Was great in Minneapolis

We attended the worldwide debut of Don Was and the Pan-Detroit Ensemble last night at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis. The debut kicked off a tour that will take the group to Evanston, Detroit, Cincinnati, Cumberland, Red Bank, Washington, DC, New York City, and Ardmore (Pennsylvania). Owner Lowell Pickett was in the house and Was thanked Lowell for welcoming the group’s debut at the club.

The ensemble is full of instrumental virtuosos fronted by vocalist Stephanie Christi’an. I want to bring the tour to your attention in case you are in the vicinity of any of the scheduled dates. See background and details in this Bass Magazine story.

I attended the show on the strength of Don Was’s work as a producer and found it an irresistible brew of funk, rhythm & blues, and jazz. Was plays bass, is president of Blue Note Records, and has assembled a formidable crew to bring his eclectic musical vision to life. The guy has a sense of humor to boot, as was evident in the second or third number of last night’s show: “I Feel Better Than James Brown,” by Was (Not Was).

I was unfamiliar with all but the last number on the setlist — a fantastic cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street.” We sat right in front of Stephanie and bopped along to the song in the video below from last night’s show (following “Insane” and “Wheel Me Out”). The video looks to me like it was shot on the balcony by someone sitting at Prince’s table. I heard the spirit of Prince in the show last night. I think he would have been there and loved it.

The audio in the video below does greater justice to the ensemble’s sound and includes brief comments by Don Was. It is posted with the Bass Magazine story linked above.

UPDATE: Star Tribune reviewer Jon Bream was also in the vicinity of Prince’s table.

I agree with Jon about “Shakedown Street.”

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