Robert Cray Groovin’ at Weesner Family Amphitheater

I’ve heard some hard working musicians who love performing to a live audience remark, “travel is what I get paid to do, I play my shows for free”. A clever sentiment you might expect to hear from Blues Hall of Famer Robert Cray, who’s August 18th Music in the Zoo at Weesner Family Amphitheater performance was part of his current trek celebrating 40 years as a touring musician. Cray has had quite a ride and accomplished a great deal, all of which has been earned through his tireless touring ambition and outstanding talents. Even a rain soaked day did not discourage loyal Blues fans from packing the seats. Once again, the Zoo venue’s mysterious powers held the drops off for most of the show. Continue Reading

Blues artist Keb Mo’ delivers a standout performance at the Minnesota Zoo

Although three time Grammy winner Keb’ Mo’ (actual name Kevin Moore) enjoys a great deal of success, many mainstream music listeners have yet to experience this gifted musician. He’s gotten national recognition since the release of his self-titled debut album in 1994.  Mo’ enjoys a strong fan base in the Twin Cities as proven by the capacity crowd that attended his August 6th Music in the Zoo at Weesner Family Amphitheater performance in support of his current release “Bluesamericana”. Categorizing music by genre has its purpose, but may also be to blame for keeping people from discovering an artist that could really have an impact on their lives. It would be a shame to miss out on the qualities a rich talent the likes of Keb’ Mo’ has to offer simply because you don’t consider yourself a fan of Blues music. Can you appreciate an expressive singer, skilled guitar picker, talented melody maker and genuine storyteller? Continue Reading

Salt-N-Pepa go old school at Weesner Family Amphitheater

Each year you can count on Music in the Zoo at Weesner Family Amphitheater to have some favorite artists returning to the lineup, but there are always a couple unexpected shows that standout. July 8th was one of those special nights as all seats were claimed for a rare appearance by the original female rap crew Salt-N-Pepa. Hip Hop legends Cheryl James and Sandy Denton looked very much at home behind the microphone trading off lyrics while DJ Spinderella (Deidre Roper) laid their famous tracks down old school. The exceptional crowd of mostly women aided greatly in creating a party atmosphere and were on their feet the moment the needle hit the record and never sat down. It was a nostalgic evening for many as the rappers cleverly mixed in phrases from other popular jams from their era and of course closed their set with their biggest hits including “Whatta Man”, “Shoop” and “Push It”. Continue Reading

Los Lonely Boys Play Music in the Zoo Series

The summer concert season has finally arrived and the good news is we are in the front half of another exciting line-up for the popular Music in the Zoo Series at the Weesner Family Amphitheater. A lively audience was in party mode on Tuesday evening June 16th, for the return of Los Lonely Boys. A few rain drops did not dampen spirits and although the air felt unseasonably cool. Growing up playing music together has enabled the Garza brothers (Henry, Jojo and Ringo) to craft their own music style they call Texican Rock ‘n Roll and their fans clearly love it. Their show is just a lot of fun with lush vocal harmonies and standout guitar work by Henry. Continue Reading

Soundset 2015 at Canterbury Park

The gates of Canterbury Park opened at 11am sharp to hordes of eager hip-hop fans. The Soundset Music Festival is an exclusively hip-hop music festival created by local music label Rhymesayers eight years ago, an affordable event that draws nationally acclaimed talents as well as local acts. The Rhymesayers event is unique in its focus on urban music and great bargain price (this year it’s $50-$70 for a lineup of the likes of Ludacris, J. Cole, Ice Cube, and Big Sean, just to name a few).

This year, performances were unofficially baptized by Amir Sulaiman’s opening delivery of “Come to the Hills,” a poignant spoken word addressing race, economics, politics, and police brutality. In the Fifth Element tent, Minneapolis rapper Manny Phesto proved that soulful samples can rock a crowd too, spitting conscious fire over signature soul beats. Producer Mike the Martyr joined him onstage for “The Account,” a track from Manny’s last album, “South Side Looking In.”

Doomtree member Dessa was another local act that shook crowds, performing tracks from their new album “All Hands” as well as songs from her recently dropped solo album. In intervals singing, chanting, and rapping, she hypnotized the crowd with folksy metal and plenty of intense eye contact. Vince Staples was a Molotov cocktail in Timberlands, spitting singles from his last EP. Soundset 2015 was packed with many strong newcomers, from deM Atlas to Father, and Vince had the crowd ready to explode in a fiery performance on the Fifth Element stage. Continue Reading

MUSIC REVIEW | New Kids on the Block at the Xcel

On the surface, one would not think there would be a lot of overlap between fans of Nelly, TLC, and New Kids on the Block. While all three are essentially a sort of danceable ’90s pop, there’s something about the mental image each group conveys that makes it difficult to put them together. Take that gritty, sexy, maybe a little vulgar, club sound from Nelly, mix it up with the smooth almost R&Bish sound of TLC, and throw in the, well, straight pop sound of the prototypical boy band that inspired all those knock-offs in the ’90s, and you’d seem to be on the right track to make about the most indigestible musical smoothie you could ever fix up. Really, the only common thread I can think off for all of this is “songs I had to listen to on the school bus growing up because the driver wouldn’t change the station from KDWB.”

But given the audience reaction throughout the evening, this trio of 90s superstars (for the sake of ease we’ll lump them in there, even though NKOTB had a bit of the ’80s in, too) were a perfect match. The crowd was electric all night for this eclectic mix of talent, which delivered a very, very good show last night at Xcel Energy Center. Continue Reading

MUSIC PHOTOS | All Time Low at Myth

A mostly younger crowd packed the Myth Live Event Center in Maplewood, Minnesota Monday, May 11 and let it be known they are huge fans of pop, punk, rock band All Time Low. Bandmates Alex Gaskarth, Jack Barakat, Rian Dawson and Zack Merrick recognized their fans enthusiasm immediately and rewarded their supporters with a first-rate performance. This group has the ability to elevate the quality of their songs for the live experience and always bring a lot of fun to the stage. The Future Hearts Tour in support of their sixth studio album with the same name also included a solid cast of supporting acts including Issues, Tonight Alive and State Champs. ©2015 Patrick Dunn Continue Reading

Joe Bonamassa Two Nights at the Orpheum

Have you noticed lately that most mainstream music we’re being fed is severely guitar solo deficient? Music fans in Minneapolis had an exceptional opportunity to supplement their listening diet at the Orpheum Theater April 24th with a heavy dose of Vitamin JB. Fortunately there is no limit to the amount of Joe Bonamassa guitar mastery one can consume, which is why I expect many of the same faces will be back to the Orpheum Theater again Saturday night April 25th as demand warrented a second performance. No doubt Bonamassa is an outstanding natural guitar talent, which got him noticed at the young age of 12 opening for BB King. Unfortunately, it takes a lot more than that for any musician to gain worldwide recognition, particularly in a niche genre like the Blues. Continue Reading

MUSIC PHOTOS | Clint Black at the Ames Center

As New Country music continues to grow in popularity, many of the more traditional sounding artists are enjoying a renewed interest in their established catalogs of music as well. A perfect example is Clint Black who had a good amount of success in the ’90s with a George Strait style sound and major influences from legendary artists such as Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. Some younger fans joined a mostly seasoned crowd of appreciators at the Ames Center in Burnsville on March 11th for a 90-minute set that covered a variety of material.The show, titled “An Intimate Evening with Clint Black,” started out in just that fashion with a solo acoustic performance of “Live and Learn.” The scaled down format allowed Black to quickly demonstrate his skill on a six-string and the ability to pair it nicely with his twangy vocal, which sounded great. After a couple more acoustic selections including a cover of Willie Nelson’s “Time of a Preacher,” the four-piece band joined in adding full sound and tight harmonies on “Like the Rain.” Continue Reading

PHOTOS | 42nd Annual Twin Cities Auto Show

You don’t have to be in the market for a new vehicle to find value in attending the 42nd Annual Twin Cities Auto Show being held at the Minneapolis Convention Center March 7 – 15, 2015. Being it’s the largest consumer show in Minnesota, consideration has been taken to include a variety of attractions to suit more than just the typical car enthusiast seeking out this massive automobile experience. The shows excitement started even before people were admitted into the event when one of six lucky contest winners was awarded a three-year lease on a brand new Chevy Volt, their energy saving electric car.There are fun themes like Military Appreciation and Country Night, which includes a live music performance and good educational offerings such as Automotive 101 and a 60-minute course with a mission to change distracted driving behaviors. Young Disney Channel fans will have an opportunity to experience a Celebrity Appearance by the star of hit television show Emma, Peyton List. On weekends, you can take advantage of free booster seat safety checks and the Ride & Drive station is open every day offering consumers a chance to test drive new models from BMW, Mazda, Toyota and Ford. The main attraction is of course the estimated $15 Million in new vehicles that takes up 400,000 square feet of showroom and includes approximately 450 new models across 37 different makes. Continue Reading