TC Jazz Fest and More: 6.21 – 6.27

June 21, 2017

Greetings everyone;

It’s the big weekend for jazz fans as the Twin Cities Jazz Festival takes place from Thursday through Saturday. Great headliners and about 300 resident artists will be appearing on stages all over town. Besides Mears Park, Rice Park, and the Union Depot, downtown venues include the Black Dog Cafe, Golden’s Deli, the Green Lantern (Public Restaurant), the Hat Trick Lounge, The Amsterdam, and others. Don’t forget the piano-centric acts at Vieux Carré, with its late night jam, and the stage in the tpt building featuring vocalists all weekend. There are also performances at venues outside of downtown at venues like the Como Dockside and the Episcopal homes. I’ve got the link to the schedule below. Fans of blues and roots also have reasons to be happy, as I’ve listed. Remember, music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, June 21

Lee Engele @ The Merriam Park Library, 1831 Marshall Ave, Saint Paul. 6pm – 7pm (Free) A preview gig for the Twin Cities Jazz Festival. Vocalist Engele has a particularly good way with acoustic swing aka gypsy jazz, though she handles standards and the occasional bossa nova with elegance and ease, especially with such stellar accompaniment as Reynold Philipsek on guitar and Matt Senjem on bass. .

Lindsay Pedalty Trio @ The Green Lantern (Public Restaurant), Saint Paul. 8:30pm (Tip Jar) Vocalist Pedalty’s voice has just a bit of an edge, which she often uses to give a slyly sardonic reading to the Great American Songbook, though she’s adept at pop as well. She’ll be accompanied by her dad Bruce, a veteran of the Senders, Mojo Buford, and several area big bands, as well as Gary Miller on bass.

Christian Sands @ The Dakota, Minneapolls. 7pm ($20) Sands is an up and coming pianist who has already arrived in some sense. He’s been a key member of Christian McBride’s Trio for a number of years, was nominated for five Grammys, and was mentored by pianist Billy Taylor. He recently released his debut recording, Reach.

JT Bates Grain Trio @ Vieux Carré  Saint Paul 8:00pm ($6) Get your B3 organ fix as drummer Bates brings Kevin Gasonguey, B3, and Zacc Harris, guitar, to the basement club. Things will be cookin!

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, June 22, 23, 24

Twin Cities Jazz Festival  @ Saint Paul locations. (Free) It’s about the most anticipated event of the year for area jazz fans, though fans of R&B, funk, and world music also get to hear some of their favorite bands for free. You can find the schedule here. Needless to say, headliners Anat Cohen, Terrance Blanchard, McCoy, and others are well worth your while, but get to Mears Park early to also hear folks like Emmet Cohen, Bobby Lyle, and our own Eric Kamau Gravatt and Source Code in opening slots. The Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education Youth Showcase at Union Depot has been expanded to both Friday and Saturday, with the McNally Smith Vocal Ensemble headlining on Friday, and the Dakota Combo headlining on Saturday.

Friday, Saturday, June 23, 24

Django Festival All Stars @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30), 9pm ($20) Honoring the “hot jazz” (aka gypsy jazz) of Django Rheinhardt, this sextet brings their own creativity to the swinging style. Author and critic Will Friedwald, said of them, “the collective talent pool on the bandstand is larger than the Arc de Triomphe.”

Sunday, June 25

Maud Hixson & Rick Carlson @ The Church of Saint Albert, East 29th Street & 32 Ave, Minneapolis. 1pm – 3pm ($20) Part of a monthly music series examining the music of the 20, 30s, 40s, and 50s. Today it’s the music of the 1930s. Both vocalist Hixson and pianist Carlson excel at this sort of thing.

Zacc Harris Trio @ The Riverview Wine Bar, Minneapolis. 7:30pm – 9:30pm (Tip Jar) If you aren’t quite ready to give up the spirit of the jazz fest, you can continue your jazz jones with the ever-inventive guitarist Zacc Harris and his trio.

Monday, June 26

Ashen Fir @ Jazz Central, Minnapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5w/Student ID) Cellist Greg Byers leads this quartet: Jack Barrett, keys; Charlie Bruber, bass; and Pete Quirsfeld, drums.

Tuesday, June 27

Richard Johnson Trio @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15 – $45/wDinner) Pianist Johnson lived in the Twin Cities for a few years, entertaining us with his lovely playing. Then he became the Musical Director for some high-end hotels in the Middle East, where he’s been playing a booking jazz. He’s been a member of Wynton Marsalis’ Septet and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and has also been a member of the groups of Russel Malone and Irvin Mayfield. He has a unique program for 7-17 year olds called Reach afar, to educate them about elements of jazz in hip-hop.

Tuesday, Wednesday, June 27, 28

Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton @The Dakota, MInneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($40, $50, $60) Fischer was the stand-out performer in the documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, about background singers. Until the last year or so she was on every Rolling Stones tour since 1989 and has also toured with Sting, Luther Vandross, Tina Tuner, and Nine Inch Nails. In performance, Fischer takes well known pop/rock songs and completely makes them her own, using her supple voice to bring new meaning to them. She’s performed here about twice a year in the last three years and her shows often sell out, or come close to it. Be forewarned.

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 21

Cafe Accordion Orchestra @ the Northurp Auditorium Plaza, U of MN, Minneapolis. Noon (Free) Grab a baguette, some cheese and fruit, and if you keep it hidden, perhaps a bottle of wine, and have a picnic while enjoying the music of this “bongos and berets” group, playing French musettes, a cumbia or two, and some old standards.

Cooker John Band on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Guitarist Cooker John learned to fingerpick from Artie Traum in NYC during the folk boom of the 60s. Since then he’s traveled the country, has played in numerous bands, and for the past few decades has played solo, or with one or two others. I recall hearing about him playing the Midwest back in the 80s. Tonight he’ll be accompanied by Randall Webb, Ben Kaplan, and John Vizard. Listen in and head over to the 331 Club if you want to hear more.

Paul Bergen & the Astronauts of Rhythm & Sound @ The Hook & Ladder, Minnapolis. 7pm (No cover) Honky-tonkin’ swamp country blues from members of the Hillbilly Voodoo Dolls, Real-Phonic Radio Hour, Curtss A’ band and others. This is part of a June residency that takes place in H&L’s lounge.

Jillian Rae & Hannah von der Hoff @ The Aster Cafe, Minnapolis. 8pm ($6) Fiddler/singer/songwriter Jillian Rae has a Wednesday night June residency at the Aster, bringing her band along to help while she sings her own originals as well as some tasty covers. Tonight she has guitarist/singer/songwriter Hannah von der Hoff along for the ride. Here’s Hannah!

Thursday, June 22

Mikkel Beckmen w/Jeff Ray @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) Washboard percussionist Beckmen has slide guitar master Jeff Ray as his guest at this after work gig.

Maurice Jacox @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover, but $10 for a reserved seat in front) Soul, R&B, and ballads from a master vocalist.

Jonatha Brooke @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $35) Brooke has released nine albums of literate adult pop and two live discs, all of which were well received by critics if not exactly big sellers, and has used crowd funding on her last two albums. Though born in Boston, and having lived in Los Angeles and New York, Brooke relocated to Minneapolis last year, home to her husband/manager. She’s happy with the move, and has been having fun calling on resident talent to fill her bands here. Tonight, she’ll be accompanied by Kevin Gastonguay on keys; Jeff Bailey, bass; Joey van Phillips, drums; Aby Wolf, vocals; Rebecca Arons, cello; and Sean Driscoll, guitar.

Friday, June 23

Willie Walker @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover, but $10 for a reserved seat in front) He was known as Wee Willie Walker during the 60s and 70s Soul Explosion, and still goes by that name on his website, but the name doesn’t account for his sonorous voice, with a bit a whiskey gravel to it, and an interpretive ability that defines soul.

Charlie Parr @ The Hook & Ladder, Minneapolis. 8pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) It’s nine months since this blues vagabond opened the H&L, so apparently it’s time to have him back. Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders open.

Saturday, June 24

Big George Jackson @ Big Daddy’s Barbecue, Saint Paul. 4pm (Free) The ribs at Big Daddy’s will get an extra helping of funky soulfulness as the big-voiced blues belter Big George Jackson performs as part of the the Twin Cities Jazz Festival.

Papa John Kolstand & the Perfect Phitts @ Merlins, Minneapolis. 8:30pm – 12:30am. Singer, raconteur, and guitarist Papa John Kolstad brings his wit, wisdom, and sense of fun to Merlins, the best neighborhood bar in Minneapolis. The Phitts are Bill Smith, harmonica and vocals; Gary Powell, National Steel and vocals; and Bill Grenke, bass. There is a reason they’re called the Perfect Phitts as they play seamlessly and perform some three part harmonies.

Sunday, June 25

The Funky United @ The Black Dog Cafe, Saint Paul. 3pm – 5pm (Tip Jar) I may be mistaken, but this appears to be a new group, though it’s members have been around for a while: Scott Glaser, bass; Dev Jana, guitar; Chris Kellick, keys; Tim Moran, drums; and Mick Sterling, vocals.. They play original funky soul.

Gang of Mischief @ Neumann’s, North Saint Paul. 4pm – 6pm (Tip Jar) It’s the last Sunday of the month, so the Gang once again holds court at the oldest continually operating bar in MN. Today, Papa John Kolstad will be in the hot seat, playing with Bill Greinke, bass; Rena Haus and Dan Schwalbe, guitars; and Hurricane Harold Tremblay on harmonica.

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.

Much Music, Many Genres: 11.30 – 12.6

November 30, 2016

images-1The week ahead features music that runs a gamut of styles and genres, from jump blues to funk, straight ahead jazz, fusion, girl-group pop, and of course, some helpings of holiday music to celebrate the season. No matter what kind of music you prefer, there is no doubt that music can lift your spirit. Have a great week!


Wednesday, November 30

Lorber, McLain, LaBelle, Williams @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $35), 9PM ($25, $30) It’s an evening of contemporary jazz and R&B, with Jeff Lorber  keyboards; Marlon McClain, guitar; Shaun LaBelle, guitar & keys; and Stokely Williams, drums & vocals. These happen to be four of the biggest stars in contemporary jazz & R&B. Lorber helped shape jazz fusion with the Jeff Lorber Fusion band. McLain was part of a successful West Coast group called Pleasure, which was discovered by Wayne Henderson of the Crusaders. McLain is also a successful songwriter whose tunes have been recorded by folks like the Dazz Band, Tower of Power, En Vogue, and others. Bassist LaBelle is proficient in various aspects of the music industry, from producing to songwriting, with a number of top ten songs to his credit. Finally, drummer Stokely Williams, a Twin Cities native, has been a member of Mint Condition for 20 years. Here are Lorber and LaBelle at the Dakota six years ago.

Sinne Eeg @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($25, $50 w/Dinner) Eeg is a native of Denmark, where she is a preeminent vocalist. She’s also made waves in Japan, China, and throughout Europe. Her 2014 recording, Face the Music, earned her the Danish Grammy, along with the Ben Webster Prize, and the Prix du Jazz from France’s Academie du Jazz. She’s made a Twin Cities connection through the Peterson family, as both Patty and Billy have sung her praises.

Levi Schwartzberg Quartet @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) The young vibist is studying physics at the U while maintaining a regular gig schedule with groups like Adam Linz’s Le Percheron, Sound Skirmish, The Charlie Lincoln Group and his own quintet. Tonight he leads a quartet with Drew Stinson, bass; Patrick Adkins, piano; and Tarek Abdelqader, drums.

Wednesday, November 30 – Friday, December 2

Martin & Doolin Twin Cities CD Release @ Various Venues ($ & Time Varies) Guitarists David Martin and Mike Doolin are releasing Dark Star, their third collaboration with five performances in five days. They started their “Twin Cities Tour” at the Icehouse and the Black Dog and continue with appearances at Vieux Carré (8pm Wednesday), Driftwood Char Bar (7pm Thursday), and Jazz Central (8pm Friday) The two guitarist/bassists produce guitar sounds that range from fuzzed-out to crystalline, punctuated with some funky drumming. Martin & Doolin will be joined by Jim Chenoweth, bass; Shai Hayo, percussion; and Pete Hennig, drums. Here’s the duo from their last CD release.

Thursday, December 1

Thursday Night Jazz: the Joe Mayo Quartet @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Joe Mayo has been steadily making a name for himself in town since he moved here a few years back. members of the quartet include: Mayo, saxes; Pete James Johnson, drums; Chris Bates, bass; Zacc Harris, guitar.

Horton, dVRG, & Seru @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) It’s another evening of adventurous music at the Khyber Pass Cafe, with  Joe Horton, emcee; Devon Gray, keys; and Davu Seru  drums & percussion. I don’t know Horton, who has emceed with various hip-hop groups and is on the faculty at McNally Smith, but both Gray and Seru are seasoned musicians who can play a variety of styles, including R&B, hip-hop, and jazz.

Peter Kogan Quintet @ Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10 Cash only) Drummer Kogan’s 2015 album Some Monsterful Wonderthing, was a Top 10 Jazz album for the Star Tribune. The retired tympanist for the Minnesota Orchestra has become a favorite at the Vieux, what with his mostly straight ahead jazz and a group of excellent musicians: Solomon Parham, trumpet; Pete Whitman, sax; Phil Aaron, piano; and Anthony Cox, bass.

Friday, December 2

Charles Lazarus: Merry and Bright @ Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20 – $60) Trumpeter Charles Lazarus  of the Minnesota Orchestra, is a formidable jazz player. He’s bringing together a passel of professionals to inaugurate a new holiday tradition. They include Tonia Hughes and Bruce Henry on vocals; Tommy Barbarella, keys; Jeff Bailey, bass; Daryl Boudreaux, percussion; Davie Schmalenberger, drums; and the Lazarus Brass. As of this writing, the show is close to being sold out.

Saturday, December 3

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) 7pm: Yo Jimbo, with Jimbo Robson, drums; Jerry Shelton, trumpet; Steve Klein, alto; Jerry Benson, tenor; Brian Van Stavern, trombone; Ron Peterson, piano; and John Brown, bass. 8:30pm Steve Hobert 4 with Art “LA” Buckner, drums; Dean Magraw, guitar; Yohannes Tona, bass; and Steven Hobert, piano/keys. Here’s Hobert doing an improvisation.

Javi Santiago Trio: Jazz @ Studio Z, Saint Paul. 6pm master class, 7pm concert ($10 Advance or with workshop, $15 Door, 12 & under: Free) Pianist Javier Santiago  ill be joined by Graydon Peterson, bass; and Adrian Suarez, drums, to play the music of Ahmad Jamal, including songs from the albums One and The Awakening, as well as Jamal’s landmark album Live at the Pershing, for what promises to be a sweet evening of music.

Monday, December 5

John Raymond & Real Feels @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($12) Minneapolis native and current NYC resident John Raymond  irst caught the ears of area jazz lovers when still in high school over a dozen years ago. The trumpeter studied with a number of area musicians before going to school at Eau Claire and moving to NYC upon graduation. Since then he’s performed with such significant artists as Billy Hart, Orrin Evans, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ethan Iverson, and Linda Oh among others. His latest CD, Real Feels, received a 4 and a half star review in Downbeat, and he was voted as Rising Star Trumpeter in that mag’s Critics Poll.

Monday, Tuesday, December 5,6

Christmas w/Joey DeFrancesco @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($35, $40, $75w/Dinner), 9pm ($25, $30) DeFrancesco  ad such a good time playing the Dunsmore Room a couple of months back that he asked to return. Jazz Times calls him the “Best B3 Player on the Planet,” which is hard to argue against.  The three-time Grammy nominee and multiple award winner will be bringing a funky, soul-jazz vibe to some of your favorite holiday tunes for this occasion. As in his last appearance, DeFrancesco will be joined by Dan Wilson on guitar, and Jason Brown on drums.

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, November 30

Lonesome Dan Kase on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) With his slightly crushed fedora, vintage suit and tie, fleet guitar work, and world-weary vocals, Lonesome Dan Kase embodies the blues of the 30s, though he’s in tune with contemporary times. Tune in during the 5 o’clock hour, and head over to the 331 for more great music.

Darlene Love’s Christmas Show @ The Ordway, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($57, $67) As lead singer for the Blossoms, Love  and her cohorts released a number of early singles, but mostly sang backup for a myriad of artists, ranging from Sam Cooke and Elvis Presley, to Cher and Aretha Franklin. She’s also the lead voice on such hits as He’s a Rebel, Why Do Lovers Break Each Others Heart, and on the Christmas favorites Marshmallow World and Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) which she performed annually for almost 30 years on the David Letterman Show. She’s a member of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and is one of the subjects of the award-winning documentary “20 Feet from Stardom,” and has been an actor in the “Lethal Weapon” films and in such Broadway musicals as “Hairspray” and” Leader of the Pack.” Her voice is unmistakeable, and she has been rightly called one of the greatest singers of all time.

Thursday,December 1

Rena Haus @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 6:30 – 8:30pm (No Cover) While the Twin Cities has a fair amount of very talented woman blues singers, few are as good at composing and playing guitar as Ms Haus, whose inspiration can come from daily life on her farm, outrage at politicians, or the need for companionship.

Pat Donohue’s Holiday Show @ The History Theater, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($20, $25) Fans of Prairie Home Companion’s former Guy’s All Star Shoe Band can once again hear the band while celebrating the season as guitarist Pat Donohue brings the band, now re-named Prairie All-Stars, along with Special Guest Butch Thompson  to the History Theater for one night. Joining Donohue are Gary Raynor, bass; Dan “Daddy Squeeze” Newton, accordion; Richard Kriehn, mandolin and fiddle, and Peter Johnson on drums. There’ll be some original Christmas tunes written by Donohue over the years, as well as some traditional music, and several songs from Donohues recent excellent CD Blue Yonder. Pianist Thompson will perform Silent Night in the style of Jimmy Yancey, as well as a couple of other songs. If you can pick up the latest edition of the Highland Villager, you can read a story I wrote about Donohue and the concert.

Friday, December 2

Erica West Band @ The Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 9pm ($8) Soulful, sultry R&B, with occasional side trips into jazz and pop,  from vocalist West and her six piece band.

Steve Kaul & The Brass Kings @ Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10 Advance, $12 Door) You’ve not heard old-time music sung and played this way before, with Guitarist Steve Kaul on metal bodied resonator guitars; Mikkel Beckmen, washboard, djembe, and found percussion; Brad Ptacek on washtub bass; and the effervescent Jillian Rae on fiddle. Opening at 9pm are Kim and Quillen Roe of the Roe Family Singers, making this an especially fine evening of old time music.

Friday – Monday, December 3 – December 5

Tower of Power @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm (Fri, Sat, Mon $45 – $70), 9pm (Fri, Mon $35 – $60, Sat $45 – $60), 6pm (Sun $45 – $70), 8pm ($35 – $60) Tower of Power is one of the few acts that can fill 8 shows at the Dakota, and it’s no wonder. They are as tight an aggregation as you’ll ever see, bringing funky, soulful horn music to dancing masses since the 70s, with the leader and two of his original cohorts keeping things moving all night long.

Saturday, December 3

Flamin’ Ohs @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($10) The Ohs started in 1977 as Flamingo, but the original Flamingos from the 50s took issue with the name, so the band became the Flamin’ Ohs, and became darlings of Twin Cities rock/punk/new wave fans. They were among the first bands to make a music video back in the early 80s, when it got played on this new cable channel called MTV. Since 1980 they put out a number of albums, split up at the end of the 80s, reunited at the end of the 90s, and have recorded and occasionally performed since then.

Hurricane Harold/Jaedyn James & the Hunger @ The Vieux Carré, Saint Paul. 6:30pm (Hurricane) 9pm ($12) Another great twofer night at the Vieux. Hurricane Harold plays harmonica, usually accompanied by Doug Otto or Jeff Ray on guitar during the dinner hour. Then at 9pm its a band that is getting increasingly glowing press for their funky renditions of originals and classic soul songs. Jaedyn James  s a powerhouse of a singer, and the 9 piece band and backup singers, are delightfully energetic, which they have to be, to match Jaedyns, energy.

Steve Clarke & the Working Stiffs @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($?) Saxophonist Clarke and his merry band of swinging musicians play jumpin’ jazz and R&B for dancers, with songs that range from Fats Waller and Count Basie to Fats Domino and Louis Jordan. Dancers will trip the light fantastic on one of the best dance floors in the area.

Papa John Kolstad & the Hot Club of East Lake @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Tip Jar) Bluesman and swinging guitarist Papa John is in his natural habitat at Merlin’s, where he and the various members of the Hot Club bring some acoustic swing to the fore. Plus, you never know who will stop by and sit in. Bring an ID if you want alcohol, otherwise enjoy the TV-less environs, large selection of scotch and beers, and typical English fare at what many call the Best Neighborhood Bar in Minneapolis.

Yulefest IX @ Celtic Junction, 836 Prior Avenue, Saint Paul. 7pm ($15 Donation) This is the 9th year for Yulefest, which The Eddies hosted at the Hat Trick in its early days and moved to the Celtic Junction a few years ago to have more room. It’s a musical fundraiser for The Food Group, with all proceeds (from entry donations and a silent auction) going to stock food shelves throughout Minnesota. Along with The Eddies, you’ll get to hear Patsy O’Brien, The HiBs and Barra for an evening of music and fun. The Celtic Junction is located north of University in the Midway area.

Sunday, December 4

Charanga Tropical @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 3pm – 5pm (No Cover) Sunday afternoon Charangas and salsas for aspiring and expert Latin dancers, delivered by a band that recorded their last album in Havana.

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.

Autumn Music: 10.12 – 10.18

October 12, 2016

unknown-1We’ve a busy Fall weekend coming up, what with the Prince Memorial concert on Thursday (it’s also being proclaimed Prince Day by Mayor Chris Coleman); the Saint Paul Art Crawl in Lowertown and elsewhere, the MN Blues Society Hall of Fame Awards, and just a lot of good music all around. Enjoy the change of seasons and get out to hear music – it lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, October 12

Sophia Shorai/Butch Thompson & Dean Magraw @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 6pm (Shorai – No Cover), 8:30pm (Thompson & Magraw – $5) The Vieux presents yet another two-fer of jazz tonight. Sophia Shorai’s piano-playing and honey-laced vocals take the spotlight during the dinner hour. Then it’s the wonderful combination of Butch Thompson on piano and clarinet and Dean Magraw on guitar. They’ve been playing somewhat regularly lately, and the long time vets of the West Bank music scene seem to delight in their music.

Chris Bates Trio @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Bassist Chris Bates joins up with a couple of younger players: Joe Strachan, piano; and Miguel Hurtado, drums, for a night of originals and original arrangements.

Thursday, October 13

Emily Jane Davis @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) It’s vocal night at Jazz Central and Emily Jane Davis is bringing in a trio + special guest to accompany her. Here she is with just a guitar accompaniment.

Thursday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) Tonight, bassist Adam Booker brings his band Hip-Gnosis to the Reverie. Members are: Zacc Harris, guitar; Pete Whitman, saxes; and Jay Epstein, drums. Here’s Booker with a different band.

Issam Rafea and Chris Cunningham @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Rafea is a Kuwaiti-born oud player now based in Chicago. He is the Chair of the Arabic Music Department at High Institute of Music in Damascus and the principal conductor of Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music. Twelve String guitarist Chris Cunningham has collaborated on stages and in studios with artists such as: including Marianne Faithfull, John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards, The Contortions, Gavin Friday, Boukman Eksperyans, Marshall Crenshaw, Richie Havens, John Zorn, and others. In the Twin Cities he currently leads the group Fall of the House of Usher (FOTHOU), as well as composing for and improvising with The Cherry Spoon Collective and Coloring Time. There will be solo sets by each, culminating in a set of duos by the pair.


Friday, October 14

Katia Cardenas @ Public Kitchen & Bar, Saint Paul. 9pm – Midnight (Tip Jar) With its big couches and limestone walls, the basement at Public feels a bit like a secret place, all the better to hear songbird Cardenas go through her repertoire of standards, jazz, and pop/jazz tunes. She’ll be aided by Chris Lomheim, piano; and Matt Senjem, bass, to complete the intimate feel, though admittedly, it’s always a good idea to sit close to the band, since the stone walls help create a loud environment.

Saturday, October 15

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Two very interesting bands are on tap for this evening, starting off with The Jazz Bridge Project: Roger Johnson, guitar; Eric Kamau Gravatt, drums; Javi Santiago, keys; Ron Evaniuk bass; and Rajiah Johnson, flute. Headlining is the dynamic drummer/conguero Babatunde Lea  with Solom Parham, trumpet; Phil Aaron piano, and others. Lea always brings top-notch talent to his groups, so don’t worry if only two members are identified. Here’s an example.

Sunday, October 16

Laura Caviani/Lux String Quartet @ Lowertown Classics, 255 Kellogg Blvd E, 3rd Floor Atrium. 5pm ($10 Suggested Donation) After a weekend of the Art Crawl, enjoy a bit of jazz and classical music at this low-key event. You’ll hear the music of pianist Laura Caviani as well as the Lux String Quartet in this Artists Loft. To further entice you there will be a complementary wine tasting from Revival Wine, Beer, and Spirits. Regular readers probably know the music of Caviani, so here’s the Lux String Quartet with a song for the season.

Painting Joni Mitchell @ The Ordway Concert Hall, Saint Paul. 5pm ($33 – $53) It’s a celebration of Joni Mitchell’s music, courtesy of four excellent singers and an equally excellent rhythm section. Vocalists Judi Donaghy Vinar  Lori Dokken (also on piano); Jacey Pelstring; and Rachel Holder Hennig  ill bring out new meanings in Mitchell’s music, with the help of Dan Caton, guitar; Jeff Bailey, bass; and Peter Hennig, drums. The acoustics of the Concert Hall are perfect for this kind of show.

Huntertones @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) Funky jazz from a Brooklyn-based sextet that, like many young bands, is melding a number of genres to create exciting music. You’re as likely to hear elements of Afrobeat, rock, and funk as you are new takes on jazz standards. At times during a performance, they break down to a trio of sax; sousaphone; and beatbox! To get an idea of their music, watch this.

Monday, October 17

Mississippi Album Release @ The Dakota, Minnapolis. 7pm ($15) Mississippi is a group centered on Peruvian guitarist Andres Prado  who graced the Twin Cities for a  few years and became a highly respected member of our music scene. The group includes Kevin Washington, drums; Jeff Bailey, bass; Peter Schimkie, piano; and Pete Whitman, sax. Bassist Jeff Bailey described their sound, “Much of Andres’ recorded material is centered in the traditional Peruvian styles of Festejo, Lando, etc. Our collective sound tries to allow for more interweaving of traditions: Jazz, Neo-soul, Peruvian Festejo, R&B, and more.” Here’s an example.

Miguel Hurtado @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10, $5 w/Student ID) Drummer Hurtado brings in a quintet to play the music of Wayne Shorter: Aaron Hedenstrom, sax; Park Evans,  guitar; Joe Strachan, piano; and Dan Carpel on bass.

Tuesday, October 18

Basement Society @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm ($8, $35 w/Dinner) Javi Santiago will be playing the new, 9 foot Steinway, while Dan Carpel plays the bass and Pete James Johnson plays drums.

Harold Lopez-Nussa @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($22) This Cuban-born pianist received a musical education from his French grandparents, starting, as many pianists do, with classical music. At age 20 Lopez-Nussa shifted to Cuban jazz and then toured with the Buena Vista Social Club as well as with singer Omara Portuondo. His most recent album, El Viaje, received 4 stars from Downbeat, adding to the accolades he’s received while performing at festivals around the world. He’ll be accompanied by his brother Ruy Adrian Lopez-Nussa on drums and percussion and Sengalese vocalist and bassist Alune Wade.

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, October 12

Mark Cameron Band on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Mark Cameron and his band-mates are the winners of the Road to Memphis competition, and will be representing Minnesota in the band category of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis this winter. You get to hear them on the radio and in person to discover why they’ve been chosen by the Minnesota Blues Society to represent us in Memphis.

Hula Peppers @ Schooners, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) When these guys (and occasional gal) play old-timey music, it’s not tunes of Appalachia, but rather pop tunes from the 20s and 30s, with some Hawaiian tunes thrown in for good measure. The combination of swing, blues, and novelty tunes makes for an enjoyable, comfortable show, especially in the low-key environs of Schooners.

Thursday, October 13

Mikkel Beckmen with Jeff Ray @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 5pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) Beckmen’s weekly showcase has been going on for a couple of years now. Today, you can sit down in the unassuming Irish bar, order up a beverage, and enjoy the fantastic, often bluesy guitar playing of Jeff Ray as Beckmen does his thing on various percussion instruments.  This video takes a minute or two for the music to get started.

Prince Tribute @ The Xcel Center, Saint Paul. 7pm ($Lots) I normally wouldn’t talk about a show where some tickets are over $300, but it’s the Prince Tribute, with Stevie Wonder, Morris Day and The Time, Chaka Khan, Mint Condition, Anita Baker, Liv Warfield, and many more. There are a few lower priced single seats left as of this writing, as well as some of the high buck seats, but expect to have a wad of cash on hand if you end up buying from scalpers. Things start off with a free, preshow party at 4pm, so you can enjoy that even if you don’t go to the concert.

Friday, October 14

Uke Fest Five @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Singer/Songwriter and ukelele player Katy Vernon has put together a “really big shew” as a benefit for ARC and the Minnesota Music Coalition. This year she’s gathered over 16 acts who play ukeleles in a number of styles to entertain you, including Jake Rowan, Dean Johnson, The Hula Peppers, Niki Becker, Hot Date, and more.

Samba Meu @ Squirrel Haus Arts, 3450 Snelling Ave, Minneapolis. 7pm – 10pm ($5) The Brazilian music band returns to performing, this time with a 9-piece band, all the better to create the sensuous rhythms of Brazil: chorros, forks, sambas, and more. There will even be dance lessons in case you want to learn how to swivel your hips like Samba Dancers. Squirrel Haus is not a bar, so BYOB.

Saturday, October 15

Harriet Brewing October Blues Fest @ Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 5pm. (No Cover?) Prepare for the Blues Hall of Fame ceremony tomorrow by checking out these bands at the Tap Room: the Cobras, Cornbread Harris, Paul Barry and the Acetones featuring Lila Ammons, and Flatwater Mississippi.  

Papa John Kolstad and the Phits @ The Roots Cellar Concert Series at University Baptist Church, 1219 University Ave SE. 7pm ($15, $10 Seniors & Students) You’ll have to go down to the basement for this concert, featuring Papa John Kolstad  master of the 12-string guitar. The Byrds made the 12-string popular, though nowadays, you just don’t see too many guitarists playing the difficulty instrument. Well here’s your chance as Papa John is joined by “Wailin’ Willie” Bill Smith on harmonica and vocals, and Gary Powell on lap steel guitar. There will likely be a bass player as well. They’ll perform Blues, and folk songs from pre-WWII, as well as some more contemporary songs covering swing,  standards,  and even some humorous topics, which will fit in well with Papa John’s story telling and wry political humor.

Sunday, October 16

MN Blues Hall of Fame Ceremony @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 2pm ($10 Suggested Donation) This is the 10th Annual Blues Hall of Fame Ceremony, and once again, some of the talented musicians of our community are being honored. Today will honor: Paul Mayasich (Performer), Steve “Boom Boom” Vanderharr (Sideman), Wilbur Cole (Legend), Gary Eckhart (Arts, Literature, Media), RJ Mischo (Composition), Mike Shaw (Supportive of the Blues), Bobby Johnson and his sister Lavern “Lady Blue” Johnson (Legacy Honors). Arrive early and partake of Pepito’s Brunch for an additional cost (and hear Maurice Jacox while you’re there). There will be live music all day, from the winners and others.

Captain Gravitone and His String Theory Orchestra @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 4pm – 7pm (Tip Jar) Take a break from politics, or even football, and dig the fun sounds of this acoustic/rootsy sextet, capable of turning a Pink Floyd song into a bluegrass rave-up.

Tuesday – Sunday, October 18 – 25

STOMP! @ The Ordway, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($44 – $74) This groundbreaking show has been showing the world how anything can be used as an instrument for 25 years now, using brooms, barrels, garbage can covers, and more in an invigorating display of physical stamina, resourcefulness, and creativity.

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.

It’s All Good Music: 4.20 – 4.26

April 20, 2016

Unknown-1It’s another good week to be an ominiverous music fan. We have a few highly anticipated jazz artists in town, as well as some great blues and a battle of the blues bands, and some fine resident artists at work. Music lifts the spirit. Have a great week.


Wednesday, April 20

Nathan Hanson @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10) Saxophonist Hanson leads Noah Ophoven-Baldwin, Cornet; Erik Fratzke, electric bass; and Davu Seru, drums and percussion; through a program of Nathan’s originals, as well as tunes from Carla Bley, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and some spontaneously composed works.

Bernstein, Goldings, & Stewart Organ Trio @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($22 – $30) This isn’t your father’s classic organ trio, though it’s a hard-charging group that’s taking the format in new directions. Guitarist Peter Bernstein has been a NYC institution since 1989, playing with legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb, Joshua Redman’s band, Diana Krall, Tomn Harrell, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Sonny Rollins, and more. Larry Goldings is the organ player in the group, though he’s equally at home with other keyboards, enough so that’ he’s been nominated for a Grammy and has playd with folks like Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux, Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, and Elton John. He’s got 18 albums as a leader, and hundreds more as a sideman. Drummer Bill Steward is another versatile veteran, having performed with Maceo Parker, John Scofield, Joe Lovano, james Brown, and Pat Metheny.

Thursday, April 21

Andrew Walesch Big Band: The Sounds of Sinatra @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7pm (No Cover) If you want to see this group I recommend getting there early, as pianist/vocalist Walesch has certainly hit on a popular concept. Though it’s not exactly a big band, the group does have ten members, giving it significant heft to support Walesch’s vocals.

Thursday, Friday, Sunday, April 21, 22, 24

Davina & The Vagabonds CD Release @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($15) The hardest working musician in the Twin Cities is releasing a live album entitled Nicollet & 10th. She and the band (trumpet, trombone, upright bass and drums) will soon be heading to the San Francisco Jazz Festival, then out East for a plethora of appearances, including a couple of blues festivals, before returning to the Monterrey Jazz Festival once again, where they’ll perform on two different stages. Later this summer they head to Europe. If you’ve never seen her and wonder what it’s all about, the best I can say is that Davina has a powerful voice, and a kick-*ss band, which does not include a guitar. Her music straddles lines between New Orleans R&B, traditional jazz, blues, and the occasional standard. The high-energy combination works, as she gains new and rabid fans wherever she plays.

Friday, April 22

Father & Son Pancake Breakfast @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10) Not what you think, but rather a trio featuring the father/son team of Javi Santiago on piano and Mac Santiago on drums, joined by Anthony Cox on bass. No word on whether Vanessa will be selling pancakes.

Saturday, April 23

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) 7pm: Steve Kimmel Trio w/Steve Kimmel, piano; Margo Beivik, bass; and Trevor Haining, drums. 8pm Javi Santiago Trio: Miguel Hurtado, drums; Dan Carpel, bass;  and Santiago on piano. Here’s Javi in a solo piece.

Adam Meckler Quintet CD Release @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) opening is Jack Lion, electronic modern Jazz from Iowa. Then its’ tha AMQ: Meckler, trumpet; Graydon Peterson, bass; Zacc Harris, guitar; Greg Shulte, drums, Joe Mayo, sax. Here they are at the Black Dog.

Andy Martin & Bob McChesney w/the JazzMN Orchestra @ Hopkins High School, 2400 Lindberg Dr, Hopkins. 7:30pm ($$10 – $33) The show is called Slide by Slide, since both Martin and McChesney are veteran trombonists – both have appeared on hundreds of soundtracks and TV scores. They’ve also been featured performers with the likes of Natalie Cole, Michael Buble, and Gordon Goodwin. Here they are with the Carl Saunders band.

Superstitious Thriller: A Tribute to Stevie Wonder & Michael Jackson @ The Capri Theater, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) Jay Young and his Lyric Factory have been presenting some of the music of Wonder and Jackson as part of larger shows over the last few years. Now he just concentrates on the two Motown Stars, bringing jazz arrangements to their songs. Though groups are always a bit flexible, past versions of the Lyric Factory have included Jay on piccolo bass; his son Ian on regular bass; Kevin Washington, on drums, and Thom West on keys. Various and sundry singers take over the vocal duties.

Sunday, April 24

The Elders @ Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Paul. 2pm ($20 Adults, $16 MNHS members, $10 5-7 yrs old) Patty Peterson host this event, which includes live music and conversation with jazz elders from the area. Guests include gospel singer Tom Tipton, and saxophonist/composer/arranger Dave Karr.


Superstitious Thriller: A Tribute to Stevie Wonder & Michael Jackson @ The Capri Theater, Minneapolis. 3pm ($25) Jay Young and his Lyric Factory have been presenting some of the music of Wonder and Jackson as part of larger shows over the last few years. Now he just concentrates on the two Motown Stars, bringing jazz arrangements to their songs. Though groups are always a bit flexible, past versions of the Lyric Factory have included Jay on piccolo bass; his son Ian on regular bass; Kevin Washington, on drums, and Thom West on keys. Various and sundry singers take over the vocal duties.

Lucia Newell & Phil Aaron @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm – 9pm ($8, $35 Dinner) Ms Newell is a chanteuse whose knowledge of Brazilian songs comes from having lived there some years (decades?) back. She and Phil Aaron on piano will be performing some new material along with the Brazilian and American jazz standards that she favors. There will likely be some songs of spring as well for this intimate show.

Monday, April 25

Nancy Harms @ Crooner’s Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($20, $40 Dinner), 9pm ($15) NYC-based, Minnesota-native Nancy Harms reruns to the Twin Cities for the local release of her highly anticipated album “Ellington at Night”. Judging from the videos released in anticipation of the album, Harms continues to find new emotion and strength in well known standards, this time from the Ellington songbook. Nancy will be appear with pianist Jeremy Siskind, a frequent collaborator with a light touch; as well as bassist Gordy Johnson and drummer Jay Epstein. Noted jazz writer Will Friedwald says of her  “…What makes ‘Ellington at Night’ so remarkable is the way that Nancy Harms and chief collaborator Jeremy Siskind have found a whole new way to sing Ellington, one that’s perfectly in keeping with the Ellington tradition, yet, at the same time, fresh and original.”

JAWS @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10) I doubt you’ll hear the scary music from the movie, but one never can tell. This is a young outfit, co-led by pianist Jordan Anderson and guitarist Will Schmid, with Drew Stinson on bass, and Ben Beyene on drums. Anderson is now in his second year on the Dakota Combo, and was recently accepted into the jazz program at the University of Michigan, where he’ll study with Beeny Green. Schmid plays with the Minnesota Youth Jazz Band, and leads his own groups, in addition to playing in a guitar duo with Adam Astrup – the two got a warm reception at the Winter Jazz Fest.

Jazz Implosion @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) The first set is guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker & drummer JT Bates performing  “A Musical Tribute to US Bank Stadium,” which sounds like it could be anything. The second set feature – Mancrush – Lars-Erik Larson, Brandon Wozniak, sax; Zacc Harris, guitar; and Bryan Nichols, keyboards. Here are Jeremy and JT playing in Alpha Consumer.

Tuesday, April 26

John Raymond Quartet @ Crooners Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7pm ($15, $40 Dinner) Young trumpet ace John Raymond is back in town and appearing with Bryan Nichols, piano; Graydon Peterson, bass; and JT Bates, drums at the Dunsmore Room Crooner’s listening room, where people keep quiet in order to fully appreciate the music being presented. The quartet will be doing Raymond’s original music from his two albums.

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, April 20

Joe T. Cook on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (KFAI – 90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Though he moved to the Pacific Northwest 10 years ago, Joe is fondly remembered around here, as well he should be. A winner of multiple blues awards and accolades from our own Blues Society, this harmonica player/vocalist/composer is in town for only two shows. He’ll be joined by Joe Franken on guitar and what is promised as a “killer rhythm section.” Tune in and get to the 331 Club for the show.

Malamanya @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) The Icehouse will become a veritable whirlpool of salsa dancers who enjoy the Cuban sons and other latin dance music of Malamanya.

Thursday, April 21

Papa John Kolstad and the Perfect Phits @ Vine Arts Center, 2637 27th Ave So, Minneapolis 6pm – 9pm (Free) Well, here’s Papa John in a place you don’t normally associate with the blues or acoustic swing – an art gallery. But then, John’s wife Susan Horns Kolstad is one of the artists whose work is on display, along with the work of C. Kim Pickering and Cecilia Schiller. Don’t know anything about the Perfect Philts, but since tonight’s event is sponsored by KBEM as part of its Gallery Grooves series, I trust they’ll play some great music.

Orkestar Bez Ime @ The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7:30pm – 9:30pm (tip Jar) The raucous sounds of this Balkan party band will reverberate through the Northern Warehouse as dancers set aside tables and grab partners. If you’re lucky, some choral singers will show up to add another dimension to the music.

Thursday, Friday, April 21, 22

Music in Movies @ MStP International Film Festival, Saint Anthony Main Theater, Minneapolis. Various prices, and times. During this week there are a few music films being shown during the Festival. On Thursday, cellist Yo Yo Ma is the subject of a film at 7:15, while Twin Cities rapper Eyedea is featured at a 9:20 screening, both at Saint Anthony Main Theater. On Friday, the film about Gypsy will be shown at 9:20 at the same theater.

Friday, April 22

XTC: An All Star Tribute @ The Turf Club, Saint Paul. 9pm ($20) This tribute to the British Pop giants XTC will feature a cast of dozens of regional stars, including Leslie Ball, Chris Beaty, Paul Boblett, Al Church, Adam Levy, John Munson, and many more. It’s a benefit for the Pay It Forward Cancer Fund at the Ridgeview Medical Center, which helps breast and women’s cancer patients pay basic living expenses while undergoing treatment.

Hipshaker Dance Party @ The Kitty Cat Club, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) Brian, Greg, and George get out the little records with the big holes and spin them in a dance-inducing way.

Saturday, April 23

Willie Walker & We “R” @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) As the summer sneaks up on us Willie Walker is preparing to travel to Brazil, Argentina, and northern Europe. His recent album, “If Nothing Ever Changes” is a solid slab of soul singing for the 21st Century. In fact, Walker has received three nominations from the Blues Foundation: Album of the Year, Soul Blues Album, and Soul Blues Artist. Well deserved, and we are lucky enough to be able to see him up close in the large room at Crooners. Here’s Walker in Brazil.

Graham Parker/Brinsley Schwarz Duo @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 8pm ($40 – $45) Parker came to the fore as a punkish soul singer with sharp writing skills from Britain during the late 70s and early 80s, when he led Rumour. Schwarz was in the Rumour and also led his own aggregation. Schwarz has often played with Parker on post-Rumour records, and recently the two have been selling out theaters around Europe playing some of Parker’s more recent music as well as some well-known “hits.”

Sunday, April 24

Road to Memphis Band Competition @ The Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 3pm ($10) So the solo/duo competition was a couple of weeks ago, and now it’s time to choose a band to represent Minnesota at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next January. Today’s challengers include The Mark Cameron Band, The Lisa Wenger Band, The Gopher Tones, and Harrison Street. It’s a great way to get a sampling of some of the best blues around.

Tuesday, April 16

Paul Mayasich @ The Station, White Bear Lake. 9pm (No Cover) Mayasich has a weekly gig at the Station, bringing in guests each week for a different take on guitar based rock, blues, and who knows what else. Tonight you can experience Mayasich Mayhem (according to his website) as Paul brings in Mark and Greg Mayasich to help him and listeners have fun.

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.

Music Not for Fools: 3.30 – 4.5

March 30, 2016

imagesFriday is April Fools Day, with a couple of appropriate shows, but for the most part there is nothing foolish about our music scene, which is so rich in talent over a variety of genres. We even have some outstanding visiting artists this week. With the weather approaching real Spring temps, it’s a good time to get out and hear some music, which will undoubtedly lift your spirits.


Wednesday, March 30

Steve Kimmel, Gary Byers, & Gary Shulte @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10) Wednesdays are a bit more experimental than other nights at this basement studio/performance space. Tonight features Steve Kimmel, a long time veteran of the Twin Cities music community, on piano and percussion; versatile violinist Gary Shulte; and cellist Greg Byers. Here’s Kimmel having some fun on vibes.

Byron Johnson-Blanchard Trio @ Barbette, Minneapolis. 10pm (No Cover) Johnson-Blanchard is a drummer with a number of funk/R&B bands in town, but for the past year or so he’s led this trio with the ever inventive Park Evans on guitar and Josh Granowski on bass. So you have some fine jazz to listen to during Barbette’s great lat night happy hour. You can hear songs by the trio here.

Thursday, March 31

McNally Smith Singer Showcase @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($10) The best and brightest young vocal students from McNally Smith.

Potash Twins @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($12) NPR called them the “Twin Horns of Joy.” The trombone/trumpet duo have caught the ears of such notables as Wynton Marsalis, and Jon Faddis, Chris Botti, and Gregory Porter, among others, and have played at Birdland, SXSW, and Warren Buffet’s Annual Shareholder meeting! As young as they are (early 20s), their music nods towards pop, but is at its heart, jazz, plain and simple. Here’s an example:

Friday, April 1

Paul Harper’s Chordless Quartet @ Public Kitchen, Saint Paul. 9pm (Tip Jar) Friday Night at the Reverie in Minneapolis is on hiatus as it moves to Thursday nights in May. In the meantime, bands that were scheduled are being moved to different venues, including the Public, across the street from Mears Park in Lowertown. Saxophonist Harper  along with Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Tom Lewis, bass; and Matt Buckner on drums will explore originals by Harper and Kenny, as well as music by Joe Henderson, Thelonious Monk, and more. Here are Harper and Kenny performing with the Illicit Sextet, which does have chorded instruments.

Friday, Saturday, April 1, 2

Dave King Trio @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($15) King is the genre-crossing drummer best known for stints with avant jazz, pop, and Americana groups. Tonight he takes the stage with Bill Carrothers  piano; and Billy Peterson  bass; to play jazz standards, though the combination of these three outstanding musicians may take the songs slightly beyond “standard.”  Here’s an extended clip from a performance in Italy a couple of years ago.

Saturday, April 2

Sophia Shorai @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) The Friday evening crowds at Crooners are looking for a good time. Ms Shorai, with her sweet voice, sharp emotive instincts, and talented band, should make it easy for the crowd to enjoy themselves.

Maud Hixon: What Would Doris Do? @ Bloomington Center for the Arts, Bloomington. 7:30pm  ($27 Adults; $24 Seniors; $20 Students) Ms Hixson has impeccable phrasing and very good taste in the songs she presents. Tonight she examines the music of Doris Day, who started with big bands, and had a successful solo and movie career. With the ever swinging Wolverines Trio. Here she is with piano accompaniment by Rick Carlson, of the Wolverines.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Curator Steve Kenny often has a young group to start out this Saturday Night tradition, and tonight is no exception. Opening act is The Dark Blue Quartet, with Thomas Strommen, saxes; Dylan Nelson, guitar; Jason McLean, bass; and Alex Burgess, drums.  Both Burgess and Strommen have proven themselves in Kenny’s Group 47, so it will be interesting to catch them in another setting. Headliner at 8:30pm is Courageous Endeavors, a young-ish group that achieved some local popularity until leader/bassist Brian Courage left for NYC. He’s back visiting and will be perfuming with Nelson Devereaux, sax; Joe Strachan, Fender Rhodes; and Miguel Hurtado, drums. Listen to their music here.

Sunday, April 3

Jazz Lunch with the Century Jazz Ensemble @ Jethro’s Char House & Pub, 3140 Century Ave, Mahtomedi. 2-4pm (no cover) While away a Sunday afternoon having lunch while listening to some swinging music from the Ensemble.

Sunday, Monday, April 3,4

SF Jazz Collective: the Music of Michael Jackson @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($35 – $45), 9pm ($25 – $35)  This is an All-Star octet  in the best sense of the word, brought together each year to explore the music of a particular composer, from John Coltrane, to Ornette Coleman, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Stevie Wonder. This year’s group includes Miguel Zenon, alto; David Sanchez, tenor; Avishai Cohen, trumpet; Robin Eubanks, trombone; Warren Wolf, vibes; Edward Simon, piano; Matt Penmanm, bass; and Obed Calvaire, drums. Their interpretations have proven to be illuminating in the past, and I’m excited to hear what they’ll do with the music of Michael Jackson. Here’s an example.

Monday, April 4

Riley Helgeson @ Jazz Central, Minneapols. 8:30pm ($10) Trumpeter Riley Helgeson takes a night off from the McNasty Brass Band to stretch out. As usual, there’ll be a jam session after Helgeson’s set. Examples of his work can be found here.

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, March 30

Javier & The Way Back @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 8pm ($5) Javier Matos, guitar, vocals, harmonica; Michael Carvale, upright bass; Grant Wibben, drums. This trio explores all kinds of music from the cultures around this nation: blues, swing, Americana, and more. Here’s Javier with his more well known band – the Innocent Sons.

Wednesday, March 30 – Sunday, April 3

A Night With Janis Joplin @ The Ordway Theater, Saint Paul. 7:30pm ($34 – $101), 2pm Saturday and Sunday ($34 – $110) Mary Bridget Davies does an excellent job of conveying the power and emotion of Janis Joplin’s singing in this jukebox musical. There’s no plot, just Davies as Joplin singing and talking a little bit about her early life and the power of the blues. She’s given outstanding help from the band as well as four exceptional female singers who portray some of her inspirations, including Bessie Smith, Odetta, Etta James, and the Chantels. Listen for yourself.

Thursday, March 31

Shannon Mac Band @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) The guys in the Mystic Order of Reverb and Twang were looking around for a new spark to their music and found it in Shannon Mac  She’s a firecracker of a singer, whether attacking Rockabilly, foot stomping R& B, or good ol’ Rock & Roll.

Doug MacLeod @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($20) This blues troubadour is a singer/songwriter/guitarist with great chops who writes about life experiences that relate to many of us. MacLeod has won both the 2014 Blues Music Awards as Acoustic Artist of the Year and for Acoustic Album of the year. He was nominated again in 2015, and his latest release “Exactly Like This” has received glowing reviews.

Friday, April 1

Local Hermits and Papa John Kolstad @ Harriet Brewing Tap Room, Minneapolis. 7pm ($5?) Things get off to a rockin’ start with the garage rock of the Local Hermits: music by T Rex, The Stones, The Flaming Groovies and more. Then at 9pm, the wry, former mayoral candidate, Papa John Kolstad steps up to entertain with some blues, jazz, and occasional stories.

Momentary Lapse of Floyd @ The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 9pm ($12advance/$15 Door) It’s music for Sci-Fi Fans and others, as The Dark Side of the Moon meets 2001: A Space Odyssey. A live band will perform the Pink Floyd album in its entirety while syncing the music to a screening of the 1968 classic movie. There will be two sets of Dark Side material as well as other songs from Pink Floyd’s catalog. The band includes musicians from The Big Wu, Kung Fu Hippies, the Last Waltz; and Nicholas David. Here’s the band doing a Pink Floyd song from Wish You Were Here.

Dap Squad @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) Here’s a funky variety band that can go from the Doobie Brothers to Daft Punk.  Each member of this ensemble has toured with or shared the stage with such artists as Prince, the Commodores, Pearl Jam, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, to Harry Connick Jr and Wynton Marsalis. Here’s a promo video

April Fools on April Fools @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7) Rock, twangy country, pop, and blues from Brian Drake, lead vocals and guitar; Clay Williams, guitar; Ben Kaplan, drums; and Scott Hreha, bass.

Saturday, April 2

Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 9pm ($7 – includes a free beverage) If you’re looking for a rompin’ stompin’ evening of take-no-prisoners blues, then Famous Dave’s is the place to be tonight. Lil’ Ed plays slide guitar with a ferocity that’s hard to match, no less beat.

Sunday, April 3

Taiko Lab @ Bedlam Theater Lowertown, Saint Paul. 2pm, 7pm ($10) Like the sound of big drums? You may want to explore the drumming and theater of the Taiko Lab, featuring the drummers Mu Daiko. They will present the evolution of ideas presented in last year’s lab, as well as a host of brand new pieces. Their work uses fue melodies, Japanese folk dance, tai-chi movement and heart pounding rhythms to stretch the melodic and choreographic elements of taiko.

Tuesday, April 5

Acoustic Africa featuring Habib Koite, and Vusi Mahlasela @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($35) The Cedar continues to prove that when it comes to world musics, it’s unmatched. Tonight the rich traditions of African Voice and Song will be explored by two beloved singers: Habib Koite  and Vusi Mahlasela  Koite is a Malian guitarist and composer named by Rolling Stone was the biggest pop star of the region,selling over 250,000 albums worldwide.  Mahlasela, from South Africa, has appeared in town a couple of times, to the delight of his audiences. He played at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, and has served as an official ambassador to Mandela’s HIV/AIDS initiative. Mahlasela’s voice at times recalls Sam Cooke, but it’s his message of hope for his apartheid-scarred country that resonates around the world.

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.

Spring is Here: 3.16 – 3.22

March 16, 2016


This is one of the tasks I've been doing this week ⛏

This is one of the tasks I’ve been doing this week ⛏

This is the second weekly blog entry that will be somewhat less informative than usual as I prepared this a couple of weeks ago. There is plenty of music to see and hear, especially on Saint Patrick’s Day. You may want to check with venues to ensure that a) I have the right information; and b) the bookings haven’t change. Music lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, March 16

Lila Ammons @ The Tangiers, Minneapolis. 6:30pm – 9:30pm (No Cover) Vocal jazz and blues, done up right by Ms Ammons.

Thursday, March 17

Adam Meckler Orchestra @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10) Trumpeter Meckler is a fairly prolific composer. Just about each time this big band plays, he is premiering a new piece. The Vieux is a good place to hear the band as well.

Jorrit Diykstra & Nathan Hanson @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Duo saxophones, from a Dutchman (Diykstra) and our own Nathan Hanson.

Friday, March 18

Jeremy Walker & Mancrush Double Bill @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. Jeremy Walker plays piano for the dinner set, then, about 9pm or so, Mancrush will hold a CD release party. Mancrush is: Lars-Erik Larson, drums; Brandon Wozniak, sax; Bryan Nichols, piano; and Zacc Harris, guitar.

Friday Night Jazz @ The Reverie, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar) It’s a “Really Big Shoe” with Joe Mayo and Clay Pufahl, saxophones; Lars-Erik Larson, drums; and Ted Olsen, bass.

Saturday, March 19

Sophia Shorai @ Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis. 6pm – 9pm (No Cover) A voice as sweet as honey, but capable of tear-inducing heartbreak.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Opening set by the Roseville High School Combo, directed by Pat Moriarty, who will take the stage at 8:30pm with his own Pat Moriarty Ensemble.

Sunday, March 20

Dan Chouinard & Prudence Johnson @ The Dunsmore Room, Crooners, Fridley. 7pm ($20 Minimum) Longtime friends and musical cohorts celebrate composers with March birthdays.

Solomon’s Sessions @ Bedlam Theater Lowertown, Saint Paul. 7pm ($5) Trumpeter Solomonm Parham gathers young lions, veterans, and students to jam for a few hours.

Monday, March 21

Patty Peterson Tribute to Jeanne Arland Peterson @ the Dunsmore Room, Crooners, Fridley. 7pm  ($40 Minimum Dinner Show) Patty pays tribute to her mom. Don’t be surprised if other members of the musical clan show up as well.

Tuesday, March 22

Pete Whitman’s X-Tet @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($7) An ideal room to hear this 10 piece band of some of Twin Cities’ finest musicians.

Heads Up for Wednesday, March 23

Geoffrey Keezer with Gillian Margot @ The Dunsmore Room, Crooners, Fridley. 7pm ($35 Dinner Show Minimum) Reservations recommended for this Grammy nominated pianist.

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, March 16

Papa John Kolstad on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) A dry wit, political acumen only add to the pleasure of listening to this acoustic blues/jazz guitarist and singer. Don’t know if he’ll have anybody with him, but if he does, they’ll be good.

The Hula Peppers @ Schooner’s Tavern, Minneapolis. 7:30pm (Tip Jar) Songs from the 30s, done in a light-hearted, yet fairly authentic manner.

Thursday, March 17

St. Patrick’s Day @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 11AM (Tip Jar?)  Quintessential Irish Pub, with Quintessential Irish music: 11am (?) Ton Dahil & Ginny Johnson; 2pm Sistertree; 5pm Tiller Black; and at 8pm, The Irish Brigade

Lonseome Dan Case @ Vieux Carre, Saint Paul. 6pm – 8pm (No Cover) The place to be for depression era blues as an antidote to the antics of paraders and parade-goers.

Boiled In Lead @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) It wouldn’t be Saint Patrick’s Day without Boiled in Lead at the Cedar.

Fattenin’ Frogs @ Dayblock Brewing, Minneapolis. 9pm (Tip Jar?) Rock n’ Roll and more, done with old timey instruments

SlovCzeck @ The Blackdog Coffee & Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 8:30pm (tip Jar) Another non-Irish gig for ya. SlovCzech is a six-piece band playing modernized versions of folk music from Czech and Slovakia. High energy dance music.

Friday, March 18

Scottie Miller @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm (No Cover) Soulful rockin’ with New Orleans overtones.

Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders @ Bunkers, Minneapolis. 9pm ($8) High energy bare bones blues.

Malamanya @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 11pm ($10) Get out your dancing shoes and catch up on your Latin dance moves.

Saturday, March 19

Class Action @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($20) Dance music from a reunited band that was among the most popular in the area back in the late 70s and early 80s.

The Good, the Bad, & the Funky @ Minnesota Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 9pm ($10?) A horn band delivering funky soul and R&B for your dancing pleasure.

Flamin Oh’s and April Fools @ the Parkway Theater, Minneapolis. 8pm ($12/$15) Twin Cities new wave/punk favorites, and a new, countrified rockin’ band.

Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orquesta @ Bedlam Theater Lowertown, Saint Paul. 10pm ($8 Advance, $12 Door) A dynamic band from Chicago, along with the Psicotropical DJs, vendors, painting, and of course, dancing.

Sunday, March 20

Janiva Magness @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($25) The award winning blues singer is celebrating the release of her latest album.

Quantic (Live) w/Xenia Rubinos @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm ($18 Advance, $20 Door) Soulful Afrobeat, Jazz, and Cumbias, all set to a dance beat by DJ Will Holland, aka Quantic, whose recordings are a favorite of DJs around the world.

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

Holiday Music: 12.23 – 12.29

December 23, 2015

Greetings and salutations;

Swedish Pancakes: My own holiday tradition

Swedish Pancakes: My own holiday tradition

For many, this is a hectic, if joyful, time of year, as families and friends gather to celebrate various, but mostly, Christmas traditions. I’ve been informed by Santa, aka Davis Wilson, that many of the world’s 5000 religions have celebrations of one sort or another during this season, as we go from Winter Solstice to ever-increasing days of light. Whether your celebrations include worship services, lighting candles, special food, storytelling, feats of strength, gathering outside, helping at homeless shelters, or even toy trains, accept my wish for a happy and fulfilling holiday. There are plenty of opportunities to relax and/or rejuvenate with music, which of course, lifts the spirit.


Wednesday, December 23

Retro Swing Sister @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm – 11pm ($5) Retro-Style Swing with a modern twist from Maryann Sullivan and Rhonda Laurie. There’ll be some dancing, oh yes, there will. Listen to some samples of their singing here.

George Maurer Group Holiday Show @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7 pm ($15) The Saint Cloud-based jazz pianist rightfully calls himself a collaborated, since he’s composed movie scores, and worked with Eric Clapton, and many Twin Cities vocalists, among others. His holiday show at the Dakota, which features a six piece band plus a second vocalist, is always a hit. Here’s some examples.

Cold Fusion @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8:30pm ($10 Suggested Donation, students free with valid ID) This is a project from saxophonist Pete Whitman  who’s recruited Steve Kenny, Flumpet; Chris Olson, guitars; Ron Evanuik, bass; and Reid Kennedy drums; to swing on originals and straight ahead compositions.

Thursday, December 24

Swingbeat Big Band @ Wabasha Caves, Saint Paul. 7pm – 11pm ($7 cash) There may not be much happening for music tonight, but don’t despair. If you’ve wrapped all your presents, prepped all your cooking, (even if you haven’t) and are ready to let off steam, the swing dance scene at Wabasha Caves has you covered, and the Swingbeat Big Band will set your toes tapping.

Friday – Monday, December 25 – 28

The Bad Plus @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($40) Though based in New York, this trio is originally from the Midwest. In fact, drummer Dave King still lives here in the Twin Cities. When they first did a show at the old Dakota, around the turn of the Century, King, along with pianist Ethan Iverson and bassist Reid Kennedy, had just recorded an album which subsequently received a rave review in the New York Times. Since that $5 show, booked because all three were home of the holidays, the Bad Plus has recorded ten CDs and traveled the world headlining major clubs and generally causing some jazz fans heads to explode while bringing a whole new audience to the genre. Two examples of what critics say. From Rolling Stone: “It’s about as badass as highbrow gets.” From The New York Times: “Better than anyone at mixing the sensibilities of post-60s jazz and indie rock…”

Saturday, December 26

Judi Vinar w/the Wolverines Quartet @ Crooners Lounge and Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30 – 10:30pm. (No Cover) So, you’re stuffed with food and don’t want to cook. And, perhaps, you’re in need of some time outside the house. Here’s the answer, Vocalist Judi Vinar (Judi Donaghy) will sing for you, with the help of Jundeen Forberg, drums; Steve Pikal, bass; Rick Carlson, piano; and Doug Haining, sax. Here she is with a big band.

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Opening set by Iron Chops: Jon Wood, guitar; Dave Brattain, saxes; Mac Santiago, drums; and Graydon Peterson, bass. Then a very special edition of FRAMEWORKChris Olson  guitar; Chris Bates  bass; Jay Epstein  drums, will be playing their originals and selected covers with special guest Steve Kenny on Flumpet.

Monday, December 28

Edmund Caitlin Trio, featuring Levi Schwartzberg and Charlie Lincoln @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. 8pm ($10 Suggested Donation) Here’s a trio of young players: Leader Edmund Caitlin, drums; Levi Schwartzberg, vibes; and Charlie Lincoln, bass. Despite (or due to) the fact that they aren’t old enough to drink yet, they can improvise, compose, and arrange with ease. Tonight they’re playing music from the universe of Thelonious Monk.

JT Bates Release Party @ The Icehouse, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($8) JT is releasing his long awaited solo project, “Open Relationships.” Though primarily a solo project, written and performed by JT, it has a few contributions from guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker and electronic/noise artist Mark McGee. 1st Set: Mankwe Ndosi + Davu Seru. 2nd Set: JT Bates Open Relationships. 3rd Set: Padhandlers (Ryan Olson and James Buckley)

Tuesday, December 29

Jake Baldwin Quartet @ The Dunsmore Room in Crooners, Fridley. 7pm ($15 Minimum p/p) The Dunsmore Room is proving to be an ideal place to listen to jazz. Baldwin is a young trumpet player who has been making a name for himself about town since graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music a couple of years ago. He plays in a variety of bands and combos, including R&B, Brass Bands, and the Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra. It’s in jazz, though, where he shines. Joining him tonight are three musicians with whom he’s worked a lot: Ted Godbout, piano; Ted Olsen, bass; and Andres Crovetti, drums. Here’s Jake in a recital when still in school.

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, December 23

The Social Animals on KFAI and at The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 and 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club, Tip Jar) This Portland quartet recently finished an album produced by Steve Berlin, of Los Lobos, a good choice for their indie/Americana sound. Their website bio abounds with funny sarcasm, though their lyrics more straight-forwardly address relationships and the vicissitudes of a relatively young life.

Katy Vernon’s Holiday Residency @ the Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. ($8) Tonight the charming singer/songwriter will feature Jake Rowan on uke and vocals. I had the two of them on my show this past Saturday, which you can hear by going here. They’ll be joined by a couple of more friends to play Christmas music, as well as some non-seasonal music, and conduct an Ugly Sweater Contest with the audience. Check out Katy’s simple, yet effective version of a Beatles song.

A Trashy Little Christmas @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm ($20 Advance) After so many years at Lee’s Liquor Lounge, the honky tonkin’ Trailer Trash has had to move it’s weekly X-mas shows to a variety of venues. The Eagles Club should provide plenty of room for dancing and commandeering the Candy Cane. Advance tickets are available on the website.

Friday, December 25

Deano and the Dinosaurs @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8pm (Tip Jar) Cool out at the end of a hectic day with the solid stylings of under-appreciated guitarist Dean Mikkelson, who will be joined by drummer Dehl Gallagher, bassist Josh Granowski, and fellow plectorist Dean Harrington for an evening of blues and perhaps a bit of jazz standards. Bring your ID if you want adult beverages.

Mambo’s Combo @ Bunker’s, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) Dance off the food you’ve eaten early in the day with the solid Soul, Funk, and danceable rock from this long-lived band that always delivers, and always has guests get up and play.

Saturday, December 26

The Escape Claus @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Tip Jar) The colorful-sneaker-wearing Dean Mikkelson returns to Merlin’s for a second night, this time with a different group of musical treasures. I’ve listed a possible name for the group, but it could change. Nevertheless, it includes guitarist Bobby E, as well as Cody McKinney, bass; and Pete Hennig, on drums. With this much talent, you’re sure to have a good time, especially considering the wide variety of beers and Irish Whiskeys that Merlin carries. Be sure to have your ID.

Mick Sterling and the Stud Brothers @ Bunker’s, Minneapolis. 9:30pm ($10) Mick Sterling and his ten-piece band present some blue-eyed soul that will have you dancing.

The Irish Brigade @ The Dubliner, Saint Paul. 9pm (Tip Jar) It’s less than three months to Saint Patrick’s Day. Start appreciating Irish music now in a venue that couldn’t be better suited to the sound of this duo.

Saturday, Sunday, December 26, 27

Victorian Christmas Carols @ The JJ Hill House, Saint Paul. 6pm – 8:30pm ($12) Costumed singers explore the rise of Christmas Carols during the 19th Century. There’s light refreshments and tours following the one-hour concert. You can find more information here.

Sunday, December 27

Gang of Mischief @ Neumann’s Bar, North Saint Paul. 4pm (tip jar) Papa John Kolstad, Harold Tremblay, and their bluesy, rootsy friends help you while away the afternoon at the oldest continually operating bar in the state.

Pat Donahue @ The Aster Cafe, Minneapolis. 8pm ($15) Donahue is a champion finger-picker whose tunes have been recorded by Chet Atkins, Suzy Boguss, and Kenny Rogers. He spent 20 years as the house guitarist on the Prairie Home Companion, and had Wynton Marsalis sit in with him and the Guys All Star Shoe Band in Berlin. More recently, he recorded a cool blues album with Butch Thompson. At any moment he might be playing blues, folk, or jazz, or some combination of the three.

Tuesday, Wednesday, December 29,30

The New Standards @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm, 9pm ($30 – $40) This trio has really gained fans and raves since they debuted about ten years ago (their new CD is called Decade) and started playing acoustic/jazzy versions of hits from 80s, and now also breathe life into unexpectedly modern songs. Chan Poling, piano (Suburbs); John Munson,  bass (Semisonic, and Trip Shakespeare); and Steve Roehm, vibes (Billygoat, Electropolis); found a winning formula. Their annual holiday shows with guests from throughout the music industry sell out at local concert halls sell out.

Wednesday, December 30

The Eddies on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 and 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club, Tip Jar) Perhaps the last tradition of the year. Saint Paul’s Eddies cross the river to appear on Harold Tremblay’s House Party and then head over to the 331 Club to sing 5 part a cappella harmonies on sea chanties, and easy-to-sing-along favorites, from the Rolling Stones to Billy Joe Royal, and Bob Marley.


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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