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Posts about Minnesota musicians

Jonny Lang steals the show at Experience Hendrix at the State Theatre

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: April 9, 2014 - 3:53 AM


Jimi Hendrix/ Associated Press


The Experience Hendrix Tour, which has been going on intermittently since 2004, collects guitar stars and singers performing the songs Jimi Hendrix made famous.

The lineup can be a bit fluid as fans found out Tuesday when they arrived at the State Theatre for the last night of this year’s 25-city tour. Taj Mahal and Brad Whitford of Aerosmith were out because of “last-minute personal conflicts” (according to a sign posted at the box office), and Eric Gales was enlisted instead.

No complaints about Gales, a left-handed guitarist (like Jimi) who has a strong spirit and sense of showmanship, befitting the Hendrix tradition.

But too many of other featured stars in the back-loaded, 2 ½-hour, two-set program failed to truly capture the essence of Hendrix. Call this a Band of Pros.

To be sure, there were a lot of terrifically talented guitar players, including Dweezil Zappa, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, but not enough of them exuded the multi-dimensional joys of Jimi.

Jonny Lang, the Minneapolis-launched live-wire sporting a longer hairdo, came the closest because his singing was as passionate as his guitar playing. In fact, he threw his entire body into his performance, with the emotionalism of his guitar organically continuing the feelings of the lyrics he’d just sung.

On “Fire,” his rip-roaring guitar lines just kept rising higher and higher like flames that couldn’t be extinguished.

Probably the highlight of the night was Lang teaming up with Doyle Bramhall II and Rich Robinson, of the Black Crowes, on “Spanish Castle Magic,” which turned into a ferocious guitar battle between Lang and Bramhall.

The fretboard fireworks continued with the ensuing performance by Shepherd, a fast and flashy player. But he’s not a singer. Isn’t that one of Jimi’s legacies – handling guitar and vocals with equal authority?

Instead, Shepherd let Noah Hunt, the singer with the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, sing Jimi’s words. Hunt looked like the frontman of a Bob Seger tribute band, toted the microphone stand around like a dork and occasionally played tambourine, looking like he was Will Ferrell in a variation of a “Saturday Night Live” skit.

Shepherd’s closing, crowd-pleasing set of “Gypsy Eyes,” Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)” and “Voodoo Chile”/”Voodoo Child” felt so bar band-like – except the sound system was awesome and Shepherd had a fancy orange metallic guitar (isn’t orange last year’s black?).

Props to drummer Chris Layton who was a steady presence throughout -- on all two-dozen songs. The rest of the backup players revolved throughout the night. Featured on numbers at the beginning and end was bassist Billy Cox, the only surviving member of Hendrix’s three groups.

Like Jimi’s sister, Janie Hendrix, who greeted the fans at the beginning of the concert, Cox came across as a dedicated promoter of Jimi’s legacy. As the crowd filed out at night's end Cox declared, “When you wear a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt, people look at you like you’re someone special.”

Photo of Jimi Hendrix from the Associated Press.

Stinson talks about 'Mats shows, McKagan replacing him in Guns N' Roses

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: April 2, 2014 - 7:13 PM

Tommy Stinson with Guns N' Roses/ Star Tribune photo by Renee Jones Schneider

Tommy Stinson will have his own replacement – in Guns N’ Roses. And it’s the guy he replaced.

Duff McKagan, GNR’s bassist from 1985-93, will rejoin Axl Rose and pals for five GNR shows in South America this month while Stinson is playing with the Replacements at Coachella on April 11 and 18.

The Minneapolis-bred bassist, who has played with GNR since 1998, told Billboard.com:

"I had those Replacement shows come up the same time the (South American) tour came up, and it got to be a scheduling issue right out of the gate. I didn't want to [screw] anyone up in Guns by saying, 'Hey, I can't do this tour' or anything like that. Luckily someone was able to reach out to Duff and he was amenable to the idea and was into doing it. It's Duff being the kind of good sport he is, trying to help Axl (Rose) out. So I'm like, 'Thanks dude, for covering my ass on this one.' I think people are gonna be really stoked about it. It's gonna be fun for everyone."

Stinson will be back with GNR for a May 13 show in Columbus, Ohio.  

McKagan joined GNR onstage during three shows in 2010 and played with them in 2012 when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Duff McKagan/ Associated Press

Duff McKagan/ Associated Press

As for future Replacements gigs beyond the two at Coachella and May 10 in Atlanta at the Shaky Knees Music Festival, Stinson told Billboard: "We're going to go out there and have fun and play our [bleeping] show and go from there. Anything at this point could happen. As long as we're having fun doing it, I think we [bleeping] do it for as long as we want. That's kind of our modus operandi right now -- go out and have fun and play our songs and make people happy and have a hoot. I'm just surprised people want it so much; it's a daunting prospect, but then again nobody's really expecting us to be anything better or worse than we were 20 years ago, so it's not really that big of a hurdle to jump over."

Mad King Thomas on (secret) home tour

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: March 27, 2014 - 9:51 AM


Mad King Thomas members, from left, Theresa Madaus, Tara King, Monica Thomas. Photo by Mad King Thomas.

While the idea of bringing into a performance into someone’s home is not a new one, it’s still a concept worth exploring. A house is not a controlled environment like a theater – there are no special lights or sets or a proscenium to separate the artists and audience. On the other hand, there are many more choices to make about how to interact with the environment (and not break anything or need to call the fire department).

For the daring Sage Award-winning performance trio of Mad King Thomas (Theresa Madaus, Tara King and Monica Thomas) a house is the perfect setting for their new project “The Narrator is Suspect,” a glimpse into each woman’s background.

The many ideas underlying the work are drawn from travels the three artists took last year to one another’s childhood abodes (King: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Madaus: Cody, Wyoming; and Thomas: Great Barrington, Massachusetts). The three Macalester College alumni met one another’s relatives and observed how their own interactions with family differed from those of friends and colleagues.

Dubbing the entire effort an “immersive home experience,” Mad King Thomas plans to explore the secret histories we all hold and how they are translated with the passage of time and the capacity of memory. Public performances are at an undisclosed home in south Minneapolis this weekend (there have been some private showings as well).

“The Narrator is Suspect” will take place March 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. Reservations are required, so RSVP to madkingthomas@gmail.com for a spot. Admission is $10-$20 (sliding scale). For further information go to www.madkingthomas.com.

Just in, these added shows:
Thursday, April 3 at 7:30pm in St. Paul
Friday, April 4 at 7pm in northeast Minneapolis
Friday, April 11 at 8pm in south Minneapolis

Paisley Park to host two more parties this weekend

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: March 26, 2014 - 3:11 PM

**UPDATE: The seven-member R&B/funk ensemble MPLS -- featuring sidemen and singers from Sounds of Blackness and Mint Condition drummer Brandon Commodore -- announced on its Facebook page that it will perform for Saturday's party at Paisley.

Prince fans might want to start storing up a few extra hours of sleep over the next two nights. The suddenly social-media-savvy royal rocker has spread word that Paisley Park will be open to the public for two parties Friday and Saturday. The events are billed as “Paisley Park After Dark” – so as not to be confused with all the afternoon tea parties he hosts at his Chanhassen compound (yeah right) – and are not in any way advertised as Prince concerts. However, the flyer going around includes the tease, “U never know what might happen.”

By now, you should know what will happen if you try bringing in a cell phone, camera or recording device to the party (see ya!). Other usual orders of business include the promise of a shuttle bus from a nearby parking lot (probably outside Lifetime Fitness), a $30 cover at the door (no advance tickets) and a 9 p.m. door time that may or may not mean anything (although the flyer does mention a 2 a.m. end).

Paisley Park’s last big public bash was the pancake-accompanied Pajama Party in October. He took the stage with 3rdEyeGirl around 4 a.m. that night, er, morning. Should he perform this time around, he and the band should be extra tight, having just finished a run of well-received London shows last month and two shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco last weekend. Not so well-received, his new single with Zooey Deschanel has pretty well gone nowhere fast since its release last week.

The Hold Steady take to Letterman with "Teeth Dreams"

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider Updated: March 25, 2014 - 11:59 AM

“Good to see you again,” David Letterman said as he shook Craig Finn’s and Tad Kubler’s hands on last night’s episode of “The Late Show” on CBS. Dave probably didn’t know how true a statement he was making.

After an uncharacteristic four-year idle between albums, Finn’s and Kubler’s Minnesota-rooted Brooklyn band, the Hold Steady, finally return full-steam with today’s release of their sixth album, “Teeth Dreams.” They earned a primo Letterman slot to promote the new record, not only because it fell on the eve of its release but it happen to have to high-profile guests in former President Jimmy Carter (who pretty well explained everything wrong with the world in 15 minutes flat) and actor Josh Charles (whose surprise offing on “The Good Wife” which was all the buzz in the TV world Monday).

The song they played for Letterman, “Spinners” – which sounded a bit heftier and more wicked live than it does on the record – is a good indicator of what to expect of “Teeth Dreams.” After 2010’s poorly received, over-produced “Heaven Is Whenever,” the band doesn’t back off entirely from the bigger/better-polished sound, but it does stick closer to the seedy storytelling and dirty two-guitar formula of early albums. There’s no piano like before, but plenty of organ and a lot that sounds familiar. At least a couple tunes enter new territory, though, including the twangy, dramatic builder “The Ambassador,” which is also one of a handful of tunes spiked with Minnesota references (“You came back to in south Minneapolis”). Another standout, “Almost Everything,” is the band’s first true all-acoustic tune a decade into its run.

Twin Cities fans have yet to get a local date on the band’s “Teeth Dreams” tour, but you can be sure they’re coming. Those guys know to wait till summer if they can.



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