Dancing in the streets
If you ever want to get on my bad side, call me up and complain about how ridiculous it is to use tax money to pay for cultural events. After having lived in a plethora of places that dedicated little to no money towards the arts, or park upkeep or even garbage collection, I can tell you now that getting to live in a place with regular outdoor concerts, gallery crawls and family-friendly cultural events is a thing to be treasured. If you're spending your evenings inside right now, you should just slap yourself.
One of the great summertime traditions here is the Twin Cities Hot Summer Jazz Festival, which takes place all over the Twin Cities June 12-26, culminating in a four-day-long (from noon to midnight each day, anyway) band-a-thon at Peavey Plaza featuring some of the best new and established jazz personnel in the area, as well as some well-known touring acts. This year's free performances will feature the legendary Yellowjackets - no doubt playing music from their newest release, "Altered State"; world-renowned saxophonist and composer Benny Golson, who's just as well know for his own performances as he is for the music he wrote for Miles Davis, Itzhak Perlman and Shirley Horn; acid-jazz B3 organist Dr. Lonnie Smith; and dozens and dozens of other performers. Really, there are just too many to list here, so if you're going to go, you should probably check out the full schedule at www.hotsummerjazz.com.
The big headline event of this year's festival, however, is the Orchestra Hall appearance of amazing keyboardist Chick Corea, performing with the band he assembled for the recording of the flamenco-influenced "Touchstone" - essentially Paco de Lucia's core group of bassist Carles Benavent, saxophonist Jorge Pardo and percussionists Rubem Dantas and Tom Brechtlein.
Also performing with Chick Corea is a man who, if musical notes and written words were interchangeable, would have to be recognized as the Poet Laureate of Minnesota. Pianist (or "pino-pano-ist," as my husband would say) Nachito Herrera can make a cold winter day feel like a hot tropical paradise - that is, if you button your jacket up really high and put hot peppers in your boots. He makes you feel hot and sweaty in your head, I should say. However, it's much healthier to dream about being in the tropics when it's summer, so feel free to dress light for this once-in-a-lifetime dual concert.
Tu June 21, 7:30 p.m. Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall $19 to $54. 371-5656, www.minnesotaorchestra.org.
Sweaty socks, folk rocks
Almost every evening at six, my husband calls me from the break room at the post office. "How are the kids?" he asks. "Boy, is it raining over there?" he asks. "My socks are really hot and sweaty today," he says.
Every once in awhile, he'll loudly, unexpectedly shout, "Hey, did you hear the new blah blah blah record?" and follow it up with something like, "Yeah! I went to that show!" and that's when I know he's talking to Jimmy Johnson, steel pedal wonder of folk-rockers Dana Thompson and the Almost Canadians. I can't see Jimmy, of course, because I'm in my kitchen and he's somewhere in the post office, but it sure feels like I've had a lot of conversations with him over the past couple of years.
W June 22, 11:30 a.m. Peavey Plaza, 11th Street & Nicollet Mall. Free. 338-3807, www.downtownmpls.com.