In August 1985, a new restaurant opened in St. Paul’s Bandana Square. The Dakota Bar and Grill featured innovative regional cuisine and live jazz. No big deal, just some music by which to enjoy good food and wine.
Today, as the Dakota enters its 25th year, it’s one of the most acclaimed jazz clubs in the world. The location has changed (from Bandana Square to Nicollet Mall), as has the chef (Jack Riebel replaced Ken Goff), but the food and wine remain a major focus, dear to owner Lowell Pickett’s heart. Some jazz clubs don’t even serve food, and for those that do, fine dining is the exception and not the rule.
To celebrate its longevity, the Dakota is throwing a party on Saturday, with free music on two outdoor stages starting at noon and inside the club beginning at 6 p.m. (Nicollet Mall will be closed between 10th and 11th.) The Dakota’s longstanding love affair with New Orleans is evident in the national artists who are scheduled to appear.
Here’s the roster as of Wednesday afternoon; last-minute changes are always a possibility. As they say, it’s jazz, baby.
Main Stage (10th and Nicollet)
12 noon Paul Metsa & Willie West
1:15 p.m. Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles
2:45 p.m. Adam Levy & Liminal Phase
4:15 p.m. Patty Peterson
5:45 p.m. Bonerama
7:45 p.m. Charmaine Neville
9:45 p.m. Glen David Andrews
StarKist Stage (11th and Nicollet)
12:45 p.m. Doug Little’s Twin Cities Jazz Workshop
2:15 p.m. High School for the Recording Arts
3:45 p.m. Dakota Combo
5:15 p.m. Atlantis Quartet
7:00 p.m. Fat Kid Wednesdays
9:00 p.m. Desdemona
Dakota Stage (inside the club at 1010 Nicollet Mall; free admission all day, limited menu available)
6:00 p.m. Irv Williams and Peter Schimke
7:30 p.m. Debbie Duncan
9:00 p.m. Davina and the Vagabonds
11:30 p.m. Dakota Jam
A special “Kidsville” for little ones will feature In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre, face painting, mask making, and more. Meanwhile, over at Peavey Plaza, with whom the Dakota has partnered, outdoor Sommerfest events include Cyril Paul and the Calypso Monarchs at noon, Buckets and Tap Shoes at 1:45 and 3:15, Janus Percussion at 6, and incendiary Cuban jazz pianist Nachito Herrera at 9:45.
A few words about the national artists coming to town for this event: Bonerama is a Big Easy rock band with a four-trombone front line. Vocalist Charmaine Neville, a member of NOLA’s musical Neville family, brings jazz, funk, and audience participation to her exuberant, high-energy shows. New Orleans gospel/funk/soul/jazz man Glen David Andrews is reportedly even more charismatic and entertaining than his cousin, Troy, a.k.a. Trombone Shorty. Having just seen Shorty at the Zoo last week, I’m intrigued. If you miss Andrews on the street on Saturday, you can see him in the club on Sunday at 7 p.m., when the $15 cover charge goes to Gulf Coast relief.
Dakota Street Fest, Saturday, July 17, on Nicollet Mall between 10th and 11th. Music starts at noon and continues into the wee hours.