Solstice, Festivus, and Christmas: 12.19 – 12.25

December 19, 2018

The Winter Solstice, when we have the shortest amount of daylight is Friday, while Festivus, the made-up holiday from Seinfeld, is Sunday. Christmas, with its message of hope and good will to mankind, is Tuesday. So… there are gigs celebrating each this week, as well as gigs from area musicians who are home for the holidays. This gives you an opportunity to bring guests to some great gigs, or to take some time for yourself in this super-busy season. After all, Music Lifts Your Spirit!


Wednesday, Dec 19

Winter Solstice with The Laura Caviani Trio @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm Caviani is a pianist whose compositions and arrangements are graceful and swinging. Tonight, in anticipation of Friday’s Solstice, she’ll undoubtedly be updating songs from her 1999 holiday CD, Angels We Haven’t Heard, and her 2007 release, Holly, Jolly and Jazzy, with Chris bates, bass; and Dave Schmalenberger, drums.

Thursday, Dec 20

Stone Arch Jazz Band @ The Eagles Club #34, Minneapolis. 8pm Traditional, New Orleans style jazz from a seven-piece, horn-heavy group – often danceable, always energizing.

Ylvisaker, Lewis, & Bates @ Khyber Pass Cafe, Saint Paul. 9:30pm ($5) Drummer JT Bates may have stopped booking the Jazz Implosion, but he continues to deliver a satisfying foundation, and occasional lead, formal manner of groups, including this one with versatile guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker, and bassist, saxophonist Michael Lewis.

Friday, Dec 21

Debbie Duncan & Andrew Walesch: It Must be Christmas @ Crooners’ Dunsmore Room, Fridley. 7:30pm The Twin Cities jazz maven and piano-playing crooner join up to celebrate the holiday.

John Raymond/Chris Thompson Group @ Jazz Central, Minneapolis. ($10) Not only do the holidays mark the return of college students, but of area musicians who now live elsewhere. Case in point – trumpeter John Raymond, now a Professor of Jazz Trumpet at Indiana University. He’ll be joined by Chris Thomson, sax; Thomas Nordland, guitar; Chris Bates, bass; Pete James Johnson, drums.

Saturday, Dec 22

Saturday Night Jazz @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) 7pm: Owen Finch Group. 8:30pm: John Raymond Feels Trio – Raymond, trumpet; Graydon Peterson, bass; Phil Hey, drums.

Anderson, Lincoln, & Epstein @ Boom Island Brewing, Minneapolis. 7-9pm (Tip Jar) Boom Island Brewing makes Belgian style beers, Pianist Jordan Anderson, bassist Charlie Lincoln, and drummer Jay Epstein create some fine music.

Sunday, Dec 23

Festivus & Other Twisted Holidays @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. 7pm (Tip Jar) Pianist Larry McDonough and his quartet host a Festivus for the Rest of Us. Expect an Airing of Grievances, along with music for Festivus Miracle and Feats of Strength, as well as McDonough’s odd takes on holiday music. .

Monday, Dec 24

No jazz shows as far as I can tell, though you might want to check out Deano & the Dinosaurs at Merlin’s Rest (listed below), whose music often veers into jazz territory.

Tuesday – Friday, Dec 25 – 28

Bad Plus @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($45), 9pm ($40) The Bad Plus have been having a Christmas stand at the Dakota. Last year marked the last appearance of pianist Ethan Iverson. Orin Evans now holds the piano chair, andhas become an integral part of the band. Rolling Stone called their album “Never Stop II” the number one jazz album of 2018.

For more listings, KBEM provides a calendar of jazz and some roots music.

Blues, Roots, Other

Wednesday, Dec 19

Charlie Parr on KFAI and @ The 331 Club, Minneapolis. 5pm (90.3 & 106.7FM), 7pm (331 Club – Tip Jar) Charlie Parr just may be the most authentic roots/blues musician four time. He grew up without a TV, but made up fort by listening to his dad’s collection of records by Charley Patton, Woody Guthrie, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and other artists who form the foundation of America’s music. His truly authentic sound, which evokes the music of itinerant musicians of the 1930s, strikes a major chord with today’s young audiences.

Thursday, Dec 20

Les Nubians @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30, $35, $40), 9pm ($25, $30, $35) This Franco-African duo blends music from around the world with the rhythms and songs of Africa o create a performance that is both musically and visually stunning.

Friday, Dec 21

Blue Yodel No. 8 @ The Black Dog, Saint Paul. (Tip Jar) John Whitehead, guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals; John Her, bass, vocals; and Ross Johnson, guitar, harmonica, & vocals: play an eclectic mix of bluegrass, country, blues, and swing, from artists ranging from Hank Williams and the Delmore Bros to Jimmy Reed and Bob Wills

Tracy Grammer @ The Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 8pm ($20) Americana/folk artist Tracy Grammer has a pure voice, plays a deft guitar and violin, and excels at storytelling. She’s recorded and performed with Joan Baez and Mary Chapin Carpenter, and enjoyed 12 consecutive years as one of folk radio’s 50 top-played artists, both solo and in a duo with the late Dave Carter. Her eleventh CD, Low Tide, was released earlier this year, and is the first ever to feature her original songs. Opening act Dennis Warner may live in Minnesota but he’s a regular road warrior, performing in over 100 cities a year.

Saturday, Dec 22

Wee Willie Walker @ Crooners Lounge & Supper Club, Fridley. 7:30pm ($10, $15) I don’t know if Walker, an original soul man, will be doing any seasonal songs, though I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Back Door Santa along with his usual mix of classic and modern soul.

10th Annual Yuletide Sweater Ball @ The Hook & Ladder, Minneapolis. 7pm ($12 Advance, $15 Door) Whether you were un-ironically given a Christmas Sweater, or found an ugly one for events such as this, enjoy an evening of progressive bluegrass and old-times music courtesy of The Pistol Whippin’ Party Penguins; Barbero; and the Gentlemen’s Anti-Temperance League.

Sunday, Dec 23

Gang of Mischief @ Neumann’s, Saint Paul. 4pm (Tip Jar) Guitarist Paul Mayasich is in the hot seat, Michael Caravale on upright bass, along with Rena Haus, and Papa John Kolstad.

Dee Miller Band: Road to Memphis Fundraiser @ MN Music Cafe, Saint Paul. 2pm ($10?, Donation) Help the Dee Miller Band  et out of town and down to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge in January. To entice your attendance and donations, they’ll be joined by Armadillo Jump; Squishy Mud, & Mark Cameron

Monday, December 24

Jewbilee 2018 @ 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis. 7pm door, 7:30 music ($5 advance, $7 Door) There’s an old saying that for Jews, Christmas means Chinese takeout and a trip to the movies. Well, for 14 years now, Deejay Danny Sigelman has created another Christmas Eve tradition for Jews and non-Jews alike who are looking to attend something non-Christmasy – Jewbilee. This year’s edition features the bands Planet Pookey, Challo, The Rivkinz (Revolution drummer Bobby Z & sons), and Andy Cook, as well as Fancy Ray McClooney and other comedians. You don’t have to be a member of the Twelve Tribes of Israel to enjoy this show. All are welcome

Monday, Tuesday, December 24, 25

Deano & The Dinosaurs @ Merlin’s Rest, Minneapolis. 8:30pm (Tip Jar) Not everyone wants (or gets) to spend a whole evening with relatives from near and afar. If you need a break, or simply don’t want to hear any more Christmas music, you’ve got these gigs to attend. Guitarist Deano Mikkelson does his annual show again this year, with two different sets of Dinosaurs. Christmas Eve it’s Joel Shapira, guitar; George Marich, drums; and James Buckley, bass. Christmas night Deano will be joined by Dean Harrington, guitar; Tom Lewis, bass; and Dehl Gallagher, drums. Harmonica master Clint Hoover is expected stop in one or both nights and join in the fun. Note: if you want to order adult beverages, be sure to bring an ID.

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.


Celebrations and Visitations. Music for 9.19 – 9.2

September 19, 2012

Festa Italiana will be at Harriet Island this weekend.

Festivals, an anniversary party, an album release, and a celebration of the arts and its role in aging. Lots of interesting events going on, not to mention a few outstanding visiting artists to supplement our own batch of talented musicians.

Early warning: I don’t get any income from doing this, but would be pleased as punch to have some of my readers  join KFAI and my show during next week’s pledge drive. In fact, you can pledge right now at Have a good week.


Wednesday, September 19

Irv Williams with Kairos Dance @ MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis. 5:30 – 8:00pm (Free) Kairos Dance is an interactive dance troupe, and nonagenerian saxophonist Irv Williams to celebrate a tpt documentary entitled Arts and Mind. The flyer says we’ll learn how music, dance, painting, poetry, and theater markedly improve well-being at all stages of life. Frankly, I can’t think of a better example of how the arts keep you lively than Irv Williams. The event iss free, but you are advised to visit to reserve a ticket. This video explains the philosophy of Kairos Dance.

Delfeayo takes a solo at the Jazz Festival last June.

Delfeayo Marsalis @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($30/$25) Delfeayo is the trombone playing/record producing member of the famed Marsalis family completely sold the crowd at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival in Saint Paul last June. Then he showed up late at the AQ and blasted out another crowd-pleasing song or two. Tonight he has a spotlight-stealing band of players who each could (and do) lead there own band. Sean Jones on trumpet; Winard Harper on drums, Richard Johnson on piano (you may know him from some of the cool theme shows he presented after moving here), and bassist Jeremy Boettcher. Whew!

Thursday, September 20

Dave Karr Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) It’s a monthly gig for Karr, a venerable and inventive saxophone player. Don’t pass by an opportunity to hear Karr, whose versatility includes playing baritone sax in his Gerry Mulligan tribute band, playing with Pete Whitman’s X-Tet and touring with Henry Mancini as the featured player for the Pink Panther Theme.

Robb Henry Trio @ Barbette, Minneapolis. 10:30pm (Free) Robb’s guitar playing encompasses jazz standards and “new” standards from the pop music of the late 60s and on. Listen to this.


Friday, Saturday, September 21, 22

Bob Sheppard Quartet @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm. With a resume that runs from Steely Dan to Queen Latifah to Joni Mitchell to Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, and Horace Silver, among others, Sheppard is the consummate pro, able to provide atmospheric backdrops for pop stars as well as improvise with the best that jazz has to offer. This is a rare Midwestern appearance for this Los Angeleno musician.

Saturday, September 22

Gypsy Mania Hot Club @ The Mill City Farmer’s Market, Minneapolis. 10AM – 1PM (Free) Enjoy the gypsy jazz sounds of the Hot Club whilst you shop for food from local growers.

Charmin Michelle @ The Lexington (South Room), Saint Paul. 6:30 – 10:30pm (No cover) Charmin Michelle on vocals, with Laura Caviani, piano; and Pete Whitman, sax. The South Room is a bit smaller than the Williamsburg Room where the music is generally presented. That means it’s important to have a reservation or get there early to hear this terrific combination of musicians.

Tuesday, September 25

Aaron, Peterson, and Horst @ The Artists’ Quarter, Saint Paul. 9pm ($5) Phil Aaron, piano; Billy Peterson, bass; and Kenny Horst, drums. Aaron is a sensitive player with numerous credits. Peterson can swing with the jazziest cats (say, Ben Sidran) or rock, a la Steve Miller. Horst has an impressive number of credits himself, from Al Hirt to Jimmy McGriff and Lew Tabackin, and is the owner/mentor and keeper of the jazz flame at the AQ.

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

Roots, Blues, and Other…

Thursday, September 20

Still playing after all these years.

John Mayall @ The Dakota, Minneapolis. 7pm ($40) & 9pm ($30) Over the course of a fifty year career, bluesman Mayall has served as bandleader and mentor for a who’s who of blues-rock, starting with Eric Clapton, and Jack Bruce, on through to Mick Fleetwood, Don “Sugarcane” Harris, Harvey Mandel, to Walter Trout and Coco Montoya. He recorded dozens of albums over the years, a few of which are classic. Though now approaching 80, recent videos reveal that he’s still has good harmonica chops and a good voice.

John Primer @ Famous Dave’s, Minneapolis. 8pm (No cover) I guess you can call Primer a member of the second generation of bluesmen. He played guitar at Teresa’s in Chicago during the second half of the 70s, played with Willie Dixon’s All-Stars, Muddy Waters, and Magic Slim, venturing out on his own in the early 90s. Since then he’s been nominated for Traditional Blues Artist of the Year a number of times, received a Grammy nomination in 2009, and was named Blues Artist of the Year in the 2010 Critics Poll of Living Blues Magazine. If you have a taste for traditional blues, this is the guy to hear. Here he is with a Dutch band backing him at a Blues Festival in The Netherlands.

Friday, September 21

Tracy Grammer CD Release @ Landmark Center, Saint Paul. 8pm ($18) Red House Records kicks off this season of Red House Live! with the talented vocalist/fiddler Tracy Grammer, first known for her musical partnership with Dave Carter, which set the folk world afire when they released their first album in the late 90s. Her partner passed about ten years ago, and she’s now released Little Blue Egg, a CD of previously unreleased songs from the two of them on Red House. There’s a cocktail hour at 7pm followed by the concert at 8pm.

Friday, Saturday, September 21, 22

Festa Italiana @ Harriet Island, Saint Paul. 3pm – 10pm Friday, 10am – 10pm Saturday (Free) This is the second year for Festa Italiana, a celebration of the Italian part of Saint Paul’s heritage, including strolling accordionists and two stages. The Main Stage will feature a Dean Martin tribute, Arne Fogel doing songs of the 40s and Italian classical music and more, while a second stage will feature Italina folk songs and dancing. Then there’s the food, and gondola rides, to boot. More information here.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, September 21, 22, 23

Thinking Outside the Squeezebox II @ O’Gara’s Shanty and the CSPS Hall, Saint Paul. 3pm – 11pm Friday, 10am – 10pm Saturday, 10am – 1:30pm Sunday (at CSPS Hall) A bunch of accordion players from around the country are gathering to see what happens when the traditional uses of accordion in ethnic music collide with rock, jazz, and more. Sunday at the CSPS Hall (above Glockenspiel on West 7th) will feature folk dancers from the Tapestry Center. For more information re: artists and schedule, go here.

Saturday, September 22

Dee Miller Band @ Holihans, White Bear Lake. 7pm (No Cover) Ms Miller just got back from a successful fishing trip and vacation up north. Whether rested or not, she always gives her all, which is how she earned the nickname “The Duchess of the Blues.” Her five piece band has the energy to match. Wonder if she’ll sing “The Fishing Blues?”

Twin Cities Funk & Soul LP/CD Release Party @ The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis. 7:30pm  ($10) Okay, so Secret Stash, the Mpls record company that specializes in re-issue vinyl, has put together a compilation of great music from the Twin Cities, and they’re gathering some of the artists to perform at the Cedar. Willie Walker and Maurice Jacox may be familiar to many of you, but you’ll find the Valdons and Wanda Davis, who are also performing, to be amazing discoveries. The band includes members of the Exciters, Band of Thieves, and others. Hot Pants DJs will be spinning discs beforehand. Here’s a video of the current Valdons.

Hot Pants 5th Anniversary @ The Nomad, Minneapolis. 9pm ($5) After the Funk & Soul Release Party cross the street to the official afterparty and place to be to dance to rare soul and funk 45s. The four deejays in the Hot Pants crew each bring a slightly different spin, if you’ll pardon the expression, to things. Some musicians from the Funk & Soul release party will be enjoying the sight of young folk dancing to their music.

Tuesday, September 25

Valdons In-Store @ The Fifth Element, 2411 Hennepin, Minneapolis. 6pm (Free) Continuing the celebration of the release of Twin Cities Funk & Soul, the Valdons will be singing a few songs and showing off their harmonies at this record shop. It’s all ages, and free.

Paul Mayasich & Jimi “Prime Time” Smith @ Manitou Station, White Bear Lake. 8pm (No cover) Mayasich continues his habit of creating special evenings by playing with other guitarists. Expect some slide, as well as other guitaristic pyrotechnics, for sure.

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

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