Friday Night at the Dakota
It’s a Friday night at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis, and the place is sold out, in fact, this is the 3rd of three sellouts in a row. The air is moving with excitement, Nooky Jones is about to take the stage, and full disclosure, I’m walking in mostly blind. All I have been told is that they’re an act worth seeing.
The emcee takes the stage, he’s what you’d expect at a jazz club, a well dressed old dude, with some dad jokes up his sleeve. He announces Nooky Jones as “the winner of 17 Grammies……give or take 17.” The joke takes a while to set in, but the audience groans at dad as he continues. “They should be getting theirs pretty soon.” He says.
Moments later, Nooky Jones arrives, a jazz sextet consisting of vocals, trumpet, trombone, bass, drums, and keys. They’re all wearing suits of different colors, some dressed in light blue, some in black. It reminded me a lot of my days playing in a jazz band, a bunch of rather unassuming looking dudes ready to jam out and improvise. This was not a set designed to dazzle you effects, lights or costumes. It was strictly for the music.
One by One
The set started with a light drum intro, introducing the members one by one. Cue piano, cue horns, cue the bass line, everything was there except the vocals. Then it was Cameron’s turn, he walks out to whoops and cheers from the crowd, takes a stand in front of the center microphone and delivers his opening and suddenly the sell out becomes obvious. Wow. These guys are the real deal.
Every song is a demonstration of the group’s talents, and going in blind it was an absolute treat. I was greeted with excellent charisma, vocals, and falsettos by the lead singer Cameron, the trumpet player could hit the high notes with the best of them and the piano player could improvise a crowd-pleasing solo that could go on all night if you allowed it. It was simply an impressive display of talent all around.
Up & Coming is an Understatement
Nooky Jones’ discography is also undeniably catchy, and since they’re a relatively new outfit, we got to hear pretty much all of it. That includes their initial break out hit “Hello”, their slow jam “Sweet Wine” which ended up being an audience singalong and feature with another well known Minneapolis native, Aby Wolf.
Each song was met by uproarious cheering and hollering, and I swear someone was doing their best impression of a dog in the audience. I’ve never seen an audience at a jazz show get this riled up. Cheers for one more song erupted from the crowd at the end of the set.
The verdict was clear with the entire club, Nooky Jones is the real deal. They’re a local act with the chops to gain a national following. Their classic sound will appeal to anyone and everyone at all walks of life and their stage presence is second to none. A friend told me “There are recording artists and performing artists, and these guys are PERFORMING artists.” I think that hits it exactly on the head.
This is a performance that you don’t want to miss. You’re going to be having fun all night long. So, bring a date, sit down at your fancy linen table, and watch Nooky Jones hit it out of the park. I’m definitely jumping on the next performance.