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I Have a Very Big Theory About People Who Didn’t Grow up in Minneapolis

Saying goodbye to Ray Evangelista and the Black Dog, hello again to Diane and Golden Smog, in this week's local music roundup.

Diane's in this picture somewhere.
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Diane Comes Down to Earth

This week on Twitter (no wait, please don’t stop reading!) I asked people who’d moved to the Twin Cities what they wish they knew before they got here. Many responded that they’d known more about the inscrutable ways of Minnesotans, which make it hard for transplants to feel at home. And yet! I have a theory that an outsider’s perspective can actually help the right kind of savvy newcomer thrive in Minneapolis, because you notice the inner workings of local society that are often invisible to folks who grew up here. One of the most successful examples, sad to say, may be our current mayor. A much more positive one is Diane Miller, who relocated here from Fargo, started playing music as D Mills, became the booker at Icehouse, and now hosts The Local Show on the Current. As the now mononymous Diane, she put out her six-song rap-rocky album Earth to Diane today, and while you’ll notice from the truncated listings section below that many shows are cancelling or postponing again, her record release show at the Entry is still on for tomorrow. Give it a spin, as we used to say back when that made any physical sense. Also, the album title reminds me of this great Ass Ponys song from way back in the 20th century. 

RIP Ray Evangelista

Local music scene reporting is always gonna focus on the cool new bands, the hot young rappers, the buzzy breakout artists with the potential for national appeal. That’s just how shit goes. But the scene is also held together by working musicians whose names you see in the show listings week in and week out, so that even if you’ve never seen them perform you feel like you know them. One of those was Ray Evangelista, and this week, the guitarist’s friends and family announced that he died in December at the age of 67 two weeks after a COVID-19 diagnosis. Born in the Philippines, where his guitar abilities got him dubbed “Little Santana,” Evangelists relocated to Minnesota and often performed solo, billing himself as a “one-man-band.” There will be a musician celebration for Evangelista, as well as the recently deceased local musician Gerald Brickford, at the White Squirrel on Sunday, and WCCO had a nice tribute to him earlier this week.

Belated Golden Smog Reunion Adds Jeff Tweedy

Good things come to those who wait, as Shakespeare or the Bible or somebody once said. In this instance, one of those good things is Jeff Tweedy, and “those who wait” are Golden Smog fans. The largely local supergroup—Gary Louris and Marc Perlman of the Jayhawks, former Soul Asylee Danny Murphy, and Kraig Johnson of Run Westy Run—initially planned to reunite for First Ave’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2020. But, then as you might remember, Covid. This week, however, the members announced that they would play not one show but two (that’s twice as many) in April, along with Wilco’s Tweedy (an original member, who did not join the rest for their 2011 reunion) as well as Jody Stephens of Big Star. Shows are April 2-3 on sale now. Every cloud may have a silver lining, but every smog has a golden one.

One Last Saturday Jam at ​​​​Black Dog

The recent closure of the Black Dog Cafe in St. Paul after 23 years in business has not only robbed Lowertown of a neighborhood anchor but the local jazz scene of a unique spot that’ll be hard to replace. “The musicians knew it was a place of their peers and played accordingly,” as music critic (and much more) Britt Robson put it on Twitter. This weekend there will be one last Saturday night jazz event, with an ad hoc group led by longtime Black Dog regular trumpeter Steve Kenny, that features the rhythm section of JT Bates and Chris Bates, Peter Goggin on alto sax, and Levi Schwartzberg on vibes. The freewheeling jazz quartet Fuzzy Math opens, and there’s more info here. To paraphrase Robert Plant: Hey hey mama, we liked the way you moved. You made us sweat and you made us groove. Ah ah ah.  

And now for some show listings.

Friday, Jan. 14

Free and Easy @ Bunkers

Red Hot Django Peppers @ Dakota

G Love & the Juice @ First Avenue

Bates Nichols Bates @ Icehouse

The Bloodies (EP Release Party) @ Mortimers

DJ Nanobyte Presents Byte Nyte @ Palmer’s

Wooli @ Skyway

Friday I’m in Love – A New Wave Music Video Dance Party @ Uptown VFW

Wain Anthony McFarlane @ White Squirrel

Saturday, Jan. 15

Dillon Francis and Yung Gravy @ Armory

The High 48’s Bluegrass Brunch @ Aster Cafe

The Scarlet Goodbye with John Swardson @ Aster Cafe

GB Leighton @ Bunkers

Ginger Commodore & GCQ @ Dakota

Mike Wolter & Cody McKinney Duo @ Icehouse

Locals Night @ The Loft

The Nitty Gritty with DJs Brian Engel and Blue Funk @ Palmer’s

Mama Digdown’s Brass Band with the Akie Bermiss Trio & emcee Trish Cook @ Parkway Theater

Diane (Album Release) with Crescent Moon + Big Trouble and MAKR @ 7th St Entry

Jeff Ray & the Stakes @ 331 Club

Pelicant (EP Release) with Soubrette and Madelyn @ White Squirrel

Sunday, Jan. 16

Swing Brunch with Patty and the Buttons @ Aster Cafe

Dr. Mambo’s Combo @ Bunkers 

Johnnie Brown—Remembering the Legend: The Music of Lou Rawls @ Dakota

Pavel Jany @ Icehouse

Noise Party @ Mortimers

Cornbread Harris: Church of Cornbread @ Palmer’s

Luke Callen @ 331 Club

Charlie Parr (Sunday Residency) with Buffalo Weavers @ Turf Club

Monday, Jan. 17

Jearlyn & Jevetta Steele @ Dakota

Akie Bermiss: Monday Night Jazz @ Icehouse

Mother Banjo & Friends @ 331 Club

Matt Arthur & Friends @ 331 Club

The Cactus Blossoms (Monday Residency) with Jake La Botz @ Turf Club

Chef Sounds @ White Squirrel

Tuesday, Jan. 18

International Reggae Allstars @ Bunkers

Travis Anderson Trio: Disneyfied @ Dakota

Luke LeBlanc with Taylor James Donskey @ Icehouse

Gabe Barnett & them Rounders w/Holy Hansen and Matt Latterell @ 331 Club

Trevor McSpadden & Mary Cutrufello @ White Squirrel

Kinda Fonda Wanda (Tuesday Residency) @ White Squirrel

Wednesday, Jan. 19

MN Songwriter Showcase hosted by Nick Hensley @ Aster Cafe

Dylan Saifer @ Bunkers

Geoff Tate with Immortal Guardian @ Fine Line

Lomelda with alexalone @ 7th St Entry

KFAI House Party Presents Ben Eaton Band @ 331 Club

St. Anthony Mann @ 331 Club

Saint Paul Mudsteppers Monthly @ White Squirrel

Kacey Musgraves @ Xcel Energy Center

Thursday, Jan. 20

Jay Bee & the Routine @ Bunkers

Tim Sparks @ Dakota

Chris Lane @ Fillmore

Yellow Ostrich with Bathtub Cig and Poolboy @ Mortimers

The Front Porch Swingin’ Liquor Pigs @ Palmer’s

Cross Pollination: Friend Dog and Kyle Shelstad @ 331 Club

Martin Devaney, John Swardson, and Tyler McAninch @ White Squirrel