Local neo-soul group Nooky Jones will release its self-titled debut album following back-to-back shows at the Icehouse on June 30 and July 1. Photo by Tim McGuire

Local neo-soul group Nooky Jones will release its self-titled debut album following back-to-back shows at the Icehouse on June 30 and July 1. Photo by Tim McGuire

Best Picks: June 15–28

Updated: May 17, 2018 - 3:52 pm

What to do downtown after work

Minneapolis’ Marvin Gaye

I will probably never forget the first time I heard Cameron Kinghorn of Nooky Jones sing.

It was a strange night in April last year. The news that Prince had died was still sinking in for many and thousands took to the streets outside First Avenue for an impromptu memorial block party.

Kinghorn took to the small stage halfway through the evening to sing the classic “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?” Like most of Prince’s songs, it’s nearly impossible to cover successfully. But Kinghorn’s falsetto did it justice. And, about three minutes or so into the song, he hit this note that instantly quieted the crowd and, as The Current noted afterward, made several jaws drop. I’ve been interested in Kinghorn’s music ever since.

Now Kinghorn’s band Nooky Jones is set to release its debut album, a self-titled release featuring songs they’ve performed over the past few years and several new tracks.

The band features Kinghorn (vocals), Adam Meckler (trumpet), Scott Agster (trombone), Kevin Gastonguay (keyboards), Andrew Foreman (bass) and Reid Kennedy (drums). While the group clearly has R&B and soul influences from Stevie Wonder to neo-soul icons like Erykah Badu, their secret undercurrent is jazz. The vibe of Nooky Jones hits like big-name artists who take jazz sounds and combine them with new-school R&B, soul and hip-hop, from Thundercat and Kendrick Lamar to jazz pianist Robert Glasper.

“They’re tricking people into listening to jazz,” Kennedy said. “I think we bring a jazz sensibility to this music, but the goal is to create soul and R&B. It’s modern, but it does have a throwback vibe.”

Photo by Madi Mead
Photo by Madi Mead

The album comes two-and-a-half years since the group, many of them jazz musicians, got together, so many of the songs, such as the catchy “Hello” or the sensual opener “After One,” may sound familiar to some Minneapolis listeners. Despite that fact, the album sounds playful and alive, just like Nooky Jones’ live shows.

“The cool thing about having a group full of jazz musicians is that it always feels very spontaneous,” Kennedy. “The songs always change.”

The self-titled album of love songs doesn’t simply present the same kind of track over and over again. There’s the man pining for a woman who has fallen out of love in the upbeat “Dreamin About You.” There’s the intimate “Someone Who,” which has Kinghorn and singer Aby Wolf singing together, almost at each other. And then there’s “Slow Drive,” a passionate confession from someone trying to fix a relationship. The collection of songs has a storytelling quality that feels like it would be just as at home on a theatrical stage as at a concert venue.

While a jazzy soul album isn’t likely to be the most exciting album in people’s music libraries this year, local music lovers would be mistaken to let Nooky Jones go without a listen.

NookyJonesLP Cover webNooky Jones will take the stage at Icehouse in the Whittier neighborhood for back-to-back album release shows on Friday, June 30 and Saturday, July 1.

On the first night, the band is inviting special guests Minneapolis music veteran and “Someone Who” collaborator Wolf and Eric Mayson, who has played with Caroline Smith, Lizzo and the band Crunchy Kids. DJ Sean McPherson will also play a set.

On the second night, instrumental funk band PHO, which Kinghorn said has a “straight-up Minneapolis sound,” (“It’s super-hot, I love it”), and DJ Sarah White will be special guests.

The band will have physical copies of the album available for sale at Icehouse. Digital distribution should come in July.


NEW BOHEMIA 1 submitted web

The wurst bohemians

I have to admit that I’ve never been a bar trivia person, but recently I’ve rediscovered it thanks to New Bohemia in the Nicollet Island-East Bank neighborhood. I happened to be there on a Wednesday when, right around 8:30 p.m., the restaurant, which basically feels like a taproom that serves bratwurst and snacks, turns into a bustling party for trivia seekers. The bar hosts trivia through Sporcle. I’ve been told it’s easier than other trivia operations in town, which is perfect for first-timers or people like me who haven’t quite caught on to it yet. Even though I didn’t come for trivia, we ended up staying for it. The questions were conversational and actually added to the evening. Plus, New Bohemia constantly updates its tap beer lists, so I got to try a beer I’ve been looking to taste for a while now (Modist Brewing’s Dreamyard IPA, if you’re curious). For Downtown East residents, you’ll eventually have your own New Bohemia. The chain recently announced an expansion into the Wells Fargo towers near The Commons park.


“Miss Congeniality” comes to Pride

It’s time to get up, look sickening and make them eat it. And it’s time to see Latrice Royale. If her name doesn’t come to mind, then you’ve likely never watched Logo’s hit reality TV show “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” where Royale — the drag persona of Timothy Wilcots — is one of the most iconic queens to ever compete. The entertainer is taking to Minneapolis in time for the city’s pride festivities and will perform at Hell’s Kitchen on Wednesday, June 21. The night is sure to include Royale’s larger-than-life style, some of her original material — she released an EP last year — and exhilarating lip syncing performances. She’s bringing along several friends, many of them drag veterans in the Twin Cities, such as Cee Cee Russell, Genevee Ramona Love, Kamaree Williams, Tygra Slarii and Julia Starr.