Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays: 12.20 – 12.26

December 20, 2017

Toy Trains at Christmas

Or to put it more humorously and inclusively, Happy Chriskwanzacuh – and don’t forget the celebration of Winter Solstice, since we can look forward to increasing daytime light after Thursday. This is a time of year when a number of faiths and cultures have special celebrations, and if you don’t practice those faiths, you can nevertheless appreciate and even enjoy some of their traditions (including setting up toy trains). You still have the opportunity to hear great music throughout our area, though admittedly, you might have to settle for watching Netflix and getting Chinese takeout on December 25. Besides a couple of holiday shows, we can choose from the last appearance in town by the original Bad Plus, a couple of dance-oriented bands, and some roots music. Whatever your traditions at this time of year, enjoy the season, and remember, music lifts the spirit


Wednesday, Dec 20

Chris Lomheim Quintet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/valid student ID) Pianist Chris Lomheim gathers Adam Rossmiller, trumpet; Pete Whitman, sax; Graydon Peterson, bass; and Dave Schmalenberger, drums; for an evening of swinging tunes and subtle ballads. Here is what Lomheim sound like in a trio setting.

Fuzzy Math @ The Amsterdam Bar & Hall, Saint Paul. 10pm (Free) Original eclectic jazz and creative covers from pianist/composer Mark Vandermyde, with Jason Parvey, sax; Matt Peterson, bass; and Harald Bondaris, drums.

Wednesday, Dec 20 – Saturday, Dec 23

The Bad Plus @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45), 9pm ($40) Since the turn of this century, Ethan Iverson, piano; Reid Kennedy, bass; and Dave King, drums; have been making annual visits to the Dakota to present their iconoclastic jazz, reimagining rock hits and jazz standards while creating songs that are often as quirky as their titles (i.e., 1979 Semi Finalist, Epistolary Echoes). This is the last gig featuring pianist Iverson, who is leaving the group after their New Year’s Eve appearance at the Village Vanguard. His droll wit will be missed, but he’ll be ably replaced by Orrin Evans. Stay tuned….

Thursday, Dec 21

Holiday Piano Bar @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/valid student ID) The “Piano Bar” isn’t really such, since Jazz Central isn’t a bar. Nevertheless curator Sarah M. Greer describes the evening as part open mic, part jam session, and part caroling singalong. Ms Greer will host the evening, aided by pianist Jon de Vall. Bring instruments, charts, your lyric sheets and requests.

Belle Amour Holiday Show @ Vieux Carré  Saint Paul. 8pm ($8) Looking at their website, it appears that this four-piece group – vocalist, keys, bass, drums – seems to specialize in wedding and corporate gigs. It appears that Graydon Peterson is on bass, though I don’t recognize the other performers. Listening to their songs reveals a tight, jumping outfit that plays vintage jazz, including songs from Bessie Smith, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, The Andrew Sisters, and other performers from the 1930s and 40s. Their music is bright, breezy, and fun.

Aerosol Pike @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Acoustic-based spontaneous composition from Philip Mann, Ryan Reber, and Rick Ness on horns (and other instruments?).

Friday, Dec 22

Peter Schimke Trio @ The Lexington, Saint Paul. 7pm (No Cover) The Lexington’s Williamsburg Room can be a bit noisy to fully appreciate the playing of pianist Schimke, who always has A-list players with him. Just sit close, enjoy a cocktail, and relax after doing your holiday shopping.

John Raymond’s Standards Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5 w/valid student ID) Minneapolis native Raymond is a trumpeter/flugelhorn player who was called a “Rising Star” by no less than DownBeat Magazine. His four albums have all been well received by the NY Times, Downbeat, and Jazz Times. He’s currently Professor of Trumpet at Indiana University. His trip home provides us with a chance to hear him, accompanied by Graydon Peterson, bass; and Phil Hey, drums. Here he is with his New York group.

Saturday, Dec 23

Bill Carrothers @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 6:30pm ($15, $20) Carrothers, a pianist whose imagination is always inventive and far-ranging, seems to have fallen in love with the Dunsmore Room, as the Saint Paul native makes the trip from Michigan quite frequently to appear in various groups. He’s recorded 26 albums as a leader and has appeared as a sideman with a wide range of jazzers including Buddy DeFranco, Dave Douglas, Curtis Fuller, Billy Higgins, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Konitz, Dewey Redmanm, Toots Thielman, and more. He’ll be appearing solo to play on the 9-foot Steinway at the intimate listening room.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Guitarist Cole Mahlum opens at 7pm, leading his own group. At 8:30pm bassist Ted Olsen appears with frequent collaborators Javi Santiago on piano; Miguel Hurtado, drums; and saxophonist Aaron Hedenstrom.

Sunday, Monday, Dec 24, 25

Merry Christmas! Enjoy a technicolor Christmas at the movies, or a Chinese meal for those who don’t practice the Christian faith.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Dec 26, 27

Connie Evingson: Holiday @ Dunsmore Lodge, Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm ($22) With its view of a snow-covered lake, the Dunsmore will easily bring to mind a cozy country lodge as Ms Evingson, of the cool, yet sultry voice, celebrates the season, accompanied by Mary Louise Knutson, piano; Dave Karr, sax & flute; and Gordy Johnson, bass. Here’s a cut from her gorgeous Christmas album.

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, Dec 20

Ben Eaton on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Roots/Americana songwriter/guitarist Eaton is a native of Des Moines who now lives in Minneapolis. He’s working on a 5-song EP with drummer Dwight Dario, who used to live around here, and Matt Woods. Tonight he’ll have a 4-piece band with him, featuring guitarist/drummer Jeremy Johnson.

Thursday, Dec 21

Draper-Beckmen-Kiesling @ The Dubliner Pub & Cafe, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) The Twin Cities hardest-working washboard player teams up with bassist-around-town Liz Draper and Adam Kielsing (of Pert Near Sandstone) to play old-time music, country blues, early jazz, and maybe a holiday tune or two for your happy hour pleasure.

Friday, Dec 22

Steve Clarke & The Working Stiffs @ Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($5?, $10?) Blues, swing, jump, jive, & jazz for dancing in the Ernie Mattson Ballroom at the commodious Eagles Club.

Nikki & the Ruemates @ Dusty’s Bar, NE Minneapolis. 9:45pm (Tip Jar) Though Dusty’s is under new ownership, they remain committed to providing the rootsy groups that have been appearing there for years. Example number 1: Nikki & the Rue-mates, whose folk-blue-rock has long been a Dusty’s favorite, often packing the place while they play in the “big green booth.” Nikki’s clarion voice and Rich Rue’s terrific fretwork are always a treat, with the added delight of guitarist Dean Mikkelson often sitting in to accompany Nikki on a jazz standard or two.

Saturday, Dec 23

Steeling Dan @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) You say you want to hear some heady, sometimes inscrutable lyrics, performed with cool, jazzy pop? Then this Steely Dan Tribute Band may deliver just what you need.

Joyann Parker Band @ Crooners’ Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 8pm (No cover, but $10 guaranteed seat) Vocalist/pianist/guitarist Parker has a powerful blues and R&B voice that’s just right for the Pre-Christmas Saturday night crowd at Crooners. She’s been making her mark on the Twin Cities Blues scene for the last few years, and represented Minnesota in the 2015 International Blues Challenge. Her 2015 album, On the Rocks, was named Best Self-Produced Album by the MN Blues Society.

Sunday, Dec 24

Enjoy Christmas Eve!

Monday, Dec 25

Christmas With Robert Robinson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25, $35) Get your gospel groove on with the highly popular and one-of-a-kind Robinson, who gets rave reviews wherever he appears. Some examples: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal called him “a volcanic talent,” while the Salt Lake City Desert New called his performance “glorious,” and the Star Tribune described him as a “soaring presence.”

Tuesday, Dec 26

Willie West @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($12) Louisiana-born Willie West is a classic soul singer who recorded for Allen Toussaint with the score for the blaxploiotation film Black Samson, and later worked with The Meters in the late 70s and early 80s. He then worked all over Bourbon Street until Hurricane Katrina, after which he moved to Saint Cloud, where he currently lives. In the last few years he’s recorded with some Finnish funk/soul groups (see video), and still has the vocal prowess and emotional power that makes a soul singer a soul singer.

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.

Musical Traditions: 11.22 – 11.28

November 22, 2017

Greetings Fellow Music Fans;

Taken from their Christmas album

Well the Holiday season is upon us, often bringing families together in a variety of traditions, some of which are long standing, some of which are from the various cultures that make up our country, and some of which are new. Here in the Twin Cities there are a number of music traditions taking place, such as annual Thanksgiving Eve shows, and the return of musicians who grew up here but are now residing elsewhere. Like Tony Bennett and the Count Basie Band, music brings us together, and though there may be few shows on Thanksgiving, we’re blessed with an active music scene with musicians who support one another and through their music, Lift Our Spirits. Whatever traditions you follow, have a good Thanksgiving



Wednesday, Nov 22

Acme Jazz Company, Feat: Arne Fogel @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) Solid big band music with the Twin Cities preeminent male jazz vocalist.

Stu Katz Quartet @ Vieux Carré  Saint Paul. 8pm ($10) Katz is one of the last original proponents of bebop piano, having been a working musician on both piano and vibes for more than 55 years. He’s performed with folks like Gene Ammons, Kenny Burell, Dextor Gordon, and numerous other bright lights in the jazz world. He has been a long time collaborator with Ira Sullivan, with whom he released a live recording in 2011. Besides Katz on vibes/piano, he’ll be accompanied by some of our own bright lights in jazz; Chris Bates, bass; Dean Magraw, guitar; and Jay Epstein, drums, aka Red Planet. Here is Katz back in 1985, playing with Doc Cheatham.

Thursday, Nov 23

No jazz tonight, as far as I can tell, though there are a couple of jazzy blues events (see listing in Blues & Roots, below)

Friday, Nov 24

Hoaxer @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 9pm ($12) One tradition of the holiday season is that young musicians return to town from college and perform for a few days. Tonight we’ll hear from the collective quartet known as Hoaxer. Their influences include jazz of course, as well as avant-garde, rock, and electronic music. They released their well-received debut album last summer. The group includes Will Kjeer, piano; Charlie Lincoln, bass; and Peter Goggin, sax; and Edmund Caitlin on drums.

Fall of the House of Usher @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10, $5w/valid Student ID) Founder/guitarist Chris Cunningham has gathered a bunch of like-minded musicians for this project, including: Ivan Cunningham, Saxophones; Michelle Kinney, Cello; Greg Schutte, Drums; Chris Bates, Bass; Adam Svec, Vocals; Noah Ophoven Baldwin, Trumpet; Jared Jarvis, Saxophones; and Riley Swain, Baritone Saxophone. Cunningham has played with John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards, the Contortions, The Golden Palaminos, Rich Havens, Marshall Crenshaw, and a host of NYC’s adventurous musicians.He and his fellow musicians mine the world’s deepest grooves from East, West, and North African, 80’s No Wave skronk, early 70’s Miles, Sun Ra, and New Orleans Funk.

Also: Swingbeat Big Band @ Wabasha Caves, Saint Paul. 7pm ($8) Swing Night is moved to Friday this week

Saturday, Nov 25

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar)  7:00 Opening Set: Luke Peterson Trio Plays Ornette Coleman – Peter Goggin,sax; Charlie Lincoln, bass; Luke Peterson, drums.- three college students (and former members of the Dakota Combo) who only get better as they progress in their studies.   At 8:30, it’s Central Standard Time: Steve Kenny, FLUMPET; Dave Brattain, Saxophones; Will Kjeer, Piano; Ron Evaniuk, Bass; Eric Kamau Grávátt, Drums.

Pat Mallinger Quartet @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($12 Advance/$15 Door) Another tradition of late is that the Saint Paul born and raised saxophonist returns for the holidays, and we’re the luckier for it. He’s the co-leader of Sabertooth, the mainstay band at Chicago’s Green Mill since 1992! He’s also an educator and mentor for Ramsey Lewis’ Ravinia Jazz Mentor Program, and the Louis Armstrong Legacy Project.

Valve Meets Slide @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10, $5w/valid student ID) Brad Bellows, valve trombone; and Dave Graf, slide trombone, and their band-mates play originals as well as the music of Bob Brookmyer. You’ll also get to hear an interview that Leigh Kamman did with Brookmeyer back in 1981.

Also: Omar Abdulkarim Trio @ The Lexington’s Williamburg Room, Saint Paul. 7 – 11:30pm (No Cover)

Sunday, Nov 26

25 Years of Jazz Originals @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 3pm – 6pm ($10 Advance/$15 Door) After 25 Years, pianist/clarinetist/music historian Butch Thompson is stepping down from producing his KBEM radio show, Jazz Originals, though he will still perform here and around the world. Jazz Originals delightfully celebrated vintage jazz and the musicians that made it, with thoughtful, though not overly scholarly, analysis and comments from Thompson. The Southside Aces will be performing original jazz, and will have some special surprise guests.

Monday, Nov 27

Fat Kid Wednesdays @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($16) This is a rare appearance by Adam Linz, bass; Michael Lewis, sax; and JT Bates, drums; who have been playing together since they were teenagers about 25 years ago. They started the Jazz Implosion at The Turf’s old Clown Lounge and managed to create an “underground” jazz scene here. Then they toured internationally, appeared on the cover of France’s jazz magazine, and generally blew people away ever since. Richard Brody, of The New Yorker, wrote, “their exhilarating performance revealed both the depth of their individual artistry and the symbiotic wonder of their interplay.”

Tuesday, Nov 28

Karrin Allyson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($50) This is a benefit for The Leigh Kamman Legacy Project, which preserves and shares the vast archive of audio, visual, and written resources, including hundreds of recorded interviews of legendary broadcaster Leigh Kamman. Allyson, who lived here for a while early in her career, will be accompanied by a great rhythm section: pianist Laura Caviani; bassist Gordy Johnson, and drummer Phil Hey.

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, Nov 22

Nikki & the Ruemates Annual Thanksgiving Eve Show on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Nikki & the Ruemates will give you plenty to be thankful for, as they play their original folk/rock & blues, along with their versions of songs by other artists. If you’ve never heard Nikki & the Ruemates, tune in the KFAI at 5pm when they’ll play live in the studio before heading to the 331Club. Here’s Nikki playin with band-mate Rich Rue.

Thursday, Nov 23

Deano & The Dinosaurs @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8pm – 11pm (Tip Jar) So, maybe you’ve stuffed yourself, or maybe you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in a traditional manner, or you’ve watched all the football you want, but have a hankering for something more. Well, guitarist Dean Mikkelson is leading a group of musicians that can help. He and his merry band of musicians – Dean Harrington, guitar, Tom Lewis, bass; and Del Gallagher on percussion — will deliver jazzy, bluesy tunes for your pleasure. You’ll need an ID for adult beverages.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Nov 23, 24, 25

Davina & The Vagabonds @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20, Thurs, $25 Fri, Sat) If Davina’s combination of jazz, blues, and New Orleans R&B doesn’t wake you from the mythical triyptophan slumber, nothing will. Whether you attend Thanksgiving night, or one of the weekend gigs, you’ll walk away smiling.

Friday, Nov 24

Erik Koskinen EP Release @ The Hook & Ladder, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20 reserved seats, $15 Standing Room) Koskinen has rightfully been called the best country singer in Minnesota, thanks to his keen eye for observing rural life and a plain-spoken approach to writing. His fine guitar playing adds another layer of texture to his old-school approach to country music. This is a release party for Cruising Paradise, a six-song EP.  Opening is Dana Thompson a “Girl from the North Country.”

Also: Johnny Rawls @ Shaws, NE Minneapolis. 9pm (No Cover) Real deal Chicago blues from a journeyman professional.

Saturday, Nov 25

Ace-Box Blues Band @ The Dubliner Pub & Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm (Tip Jar) A new band, consisting of veteran blues players led by multiple Blues Award winners Curtis Blake, harp, vocals; and Greg Schuck on drums.

Hurricane Harold’s All Star Blues Revue @ The Basement Bar, Minneapolis. 9:30pm (No Cover) There’s a new music venue in town. The Basement Bar is located under the newly launched NOLO Restaurant in the North Loop. Live blues and roots music is presented a couple of nights each week. It has a food-truck style offerings, a silent arcade area, and a stage, where well-connected harpmeister Hurricane Harold will bring along some talented friends to entertain you. Here he is with one version of the All Stars.

Also: High & Mighty @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($?) Horn driven, R&B dance band.

Sunday, Monday, Nov 26, 27

Melissa Manchester @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 6pm, 8pm (Sunday), 7pm (Monday) ($35, $40, $45) Pop vocalist Manchester worked as a backup singer for Bette Midler and Barry Manilow before finding success in a solo career, hitting the charts in the mid-70s with hits like Midnight Blue, Don’t Cry Out Loud, and You Should Hear How She Talks About You. She has continued to achieve success in songwriting, composing for films, and theater work. After forty years in the business, she still draws well, as demonstrated by the fact she’s doing three shows.  Here’s a song she did for Ice Castles, the 1978 film shot here in the Twin Cities, with scenes shot at Mariucci Arena. (I recall being in the audience for this shooting.

Also: Charanga Tropical @ The Icehouse, 5pm – 7pm ($5) A matinee performance for those who like Latin dancing but have to go to work Monday morning.

Big George Jackson & Jeremy Johnson @ The Dubliner Pub, Saint Paul. 5pm (Tip Jar) It sounds like down home Delta Blues, but these two are Twin Citizens.

Monday, Nov 27

JJ’s Zydeco Paydirt @ Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($8) They’ve been filling dance floors by playing Zydeco music since the turn of this century.

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.

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