Uptown Blues

This weekend, the St. Paul Student Center of the U of M, along with the Backstreet Theatre Company, begin an eclectic month-long concert series called From Coffeehouse to Centerstage, billed as "a music festival featuring gay, lesbian, and bisexual artists, and their open-minded friends." Things kick off Saturday with The Klezmatics, a wild klezmer, jazz, and whatsit crew who have no doubt found that coming out (part) queer has increased media interest (see the recent Village Voice feature). That's followed by a Sunday double bill of Eller Lynch and Lojo Russo. Upcoming shows feature Grant Hart, Holly Near, and Carrie Newcomer. All shows are at the St. Paul Student Center Theater; call 721-0988 for times and ticket prices.

In other news, we almost lost another Replacement recently: The man they call Slim Dunlap made a narrow escape from a car fire a few weeks back. Thankfully, all band members were unharmed, and the group even made the next gig on borrowed equipment. Drink and dance to the Dunlap band's return; groove-rock trio Peal preview their upcoming CD in the opening slot on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. at The Turf Club, University and Snelling, 647-0486.

A screening of Rolling Stones: At The Max--the large-format documentary of those old guys' 1990 tour (a pretty darn good one, in fact)--will be shown Thursday night at 6:30 and 9:00 p.m. to benefit The Science Museum of Minnesota. Tix are (ouch) $75, and the money goes to support the museum's laudable education programs. Screenings are in the Omnitheater; call 221-9444 for info.

In closing, it seems Soul Asylum have been elevated to a new level of superstar status--they're the object of not one, but two sendups on "Weird Al" Yankovic's umpteenth album, Bad Hair Day. "Misery" is reconfigured as "Syndicated Inc.," while Yankovic's "The Night Santa Went Crazy" loosely pilfers "Black Gold." Not surprisingly, this stuff is fairly tired and uninspired. Cmon, Al... (Hermes/Groebner/Meyer)


PONCHO SANCHEZ AND his band--who make up some of the hottest players in Afro-Cuban jazz--had it going on last time through at the Fine Line. And while we regret not being able to kick back with a fat Dominican stogie at this Friday's Ordway gig, we trust Poncho will take advantage of the room to explore his music's more subtle qualities--just as Eddie Palmieri did here a few months back. Openers Paracumbe are a dance and music ensemble from Puerto Rico about whom we hear good things. $18-$23; kids half-price. 8 p.m. Ordway Music Theater, 345 Washington St.; St. Paul; 224-4222.

1994 National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion Tim Sparks literally has the world at his fingertips on his latest CD, Guitar Bazaar, which samples the myriad international folk styles he projects in various local groups. There's a taste of Turkey, Bulgaria, Brazil, the Balkans, and even Delta blues, all delivered with blazing beauty. The disc includes strong cameos by Tim O'Keefe, Jim Price, and Mark Stillman, who, along with bousouki player Yanaris Asemakis, round out Sparks's live group, who will be at the Cedar Cultural Centre Friday at 8 p.m. Fellow string/mind bender Dean Magraw opens with a solo set. $10/$12 at the door. 416 Cedar Ave. N., Mpls.; 338-2674.

Joe Sample's suave compositions and smooth piano runs always lent a sheen to the saucy funk of the Jazz Crusaders, and while that dignity can sound a little stuffy on his own projects, it beats the rote riffs that dominate most fusion jazz. He'll be in town for a gig at The Metropolitan with a trio; local favorite Paul Taylor is opening. $17-$22. Monday, 8 p.m. 5418 Wayzata Blvd., Golden Valley; 797-1900.

Also at the Metropolitan is Gato Barbieri, a hothouse flower who never wilts, blowing fragrantly garish rainbows of phrases out of his tenor sax. Like the stereotypical Latin lover, this Argentine is simultaneously a stylist of integrity and romantic pretension, playing with a sexy panache that pushes the border of arrogance without crossing it. An annual fixture in recent years, his past gigs locally have been strong, crowd-pleasing affairs. Sunday at 8 p.m.; tix are $12-$20.

Finally, a last-minute booking at Quest: A Monday-evening double bill of Sheila E. and The Latin Sounds Orchestra. Tickets are $12.50 and doors are at 8 p.m.; call 338-6169 for further info. (Hermes/Robson/Meyer) CP

The end of an era: the Uptown Bar will stop hosting live music in April.

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