As a teenager growing up in rural southern Michigan, Lonesome Dan Kase happened upon a radio show called the “Blues Cruise,” broadcast out of Ann Arbor. Although he had picked up the guitar a year or so before, when he began hearing artists like Reverend Gary Davis and Robert Johnson, he quickly became hooked on the country blues.
Lonesome Dan’s live performances showcase both his unique finger-picking style and dynamic vocals as well as his depth of knowledge of the history of the blues and related forms.. If you catch a live performance, you’re bound to walk away with some interesting tidbits about known artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson or more obscure performers like Funny Papa Smith. Lonesome Dan’s trusted companions are his hand built Kopp K-35 6-string and his 1935 National played bottleneck/slide style.
Lonesome Dan Kase continues to play his unique brand of blues in and around Minnesota. However, his desire to experience other parts of the country still takes him out on the road. Dan has put out 4 solo cds as well as 2 with Crush Collision Trio and one with 32-20 Jug Band. His most recent cd, “So Glad I’m Livin’,” was released in early 2009.Find out more »
“Ken Valdez is a blue collar blues man with a roaring voice and monster guitar chops.” – Scene
“Ken can sing, play, write and turn the stage into an inferno. He has a talent and passion to last him a lifetime. His voice purrs like a ’66 Mustang. Ken Valdez will accomplish whatever he sets out to do.” – Santa Fe Reporter
Ken Valdez has been called “The Best Kept Secret” by well known/respected names in the industry. This guitarist/singer/songwriter/producer is grateful for the title; however, it is one he wishes to break free from. Born and raised in Santa Fe, NM, now a resident of St. Paul, MN, his love for music was apparent early on and it has become his calling. After 3 albums, thousands of shows and hundreds of thousands of miles on the road, Ken took some time off from touring and focused on producing and writing. This time off also allowed him to explore other musical ventures which helped increase his already impressive versatility. Alas, the time has come.
Like the proverbial phoenix, he has returned and has taken the reins of his musical vision. His collaborations with multi-platinum selling and Grammy winning songwriters, musicians and producers have refined his skills. There is no doubt Ken’s rare blend of raw talent, sensitivity, and down-to-earth grittiness give his music a wide appeal. His voice and a guitar sound/style is unmistakable. His vision, talent and drive have pushed the envelope on creativity and has only added on to his already unique sound. The songs are real, the shows are riveting and Ken Valdez remains to be a must see, must hear experience. This “Best Kept Secret” won’t be a secret for long.Find out more »
Hailed as “gently virtuosic” (All About Jazz), Maud Hixson is a devoted exponent of great songs, ranging from the classic Great American Songbook to the often unsung or forgotten compositions awaiting rediscovery.
Based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Maud is the co-founder of the continental jazz sextet French 75 with clarinetist Tony Balluff. She made her Guthrie Theater debut in the Noel Coward revue Coward’s Women, and has also appeared in Park Square Theater’s The Soul of Gershwin. She teamed with Sir Richard Rodney Bennett in 2012 for the long-running Midtown Jazz at Midday concert series at Saint Peter’s in Manhattan and debuted her show Skyscraper Wits in London and New York in 2015.
Maud is the recipient of three Artist Initiative grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, one of which supported the research for her album “Don’t Let A Good Thing Get Away”, comprised of compositions by Broadway composer Michael (Mickey) Leonard. Featuring Tex Arnold, Steve LaSpina, Warren Vaché and Gene Bertoncini, it was recorded at Nola Studios in Steinway Hall, NYC in 2013. Her latest recording “Listening For Your Song”, features music from the pre-Songbook era referred to in the Betsy-Tacy series by Minnesota author Maud Hart Lovelace. Musician and historian Michael Feinstein observed: “Her vocal style is so warm, compelling and intimate—it’s clear she cares about the words and telling the story, with clarity and without artifice—almost a lost art these days.”
Maud received a Next Step Grant from the McKnight Foundation in 2015 and her most recent Artist Initiative Grant funded a big band project in 2017. In 2016 she made her second appearance at Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center in a tribute to singer Sylvia Syms, hosted by Rex Reed and presented by the Mabel Mercer Foundation. After her Chicago debut last spring, the Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich proclaimed, “Hixson stood out as the biggest revelation at the Chicago Cabaret Convention”.Find out more »
Originally from New York, now dividing his time between Buenos Aires, Argentina and New York’s Hudson Valley, Richard Shindell is a writer whose songs paint pictures, tell stories, juxtapose ideas and images, inhabit characters, vividly evoking entire worlds along the way and expanding our sense of just what it is a song may be. From his first record, Sparrow’s Point (1992) to his current release, Careless (September 2016), Shindell has explored the possibilities offered by this most elastic and variable of cultural confections: the song.
The path that led him to songwriting was both circuitous and direct. Taking up the guitar at the age of eight, he spent his formative years learning the instrument – first acoustic, then electric. And he listened: Beatles, Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Motown, Bowie, Hunter-Garcia, King-Goffin, Paul Simon, Bill Monroe, Rogers & Hammerstein. Their songs gave the impression of having always been there, so solid and self-evident were their melodies, hooks, grooves, and lyrics. Listening to WNEW or WLIR in 1970s NY felt like a kind of anamnesis. So it seemed completely out of the question to imagine that a song could be written – by anyone, anywhere, anytime, about absolutely anything. If he sang, it was just to sing along, or harmonise to the hymns in church.
Shindell continues to tour nationally in the United States, with the occasional forays into Canada, the UK, and Europe. Although known primarily as songwriter, Shindell takes a more holistic view of his career. Producer, writer, singer, guitarist, interpreter: it all adds up to a life in music.Find out more »
The Selby Avenue Brass Band is a relatively new voice in the Minneapolis / St. Paul music scene. The group is led by Tom Wells, tubist, arranger & composer and music educator in the Twin Cities area. Tom’s compositions and arrangement fuel a band comprised of enthusiastic and experienced musicians (including a couple of Grammy winners). While our musical roots come from the streets of New Orleans we expand from that genre into many others.Find out more »
Mumblin’ Drew grabs you by the ear and pulls you down a rabbit hole of traditional American music. He treks across the landscape from country-blues guitar and harmonica-driven old-time, to an eerie banjo number or a tin pan alley oddity. Countless hours of playing on street corners around the country has instilled a genuine approach into his performance. But no matter where he takes you, you won’t be guided astray.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 »
Singer/songwriter Rena Haus rolls folk music, blues, and jazz into unforgettable performances that are somehow always intimate no matter the venue. Her music is like the sound track of our common human experience, creating a personal connection with her audience. She draws listeners close with her unassuming talent and absolute sincerity, whether playing solo, in an acoustic duo with John Wilber, or with her trio consisting of Ed Pesche on electric guitar and brother Bob Haus on the fretless bass.
Rena left a very successful musical career in Phoenix to help save her family’s 1881 homestead farm. Minnesota music lovers have benefited greatly, for in addition to performing in many venues around the state, she’s been heard on NPR’s “Prairie Home Companion” and “Car Talk” (The Mechanic’s Tune) as well as radio stations KFAI, KUMD, and KVSC. She’s played with, or opened shows for, artists like Chico Chisum, Marc Cohn, Iris Dement, Alison Krauss, Spider John Koerner, Maria Muldaur, Loudon Wainright III, and at least a dozen other artists you’d recognize.
Like the late, great, Dave Ray said, “This chick can pick!”.Find out more »
Debbie Duncan may be considered the upper Midwest’s “best-kept-musical secret,” but she has become a local legend and treasure in her home of Minneapolis. Her personality, vitality, and versatility all contribute to that fact. She is a terrific entertainer, and this is certainly part of her appeal.
The Twin Cities’ “First Lady of Song” as she is so often referred to by media people, club owners, and dj’s, is a stunning and versatile vocalist who captivates audiences and jazz musicians. Minneapolis Star Tribune reports “She’s superb on funky upbeat workouts, tender ballads and all kinds of jazz numbers; she energizes the ordinary and puts her stamp on just about everything she does.”
“Duncan’s a terrific entertainer… But more than that, she’s a superb singer – probably the finest in an area that boasts some excellent female vocalists… She showed just how good she is… when she tackled ballads, bebop, blues to some scat choruses reminiscent of Sarah Vaughan and finally to a concluding soul shot.. She sang with abandon, yet with control which most singers never learn.” -Bob Protzman, St Paul Pioneer PressFind out more »
In a career spanning over 45 years, pianist and clarinetist Butch Thompson has earned a world-wide reputation as a traditional jazz and ragtime master. He tours widely as a soloist or at the helm of any of his several ensembles, including his well-known Butch Thompson Trio, his eight-piece Jazz Originals band, the Butch Thompson Big Three, or his unique blues duo with fingerstyle guitarist Pat Donohue.
In 1974, he joined the staff as the house pianist of public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. By 1980, the show was nationally syndicated, and the Butch Thompson Trio was the house band, a position the group held for the next six years.
In addition to extensive touring (he has traveled the world from Cairo to Tokyo) as a soloist and with his trio and 8-piece Jazz Originals Band, he finds time to write and teach. His writing has appeared in various magazines including Down Beat and The Mississippi Rag, and among his teaching credits are residencies at the American University in Cairo and the New England Conservatory of Music.Find out more »
Composer, arranger, producer, guitarist Dean Magraw has fine-tuned his “Heavy Meadow” approach to music from years of performing and recording with some of the finest musicians in the United States, Europe, and Japan. His first recording, Broken Silence, came out in 1994 and won the NAIRD award for Best Acoustic Instrumental Album of the Year.
Dean has since produced myriad passionate albums, including his latest release, Fire on the Nile (Red House Records), a duo collaboration with renowned percussionist, Eric Kamau Gravatt.
“Dean Magraw… so liquid, lyrical and effortless it’s like listening to a dancer.” -Steve Tibbetts
“Dean Magraw unveils soulful melodic grooves intricately designed to heal the broken dancer, confuse the boldest mathematician, and eradicate ennui in our lifetime.” -Nick LethertFind out more »