It's Mardi Gras weekend in St. Louis, and though the official" Mardi Gras events in recent years have tended to feature rock cover bands and DJs rather than jazz and blues, there will be plenty of jazz and creative music around town this week, if you know where to look.
For the Funky Butt Brass Band, St. Louis' best known exponents of the New Orleans brass band sound, the next few days are the equivalent of the week before Christmas for Santa Claus' various helpers and stand-ins. The FBBB will kick off the weekend this evening at Blues City Deli's King Cake Party, then team up with NOLA R&B/zydeco tribute band Gumbohead for gigs on Saturday at the Old Rock House and Tuesday at the Broadway Oyster Bar. Elsewhere around town tonight, singer Marissa Mulder makes her St. Louis debut as part of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival, performing her show The Songs of Tom Waits" at the Gaslight Theater. Mulder will do the show twice more, on Friday and Saturday, while the Gaslight Cabaret Festival continues weekends through April 26. .
Also tonight, singer Denise Thimes performs at the Ethical Society of St. Louis; pianist Ptah Williams' trio will play a free concert featuring the music of Chick Corea for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University; and the Tavern of Fine Arts will present their monthly Experimental Arts Open Improv Night" with live improvised music from keyboardist Jim Hegarty, flautist Fred Tompkins, and others.
Tomorrow night, Jazz St. Louis will hold their annual benefit gala at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Clayton, featuring the legendary funk saxophonist Maceo Parker as the headline entertainment, plus dinner, drinks, a silent auction, and more. As of this writing, there still are some tickets available, starting at $400 per person; call 314-289-4034 for details.
Also on Friday, pianist Pete Ruthenberg will play The Music of Herbie Hancock" at the Kranzberg Arts Center; trombonists Doug Bert and Rodney Lancaster join forces for a gig at Robbie's House of Jazz; singer/pianist Jesse Gannon and his band Truth return to The Engine Room; and Miss Jubilee plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom.
On Saturday afternoon, trumpeter George Sams will re-start his Nu-Art Series by playing a duo concert with baritone sax great Hamiet Bluiett at a new location, the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site downtown.
Then on Saturday evening, Roger Ingram, known as lead trumpeter for Harry Connick Jr.'s big band and as as jazz educator much in demand, will be the featured guest performer at this year's Mineral Area College Jazz Festival down in Park Hills.
Also on Saturday evening and a bit closer to home, pianist Dave Venn and saxophonist Willie Akins will team up for a one-night-only performance at Jazz at the Bistro; the Coleman-Hughes Project with singer Adrienne Felton will play at Troy's Jazz Gallery; Sarah Jane and the Blue Notes will return to The Wine Press, and pianist Carolbeth True and Two Times True with saxophonist Larry Johnson will take the stage at Robbie's House of Jazz.
On Sunday, the St. Louis Record Collector and CD Show will hold their first event of the year - January's show was canceled due to bad weather - at the usual location, the American Czech Hall at 4690 Lansdowne in south St. Louis.
Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday guitarist Tom Byrne is at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups; and on Tuesday, the St. Louis Community College at Meramec Jazz Combos will present a free performance at Meramec Theatre on campus.
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