That night she sang the blues.

The Jana Nyberg Group, now five refined musicians deep, sang sugar sweet Friday night at  Northeast Minneapolis’ Honey.  I walked in late to the second set to catch Nyberg wrapping up a bluesy number that was answered by the warm applause of the very full house. I found a spot standing with my Malbec in this very spacious, seating ample venue.

I have only seen this group a few times before, and with the trio cast- Jana Nyberg, Vocals, with the support of Adam Meckler, Trumpet, and Evan Montgomery, guitar- in a much more intimate Jay’s Cafe. They wowed me then and they did again in a much more elaborate gesture and I could even say more appropriate Honey. The group thrived on the energy of the audience and were allowed the space to create some really terrific music! What’s more, it was fun. I was also impressed by the breadth of the set-list. Billie Holiday, Ingrid Michaelson, Art Blakely to name a few. Whew. I was convinced of them all. Nyberg has the inherent vocal ability to tell a story and create a sense of intimacy through her phrasing and an engaging tone. She’s the real thing.

With the addition o Derek Dreier on drums and Matt Peterson (who also plays with the Zacc Harris Trio) on bass, Montgomery was allowed to meander through the pieces in a manner of complement rather than simple support. All of the instrumentalists, including Nyberg, know their way around ensemble play and a asserted technical know-how that was haute to be heard.

During the groups rousing rendition of Moanin‘ guest artist or non-hired gun, Andy Papacosta wailed in a friendly fracas with Nyberg that let the audience know, they were not amongst amateurs. Nyberg et. al have been doing this for a while. And, in the opinion of the writer, should become a standard at Honey or SOMEWHERE with the diversity of the audience, Nyberg’s voice and the groups sound transcends any stereotype or niche market as only really good stuff can: the staying stuff.

The warm audience I walked in on was no more cookie cutter than they were stiffs. These were my people, I thought to myself; finding a forest of wine bottles adorned with a sophisticated strata of  the Jazzhead market. I will not be surprised by a cover anytime soon as music this good does not go free for long.

One concern I’d like to voice would be the short length of the set- 2 hrs? – when the musicians and the crowd seemed ready to keep going… and also, what the hell was going on with the post Nyberg music, a DJ?As I think it could be put.. techno isn’t bad, its the proximity to the phenomenal jazz moment that just happened that hurt my feelings. I’m not the only one who noticed the shift that was underscored by the steady shuffling out of genuine, pocketbook rendering customers. I can say that I was personally driven out by the noise.

If a DJ be necessary, let us pay attention to the vibes we are creating with the DJ we book.

I carried my torch for the jazz moment all the way to my car. I could see people heading out to see Jana on Fridays. I could see Honey solidifying its Hip-ness here and now. I could see me getting there early enough to next time have an appetizer and sampling one of the tasty desserts the menu had to offer… (I was hungry). Honestly, as a fledgling venue, there is a decision that should probably be made, sooner than later. What are you going to do and when.

People want to be in your space, now you need to decide how to keep them coming back.

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