Mike Cramer is a stylistically versatile multi-instrumentalist, an award-winning performer, and educator. He began playing guitar at the age of 7 and performing publicly at 10. His first musical love was acoustic blues and the Quad Cities, near his hometown of LeClaire, Iowa, provided the opportunity for him to learn from local blues players—as well as the many national blues artists as they came through town. By the time he was in high school his musical interests expanded to include jazz and by his senior year he was gigging two nights a week playing jazz.
Cramer studied music at the University of Northern Iowa where he earned a BA in Music with a minor in jazz studies in 2000. After moving to the Twin Cities in 2003 he began seriously digging into flatpicking guitar. In 2012 Mike won the Minnesota State Flatpicking Championship after several years placing in the top five.
An active performer, Mike is an in-demand guitarist and mandolin player in the Twin Cities. He has shared the stage with or opened for John Hartford, Steve Kaufman, B.B. King, Tommy Castro, Chris Duarte, Gordon Goodwin, and Terell Stafford.
“An Illinois native who grew up in northern Minnesota, Josh Granowski began playing the contrabass at age 11, soon followed by bass guitar. As a teen he studied with a classical cellist and played punk/thrash/rock music as well as jazz. Since moving to the Twin Cities in 2004, Josh has played festivals and local gigs, and has been very active in the local improvisation and experimental music community. He performs with Large Marge, Bookhouse Trio, Baby Demons Trio, Painted Saints, Aby Wolf, Amethyst Three, Merciless Ghost, and others.” – Andrea CanterFind out more »
This trio of Twin Cities first-call artists play innovative sounds with a strong emphasis on creative interactivity for the 21st Century, off the launching pad of neo-bop Trane/Hendrix furnace.
Dean Magraw, guitar
Chris Bates, bass
Jay Epstein, drumsFind out more »
Rick Carlson taught himself to play the piano by studying the vast works of Count Basie and Duke Ellington and capitalizing on a long string of happy accidents. He has also perfected the art of “circular drinking”, whereby he can sip martinis uninterrupted while still playing a cohesive piano solo.
He has been the pianist for the Wolverines Big Band since 1980. He is a sought-after accompanist by singers and has served as pianist and musical director for various local concert series, including those for the Twin Cities Jazz Society’s “J To Z” series, the Capri Theater’s “Legends” series, and for special presentations at the Heights Theatre and performing arts centers across the United States. He has performed on concert stages in London and New York City, and has appeared with Count Basie drummer Butch Miles, trumpeter Warren Vaché, New Orleans clarinetist Evan Christopher, and served as musical director, arranger and pianist in the Guthrie Theater’s presentation of “Coward’s Women”. He has opened for Rosemary Clooney, accompanied Kathryn Crosby in various cabaret shows, and counts Madeleine Peyroux among his many unwitting fans.
The only place in town to find a whole night of the music of Louis Armstrong! The Southside Aces Big Five plays King Oliver Louis. They play Hot Fives Louis. They play big band Louis. They play All Star Louis. All for six lousy bucks!
The Southside Aces Big Five is:
Josh Granowski-string bass
Southside Aces perform traditional New Orleans jazz. The band first began as the brainchild of Clarinetist Tony Balluff and Sousaphone player Erik Jacobson. Their whispers and rumors materialized in Tony’s foyer near Pillsbury and 27th in South Minneapolis, late August 2003. Since their first gig on a flatbed truck in Apple Valley, they’ve played weddings, festivals, clubs— “music furnished for all occasions.”
The Aces have self-produced and released five CDs: All Aboard!!, Bucktown Bounce, A Big Fine Thing, their Christmas album, Santaphone, and their latest, Second Thursday.Find out more »
Guitarist Zacc Harris is gaining a reputation as one of the hardest working guitarists in town. He has been presenting his original music in a number of different ensembles, each one striking and unique: the multi-meter melodies of the Atlantis Quartet, bebop sounds or classic organ groove music with CounterClockWise or Vital Organ, a six-piece Thelonious Monk tribute a la Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band Monk in Motian, and more.
Jazz Improv magazine says, “Harris delivers a sound that is lucid, clear… providing righ-sounding accompaniment, and well-crafted solos” while Cadence magazine calls some of Harris’ work on Atlantis Quartet’s most recent album “worthy of John McLaughlin.” MPR News states, “Harris makes his own mark on standards with enough new hooks to keep jazz alive.”Find out more »
“Annie Mack is a real find. Her songs are testimony to the power of music and how it can change lives.”
-Colorado Blues Society
“In a blues world overrun with bad-mama posturing on one hand and hoochie-mama silliness on the other, it’s refreshing to hear a lyricist with deeper ideas on her mind.”
– David Whiteis/ Living Blues Magazine
“I am a student of my environment,” Annie Mack’s reply to the question of songwriting inspiration is blunt and honest, exactly like the woman herself. “I am a student of my immediate surroundings, my work surroundings, my Church surroundings. When I write a song, I ask myself, ‘Do I feel something? Is my idea powerful enough for me to cry or laugh, or force me to think?’”
Annie is branded as a blues singer, but she is so far out of the realm of standard blues that she not only defies the category but has created a whole, new identity for herself and her music. Her first record, Baptized in the Blues, rings with roots tinged gospel tunes and retro Motown soul, then shuffles easily to a classic country beat complete with the lonesome drone of a pedal steel. Annie’s voice is unique, bold and charismatic; never sharp or shrill. She is a natural born singer, true to her own style and dedicated to the ideals that music is a prime communicator and healer.Find out more »
Jeremy Walker is a prolific composer and pianist who started playing the saxophone at age ten in his hometown of Minneapolis, MN. He was the founder of the club Brilliant Corners – voted by Downbeat magazine as “One of the 100 Great Jazz Clubs Worldwide,” and co-founder of the non-profit organization Jazz is NOW!– which launched with the Wynton Marsalis Quintet and surprise guest, Itzhak Perlman.
In 2003, City Pages voted Walker “Best Local Impresario” for his “community-conscious” programming. Turning to piano and composition in 2005, Walker earned recognition including a Jerome Foundation Travel/Study grant, and collaborations with TU Dance and Zenon Dance Company. He has performed with Vincent Gardner, Marcus Printup, Ted Nash, Ron Miles, Matt Wilson, JT Bates, and other notable musicians. In addition to commissions, Walker has written over 70 compositions for his bands: Small City Trio, Boot Camp, BOXCAR featuring Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson and Anthony Cox, The NOWnet, and The Bootet.
In 2014, Walker released his most ambitious recording to date: 7 Psalms. The album was released in March 2014 on CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon and was listed in Star Tribune as one of the 2014 albums in the Twin Cities Critics Tally with Walker listed as one of the “Jazz Heros” in Jazz Police.
In October 2014, Minnesota Orchestra named Walker Curator of the new Jazz in the Target Atrium series at Orchestra Hall bringing together national musicians with the regional Atrium Jazz Ensemble.Find out more »
The New Riverside Ramblers band brings high-energy Cajun dance music from the prairies and bayous of south Louisiana up the Mississippi River to the Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota area. The band’s compelling version of Cajun French music blends many influences from different south Louisiana communities, and includes two-steps, waltzes and blues. The members of the band have been immersed in Cajun music for many years. They have studied and performed with Cajun music greats such as Dewey Balfa, Tracy Schwarz, Steve Riley, Marc & Ann Savoy, DL Menard, Eddie LeJeune, Calvin Carriere, Lionel Leleux, and others.
The New Riverside Ramblers have been playing together for over 25 years for dances, festivals, parties, and other special events. Although the band usually performs as a 5-piece with bass and percussion, they also perform as an acoustic trio with Cajun accordion, fiddle, rhythm guitar, and French vocals.Find out more »
Jon Pemberton is a Minneapolis/St. Paul based jazz musician, enjoying an active career as trumpeter, pianist, teacher and composer. Jon was born in the small town of Fergus Falls, Minnesota where his interest in music was evident at an early age.
Jon began a career in private teaching (brass and piano) which lasts to this day. He has taught thousands of students, many of whom perform in the area’s top youth orchestras, and some of whom have gone on to their own professional careers. Jon also began his performance career after graduating from college. In these years he focused on the trumpet, landing sideman gigs with many of the area’s top bands and musicians. In addition, Jon has formed his own jazz quintets, The PemberTones and Tribute to Lee Morgan.Find out more »
The Adam Meckler Orchestra (AMO) is an 18 piece ensemble that plays music composed and arranged by Adam Meckler. Adam is an Edwards Instrument Co. Performing Artist and Clinician. He has served as trumpet and jazz faculty at McNally Smith College of Music and MacPhail Center for Music, and has toured all over the world with Youngblood Brass Band and Todd Clouser (Ropeadope Records). Adam also performs with Nooky Jones, The Hornheads, The Jana Nyberg Group, The Graydon Peterson Quartet, The Jack Brass Band, and Lulu’s Playground.
The Adam Meckler Orchestra features many of the Twin Cities’ most exciting musicians and soloists including Nelson Devereaux (Bon Iver), Cameron Kinghorn (Nooky Jones), and Adrian Suarez (Jazz at Lincoln Center). The AMO’s debut album “When the Clouds Look Like This” was listed among 2014’s Best Jazz Releases by iTunes. The band has held monthly residencies at Jazz Central, The Artists Quarter, The Amsterdam Bar, and Vieux Carré, and performed on the main stage of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival in 2014 and 2016. The AMO plans to release their second full length album Fall, 2018. For more information, please visit www.adammeckler.com.
Find out more »
“among the very best trumpet soloists in the world today,” – International Trumpet Guild
“a standout soloist with the power, range and flexibility to rival Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw” – DownBeat
Rex Richardson is a veteran of the acclaimed chamber ensemble Rhythm & Brass, jazz legend Joe Henderson’s Quintet and Sextet, William Russo’s Chicago Jazz Ensemble, and the Brass Band of Battle Creek, known as the world’s “Rolls Royce of Brass Bands” (Brass Band World). He stays busy as a headline artist at international brass and jazz festivals and as a soloist with orchestras, concert bands, brass bands and jazz ensembles on five continents. These ensembles have ranged from the Phoenix Symphony to the U.S. Army Field Band, and from England’s Fodens Brass Band to the U.S. Air Force’s Airmen of Note Jazz Ensemble.
Richardson has collaborated with countless legendary artists and ensembles, including Brian Blade, Benny Carter, Boston Brass, Ray Charles, Mike Clarke, Dave Douglas, Kurt Elling, Carl Fontana, Aretha Franklin, Wycliffe Gordon, Stefon Harris, Conrad Herwig, Dave Holland, Dave Liebman, Keith Lockhart, James Morrison, Jimmy Owens, Jim Pugh, Chris Potter, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Arturo Sandoval, Bobby Shew, Allen Vizzutti, Bill Watrous, and Steve Wilson. Jazz trumpet star Dave Douglas has called Rex “A national treasure.” (Style Weekly magazine)Find out more »