Singer Nick Jordan will perform songs from his new EP “Dividends” at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry on Aug. 4. Photo by Jillian Blanc

Singer Nick Jordan will perform songs from his new EP “Dividends” at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry on Aug. 4. Photo by Jillian Blanc

Best Picks: July 27–Aug. 9

Updated: May 17, 2018 - 3:52 pm

What to do downtown after work

Paying ‘Dividends’

A year out of college, Nick Jordan is belting out original songs and tearing up stages across the Twin Cities with energetic performances.

The 23-year-old St. Paul resident is quiet and polite in person, but on stage he is theatrical and dramatic, singing songs about self-love and busting out flashy choreography. On “Dividends,” his second EP set to come out this August, Jordan shows off both sides of himself with songs that come from a place of “learning to love the deepest parts” of himself, he said. It’s an achievement easier said than done.

“It’s claiming that unapologetically. In all facets,” he said.

Jordan, who goes by his middle name, started pursuing music after moving from his hometown of Delano, Minnesota and studying the music business and recording arts at the University of St. Thomas. That’s where he met friend and music producer lukdlx, who helped Jordan produce his two releases so far.

Since graduating last year, Jordan has been hard at work making connections, performing — including at Basilica Block Party and the Star Tribune’s Are You Local? Contest — and writing new material.

“I’m getting a nice foundation, finally,” he said.

nj-artwork-full webWith the six-track “Dividends,” Jordan cites inspirations like The Neptunes, a production duo comprised of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, emcees like Jay Electronica and singers like D’Angelo and Jill Scott. The mix of songs moves between R&B and hip-hop to pop and even house music.

Perhaps the biggest source of creative energy comes from Sean Combs, whom Jordan namedrops in “Bet (Diddy Said).” In fact, Jordan, a huge “Making the Band” fan, samples many of the rapper’s sayings from the show in the song, such as “don’t dance in the back.” He uses the phrase for its metaphorical meaning of confidence, but it’s also relevant literally for Jordan, who almost always performs with his best friends and dancers Albert DiCaprio and Christlo Charon.

“Puff says so many profound things that me and my dancers carried with us for years,” he said.

The song, the second off the EP, exudes confidence. When they go low, we go high, Jordan seems to say (“I could’ve stayed bitter, but I chose to get better”).

Next is “Crush,” a sugary-sweet confession of love over texting that could serve as an anthem of love for anyone with a restrictive data plan (“text me when you leave so you can FaceTime me / burning up your data on LTE”).

Photo by Peter Jamus
Photo by Peter Jamus

The first single off the release is “Petty,” a catchy track that Jordan has turned into a music video featuring a party in a forest that is most definitely more fun than whatever the song’s ex-lover is doing.

The final track, “L2L” or learn to love, is a minimalist, disco-influenced outro that has Jordan’s voice at its most vulnerable.

“They’re not perfect vocal takes, but they’re human, and that’s what I was trying to portray,” he said.

Jordan will debut the EP at a release show at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry on Friday, Aug.  4. Northeast Minneapolis-based Devata Daun, a lo-fi electronic artist, will open.

“She’s the definition of a badass to me,” he said. “It’s so dope to me.”

Radio Ahlee (“He sounds like someone I would actually listen to as a kid,” Jordan said), Moise and DJ Rowsheen will also perform.

Photo by Eric Best
Photo by Eric Best

A garden party

The Walker Art Center has put together a perfect day to visit the museum and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden that won’t break the budget — because it’s free. During the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., admission is free to the gallery, but there are even more reasons to visit on Saturday, Aug. 5. If you still haven’t gotten over Rock the Garden, the Okee Dokee Brothers — Minneapolis’ own Grammy Award-winning bluegrass duo — will play the garden around 11 a.m. The museum also has an ant problem in the form of Polygot Theatre, an Australian interactive art organization, that will have ants — note: people dressed as giant ants — roaming the garden as part of a family-friendly landscaping project that is sure to resemble a horror movie from the ’70s. While not free, Esker Grove will be open in the museum for brunch, so you can fuel up with the restaurant’s savory French toast or even a bloody mary before working up a sweat and perusing all that art.

DANGEROUS MAN 3 by EBFly in the face of Dangerous Man

Being a Northeaster, I have the privilege of living within walking distance of several breweries, but when I’m talking with visitors looking to do a summer beer crawl they often don’t know where to start. In recommending taprooms to try, I thought I’d pass along my own neighborhood brewery, Dangerous Man Brewing Co. What I like about Dangerous Man is its wide selection of uniquely flavored brews, from the creamy peanut butter porter and chocolate milk stout to the strawberry and boysenberry milkshake IPAs. It’s apparent that others have caught on to the wonders of the taproom because it can take a bit of a wait to snag an open table, but you can usually take advantage of a food truck outside or visit the growler shop next door while you’re waiting. Once seated, be sure to bring back a glass of the Sour Delores, a sour beer with strawberry tea from TeaSource, or the Imperial Golden Rose Ale, a Belgian strong ale boasting aromatic, herbal tea-like flavors. If you find yourself needing pizza, Young Joni is just down the block. If it’s busy, just order and take the pizza to go with you while you make your way to another taproom.