Downtown Music

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May 3, 2004 // UPDATED 1:25 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

Be nice to the lady

If you're anything like my mother (or me), the last thing you want to do for Mother's Day is get dragged out of the house to some fancy breakfast establishment -- someplace you can't just lounge in pajamas and enjoy the sounds of your family around you (or a little alone time).

No, if you want to be really nice to your mom or your wife, make her breakfast, bring it to her in bed and then clean the kitchen.

And while it's OK to her to crawl out of bed and get presentable for lunch, the key to a great Mother's Day is going somewhere special later in the day -- something she would consider special.

For some women, seeing the legendary Davis Gaines at Orchestra Hall is the ultimate indulgence. Luckily, the singer/leading man is coming to town for a show the night before and the very afternoon of Mother's Day.

Gaines is perhaps best known for his role in the Andrew Lloyd Webber production of "Phantom of the Opera"; he played the title character thousands of times during its run on Broadway, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

He was also chosen by Hal Prince and Lloyd Webber to play the leading role in the world premiere of "Whistle Down the Wind" in Washington, D.C., and also performed in "Hello, Dolly!" with Carol Channing, "Camelot" with Richard Burton and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" with Alexis Smith.

Gaines' Off-Broadway appearances include Des McAnuff's "The Death of Von Richthofen as Witnessed from Earth," the Maury Yeston/Larry Gelbart musical "One, Two, Three, Four, Five," and Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins," "She Loves Me," "Sweeney Todd" and "Forbidden Broadway."

It may not be the manliest night you've ever had, but it might be the best night Mom's had in a long, long time.

Saturday, May 8, 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 9, 2 p.m. Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall $22-$44. 371-5656.

Hiding in plain sight

Somehow, Toshiko Akiyoshi has managed to stay out of the household vernacular of your average jazz aficionado. She's probably a little too challenging for the elevator music set, with her trademark incorporation of traditional Japanese music and classical interpretations into big band jazz.

Born in China but raised in Japan, Toshiko moved to the United States in the '50s, where she studied at the University of California-Berkeley for a few years before striking out on her own.

With then-husband Charlie Mariano, she led the Toshiko Mariano Quartet in the early '60s. After their divorce, she worked with Charles Mingus, composed and performed a series for radio broadcast, and started a big band with her new leading man, Lew Tabackin.

Toshiko's music is bright, sublime and distinguished enough to earn the performer/composer/conductor 14 Grammy nominations over the years; she was also the first woman to win "DownBeat" magazine's Best Arranger/Composer.

Trained in classical piano, Akiyoshi has been praised for her conducting style; the "New York Times" described her as perhaps "the most physically articulate conductor since Duke Ellington."

Wednesday, May 5, 6:30 p.m. Rossi's Blue Star. 80 S. 9th St. $15. 312-2828.

For a good cause

Veteran rockers The Remnants and GB Leighton will be performing together to help the fight against breast cancer Friday, May 7. Over the past couple of years, GB Leighton has become one of the top drawing Midwestern bands. (Even my sister-in-law knows who they are, which is quite a feat.) Proceeds of the evening will go directly to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a research, education and treatment nonprofit.

Friday, May 7, 9 p.m. Fine Line Music Cafe, 318 1st Ave. N. Call for ticket prices. 338-8100.

Holly's Picks

Wandering woman

Kathy Mattea is one of the most respected female country stars of the stage. The engaging performer incorporates elements of folk, bluegrass and gospel into her music, and is one of few performers who can make every arena show audience member feel like she's singing directly to them.

Determined to keep her music from becoming stagnant and predictable, Mattea has spent a good part of her career traveling the world to study folk music and finds ways to incorporate such bare, traditional elements into her own music. Mattea will present her greatest hits along with folk- and Celtic-inspired songs from her recent recordings in this performance.

Friday, May 7, 8 p.m. Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall $22-$44. 371-5656.

Unhappy campers

Despite bearing the same name as the hero in the wonderfully positive, feel-good fantasy film "The Neverending Story," Southern California's rap-metal band Atreyu are not a happy-sounding group of guys.

Where Atreyu the film character bore his trials stoically and bravely, Atreyu the band makes a point of letting everyone know how pissed off they are.

Led by the ever-so-pissed-off Alex Varkatzas, Atreyu fuses Swedish metal guitar riffs with a tremendous percussion section that is neither subtle nor simple. But, since girls like angry boys, and being that these guys are some of the angriest tortured rock stars out there, there are sure to be lots and lots of women attending their show. Angst-filled men may want to leave their wedding rings at home.

Sunday, May 9, 5 p.m. The Quest, 110 N. 5th St. $11. 338-3383.

Holly Day can be reached at