This weekend is the final half of the Twin Cities Hot Summer Jazz Festival, which has quite a few local and national jazz acts performing on mostly free stages in and around Peavey Plaza in downtown Minneapolis. I have been to at least some portion of each of the last four festivals and have been looking forward to this year’s event. I was a little disappointed to note that the festival is a fair bit smaller than it has been in the past, with only a single free stage on Friday night in Peavey Plaza, and two free stages Saturday and Sunday. In comparison, two years ago I remember there being five stages running all day on Saturday and Sunday.
For the most part I have been going to the parts of the festival that I have been able to get to by myself but this year I was fortunate enough to remember to invite my dad early enough that he might not have fully booked his schedule yet, and so he and I had a grand evening last night enjoying the festival and each other’s company.
The day started out somewhat mixed when I ended up having significant car trouble from what has turned out to be a bad tank of fuel. I had stopped at a new Biodiesel pump on the southeast corner of 66th St and Portland Ave in Richfield on Thursday afternoon and not driven much after filling most of the tank. Friday morning on the way into work I noticed that the car was performing very sluggishly and the exhaust was both extremely thick and smelled quite intensely of burning something and the nice people at West Side VW where quite surprised that the engine was able to do much with whatever had been sold to me as fuel. Still, emptying the entire system, clearing the lines, a new fuel filter, and at least some cleaning of the fuel pump will hopefully get things running fine sometime today.
In any case, this did change plans somewhat as I would not be able to meet my dad at my house as had been planned, but it was not a huge deal for him to pick me up at work, and from there were went to my place and took the LRT into downtown for the festival, only an hour later than we had hoped and unfortunately having missed Ginger Commodore. Neither of us had managed to have dinner yet so when we arrived were quite hungry and while it might have been interesting to stay for Dan Kusz‘s set on the main stage, the song they were performing wasn’t nearly as interesting as the possibility of food so we popped into Brit’s for a good meal.
Well sated, and having had a chance to talk, we were lucky enough to came out just in time to see the third act for the night, Grace Kelly. Being 15 she definitely lacked some of the polish and long experience that I often see on the main stage, but she made up for all of that and more with raw talent and vivacious dedication to her sax playing, as well as her singing, and even managed to surprise with a couple of tunes she had composed herself.
The last main stage set was the one that I had been looking forward to and Barbara Morrison was even more fun this year than last. Getting to hear her is such a treat with her fabulous stage presence and wicked humor between songs it makes for a great way to end the night. The dancers tend to come out of the woodwork during her set as well and getting to watch some great swing dancers bopping along to the music just made it even more fun.
While somewhat tempted to stay out for the jam session at the Dakota, we decided we had better start heading home since there was still an hour before the jam would even start and it had been a pretty full day. On the way home we did decide to take a slight detour and stopped for adult malts at the Town Talk Diner. Dad had the Mint Condition, my usual favorite, while I tried the Silly Rabbit. I don’t know that I would have it twice, but I can say that it was the living embodiment of an alcohol infused version of the bottom of a bowl of Trix cereal on a Saturday morning watching cartoons. That particularly sweet, sticky, creamy, but slightly grainy flavor and texture are iconic enough to bring back memories though I’m pretty sure it was Kix in my family instead of the extra-sugared Trix.
Looking forward to today’s line-up and I going to stay up for the jam session tonight. I’m always looking for friendly faces so give me a ring if you’re in the area.
Update: Thoughts from day 2 here.