity about his solos that he’s earned a story in the Oxford American’s issue of the Best of the South. With Eric Koskinen Band.

Sunday, July 22
Jennifer Grimm @ Manitou Station, White Bear Lake. 7:30 – 11pm. You’ve heard her voice in commercials. She was well-received at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival when she did a guest spot with Sue Orfield. Grimm sings with Hookers $ Blow, guests with Jue Cruz, and will be appearing at the Metropolitan room in NYC later this week. She’s also had one of her songs featured on NBC’s Parenthood and Showtime’s House of Lies. Sunday night at the Station is a regular gig and well worth stopping by to hear her relaxed vocals applied to jazzy pop originals.

Monday, Tuesday, July 23, 24
Ronnie Laws & Tom Browne Supergroup @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35) 9pm ($25) Laws is a flautist and saxophone player who was one of the founders of Earth, Wind, and Fire and went on to a successful solo career playing jazz-funk and earning a number of gold records in the process. Trumpeter Browne cut his teeth with artists like Lenny White, Woody Shaw, and Sonny Fortune before becoming a solo artist and hitting with “Funkin’ for Jamaica.” Their appearance at the Dakota last year was a funk n’ fun-filled show.

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.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions… 5.9 – 5.15

May 9, 2012

Yeah, they don’t spend the weekend with the girls on Father’s Day.

Mother’s Day. Fishing opener. Music. Mother’s Day. Fishing Opener. Music. What a confluence of opportunities, at least one of which could produce domestic difficulties for some men. There is a cornucopia of music during the weekend, which only adds to the difficulty of making a choice.  Here’s Taj Mahal with the Fishin’ Blues


Thursday May 10

JoAnn Funk Trio @ The Lexington, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (No cover)  Jeff Brueske, bass;  & Gary Shulte, violin. The Lex continues to have some of the town’s best vocalists. This time it’s JoAnn Funk, who can be seen weekends at the Saint Paul Hotel with Jeff Brueske. Making this an extra special occasion is the addition of Gary Shulte on violin.

Money Jungle @ The Black Dog Coffeee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm – 9pm (Tip Jar). Steve Hobert, piano, Josh Granowski, bass, and Chris Hepola, drums pay tribute to the Ellington/MIngus/Roach album.

Phil Mattson Singers @ The Artists Quarter, Saint Paul. 8pm – 11pm. ($10) Mattson has been the go-to guy for a number of national acts looking for something special in their vocal arrangements. (The Four Freshmen and Manhattan Transfer are but two.) This early show is a showcase for pianist/arranger/vocal coach Mattson and his group of six vocalists.

Dakota Combo @ MacPhail Center, Minneapolis. 8pm. (free) Each September, high school students audition for the Combo, and then work all year under the direction of bassist Adam Linz, Jazz Coordinator at MacPhail. It’s a formula that’s been turning out successful young musicians for a number of years now. Come hear this year’s edition of the combo as they approach the end of their time together.

Friday, Saturday, May 11, 12

The Garden

Zacc Harris Group CD Release Party @ The Artists’ Quarter. 9pm ($10) Though hard-working guitarist Zacc Harris has released two CDs with The Atlantis Quartet, and one with a trio, this is the first CD to have his own stamp on it. With the exception of “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise,” The Garden, as it’s titled features Harris’s own compositions. Members of the group include Bryan Nichols, keys, JT Bates, drums, Chris Bates, bass, and Brandon Wozniack, sax.

Dane Stauffer Mama I Can Scat CD Release @ Illusion Theater, Cowles Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($15) This Minnesotan/Los Angeleno promises an evening of  “jazzy-bossa nova 60s-guy group-girl group-jumpin’ blues and swinging-dinging tune-o-sity.” Though that sounds like over-the-top hype, Stauffer will be backed by Peter Schimke, piano; Graydon Peterson, bass; and Jay Epstein, drums, which gives plenty of swinging heft to the claim.

Saturday, May 12

Ellen Lease/Pat Moriarty Quintet @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 7pm  ($10/$5 students) Ellen Lease, piano; Pat Moriarty, sax; Chris Bates, bass; Dave Stanoch, drums, and newcomer to the group Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, on trumpet. Lease and Moriary always make improvisational music of the most arresting kind – beautiful, emotional, and spirited. Trust them to lead this quintet down similar paths.

Photo by Jim McGuire

Evan Christopher’s Clarinet Road with vocalist Lee Engele @ The Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hopkins. 8pm ($24) New Orleans clarinetist Christopher puts a contemporary spin on early jazz, using his considerable chops, as well as a knowledge of the early forms. Twin Citizen Engele is well suited to swinging the vocal chores, and she’s put together a sterling group of area players to goose things along. Lee Engele will be my guest on Rhythm and Grooves Saturday morning (10:30AM – KFAI, 90.3FM and 106.7FM)

Sunday, May 13

PipJazz Sunday w/guest Debbie Duncan @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 5pm ($20) Vocalist Pippi Ardennia continues her monthly series featuring a guest artist and a guest youth performer. Debbie Duncan doesn’t need much of an introduction – she’s a superb vocalist who has sung everywhere in town. The idea of she and Ardennia doing a duet or two is thrilling. This month’s youth artist is Jack Breen.

Double Bass, Double Voice @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($10) This is an intriguing project from New York City, featuring erstwhile Minnesota singer Nancy Harms, as well as Emily Braden and the double bass of Steve Whipple. Ms Harms is always a paragon of taste and swing, and I expect this project will be likewise.

Monday, May 14

Irv Williams Retirement Party @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5) Well, it’s been announced before, but this just might be it for the 93-year old Williams. The notes that he coaxes from his saxophone are still smoother than the lines of a new Rolls Royce, and just as luxurious.

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 9

Liminal Phase @ Cafe Maude, Minneapolis. 7pm (No cover) Liminal Phase is Adam Levy’s experimental group. You may know Adam from The Honeydogs and Hookers $ Blow, but here he goes in a very different direction, combining acoustic and electronic instrumentation to create music with jazz, psychedelic, and African influences. His bandmates come from groups like Heirospecs and Mystery Palace, as well as the DJ world. Reservations are always recommended for dinner, or else you’ll have to squeeze into space by the bar.

Friday, May 11

Grandmothers of Invention @ Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 8pm ($30) Just in time for Mother’s Day. If you loved Frank Zappa’ Mothers of Invention, you may already know about this. The Grandmothers, with three original members of the group, keep his music alive, with three original members of a group fueled by Zappa’s brilliance. Though sometimes complex, Zappa’s music was earthbound enough to avoid the pretentiousness of the “art-rock” groups. Tonight, the Grandmothers will be performing the album, “Roxy & Elswhere” in its entirety for the first set, before returning to play other hits for the second set.

Martin Devaney @ The Dakota Late Night, Minneapolis. 11pm ($5) The multi-talented guitarist, composer, and sax player recently released his fifth CD. Check him out on the latenight stage.

Friday, Saturday, May 11, 12

Girls Got Rhythm Fest @ The Amsterdam Bar and Hall, Saint Paul. 7pm until..  ($65/2 day pass) For some women, this may be a Fishing Day alternative to sitting at home. It’s a two day celebration of Rockin’ Females with the great Ronnie Spector as the Saturday Headliner. These are women who embrace heavy drums, shredding guitars and have more energy than your local power plant. Pop, punk, rockabilly and more spanning five decades and three continents.

Saturday, May 12

Roots of the West Bank Festival @ Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 5pm  ($10) Yeah, the West Bank is still kickin. Case in point. Large Hall: Hye Pockets Robertson w/RAMM; Swamp Kings; Curtis and the Kicks; Swingin’ Liquor Pigs. Small Hall: Papa John Kolstad; Pop Wagner; Phil Heywood; Dakota Dave Hull;  Spider John Koerner. $1 dollar of every cover to West Bank School of Music.

Saltee CD Release, w/Steve Kaul & the Brass Kings, @ The Cedar, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) Jacqueline Ultan (cello), Mike Michel (guitar) and Carnage The Executioner (beatboxing), form this unique group. Each is a master musician, and the combination creates genre-bending music that will cause you to tap your feet and then listen in wonder. Kaul & the Brass Kings open with their combination of washtub bass, rubboard, and resonator guitar.

NRBQ @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis.  9pm ($20) Terry Adams has gathered up a new crew for America’s favorite bar band, and from all reports, they are living up to their legacy. You can never tell what will come out of Adam’s brain when it comes to a set list. Heck, he is likely to call an old Ellington chestnut, an obscure rockabilly gem, a paen to wrestler Captain Lou Albano, or a sweet original like “Riding in My Car.” He recently sat in with the percussion section of the Sun Ra Arkestra, whose “Planet Number 9” was on the first NRBQ record, and the latest CD includes a head boppin’ version of Sun Ra’s “We Travel The Spaceways.” Here’s a video of Terry and the new crew.

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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