There’s a fantastic new Friday option in town for music lovers. The Maxx Band, a group of accomplished and seasoned musicians (and often special guests), has crafted an after-work experience that helps you usher in the weekend with rhythm, blues, rhythm, food, and yes, more rhythm! It’s been too long, in my opinion, since the Twin Cities had a regular, accessible R&B gig. There are a few great places for the bigger, national acts of course, but sometimes, you just want to be able to look forward to hearing consistently good music with a few, great local surprises. Arnellia’s in St. Paul hosts The Maxx Band on Friday nights from 7:30-9:30 p.m., making it a regular gig.
The night I went, Arnellia’s was laid back but decorated for Mardi Gras. When the cover charge kicked it, it was affordable (thus, more happy!) at $5 (cover starts at 6 p.m.). Food is available via a walk-up window, but there’s also a complimentary buffet from 5:30- ’til it’s gone. The cajun-style buffet featured (red beans and rice, fried chicken, hot wings) was all good. It was nice to get a quick bite before sitting down for a few cocktails (2-for-1 rail drinks from 5-8). A floor for dancing and steppin’ is open throughout the performance and during the breaks.
The Maxx Band came on strong in the first set with fantastic guitar and keyboard features provided by Jeffrey Craig, Vernon Odom, Wendell Anderson, Will Hutchinson. Laurence “Bo” Mack was on drums with percussion-perfect accompaniment. That night, Kendra Glenn sang lead vocals that were so clear, they hung in the air like chandelier crystals! The entire act was tight and worked together highlighting each other’s strengths throughout the performance.
After a strong guitar introduction, the 1st set included “Escapade,” “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” “No One,” which featured a vocal and guitar bridge feature that was piercing and heartfelt, “Candy,” that included a duet highlighting the vocals of Jeffrey Craig, and “Just Got Paid” that wrapped up the set with funk. The second set featured guest vocalist Kevin Jackson. Fantastic! And not that it was needed, but the new energy mix was visible as the band ripped through “Just Be Good,” “Take Your Time,” Didn’t Mean to Turn You On” and more.
Get your groove on and your weekend started by trying this new “later” happy hour that ends in time to either head home and create your own sweet rhythms, or head back out for a little rock-n-roll. A highly recommended way to end the work week and start a fantastically blue weekend.