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Dr. John to headline TC Jazz Festival show at new Saints stadium

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: March 3, 2015 - 2:27 AM

With a new artistic director and enhanced budget, the 17th annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival will move to a new venue for one bigtime concert – the brand new CHS Field featuring Dr. John, the eccentric New Orleans piano man and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

Dr. John/ Photo by Kevin Mazur

Dr. John/ Photo by Kevin Mazur

He’ll headline on June 27 at 3 p.m. Admission is free but a ticket will be required for the 7,000-seat Saints baseball stadium. The tickets will be available at www.twincitiesjazzfestival.com.

New artistic director Francisco Mela has helped book a diverse lineup that includes an all-star quartet featuring Chris Potter, Dave Holland,  Lionel Loueke and Eric Harland that will headline on June 26; the Marquis Hill Blacktet; Araya Orta Latin Jazz Quartet (doing a tribute to Jaco Pastorious), and Mela’s own group, the Jazz Machine, featuring guest trumpeter Nicholas Payton.

All concerts are free. Except for the Dr. John performance, the other concerts will be held in Mears Park in downtown St. Paul.

Additional performers will be announced later.

Alabama Shakes, Father John Misty to play historic Hall's Island on May 30

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: March 2, 2015 - 11:44 AM
Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard first wowed local fans at First Avenue in 2012. / Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard first wowed local fans at First Avenue in 2012. / Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

And the big outdoor summer rock shows just keep coming: Alabama Shakes and Father John Misty will pair up for a special one-night party May 30 on Minneapolis’ historic Hall’s Island, located under the refurbished Plymouth Avenue Bridge on the Mississippi River just north of downtown. Tickets go on sale Friday at 11 a.m. for $45 via eTix.com and First Avenue outlets.

Father John Misty (Josh Tillman) at the BAsilica Block Party in 2013. / Star Tribune file

Father John Misty (Josh Tillman) at the Basilica Block Party in 2013. / Star Tribune file

After putting their proposed First Avenue Festival in Parade Stadium permanently on the backburner two summers ago, the club’s bookers kept their eyes on other possible outdoor music ideas. They helped put together the Trampled by Turtles-led Festival Palomino with co-promoter Rose Presents at Canterbury Park last September (on again for this year), and they teamed with Chicago’s Jam Productions for this special May 30 concert.

Hall’s Island housed a popular bath house and park in the early 1900s before it was taken over by the Scherrer Bros. Lumber Co. The Minneapolis Parks Department recently took it back over and has been reshaping it to be part of the Above the Falls Regional Park. Concertgoers will be able to access the site via a short walk from the North Loop area of downtown or the Boom Island area across the river in northeast Minneapolis. About 8,000 tickets will be sold, a capacity that has more to do with limiting the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods than how many people the island can actually hold (a lot more, apparently).

"When we started working on this show, I immediately thought of the Hall's Island site as the perfect location," First Ave general manager Nate Kranz said, crediting the parks department for bringing the island to their attention two years ago and other city staffers for getting behind the idea.

In a press release Jam and First Ave put out on the concert, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said, “I'm extremely proud that they are bringing live music to our river front. I can't wait for this concert to happen in our city."

Gates to the show will open at 4:30 p.m., and local food offerings and craft beers are being promised along with the skyline-framed sunset (weather-permitting, of course).

Both Alabama Shakes and Father John Misty will be touring to tout their sophomore albums, following big breakout debuts that generated especially strong Twin Cities followings 2012-2013. FJM’s April 4 show at First Ave sold out instantaneously. Alabama Shakes’ last time in town was a sold-out outdoor gig at Cabooze Plaza in July 2013, also a First Ave-promoted event.

Madonna returning Oct. 8 to Xcel Center

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: March 2, 2015 - 10:58 AM
Madonna drew fire (again) over her pagan-looking performance at the Grammy Awards last month. / John Shearer/Invision/AP

Madonna drew fire (again) over her pagan-looking performance at the Grammy Awards last month. / John Shearer/Invision/AP

After a 25-year lull between local shows, it looks as if Madonna has gotten into the groove with the Twin Cities again. The pop queen will return to Xcel Energy Center on Oct. 8 in support of her upcoming album, “Rebel Heart.” Tickets go on sale March 16 at 10 a.m. for $40-$355 via Ticketmaster or at the arena box office.

Look for a media blitz to also start March 16 surrounding the tour and album, including a week-long stint with Madge on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Her pagan-looking Grammy Awards performance last month, which drew some fire from conservative groups, was the warm-up.

The 56-year-old music icon finally ended her drought of Minnesota performances in 2012 when she packed Xcel Center for back-to-back nights on her MDNA Tour. Those shows were light on old hits and carried an unusually dark tone, so fans are no doubt hoping for a more classic Madonna experience this time around.

'First couple of the banjo' make very homey companions in St. Paul

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: February 26, 2015 - 3:58 AM

A few thoughts after seeing Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, the first couple of the banjo, in concert Wednesday at the O’Shaughnessy in St. Paul.

  • Calling Fleck a virtuoso doesn’t do him justice. His technique and expressiveness in a variety of styles – from bluegrass to Malian to hair-band rock – were stunning.
  • Washburn is a gifted banjo picker, too, and the way their instruments interweaved seemed effortless but was obviously meticulously and smartly conceived.
  • The repartee between husband and wife was priceless. Washburn, an Edina High School grad, was a chatty charmer, infusing the evening with all kinds of Minnesota references to choirs, weather and her grandma from Sanborn, Minn. Fleck, a native New Yorker, was a wonderful counterpoint, adding a dry (or sarcastic) quip here and there. After she complained about some little thing in her early life, Fleck gave her flak: “It must have been tough growing up in Edina.” Her earned a fist-bump from his wife for that zinger.
  • Washburn manifested striking versatility as a singer, covering everything from spirituals and old-time to murder ballads (loved her original “Shotgun Blues”) and a Chinese tune. She also did some nifty clog dancing.
  • The banjo players offered several instrumentals, including fiddle tunes on banjos, blues from Mali and Tanzania, and “The Final Countdown,” the 1980s hair-band classic by a band known simply as Europe. For said cover, Washburn got into the spirit by putting on a headband and Fleck donned a shaggy blond wig that could have qualified him for the fourth runner-up in a Dee Snider look-alike contest. 
    (See below)
  • Although on the surface the concert threatened to be heavy on bluegrass and old-time music (as heard on this year's self-titled joint album), Fleck and Washburn deserve a "Bravo" for the diversity in the repertoire. Who knew so many special sounds would be shared with just two banjos?
  • Given the chemistry, spontaneity, humor, and killer musical chops between the two stars (not to mention Washburn’s deep understanding of Minnesota essences), the two-hour, two-set concert could be taken for an audition for Fleck and Washburn to become the new host of “A Prairie Home Companion” if Garrison Keillor decides to retire soon. The idea of replacing him with a married couple would certainly avoid comparisons between him and a singular new host – and he’d probably be flattered that it took two people to fill his shoes.  

Who is Kevin Garnett's biggest fan? Is it our little Prince?

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: February 25, 2015 - 5:34 PM


Prince showing his purple pride at a T'Wolves game with Larry Graham in 2000./ Star Tribune file photo

Prince showing his purple pride at a T'Wolves game with Larry Graham in 2000./ Star Tribune file photo


Prince didn’t bow down to Kevin Garnett at the homecoming press conference. He isn’t expected to show up at KG’s return to Target Center on Wednesday night. And he isn’t going to take to social media to show his support. (He's not participating in social media anymore.)

But a source close to Prince wanted it known that the Purple One -- who is as gifted on the basketball court as he is with a ping pong paddle -- is thrilled that KG is back with the Timberwolves.

Prince plans to attend future Wolves games. No word on whether he’ll play a concert at Target Center. Maybe KG will ask him.


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