A few days ago, I tried out the Austrian concert grand Bösendorfer piano that Crooners Lounge recently acquired after hearing a concert by pianist Bill Carrothers and it was amazing…It is a great spot to hear music with beautiful lighting, tons of windows, and yes, that spectacular Bösendorfer. — Steven Hobert
Among creative Twin Cities musicians, guitarist Dean Magraw and pianist Steven Hobert must rank among the elite. Now the two eclectic performers/composers have joined forces, coming together as a duo for the first time last spring at Jazz Central, and now making their debut in the Dunsmore Room at Crooners Lounge in Fridley, MN. The intimate listening space, graced by a nine-foot Bösendorfer grand, is an ideal setting to enjoy these artists.
Dean Magraw is one of the Twin Cities’ most eclectic musicians, with a career spanning more than three decades and multiple genres and cultures, from blues to classical to folk and jazz, from Japanese and Indian to Celtic and middle American. He has performed with and/or recorded with mandolin virtuoso Peter Ostroushko; vocalists Ruth McKenzie, Claudia Schmidt, Bruce Henry, Lucia Newell, Maud Hixson and Greg Brown; accordionist John Williams; Japanese shamisen prodigy Nitta Masahiro; classical violinist Nigel Kennedy; South Indian vocalist and vina virtuoso, Nirmala Rajasheker; Irish supergroup Altan; Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion; jazz bassist Anthony Cox; and avant garde French saxophonist, Francois Corneloup. Dean has collaborated with many local artists at the Artists Quarter, Black Dog, Nicollet, Jazz Central, and more, including Brandon Wozniak, Bryan Nichols, Billy Peterson, Steven Hobert, and Kenny Horst. He’s released a series of recordings spanning his musical universe, including a duo with tabla master Marcus Wise, How the Light Gets In. Over the past few years, Dean has co-led a monthly duo with percussionist Davu Seru at the Black Dog Café (first Tuesdays), and launched another duo with veteran drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt, leading to their CD release, Fire on the Nile.
Originally from Hartland, Wisconsin, Steven Hobert recalls that he “would noodle around on the piano and just make things up, maybe even as young as middle school. I studied classical music and I also studied jazz. I started writing more in the later part of high school and throughout college.” The music of Keith Jarrett, particularly his solo improvisation concerts, influenced Steven’s decision to pursue piano improvisation at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, as it allowed him to express himself through uninhibited creativity. While earning a Bachelor of Music degree with a minor in Piano Pedagogy, Steven notes that “I started doing more free-flowing improvisation.” After graduation, Hobert performed with symphony orchestras from Calgary to Buffalo, played on cruise ships, and spent a year touring Japan, Canada and the U.S. with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. He also served as music director for vocal ensemble Five By Design. Currently Steven leads FireFly Forest, plays accordion in Lulu’s Playground and piano with the Adam Meckler Orchestra, works in duo with saxophonist/flautist James Kellerman, and generally works as a freelance musician and teacher of piano, accordion and woodwinds.
Both Dean and Steven are prone to showing their senses of humor on the bandstand and are predictably unpredictable, ensuring an evening of musical fun.
Crooners Lounge is located at 6161 Highway 65 NE in Fridley, just north of I-694 and about 20 minutes north of downtown Minneapolis. Reservations for the Dunsmore Room strongly recommended at 763-571-9020. No cover; minimum food and beverage purchase of $20 requested.