Lady Lark singer Taylor Harris and her band will perform their new EP and other original songs at the Dakota Jazz Club on Aug. 18. Submitted photo

Lady Lark singer Taylor Harris and her band will perform their new EP and other original songs at the Dakota Jazz Club on Aug. 18. Submitted photo

Best Picks Aug. 10–23

What to do downtown after work

Happy as a Lady Lark

By day, Taylor Harris is a mild-mannered downtown resident. By night, she is Lady Lark, an R&B singer who over the past year has been quickly tearing up venue after venue in the Twin Cities.

“I think Lady Lark is a little bit sassier, more confident and sexy. By doing that, I feel like the natural performer in me comes out, but as Taylor Harris I’m more this extroverted introvert,” she said.

Harris founded the solo project with the help of keyboardist Kyle Pleggenkuhle and guitarist Oran Chan, a production duo who go by Hair & Makeup (Pleggenkuhle has “Thor-like hair,” she said).

Together they write songs as Lady Lark and perform with three other musicians and vocalists. Before last fall, Harris had never performed on stage before, other than a one-off show with a short-lived band.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I was surprised how much I’ve been enjoying it,” she said.

Lady Lark sounds like an old-school pop and R&B group with sugary sweet lyrics about love and dating. Harris said she’s not too serious with the words. They’re supposed to be fun, she added.

“[With] a lot of the Lady Lark songs, they’re about love. They’re about sex. They’re about relationships. But, thus far, we’ve wanted to keep things upbeat [and] dancey,” she said.

LADY LARK 1 submittedThe band released its first EP, “Love,” earlier this year. The first of the three songs, “Love (is Just a Game)” is simple and playful. These aren’t heartbreakers, and Lady Lark clearly doesn’t have a lot of skin in this game (not going to shed no tears, no crying / because love is just a game).

“Move Your Body” is a disco-infused dance party track about letting loose. The keyboard-laden “Cherry on Top” has Lady Lark at her sexiest — and most amorous (“you’re not leaving until I say so”).

The music pulls at the “different elements of the journey of love,” Harris said, with a sound reminiscent of ’90s R&B, hip-hop and pop songs, a favorite of hers when she’s out dancing at downtown bars.

“Oftentimes, I’ll request ’90s songs and just get down and dance to those,” she said.

The band’s next performance will be a late-night show at the Dakota Jazz Club on Aug. 18. The Latelys, a soul trio out of Duluth, will open the night.

Lady Lark is getting its first out-of-state gig out in Oakland, California for an event with Pandora Radio, Harris’ employer.

“This is kind of the perfect job for me isn’t it, with my love of music?” she said.

One of her recent favorite Pandora stations is “Hip-Hop BBQ Radio.”

“It’s basically, in my opinion, the perfect summer hip-hop station. There’s a lot of ’90s [and] early 2000s hip-hop that was very dancey,” she said.

There are also stations centered on Janet Jackson and En Vogue, whom Harris saw perform at Twin Cities Pride earlier this year.

“I was like ‘this is a dream come true.’ I never thought I’d see En Vogue. It was amazing,” she said.

The band hopes to release a full album in the next year.

In good spirits

TWIN SPIRITS DISTILLERY wake-up call 2 by EBIf you go north on Central Avenue Northeast and pass by restaurant after restaurant, you’ll eventually find Chimborazo (note: stop there for food) and, finally, Twin Sprits Distillery. The humble distillery in Northeast Minneapolis opened last year and recently rolled out a new menu of cocktails. So far, owner and head distiller Michelle Winchester has churned out two vodkas, gin, rum and moonshine to make into an approachable selection of drinks. I’d recommend checking out the Venus Verde, an herbaceous cocktail with a flavor straight out of an apothecary thanks to gin, ginger and herbs like basil and cardamom. There’s also the coffee-infused Wake-up Call, which gets a thick head and smooth flavor from an egg white and a delicate design on top through some careful bitter placement.

If the tiny interior is full — it seats a few dozen between the bar and high-top tables — try the spacious patio. The simple outdoor seating, which is set back far from Central Avenue, reminded a friend of sitting on the patio of his family’s rural Wisconsin house, which says a lot for distillery just a mile or two outside downtown. Don’t try stopping by the distillery early in the week. Twin Spirits is open 5 p.m.–11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m.–midnight Friday and 4 p.m.–midnight Saturday.

Photo by Eric Best
Photo by Eric Best

See ‘The Voice’

If you watched NBC’s “The Voice” last season, then you may have noticed that a Minneapolis contestant made it to the singing competition’s finale. Singer and guitarist Jesse Larson shredded his competitors with regular guitar solos and soulful performances, thanks in part to generous song selections like “Jungle Love” from Minneapolis’ own The Time and Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” Before rising through the show, Larson played with local funk and soul band MPLS. Larson will get the band back together with a show at First Avenue on Friday, Aug. 18 in the mainroom. For “The Voice” fans, that’s not all. Kat Perkins, a Midwestern contestant from season six and one of the more successful acts to come out of the show, will also perform. Alex Rossi, another funky local musician, rounds out the 18-plus show’s lineup.