It’s one thing to be seen as the best second-line brass band in Minnesota, but it’s another when one of the greatest brass bands in New Orleans music history recognizes your know-how.
Mike Olander got that recognition this time last year when NOLA’s revered Dirty Dozen Brass Band celebrated Fat Tuesday over two nights at Vieux Carré in St. Paul. Not only did the Jack Brass Band leader get called to the stage to blow his saxophone with the Dozen, so did his 16-year-old daughter, Molly.
“This young man was an aspiring musician, and his mother used to bring him out to all our shows here in Minneapolis,” DDBB trumpeter Gregory Davis said, and then gestured to the younger Olander. “It just goes to show you how things come full circle.”
This year, there’s no Dirty Dozen in town, so Olander’s eight-man ensemble is leading the pack among local music options to ring in Mardi Gras. Jack Brass Band’s official Fat Tuesday concert takes place Saturday at Bloomington Center for the Arts (7:30 p.m., $20, CenterStageTicketing.com). They’ll also roam around Mystic Lake Casino on Tuesday night.
A White Bear Lake native, Olander got into brass bands during his teens and hasn’t looked back. He rabidly devours New Orleans culture, and has taken his group down there many times to perform — as big a test as any for the Jack Brass crew.
“We were playing a festival in the Treme neighborhood last November, and at one point I said we’re from Minnesota,” Olander remembered. “The stage hand off to the side just looked at us like, ‘Get out!’ I took that as a compliment.”
The group released two charmingly bipolar albums over the past two years, “For the Body” and “For the Soul,” the former a sexually laced R&B/funk collection and the latter a spiritual set that includes guest vocals by the great Robert Robertson.
“It explains a lot of what we do to people who don’t know,” Olander said of the albums. “We’re one of the only bands in town who can play a bar gig Friday, a wedding on Saturday and a church service on Sunday.”
And they’re perfect for a Fat Tuesday show on a Saturday.
Here are some other Mardi Gras-related music options this week, all fittingly taking place in the Twin City with the Catholic name: Southside Aces play their usual batch of NOLA-related jazz and blues Saturday at Vieux Carré, where you can also get the best muffalettas in town (9 p.m., $10); the Emperors of Jazz Band will perform Saturday for the seafood boil party at Como Dockside (3-8 p.m., reservations at Como dockside.com), and McNasty Brass Band heads up a Fat Tuesday party on Tuesday at the Turf Club (8 p.m., $5).
The Uptown Bar is still sorely missed seven years since its closing, and now so is the venue’s beloved doorman. Ron Upton died peacefully three weeks ago at age 58. He will be remembered Sunday at the Ballentine Uptown VFW, featuring a big rock ’n’ roll raffle and music by Likehell, Self-Evident, Buildings, the Stress of Her Regard and more (4 p.m., donations at door). … Friends of Otto’s Chemical Lounge leader and rabid music fanatic Dale T. Nelson — who suffered a disastrous house fire last month — are throwing a fundraiser for him Saturday at the Minneapolis Eagles Club #34. Run Westy Run, the Magnolias, Mighty Mofos, Dumpster Juice, Impaler and many more will perform (7 p.m., $10).
Americana tunesmith Matt Hannah celebrates his sophomore album, “Dreamland,” at the Warming House on Friday (8 p.m., $10). With MVP backers including Erik Koskinen and JT Bates, the record shows traces of classic Son Volt and Ray Wylie Hubbard with a warm, troubles-to-the-wind writing style evident in such songs as “Set Free” and “The Night Is My Home.” … Another burgeoning twang-rocker who sounds like a Midwestern Todd Snider, Wisconsin farm boy Brent Johnson earned some love from CMT’s “Edge” and Americana stations for his first two EPs under the name Hope Country. He’s issuing an eponymous debut LP with a party Friday at the Turf Club (9 p.m., $10-$12).
While the band won’t be back in town to celebrate it until their sold-out March 11-12 shows at First Avenue, Hippo Campus is unleashing its debut full-length record, “Landmark,” to the world Friday. … Parkway Theater in south Minneapolis is once again screening the documentary on local music hero Micheal Larsen, “The World Has No Eyedea,” Sunday at 7 p.m. ($10). … The Parkway will also host the premiere of a new documentary on Minnesota jam-band heroes the Big Wu on March 11 and 12. Word is the Wu also has a 25th-anniversary concert in the works for April 14 at First Ave.
The details are still under wraps, but it sounds like a sure thing the Numero Music Group — the Chicago label that put together the great “Purple Snow” collection of Minneapolis R&B and funk — is working on a boxed set of unreleased and/or rare Hüsker Dü material. If it comes out this year, it will mark 30 years since the band’s last new album came out.